One Of Music Row’s Most Influential Leaders, Jo Walker-Meador, Has Died At 93

Jo Walker-Meador, one of the most important behind-the-scenes advocates of country music, has died. Walker-Meador, who led the Country Music Association as its executive director from 1962 to 1991, died Tuesday night in Nashville at age 93 after suffering a stroke. Her death was announced by the Country Music Association and the Country Music Hall of Fame.

Born February 16, 1924 in Orlinda, Tennesee as Edith Josephine Denning and raised on a farm, Walker-Meador began working in 1958 as the first paid employee of the Country Music Association, which hired her as its office manager.

When first hired, Walker-Meador had a very steep learning curve, as she told CountryZone.net in a 2008 interview: “I knew nothing about country music,” she said. “I had never been to the Grand Ole Opry. I’d heard of Minnie Pearl and Roy Accuff, Ernest Tubb and I’d heard of Hank Williams but I didn’t delineate the different types of music… they had a board of directors just been elected several weeks before I was employed. They didn’t want to hire someone who wanted to be a singer or who wanted to be a songwriter, but someone who would be an administrator.”