“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.” – SARAH TRAHERN, CMA Chief Executive Officer
“The world of Country Music has lost an irreplaceable force. It was my great privilege to work with Jo. Over the years I had the opportunity to see how she used her warm and caring personality and her unique skills to gain friends and supporters all over the world. Jo had an incredible memory for details. She could remember not only the names of the many people with whom she came in contact, but usually the names of their spouses and children too.
Jo had a big vision for the power of Country Music and a determination that it could grow in popularity. She was one of the early supporters of international development. I traveled around the world with her meeting with top industry leaders and government officials to promote Country’s growth. She spoke only English, but she knew the international language of music had great value. And of course that personality endeared her to so many.
I never met a harder worker than Jo. She was an inspiration to all who had the privilege to work with her. I have been lucky to remain close to her since she retired and I felt she loved me like the son she never had.” – ED BENSON, Former CMA Executive Director
“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.” – ROBERT DEATON, Executive Producer for “CMA Fest,” the CMA Awards, and “CMA Country Christmas”
“Besides being a respected role model in the music industry, Jo was also a warm, caring lady. She always had time to listen and to offer help. The music industry and the Country Music Association in particular, greatly benefited from her unique ability to pull people together to get a project underway and to see it thru to completion. We will miss her.” – BILL DENNY, CMA Board member and Former Board President and Chairman
“She was a perfect lady all the time, and with that came this steely ability to get things done. From the 70’s through the 90’s I had the great honor of walking her into the Oval Office to meet those Presidents – every one of them. She was just a magnificent representative of the Country Music Association. She could be as charming as needed and talk business with everybody from the President to the stagehands.” – JIM FREE, Ex-Officio CMA Board member and President/CEO of The Smith-Free Group
“Jo is so many things to me! She hired me in 1985 as the CMA Administrative Services Manager – she even called my high school principal to make sure I was a good person. She quickly became my mentor and the reason I committed to CMA and created my life there. Jo was a woman who made it to the top. If she could do it, so could I. So I buckled down, went back to school and earned my MBA, got married, had my kids, and finally did make it to the top – with her as my champion all the way.
She was also such a personal inspiration to me and my family. I called her my ‘Nashville Mom’ and I think most of the time she claimed me… I will miss her forever, but know she is happy in Heaven with her precious Bob and watching all her friends and family from around the world celebrate her life. Love you Jo!” – TAMMY GENOVESE, Former CMA Executive Director
“Jo Walker-Meador was an incredible, pioneering leader in the evolution and growth of the CMA and building the foundation for our future successes. When I was asked by the board to step in and fill the CEO role on an interim basis in 2013, she was one of the very first people who called to offer her help and I gladly accepted it and treasured her counsel. Her legacy as one of the very first women in leadership in the country music industry will endure forever. Until recently, Jo still attended so many CMA functions. She will truly be missed by me and I’m sure by all of my colleagues on the CMA Board and Staff.” – ED HARDY, Former CMA Board Chairman
“Her dream was to coach basketball, but she wound up coaching country music all over the world. I was always amazed at Jo’s memory. She could remember everything and anything. The last Board talk she gave was astounding. She adored the people in Country Music – the fans, the artists, the singers, all the innerworkings. She adored it. And that’s what we all loved about her. She loved us. Its wasn’t just a job to her. She cared. She was a wonderful, kind, sweet person that absolutely gave all. The people meant more to her than the bright lights and city folks. She got the word out, not that it wasn’t before, but it went to a different level with Miss Jo.
I was honored to know her personally for a long, long time. I will miss her spirit, laughing with her, having lunch with her and being around the great person that she was. It’s like a bright light went out and will be out for a bit, but Sarah will carry on that tradition and make that light shine again. We can rely on that for sure.” – BRENDA LEE, Country Music Hall of Fame member and former CMA Board member
“I am very saddened about the passing of Jo Walker-Meador! Almost everyone knows of her legendary passionate leadership and inspirational gifts she dedicated to the music community, but what I remember most was her friendship, passion and love for any and all of us who had the pleasure of being in her presence! Love you Ms Jo!! – STEVE MOORE, Former CMA Chief Executive Officer and Board Chairman
“Jo was the very face and epitome of grace and aplomb. It may have been a mans world she accommodated but it “wouldn’t be nothing” without Jo Walker Meador. Every time we spoke, without knowing it, or forcing it, she reminded me about the importance of kindness, truth and humility. Selfish as it may be, a great regret of mine will be not having spent even more time with her.” – JIM ED NORMAN, CMA Board member and CEO of Curb Records
“I was so sorry to hear about Jo’s passing. She was an angel here and she’ll be angel there. She will always be loved and missed.” – DOLLY PARTON, Country Music Hall of Fame member
“I had the honor to serve as Chair & President of CMA during Jo’s tenure.
Jo was of ultimate importance to the growth in stature and size of CMA as she had an uncanny ability to keep us all going in the same direction for the benefit of everyone in Country Music.
I miss her already!” – RALPH PEER II, CMA Board member and Chairman/CEO of peermusic
“Jo Walker Meador, now joins the ranks of spirited and passionate female leaders such as Frances Preston, Donna Hilley, Maggie Cavender and others who have left everlasting marks on the growth and success of country music. Her humor, grace and tireless efforts on behalf of country music will be greatly missed.” – DAVID M. ROSS, CMA Board member and Owner of BossRoss Media
“Miss Jo was a beautiful expression of class, charm, grace and a life well lived.
I will miss her smile and encouraging words.” – TROY TOMLINSON, CMA Board member and President and CEO of Sony/ATV Publishing
“Jo was an inspiration to a couple of generations of artists and executives in Nashville’s music industry. Along with dear friend Frances Preston, former CEO of BMI, Jo was responsible for creating community among all of the businesses on Music Row. She led by example, was smart as a whip and accomplished so much for the CMA – securing the organization as the premiere country music trade association in the world. And she did all of this as one of the few female executives in the business, working with and leading hundreds of male business leaders. In addition, she always greeted you with a big smile and was a natural born nurturer.” – JODY WILLIAMS, CMA Board President-Elect and Vice President of Creative for BMI Nashville
“I don’t think that Jo’s impact on our community can be understated. Under her leadership, the CMA propelled our artists and industry to new heights, laying the groundwork for where we are today.” – SALLY WILLIAMS, CMA Board Chairman and SVP of Programming & Artist Relations for Opry Entertainment
“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.” – KYLE YOUNG, Ex-Officio CMA Board member and CEO of the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum
About the Country Music Association: Founded in 1958, the Country Music Association is the first trade organization formed to promote a type of music. In 1961, CMA created the Country Music Hall of Fame to recognize artists and industry professionals with Country Music’s highest honor. More than 7,800 music industry professionals and companies from around the globe are members of CMA. The organization’s objectives are to serve as an educational and professional resource for the industry and advance the growth of Country Music around the world. This is accomplished through CMA’s core initiatives: the CMA Awards, which annually recognize outstanding achievement in the industry; CMA Music Festival, which benefits music education and is taped for a network television three-hour special; and “CMA Country Christmas,” featuring Country artists performing original music and Christmas classics for broadcast during the holiday season. All of CMA’s television properties will air on the ABC Television network through 2021.
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