Music Exec Donna Hilley Passes Away; Trisha Yearwood’s Cooking Show Renewed for Second Season; Tift Merritt Signs with Yep Roc

Juli Thanki | June 21st, 2012

  • Retired music executive Donna Hilley passed away yesterday: Ms. Hilley, born in Birmingham, Ala., worked at Nashville radio station WKDA and at a public relations firm before joining music publisher Tree in 1973. She became Tree’s vice president and chief operating officer in 1978 and arranged Tree’s sale to CBA (which later became Sony Music Publishing) in 1989. She was named chief executive officer and vice president of Tree in 1994. Before her retirement in December 2005, Ms. Hilley worked to expand her publishing company, and to acquire major songwriting catalogs including Merle Haggard’s and Jim Reeves’. “Donna Hilley’s legacy at Sony/ATV Music Publishing, on Music Row’s artists and songwriters and on the broader Nashville community could never fully be expressed with words,” Sony/ATV Nashville President Troy Tomlinson said in a statement. “She was an icon in every sense — an inspiring trailblazer for women executives in the music business, a staunch advocate for artists and songwriters and a genuine competitor who was respected, but never underestimated, by her peers.”
  • Kay West wrote a lovely remembrance of Frances Preston for the Nashville Scene.
  • TIME television critic James Poniewozik called the Nashville pilot “the most pleasant surprise of fall 2012 so far.”
  • The Food Network has renewed Trisha Yearwood’s cooking show for a 13-episode second season. Production begins this summer; new episodes will air in the fall.
  • Wynonna Judd married drummer Cactus Moser in a private ceremony on Sunday.
  • Brad Paisley and The Band Perry will play four shows in Sweden and Norway this November.
  • The “Bluegrass Nights at the Ryman” series begins tonight with Vince Gill and Sarah Jarosz.
  • Lonestar will release new single, “The Countdown,” on July 17. A new album is expected in October.
  • Robert Dye recaps the highlights of the 2012 Songwriters Hall of Fame Awards. Here’s one of ‘em: “615 represent! This is how we do it in Nashville at Amy Kurland’s Bluebird Café,” exclaimed Don Schlitz before launching into a beautiful rendition of “When You Say Nothing At All.” A short list of his credits include “He Thinks He’ll Keep Her,” “Forever and Ever, Amen,” “Rockin’ With The Rhythm Of The Rain,” and most famously “The Gambler.” Kenny Rogers, who took “The Gambler” to the top of the charts in 1978, performed the song to an enthusiastic black-tie audience. “Artists hope for a song to get them on the radio, another to keep them on the radio and then one to give them a career,” Rogers said. “Don writes careers.”
  • Download “Defenders,” a free instrumental from Chris Pandolfi (Infamous Stringdusters).
  • Here’s a goofy video of Ray Wylie Hubbard and his pal, Ringo Starr.
  • Chris Smither blogged about his new album, Hundred Dollar Valentine, for American Songwriter. An excerpt: Production. The very word has been known to strike terror in the hearts of most folk-based singer-songwriters, but it no longer has any such hold on me, for behold, I have developed a fine working relationship with David Goodrich wherein he trusts me to come up with songs that will not make him cringe with embarrassment, and I trust him to treat them as though they were the crown jewels. It works great. In the past I might have said, “Harmonica? On six tunes? Are you crazy?,” but now I say, “Bring it on,” and he does, in the person of Jimmy Fitting, and this guy will make you re-think everything you ever thought you knew about the instrument. 
  • It’s Country Day over at Farce the Music. FTM also posted a parody of Alan Jackson’s “So You Don’t Have to Love Me Anymore.”
  • Trampled By Turtles’ Dave Simonett and Ryan Young, along with several other bearded, rootsy musicians, are playing some tunes and shaving their facial hair for charity tonight in Minneapolis.
  1. Jonathan Pappalardo
    June 21, 2012 at 11:34 am

    That’s great about Trisha’s cooking show. Glad to see it’s getting a second season and 13 episodes at that. Loved the first run and will tune in again.

    Hopefully it’ll coincide with the release of her new album. Can’t wait for new music from her.

  2. nm
    June 21, 2012 at 2:45 pm

    I sure hope Connie Britton’s new show is good, but however good it is I expect to spend much of the time giggling about the way Nashville is presented as working.

  3. Rick
    June 21, 2012 at 5:55 pm

    Oh how I wish WSM would do live broadcasts of those Thursday night bluegrass shows from The Ryman!!! Those would be a definite “must hear” item on my schedule if they were available. Come on Eddie Stubbs, do something about this! (lol) Darn.

    Thanks to a pair of freebie tickets I won from LA’s AirHead Country Radio station KKGO, I attended the LA version of “The Million Dollar Quartet” musical last night at the old (but still classy) Pantages Theater in Hollywood. I highly recommend that show for any fans of the early music of Johnny Cash, Elvis, Jerry Lee Lewis, or Carl Perkins. The plot line isn’t very deep, but this show is all about the music as it should be. Chuck Mead was involved in expanding the song list from the original version and included some nice songs, including “Fever” as made popular by Peggy Lee and “I Hear You Knocking”. As a pleasant musical / theatrical experience it rates a solid two thumbs up.

    Gosh, first we get a newly revived version of “Dallas” and now the new series “Nashville” is on the horizon. Yee Haw! (lol) Its too bad Connie Britton’s dialogue won’t be written by Amy Sherman-Palladino who was the driving force of “The Gilmore Girls” and now the new “Bunheads” series on ABC Family. If Connie’s character could only be like the Michelle character on Bunheads. Oh well…

  4. Ken Morton, Jr.
    June 21, 2012 at 7:57 pm

    Oh how I wish WSM would do live broadcasts of those Thursday night bluegrass shows from The Ryman!!! Those would be a definite “must hear” item on my schedule if they were available.
    Second that.

  5. Redd Dirt
    June 21, 2012 at 9:27 pm

    “Thanks to a pair of freebie tickets I won from LA’s AirHead Country Radio station KKGO,”

    Since you’re a listener of that station wouldn’t that make you an airhead too?

  6. Leeann Ward
    June 21, 2012 at 9:28 pm

    Regard the Thursday night bluegrass shows…Finally something Rick and I can agree on.:)

  7. Ben Foster
    June 22, 2012 at 12:00 am

    Not quite the Trisha news I would have hoped to hear, but good for her.

  8. Rick
    June 22, 2012 at 3:51 pm

    Redd Dirt, I don’t actually listen to KKGO, well except for their 2 hour “Classic Country” show on Sunday mornings anyway. They have a “Rewards” website where every week you earn 1,000 points and you can use your accumulated points to enter give-away contests. There are thousands of people participating in the rewards program, so its rare to win anything these days. Now I’m trying to win a ticket to see Jerrod Niemann at the Mint Club! (lol)

  9. Jon
    June 22, 2012 at 9:31 pm

    How many shows get streamed live from the Ryman in a typical year?

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