×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Jo Walker-Meador, Former Executive Director of Country Music Association, Dies at 93

Jo Walker-Meador, who rose through the ranks of the Country Music Association and became an impactful figure in the industry, died early Wednesday morning in Nashville after a stroke. She was 93.

Walker-Meador was the first full-time employee that the Country Music Association ever hired; her initial position there was as an office manager in the 1950s when country music was often scorned by rock ‘n’ rollers. Walker-Meador accepted the executive director position in 1962 after Minnie Pearl suggested that Walker-Meador take up the post, as she was already doing the work. By the time she retired in 1991 after 29 years as the organization’s executive director, country music had pervaded the mainstream.

Walker-Meador has been credited with helping to invigorate the genre: A survey conducted near the time of the CMA’s inception in the late ’50s found only 81 full-time country radio stations, but when Walker-Meador retired, there were more than 2,400. During her tenure as executive director, she oversaw the creation of the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum and the CMA Awards and Fan Fair, which became CMA Fest, and she was especially adept at wrangling the CMA’s board of directors, which was mostly male and full of larger-than-life personalities.

In 1994, the Country Music Association established the Jo Walker-Meador Award in her honor, which recognizes outstanding achievement by an individual or organization in supporting country music outside of the U.S. She was also inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame in 1995.

“Jo Walker-Meador looked at a mid-sized Southern town and envisioned something grander,” Kyle Young, CEO of the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum, said in a statement Wednesday morning. “She listened to music that was regional and knew that it could have worldwide impact. And then she quietly and gracefully ushered these things into being. She created grand scenes, then stood behind them. The Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum would not exist without her, and my life is one of millions that are better because of Jo Walker-Meador.”

James Donio, president of the Music Business Association (Music Biz), issued the following statement on the death of Walker-Meador.

“I am so very sorry to hear the news this morning of the passing of former CMA Executive Director Jo Walker-Meador,” he said. “I had the good fortune of meeting Jo and working with her and her staff from my early years at NARM in the late-1980s. In fact, Jo and NARM’s Mickey Granberg, along with BMI’s Frances Preston, were trailblazing female executives in the music business and great friends. So I had the chance to get to know her. NARM and CMA were actually formed in the same year…1958…and the two organizations have had a warm and collaborative relationship that continues to this day.”

“Jo hosted so many fabulous events at the annual NARM Convention, showcasing Country artists such as Roy Clark at our 1974 event, celebrating the genre’s successes and building relationships with the retail community to promote Country music,” the statement continued. “I also enjoyed seeing Jo at the CMA Fest and CMA Awards. She was always so gracious and never missed an opportunity to catch up with me. On behalf of the Music Business Association, I want to extend our deepest condolences to Jo’s family and friends and, of course, everyone at CMA.”

More Music

  • Weezer

    Weezer Surprise-Releases Covers Album

    On the heels of Weezer’s mega-successful version of Toto’s “Africa,” the band has surprise-released a full album of covers. “The Teal Album” features renditions of such 80s hits as A-Ha’s “Take On Me,” Tears for Fears’ “Everybody Wants to Rule the World,” The Eurythmics’ “Sweet Dreams (Are Made Of This)” and Michael Jackson’s “Billie Jean” in addition to classics [...]

  • Def Jam Chief Says 'Rap Camp'

    Def Jam Chief Says 'Rap Camp' Concept 'Encapsulates Our New Direction'

    “Seventeen artists, six days, one incredible album full of new music.” That was the description used by Def Jam Records to introduce the label’s “Rap Camp” concept, which yielded the compilation album “Undisputed” designed to introduce the roster’s slate of hip-hop newcomers. Def Jam is, of course, home to some of the biggest names in rap [...]

  • Mac Miller Mural

    Mac Miller Honored With Memorial Mural: The Story Behind the Art

    Venice, California-based painter Gustavo Zermeno Jr. paid tribute to what would have been Mac Miller’s 27th birthday on January 19 with an 11-feet x 50-feet mural spread across Express Label, a custom printing and graphic design firm on Beverly Blvd., just east of N. Virgil Avenue in the Silverlake neighborhood of Los Angeles. Miller died [...]

  • Cardi B iHeartRadio Jingle Ball, Show,

    Cardi B's First Las Vegas Residency Confirmed for New KAOS Nightclub

    Variety has confirmed that Cardi B will be making money moves with her first Las Vegas residency this spring. Coming to KAOS, a new day and nightclub opening at the Palms Casino Resort the first weekend in April, Cardi joins a hip-hop and EDM-heavy lineup that will have G-Eazy, Above and Beyond, Kaskade and Skrillex taking [...]

  • Rapper, Songwriter BlocBoy JB Sues 'Fortnite'

    Rapper, Songwriter BlocBoy JB Sues 'Fortnite' Creator Over 'Shoot' Dance

    BlocBoy JB is joining the ranks of performers suing Epic Games for a dance move. In this case, James “BlocBoy JB” Baker filed suit against the “Fortnite” creator for the game’s use of his “shoot” dance, a dance move he created in his music video for “Shoot.” The dance move is called “hype” in the [...]

  • Ric Ocasek House

    Now Separated, Ric Ocasek and Paulina Porizkova Seek Sale of Manhattan Townhouse

    Almost a year after top-earning 1980s supermodel Paulina Porizkova announced, via social media, that she and veteran New Wave rock star Ric Ocasek of the Cars had “peacefully” split up a year earlier, following almost three decades of marriage, the erstwhile couple’s Manhattan home, a handsome townhouse on a pretty, tree-lined block in the Gramercy [...]

  • Alfonso Cuaron's 'Roma' Companion Album to

    Alfonso Cuarón's New 'Roma' Album to Feature Beck, Patti Smith, El-P, T Bone Burnett

    Not to be outdone by Ariana Grande’s impending record news, filmmaker Alfonso Cuarón has announced the track list and release date for his new album, which, coincidentally, is also due Feb. 8. He’s the curator of “Music Inspired by the Film Roma,” which was already teased by a Billie Eilish track, and is now revealed [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content