Bev Paul traces her career from managing a folk club to leading Sugar Hill Records during this forum, held February 20, 2020, at the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum, and named for one of the Nashville music industry’s most formidable female music industry figures, Louise Scruggs.
On stage, Paul talks about her business relationship with artists such as Robert Earl Keen, Nickel Creek, and Dolly Parton, and how the early interest in music that led to those experiences was sparked during her childhood in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, when a family friend played an album by the Kingston Trio.
Paul fell in love with the South during a trip with her father to his Duke University class reunion in Durham, North Carolina, and decided to move there for college, where she had some of her earliest music industry experiences. She worked in a folk music coffee house on campus and, later, in a folk club in Fayetteville, North Carolina, called the Gaslight Café. Those experiences imparted practical lessons, and she shares some with the Museum audience.
When Paul moved to the Raleigh-Durham area, she reconnected with an old flame, Bobby Paul, who would become her husband. She speaks about her time at radio station WQDR and at the home office of a national music retailed caller the Record Bar, remembers the company’s investment in rising talent including the Judds, and reminisces about meeting a then-unknown Alan Jackson as he developed his career.
Paul also explains how she landed a job in 1991 at Sugar Hill Records, the roots label founded by Barry Poss. She recounts her efforts to make Sugar Hill Records stand out from the crowd as an independent label and her desire to grow the bluegrass audience. After the label was sold, Paul returned following a brief absence and helped launch the group Nickel Creek. Under her leadership, the label partnered with Dolly Parton to release her award-winning bluegrass albums.
As the program comes to an end, Paul traces the evolution of the Americana music format as well as her involvement in its early years. In her honor, Scott Miller performs a song titled “Angels Dwell.”
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