Frances Williams Preston Former BMI CEO Dies in Nashville
Frances Williams Preston, passed away on Wednesday morning of congestive heart failure in Nashville, Tennessee at age 83.
Preston, who worked with top songwriters as president of the royalties company Broadcast Music Inc., BMI, was said to have been the first female executive in the state of Tennessee and was definitely a pioneering female in the music industry.
Preston was president of the New York-based BMI, which collects and distributes royalties to songwriters, from 1986 to 2004. Prior to that, she was head of the company's office on Music Row in Nashville, where she was born and raised.
During her career, Preston worked with a host of writers and artists including Kris Kristofferson, Dolly Parton, Willie Nelson, Roy Orbison, Loretta Lynn, Waylon Jennings and Tammy Wynette. As BMI president, she oversaw a company that represented Paul Simon, Janet Jackson, Sting and others. Sting and others. Canadian Country Music Hall of Fame member Dick Damron reached at his Alberta home working closely with Preston and had this to say; “ She was always very good to me during my Nashville days! Great lady.”
Preston received the highest Grammy award given to a non-performer, the National Trustees Award from the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences in 1998.
The well respected Preston was a member of the Broadcasting & Cable Hall of Fame, the Country Music Hall of Fame and the Gospel Music Hall of Fame.
One of her many claims to fame include being credited with coining the Nashville songwriter's creed, "It all begins with a song." Which is the slogan of our SAC, Songwriters Association of Canada. Preston was born on August 27, 1928 in Nashville. In her early career she worked at WSM radio station in Nashville. In 1958, she was hired to open the Nashville branch of BMI.
Jody Williams, the BMI vice president for writer and publisher relations, said Preston showed "profound respect" for songwriters, mentored many music executives during her career and used her powerful position to help establish Nashville as a major music center."She is without a doubt the single most important figure responsible for making Nashville 'Music City,'" Williams said.
Preston retired from BMI in 2004 and returned to Nashville in 2007.
During her tenure as BMI president, the company enjoyed a consistent record of increasing revenues and royalty distribution to its more than 300,000 songwriters and music publishers. She also helped pioneer the licensing of new digital media.
Preston passed away surrounded by family in Nashville at age 83.