The longest-serving CMA Executive Director and one of the most influential advocates of country music, Jo Walker-Meador, has died. According to the Country Music Association and the Country Music Hall of Fame release, she died Tuesday night in Nashville after a stroke. Jo Walker-Meador was 93, and he is survived by her brother Pete Denning, daughter Michelle Walker, and step-children Rob and Karen Meador.
“Jo was a champion for Country Music around the world and a groundbreaker for women in the entertainment business,” said CMA Chief Executive Officer Sarah Trahern. “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. She will be greatly missed by all. My heart is broken.”
It is during her tenure that many of country music’s major initiatives were conceived, including The Country Music Hall of Fame which was created in 1961, the CMA Awards which created in 1967 and began its national tv broadcast a year later, and the CMA Music Festival; all of which are staples in celebrating the genre while also helping global awareness of Country Music.