RECOGNIZING FRANCES WILLIAMS PRESTON FOR HER CONTRIBUTIONS TO MUSIC AND HER SERVICE TO THE COMMUNITY -- (Extensions of Remarks - May 11, 2004)
HON. JIM COOPER
IN THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES
TUESDAY, MAY 11, 2004
Mr. COOPER. Mr. Speaker, I rise today to recognize one of popular music's most effective and accomplished champions, Frances Williams Preston, on the occasion of her retirement. Ms. Preston, whom Fortune magazine has called "one of the true powerhouses in the pop music industry," steps down this year after 18 years as President and CEO of Broadcast Music, Inc. (BMI). And while her daily presence as the leader of BMI will be missed, she will no doubt continue to make her mark on the industry that she has come to lead.
Since entering the music business through the mailroom of WSM Radio in Nashville forty years ago, Ms. Preston's passion for music and acumen for business have shaped the art both in Nashville and nationwide. Tapped by BMI to open its Nashville office in 1958, Ms. Preston oversaw the growth of an industry giant which now employs 400 people in Nashville and thousands all over the globe. Under Ms. Preston's leadership, BMI became a driving force in Nashville's music scene, helping songwriters make a living doing what they loved, much as she did, herself. And although she eventually left Music City for New York in 1986 to take the helm of BMI's national and international operations, she has always remained an active fan and supporter of Nashville music and Southern artists.
Ms. Preston's numerous awards and commendations barely do justice to her lifetime of achievement, yet she retires as one of the most decorated individuals the music industry has ever seen. Ms. Preston has received nearly every honor available to a music industry executive, including a Trustees Grammy in 1998, and membership in the Country Music, Gospel Music, and Broadcasting & Cable Halls of Fame. Her three honorary degrees include one from the Berkelee College of Music, and she has received more than two dozen national awards recognizing her leadership and ingenuity. Esquire Magazine's designation of Ms. Preston as "the most influential and powerful person in country music" is typical of the respectful and admiring treatment she deservedly receives in the press.
Her expertise on songwriters' issues has also made Ms. Preston an effective and valuable resource on Capitol Hill, to the equal benefit of both her "constituents" and of lawmakers, and her influence has been broadly felt in the law of intellectual property. Over the years, policymakers in all levels of government have sought her counsel, including Tennessee Governor Winfield Dunn, Vice-President Al Gore, and President Jimmy Carter.
Despite her many accolades from the music industry, Ms. Preston still considers her community contributions to be among her greatest achievements. Her proudest accomplishment, she says, was her pivotal role in creating the Frances Williams Preston Research Laboratories at the Vanderbilt-Ingram Cancer Center. In addition to her numerous board memberships and community leadership roles, Ms. Preston was the first woman board member of the Nashville Chamber of Commerce, and the first woman Rotarian in Tennessee. It is a person of commendable character who looks back on a star-filled life to see her community service as the highlight of it all.
On behalf of the Fifth District of Tennessee, I applaud Frances Williams Preston's contributions to music, business, her community, and our Nation, and I wish her a happy and healthy retirement.