This wide-ranging interview, conducted by the Museum’s Michael McCall on December 4, 2013, covers music executive Kay Clary’s life and career in promoting rock, country, and Americana musicians. Clary helped lay the groundwork for Nashville’s Americana music scene, working in public relations and artist management for Jason & the Scorchers, the Georgia Satellites, Billy Joe Shaver, and other critically acclaimed roots-rock acts in the 1980s and ’90s. The interview is illustrated with photos, recordings, and video footage.
The Louise Scruggs Memorial Forum, made possible by the Gibson Foundation, annually honors a female music industry leader who continues the legacy of music business pioneer Louise Scruggs.
Clary has been a major force in establishing Nashville’s rock and Americana scene, as well as an invaluable influence during her years on Music Row. She began her career at Praxis International, a rock & roll management firm and record label based in Nashville. Praxis launched significant recording artists such as Jason & the Scorchers, the Georgia Satellites and Webb Wilder, and furthered the careers of Steve Forbert, John Hiatt, Billy Joe Shaver, and many others.
Clary boosted other artists as a public relations and marketing executive, both at her own companies, Hybrid Vigor and Commotion PR, and as a valued executive at Aristo Media and Front Page Publicity. In 2005, she joined BMI and rose to executive director of media relations and corporate communications before stepping down from her post in 2012 for a sabbatical leave.
In both entrepreneurial and corporate settings, she has championed influential performers with distinctive styles, no matter their commercial status—an approach that established her well-earned reputation as a musical tastemaker.
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