Rising Women on the Row has risen higher than ever.
The fifth annual breakfast celebrating female music executives was staged on Friday morning (April 8) at the Omni Nashville Hotel by MusicRow magazine. A new attendance record was set, with nearly 350 in attendance. Mickey Guyton provided superbly sung tunes. The buffet was excellent.
And you couldn’t beat the quality of the honorees. Sony/ATV’s Creative Director of A&R Abbey Adams, Maverick Nashville’s head of marketing and digital strategy Amanda Cates, Warner Music Nashville’s VP of A&R Cris Lacy, BMI’s executive director of writer/publisher relations Leslie Roberts, and WME’s first female partner in Nashville Risha Rodgers were each honored on the ballroom stage.
Featured speaker Ali Harnell was delightfully frank, honest and wise during her Q&A with host Sherod Robertson. She is the Sr. VP at AEG Live and has had a 25-year career as a concert promoter.
“Being a human being today is rough, and being a woman brings an extra dimension,” said Harnell. “I absolutely do think it is harder for a woman. Do you really want me to go into it—the misogyny, the sexism, the ageism? I do think there is a path now where we will see a change. … Never give up. Know what’s important. There is a calling and a purpose to what you do.”
Robertson told the crowd that his inspiration for creating this event five years ago came from his feisty, fearless, “bad-ass” grandma in Mississippi. He brought each honoree to the stage with words about their philanthropic activities as well as their career accomplishments. The mag’s general manager Craig Shelburne handed out the plaques.
“Thank you, MusicRow, for honoring women today,” said Adams. “I’m so very humbled to be mentioned with the women in this group. Songwriters…thank you for trusting us with your songs every day.”
“I just love so much that you’re shining the spotlight on women in this industry,” echoed Cates. “I count myself beyond blessed to live in this community. And I want to leave it better than I found it.”
Lacy became teary-eyed when she took to the podium. “It’s so humbling to look out at you and look up to you,” she said to the many females in attendance. “I know how tirelessly you work every day. And how you’re supposed to be invisible. And that’s hard. Thank you, MusicRow, for making us visible. Everybody in this room should be on this stage.”
“This is amazing,” said Roberts, who is one of the few people in the music biz who is a Nashville native. “It’s such an honor to be up here with you ladies. Mentors believed in me when I did not believe in myself.”
Rogers was also surprised to find herself weepy when she began her acceptance remarks. “It’s rewarding to be honored by your peers. … Make whoever you work for need you,” she added by way of advice. “There are many female agents in our office who are equally bad-ass.”
“I think the theme today is that we have some bad-ass women,” Robertson concluded. At the beginning of the event he brought City National Bank’s Diane Pearson to the stage to accept framed artwork as thanks for her long-term presenting sponsorship of Rising Women on the Row.
“We so appreciate being a part of this event every year,” she said. “You all inspire us on a daily basis. We’ll continue to be a part of this as long as you will have us.”
This year’s supporting sponsors included Applauze, BMI, CAA, Dickinson Wright, IEBA, The Kinkead Entertainment Agency, Martin Allbee & Associates, Maverick, Monarch Publicity, Nashville School of the Arts, The Recording Academy & MusiCares, Sony/ATV, Song Suffragettes: Let the Girls Play, Tri Star Sports & Entertainment, Universal Music Group, Warner Music Nashville and WME.
Fittingly, this event always features female entertainment. Mickey Guyton took charge of the finale. She brought the house down with her extended vocal sustains on the power waltz “Why Baby Why” and her range-y phrasing on the ballad “Better Than You Left Me.” Afterward, she posed happily for photos with her all-female CAA team.
Other bad-ass women who RSVP’d included Debbie Linn, Debbie Carroll, Deborah Evans Price, Cindy Hunt, Cyndi Forman, Cindy Watts, Leslie Fram, Leslie DiPiero, Julie Boos, Joanna Carter, Jackie Patillo, Judi Turner, Jensen Sussman, Jill Napier, Alicia Warwick and her many female NARAS staffers, Tracy Gershon, Brandi Simms, Erika Wollam-Nichols, Sarah Skates, Paula Erickson, Carole-Ann Mobley, Katharine Richardson, Diane Richey, Rachel Whitney, Pam Matthews, Martha Ivester, Nancy Peacock, Donna Hughes, Penny Gattis, Rachel Whitney, Jennifer Danielson, Jaclyn Krimmel Jones, and Terri Grohusky.
OK, OK, many guys attended as well. Cheering their sisters in arms were Neal Spielberg, Jody Williams, Dale Bobo, Woody Bomar, Clarence Spalding, Pat Higdon, Don Cusic, Tim Wipperman, Scott Hendricks, Peter Strickland, Todd Cassetty, Chris Parr, Kos Weaver, Phil Graham, Rusty Gaston, Clay Bradley and John Zarling. And Bobby Karl, hisself.
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