|Pictured are Kyle Young, Director, Country Music Foundation; Frances Preston; Charlie Anderson, Chairman, CMA Board of Directors; Tammy Genovese, Associate Executive Director, CMA; Kix Brooks, President, CMA Board of Directors. Photo by Cory Chapman / CMA
"This is one of those occasions when it is difficult to find the words to adequately express appreciation to someone whose contributions have made a huge and very positive difference for our organization and our industry," said CMA Associate Executive Director Tammy Genovese. "She was in the trenches for CMA, when being a Board member meant getting down and dirty to get the job done. She was there giving her time and energy when there was little money and very few staff members."
"I'm honored," Preston told the assembled Board members. "This is one I didn't expect. But, I am particularly pleased with it ... some of the fondest memories of my career have been with CMA."
Preston, who is a lifetime member of the CMA Board as well as a member of the Country Music Hall of Fame, recalled the Association's first Board meeting in New York. The group took over The Plaza hotel and planned to give away a Tennessee Walking Horse and a case of Jack Daniel's Tennessee Whiskey at a reception -- the horse was in the lobby and Merle Haggard was the featured performer.
"I don't know what we thought New Yorkers would do with a Walking Horse," Preston recalled, laughing. "But I'm glad we had the case of Jack Daniel's."
In addition to the cash donation, CMA presented a book, Stagolee Shot Billy by Cecil Brown (Harvard University Press, 2003), to the Country Music Hall of Fame Library in Preston's name. The book explores the 1895 murder of Billy Lyons, a story which has been told countless times by performers such as Cab Calloway, the Isley Brothers and James Brown. The book had been on the Library's wish list.