Key player in country music industry dies after stroke

Jo Walker Meador_435058

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) – A woman who played a major role in building today’s country music industry has died.

Jo Walker-Meador died early Wednesday morning after suffering a stroke.

Meador was the first full-time employee ever hired by the CMA. She also played a part in creating the Country Music Hall of Fame, CMA Fest and the annual CMA Awards.

Following news of her death, the Country Music Hall of Fame released a statement, saying, “Jo Walker-Meador looked at a mid-sized Southern town and envisioned something grander. 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.”

CMA Fest Executive Producer Robert Deaton said, “I always felt like my day was better just by being with Jo. When working on one of our shows, she would always leave me with a piece of advice. She would take me by the hand and whisper a legend’s name in my ear as a reminder to not forget where we came from. She was all about love. The love of Country music, our artists, and the love of our community. We should all honor the legacy of Jo Walker-Meador. Her mark on our music will last forever. She was one of a kind and will be dearly missed.”

And another statement from CMA Chief Executive Officer Sarah Trahern reads, “Jo was a champion for Country Music around the world and a groundbreaker for women in the entertainment business. On a personal note, I will miss her guidance, humor, and friendship. She was the first meeting I set up before I took this job. She taught me lessons in how to gracefully navigate the Board. She was always diplomatic in her storytelling and she had some great ones to share. Over the last six months she was a little more candid and I always looked forward to our time together. Ironically, today we’re in the middle of Board Meetings so there is a lot of sharing of stories and viewing videos from her legacy in her honor. She will be greatly missed by all. My heart is broken.”

Funeral arrangements for Meador were not immediately known.

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