News Charts / Awards 24/08/2017

Nashville Business Journal Names Kelsea Ballerini Artist Of The Year, Announces 2017 Women In Music City Honorees

Nashville Business Journal Names Kelsea Ballerini Artist Of The Year, Announces 2017 Women In Music City Honorees

New York, NY (Top40 Charts / Nashville Business Journal) Kelsea Ballerini released her first album, "The First Time," in 2015, which reached gold status. That same year, Ballerini received Billboard's Women in Music Rising Star award. In 2016, she was named New Female Vocalist of the Year at the ACM Awards. Ballerini has also been named one of CMT's "Next Women of Country" and the "Nashville It Girl" by Rolling Stone. Earlier this year, the ACM awarded Ballerini with the Gene Weed Milestone Award for her accomplishments in country music. Ballerini's sophomore album, "Unapologetically," is set to drop Nov. 3, 2017.

"When you read the list of winners this year, you get a true sense of the impact that women are making in the music business - what a group, including the Artist of the Year, Kelsea Ballerini! Not only will we be showcasing what women are currently contributing, but also highlighting women from the past (and future) showing the longevity and importance of females in the business." - NBJ President and Publisher Kate Herman.

The Nashville Business Journal is also pleased to name the program's first Lifetime Achievement winner: Jo Walker-Meador. Walker-Meador was born Edith Josephine Denning in Orlinda, Tenn. She led the Country Music Association as executive director from 1962 until 1991, playing an integral part in the growth of the country music industry during that time. Under her leadership, the association grew from about 200 members to more than 7,000. She was elected to the Country Music Hall of Fame in 1995. Walker-Meador died this year on Aug. 16 after suffering a stroke. CMA CEO Sarah Trahern will be presenting the award at the event.

Also new this year, the NBJ and Ryman are excited to present the first Lula Naff Ryman Trailblazer Award awarding an outstanding woman in music business history. In its inaugural year to kick off the award, the honor goes to Lula Naff, formerly with Ryman Auditorium. Naff took a job with a Johnson City talent agency after finishing business school. When the company moved to Nashville in 1904, Naff followed, soon thereafter she was put in charge of booking speaking engagements, concerts and other events for the newly renamed Ryman Auditorium. After years of commitment to the group, booking everyone from Katherine Hepburn to Harry Houdini, Naff retired in 1955 and was named Manager Emeritus. She passed away in 1960 at the age of 85.

In addition to the presentation of the awards, The Harpeth Hall School Chamber Choir will perform a Kelsea Ballerini song as part of the awards dinner. Said Head of School Dr. Stephanie Balmer, "It is an honor for Harpeth Hall's Chamber Choir to perform in a program that celebrates women in Nashville's music industry. The honorees are role models, and their paths exhibit the variety of ways our young women can make an impact. At Harpeth Hall School, we believe brave girls and purposeful women can change the world."

To determine our list of Women in Music City winners, nominations were taken from the public, and the final of selection of honorees was judged by an independent panel of judges made up of the following: Lori Feldman (Warner Bros. Records); Camille Hackney (Atlantic Records); Cara Lewis (Cara Lewis Group); Natalia Nastaskin (United Talent Agency); and Jacqueline Saturn (Harvest Records).

This year's winners are (listed alphabetically): Tatum Allsep (Music Health Alliance), Julie Boos (Flood, Bumstead, McCready & McCarthy), Debbie Carroll (MusiCares), Erin Crawford (Nielsen Music), Virginia Davis (G Major Management/Home Team Publishing), Beville Dunkerley (Pandora), Kerri Edwards (KP Entertainment), Leslie Fram (CMT), Becky Gardenhire (WME), Tracy Gershon (Red Light Management), Lisa Harless (Regions), Ali Harnell (AEG Live), Mary Hilliard Harringon (Red Light Management), Rebecca "Becky" Harris (Huskins-Harris Business Management), Caryl Healey (Sony Music Nashville), Autumn House-Tallant (Red Light Management), Allison Brown Jones (Big Machine Label Group), Beverly Keel (Middle Tennessee State University), Chandra LaPlume (Taillight TV), Ebie McFarland (Essential Broadcast Media), Haley McLemore (Red Light Management), LeAnn Phelan (Sea Gayle Management), Lisa Purcell (Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum), Kelly Rich (Amazon Music, Nashville), Risha Rodgers (WME), Sally Seitz (iTunes), Alison Smith (BMI), Jennie Smythe (Girlilla Marketing), Denise Stevens (Loeb & Loeb LLP), Susan Stewart (The Recording Academy), Lou Taylor (Tri Star Sports and Entertainment), Sarah Trahern (CMA), Marcie Allen Van Mol (MAC Presents), Christy Walker-Watkins (The AristoMedia Group), Carla Wallace (Big Yellow Dog Music), Sally Williams (Opry Entertainment Group) and Stephanie Wright (UMG Nashville).

Nashville-based design build firm Van Mol Restoration and Ryman Hospitality Properties are Gold Sponsors of this year's Event. Change the Conversation is an Association Sponsor. KGV Studio is the Video Sponsor. All winners will be highlighted in both a printed Nashville Business Journal special publication and online at

About the Nashville Business Journal (NBJ)
The Nashville Business Journal, one of 43 publications with American City Business Journals, is a division of Advanced Media Publications. NBJ is a media outlet that provides local business news and connections through print, online, mobile and events. The Nashville Business Journal is published every Friday and can be viewed online daily at

About Kelsea Ballerini
Grammy nominee Kelsea Ballerini skyrocketed to stardom after releasing three consecutive platinum-certified, No. 1 smashes from her critically acclaimed, gold debut album "The First Time" - "Love Me Like You Mean It," "Peter Pan, " and "Dibs" - making her the only female artist in country music history to achieve this accolade. The Black River Entertainment artist also reached gold status with Top 5 hit "Yeah Boy" after having written or co-written all 12 songs on her debut album. Ballerini has appeared on the cover of Billboard Magazine's Grammy preview issue, was included in Forbes' "30 Under 30"class of 2017, and featured in People Magazine's "Beauty at Every Age" list in their iconic World's Most Beautiful issue for 2017. She's been named "The Country Sweetheart" in "People" magazine's elite "Ones to Watch" portfolio, praised by "Rolling Stone" as the Nashville It Girl, touted by Billboard as Country's Next Queen, and selected as one of CMT's Next Women of Country. After her 2016 headline "The First Time Tour" - which visited dozens of cities across the U.S. and included sold-out shows in her hometown of Knoxville, Minneapolis, New York City, Los Angeles and more - Ballerini joined Thomas Rhett for his "Home Team Tour" and is currently on Lady Antebellum's "You Look Good World Tour." Awarded Billboard's "Rising Star" honor at the prestigious 2015 Women in Music event, she has continued to gain recognition by scoring her first-ever ACM Award win for New Female Vocalist of the Year, iHeartRadio Music Award for "Best New Country Artist, " multiple Radio Disney Music Awards, and the American Country Countdown Award for Breakthrough Female of the Year. Her highly anticipated sophomore album, "Unapologetically, " is slated to drop Nov. 3 and features lead single "Legends."

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