NASHVILLE, Tenn., Aug. 25, 2017 : The Nashville usiness Journal has named Kelsea Ballerini Artist of the Year for its fourth-annual Women in Music City Awards. The platinum-selling country star will be honored at the red-carpet awards dinner on October 17 at Music City Center.
This event will bring together both the business and music industries, combining two major driving forces behind the success of Music City.

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 Nashville 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

(Posted on 25 August 2017, 1685828594 44O200O112O172)