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.
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).
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.
Juli Thanki is the editor of Engine 145 and a freelance writer whose work has appeared in the Washington Post, Bluegrass Unlimited, and M Music & Musicians Magazine. In 2011 she received the International Bluegrass Music Association Print Media Person of the Year award.