The Music City Walk of Fame made its second round of inductions Sunday, April 22 at 3 p.m. in the Hall of Fame Park in downtown Nashville. Esteemed former BMI President & CEO Frances Preston was inducted alongside several legendary BMI songwriter/artists: rock architects The Crickets and gilt-edged singer/songwriter John Hiatt. Other honorees included Emmylou Harris, Wynonna Judd and Michael W. Smith. The six recipients were on hand to celebrate with the unveiling of commemorative sidewalk markers that line Nashville’s Music Mile.
Frances W. Preston has come a long way since her position as receptionist at WSM radio station, which she left in 1958 to open a southern regional office of Broadcast Music, Inc. (BMI) in Nashville. There Preston issued performing rights licenses for songwriters and music publishers, and she quickly led BMI to a position of preeminence in the south. In 1964, the year the BMI building opened on Music Row, Preston became a Vice President. Quickly moving up the ranks, she served as President and CEO of BMI from 1986 to 2004, during which time the company’s revenue more than tripled to over $673 million. Under her leadership, BMI enjoyed a consistent record of increasing revenues and royalty distributions to its more than 300,000 songwriters, composers and music publishers. She has been inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame and the Gospel Music Hall of Fame and a Trustees Award for Lifetime Achievement by the Recording Academy, the President’s Award from the Nashville Songwriters Association International, the President’s Award from the National Music Publishers’ Association, and the City of Hope “Spirit of Life” Award. She has twice received a Humanitarian Award from the International Achievement in Arts Awards in New York. Photos highlighting Frances Preston’s prolific career can be enjoyed above.
In a career that has spanned nearly five decades, and with millions of records sold, The Crickets are unquestionably “The American Rock and Roll Band.” The group was formed in 1957 in Lubbock, Texas by Buddy Holly, J. I. Allison, Niki Sullivan and Joe B. Mauldin. After Sullivan and Holly left the group, Sonny Curtis joined to form the ever-popular trio. Their hits “That’ll Be the Day,” “Peggy Sue,” “Maybe Baby” and “I Fought the Law” are rock classics considered by many to be primary lessons in how rock music should be written and played. In the mid ’70s, the three moved to Tennessee where they continued their long association with Waylon Jennings and began touring and recording with him. Their latest release, The Crickets and Their Buddies, was partly recorded in Nashville and features Eric Clapton, Rodney Crowell, Nanci Griffith, Waylon Jennings and John Prine, to name a few. This induction is a fitting tribute to a band who literally defined rock and roll music, and who today, after 50 years, continues to set the standard of excellence by which it should be judged.
John Hiatt wrote his first top-40 hit, “Sure as I’m Sitting Here,” while working as a songwriter for Tree Music Publishing in Nashville. The song was covered by Three Dog Night, and in 1974 the band took the song to No. 16 on the Billboard chart. Since then, Hiatt’s songs have been recorded by a number of artists including Bob Dylan, Bonnie Raitt, Eric Clapton, B.B. King, Willie Nelson, Jimmy Buffet and Rosanne Cash, to name a few. Hiatt has released 18 studio albums and two live albums, and he has been nominated for 11 Grammy Awards. His 1987 hit “Have a Little Faith in Me” brought him national attention and was covered by several artists, with the most notable versions being recorded by Jewel, Mandy Moore and Joe Cocker. Hiatt has written and recorded duets with respected vocalists like Bonnie Raitt (“Thing Called Love”), Emmylou Harris (“Icy Blue Heart”), Rosanne Cash (“The Way We Make a Broken Heart”), Suzy Boggus (“Drive South”) and B.B. King & Eric Clapton (“Riding with the King”). A musician’s musician, Hiatt has proven to everyone that he has what it takes to be an all-around great singer/songwriter.
Created in the fall of 2006, the Music City Walk of Fame on Nashville’s Music Mile will be a landmark tribute to those from all genres of music who have made significant contributions to preserving the musical heritage of Nashville and have contributed to the world through song or other industry collaboration.
Permanent sidewalk medallions made of stainless steel and terrazzo, with each honoree’s name displayed in a star-and-guitar design, will be installed in the sidewalk along the Music Mile, the roughly one-mile stretch of Demonbreun Street from 4th Avenue South to the Music Row Roundabout at 16th Avenue South. The plaques for this class of inductees will be inlaid in Hall of Fame Park on Demonbreun, between 4th and 5th Avenues South.
About the Music City Walk of Fame The Music City Walk of Fame is an official project of Music City, Inc., the Nashville Convention & Visitors Bureau’s 501(c)(3) foundation; Sandra Fulton, chair. The Music City Walk of Fame is produced with the support of Gibson Guitar, Great American Country, the City of Nashville and Metro Parks.