Former CMA executive director and Country Music Hall of Fame member Jo Walker-Meador received The Cecil Scaife Visionary Award on Friday, Nov. 22 at a private ceremony inside CMA’s Atrium in Nashville.

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Jo Walker-Meador

As reported by Music News Nashville, the Award is given annually to an individual whose life and work have made it possible for future generations to realize careers in the music industry.

Walker-Meador was the longtime head of CMA, serving as executive director from 1962 to 1991. During her stewardship, she and CMA played a direct and influential role in Country Music’s growth. One year before she took the helm at the CMA, full-time country radio stations numbered fewer than 100 nationwide. By 1995 there were nearly 2,400 such stations.

She also led the creation of Fan Fair, which is now the CMA Music Festival and brings thousands of Country Music fans from all over the world to downtown Nashville each June for four days of live music and fun. She also led the creation of the popular CMA Awards, which are televised each year on ABC Television Network and are widely known as Country Music’s Biggest Night.

Cecil Scaife, as noted by Country Standard Time, was a famous Music Row executive who was instrumental in the formation of the music business program that is now known as the Mike Curb College of Entertainment and Music Business at Belmont University.

“Passionate about the music industry and education, it was Scaife’s vision to form a college level program to produce successful musicians, artists and music business executives by giving students an opportunity to formally learn about the industry that was so fulfilling and exciting for him,” the website reported.

Dignitaries at today’s ceremony included Mike Curb, Country artist and Country Music Hall of Fame member Brenda Lee, U.S. Rep. Marsha Blackburn, Nashville Mayor Karl Dean, CMA CEO Sarah Trahern (who takes over as CEO effective Jan. 1, 2014), and CMA Board President Ed Hardy, pictured above with Walker-Meador, also joined in congratulating the honoree.

Previous recipients of The Cecil Scaife Visionary Award include: Mike Curb, Tony Brown, Wynonna JuddDavid Briggs & Norbert Putnam, and Amy Grant.