Sponsored By

Jo Walker-Meador

  • Executive Director of the Country Music Association (CMA) 1962-1991
  • Member of the Country Music Hall of Fame
  • Under her leadership, CMA created the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum, CMA Awards, and Fan Fair

As Executive Director of the Country Music Association (CMA) from 1962 to 1991, Jo Walker-Meador played a direct and influential role in the remarkable growth of the country music industry. One year before she took the helm at the CMA, full-time country radio stations numbered fewer than 100 nationwide. By 1995 there were nearly 2,400 such stations.

When industry leaders organized the CMA in 1958, they hired Walker-Meador as office manager while former WSM manager Harry Stone served as executive director. After Stone's departure, Walker-Meador stayed on and soon assumed his role. Under her direction, the staff eventually grew to more than 20 employees.

CMA prospered under Walker-Meador's gracious and skillful leadership. Among the organization's well-known programs adopted during her tenure were the launching of the national fundraising drive to build the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum (CMA created the Hall of Fame in 1961) and the creation of the annual CMA Awards, which began in 1967 and was televised nationally for the first time in 1968. Also during Walker-Meador's tenure, Fan Fair was inaugurated in 1972 as an annual gathering where country music artists performed and interacted with their fans. Now known as CMA Music Festival, it has become Nashville's signature music event, drawing thousands of fans from around the globe to Nashville each June.

Thanks to the efforts of Walker-Meador and others, CMA has grown from about 200 members to a membership of more than 7,000 individuals and organizations. Today it is the most important trade organization on the Nashville music scene and among the most active in the world. Walker-Meador has remained involved in the events on Music Row since her retirement in 1991. She was elected to the Country Music Hall of Fame in 1995.

Inducted to the Music City Walk of Fame on November 9, 2008.