Donna Hilley, the former Sony/ATV Nashville president and CEO and a prominent female executive in country music, died on Wednesday from an extended illness, the company announced.
Hilley, from Birmingham, Ala., began her career at Nashville’s WKDA radio station. She later joined Tree Intl., a top country music publishing company, which was bought by Sony in 1989.
She became president and CEO in 1994 and was instrumental in negotiating the acquisitions of Acuff-Rose, Little Big Town, and the catalogs of Conway Twitty, Buck Owens and Merle Haggard.
Troy Tomlinson, current president and CEO of Sony/ATV Nashville, said she was a trailblazer for female executives in the music business, a staunch advocate for artists and songwriters and a genuine competitor.