Jeff Walker (1950–2015)

Jeff Walker (1950–2015)
Jeff Walker, far left, on Nov. 6, 2013 receives the Jo Walker-Meador Award which recognizes outstanding achievement by an individual or company in advocating and supporting Country Music’s marketing development in territories outside the United States. Photo credit: Caitlin Harris/CMA

Jeff Walker, far left, on Nov. 6, 2013 receives the Jo Walker-Meador Award which recognizes outstanding achievement by an individual or company in advocating and supporting Country Music’s marketing development in territories outside the United States. (l-r) Walker, Jo Walker-Meador, 2013 CMA International Country Broadcaster Award recipient Bob Harris, and former Chairman and now CMA Board President Frank Bumstead. Photo credit: Caitlin Harris/CMA

International advocate and industry veteran Jeff Walker died suddenly Monday night in Nashville. He was 65.

“Jeff understood the universal appeal of Country Music and was a passionate proponent of international expansion throughout his 21-year tenure on the CMA Board of Directors,” said Sarah Trahern, CMA Chief Executive Officer. “He was instrumental in producing our global artists showcase for 12 years — bringing artists from around the world to play during Music Fest. He also championed the export of our music and was particularly engaged in expansion efforts in the U.K., Australia, and Canada. His enthusiasm for Country Music and our artists will be sorely missed.”

His smile was contagious and Walker’s passion was evident in everything he touched. He was an obvious believer in hard work and always acknowledged the contributions of others. He had a quick wit and was a leader who understood collaboration; and he took the necessary time to build consensus and support among his peers for the causes and people he championed throughout his career.

He joined the CMA Board in 1995 and contributed to the work of numerous committees including the Executive, Governance, International, and Membership Committees.

International artists participate in the Chevrolet Presents the CMA Global Artist Party at The Stage on Broadway, kicking off the week of the 2012 CMA Music Festival, June 7-10 in Downtown Nashville. (l-r) standing: Jeff Walker, President, AristoMedia Group, Phil Caruso, National Promotions Manager, Chevrolet, Bryan and Brad Rempel of High Valley, Jay and Mark O'Shea of O'Shea, Vickie Evans, Morgan Evans, Gene Watson, Craig Morrison, Bob Corbett, Jess Moskaluke, Steve Moore, CMA CEO; sitting: Gary Quinn, Curtis Rempel of High Valley, and Joe Robinson

International artists participate in the Chevrolet Presents the CMA Global Artist Party at The Stage on Broadway, kicking off the week of the 2012 CMA Music Festival, June 7-10 in Downtown Nashville. (l-r) standing: Jeff Walker, President, AristoMedia Group, Phil Caruso, National Promotions Manager, Chevrolet, Bryan and Brad Rempel of High Valley, Jay and Mark O’Shea of O’Shea, Vickie Evans, Morgan Evans, Gene Watson, Craig Morrison, Bob Corbett, Jess Moskaluke, Steve Moore, former CMA CEO; sitting: Gary Quinn, Curtis Rempel of High Valley, and Joe Robinson

During his tenure he contributed to numerous projects including an international delegation trip to Australia in 1996; selection, balloting and distribution of CMA’s international honors (until 2013); the creation of New from Nashville (2005-2007), which showcased developing U.S. artists overseas; a reception during the 2005 CMA Awards in NYC with the Australian Consulate; and his crowning achievement, the development of the Global Artist Party, which started in a downtown club in 2004 and has grown to become CMA World GlobaLive!.

In 2013, Walker was presented the Jo Walker-Meador International Award, which recognizes outstanding achievement and support for the expansion and development of Country Music outside the U.S. He was the recipient of the 1996 CMA President’s Award, the CCMA’s 1998 Leonard T. Rambeau International Support Award, and the BCMA (UK) International Services Award. Other honors include the Operation Troop Aid Certification of Appointment and the CRB Presidents Award, which he received earlier this year.

In addition to his tireless support of CMA, Walker was very active in the Nashville and international music community for many years. He served on the boards of the Country Radio Broadcasters, Inc. (CRB) and The Recording Academy (NARAS). He was a past board member of ACM, CCMA, Leadership Music, served as President of the Nashville Film Festival in 2004 and 2005, and is a past President of the National Entertainment Journalist Association.

Jeff Walker at the 1987 SRO (Standing Room Only).

Jeff Walker at the 1987 CMA SRO (Standing Room Only) Awards.

Walker was founder and CEO of The AristoMedia Group, which has served the Nashville music community for more than 30 years. The AristoMedia Group is a multi-media marketing company that specializes in publicity, video, radio and club promotion, new media and visual/digital distribution, special event coordination and consulting.

A native of Sydney, Australia, Walker graduated from the University of Sydney with a Bachelor of Economics and held a membership in the Institute of Chartered Accountants.

He is survived by his wife, Terri, daughter and colleague Christy Walker Watkins, son-in-law Matt Watkins, son Jon Walker, daughter-in-law Tessa Walker, grandchildren Lucy and Ellie, father noted musical director and arranger Bill Walker, and stepmother Jeanine. Arrangements are still pending.

CMA Board leadership present International Awards to Scott Borchetta and Morgan Evans during CMA World GlobaLive! Tuesday at Walk of Fame Park in Nashville. (l-r) Frank Bumstead, Chairman Flood Bumstead McCready & McCarthy, Inc. and CMA Board Chairman; Scott Borchetta, recipient of the Jo Walker-Meador International Award, Founder and CEO of Big Machine Label Group, and CMA Board member; Sarah Trahern, CMA Chief Executive Officer; Rob Potts, CEO and Manager Director of Rob Potts Entertainment Edge, and CMA International Committee Vice Chairman; Jeff Walker, CEO/Founder of AristoMedia, CMA World GlobaLive! Executive Producer, and CMA Board member; David Ross, President of BossRoss Media and CMA Board member; and Morgan Evans, recipient of the CMA Global Country Artist Award. Photo credit: John Russell /CMA

CMA Board leadership present International Awards to Scott Borchetta and Morgan Evans during CMA World GlobaLive! Tuesday at Walk of Fame Park in Nashville. (l-r) Frank Bumstead, Chairman Flood Bumstead McCready & McCarthy, Inc. and CMA Board Chairman; Scott Borchetta, recipient of the Jo Walker-Meador International Award, Founder and CEO of Big Machine Label Group, and CMA Board member; Sarah Trahern, CMA Chief Executive Officer; Rob Potts, CEO and Manager Director of Rob Potts Entertainment Edge, and CMA International Committee Vice Chairman; Jeff Walker, CEO/Founder of AristoMedia, CMA World GlobaLive! Executive Producer, and CMA Board member; David Ross, President of BossRoss Media and CMA Board member; and Morgan Evans, recipient of the CMA Global Country Artist Award. Photo credit: John Russell /CMA

CMA Chief Executive Officer Sarah Trahern (center) and CMA Board members Jeff Walker (l) and Michael Martin collect Toys for Tots during the annual CMA member holiday party Thursday, Dec. 11, 2014. Photo credit: Dusty Draper/CMA

CMA Chief Executive Officer Sarah Trahern (center) and CMA Board members Jeff Walker (l) and Michael Martin collect Toys for Tots during the annual CMA member holiday party Thursday, Dec. 11, 2014. Photo credit: Dusty Draper/CMA

CMA Board members Jeff Walker, Milly Olykan and UK artist and host David Bradley backstage at CMA World GlobaLive!, a free showcase featuring international Country Music artists on Monday, June 2, 2014 in downtown Nashville on an outdoor stage at Broadway and First Avenue. Photo credit: John Russell/CMA

CMA Board members Jeff Walker, Milly Olykan and UK artist and host David Bradley backstage at CMA World GlobaLive!, a free showcase featuring international Country Music artists on Monday, June 2, 2014 in downtown Nashville on an outdoor stage at Broadway and First Avenue. Photo credit: John Russell/CMA

(l-r) Karen Stump, CMA Senior Director of Market Research; Mark Ramsey; Sarah Trahern, CMA Chief Executive Officer; Jeff Walker, CMA Board member and President of AristoMedia Group. Photo credit: Christian Bottorff/CMA

(l-r) Karen Stump, CMA Senior Director of Market Research; Mark Ramsey; Sarah Trahern, CMA Chief Executive Officer; Jeff Walker, CMA Board member and President of AristoMedia Group. Photo credit: Christian Bottorff/CMA

The performers at the 2007 CMA Global Artist Party on Monday, June 4. From left to right is Travis Collins (Australia), Shane Yellowbird (Canada), Tammy Genovese (CMA), Jace Everett (host), Bobbi Boyce (CMA), Gord Bramford (Canada), John McNicholl (Ireland), Adam Harvey (Australia), Rick Murray (CMA), Jeff Walker (AristoMedia), Lucie Diamond (UK).

The performers at the 2007 CMA Global Artist Party on Monday, June 4. From left to right is Travis Collins (Australia), Shane Yellowbird (Canada), Tammy Genovese (CMA), Jace Everett (host), Bobbi Boyce (CMA), Gord Bramford (Canada), John McNicholl (Ireland), Adam Harvey (Australia), Rick Murray (CMA), Jeff Walker (AristoMedia), Lucie Diamond (UK).

(l-r) Pat Higdon, Jeff Walker, Frank Bumstead, and John Marks at the CMA Songwriters Luncheon in the Country Music Hall of Fame on January 24th, 2012. Photo credit: John Russell/CMA

(l-r) Pat Higdon, Jeff Walker and John Marks at the CMA Songwriters Luncheon in the Country Music Hall of Fame on January 24th, 2012. Photo credit: John Russell/CMA

Takehisa Matsuda receives the CMA International Country Broadcaster Award on March 5, 2013 at CMA offices in Nashville, Tenn. The Award recognizes outstanding achievement by radio broadcasters outside the United States who have made important contributions for the development of Country Music in their country. (l-r) CMA Board President-Elect Frank Bumstead, CMA Membership Committee Chairman Jeff Walker, CMA Director of Membership and Balloting Brandi Simms, Matsuda, CMA Board President Ed Hardy, and CMA Senior Vice President of Marketing & Communications Sheri Warnke. Photo credit: Christian Bottorff/CMA

Takehisa Matsuda receives the CMA International Country Broadcaster Award on March 5, 2013 at CMA offices in Nashville, Tenn. The Award recognizes outstanding achievement by radio broadcasters outside the United States who have made important contributions for the development of Country Music in their country. (l-r) CMA Board President Frank Bumstead, CMA Board Member Jeff Walker, CMA Director of Membership and Balloting Brandi Simms, Matsuda, former CMA Board President Ed Hardy, and former CMA Senior Vice President of Marketing & Communications Sheri Warnke. Photo credit: Christian Bottorff/CMA

Australia's Lee Kernaghan is the recipient of the first CMA Global Artist Award. Kernaghan was invited to accept his award and perform at the Greased Lightning Riverfront Park Stages at Fan Fair 2003 but was unable to attend. Accepting the award on his behalf is Australia's Catherine Britt.    (l-r) Catherine Britt, CMA Executive Director and Aristo Media President/CMA Global Markets Task Force Chairman/CMA Board member Jeff Walker. Photo credit: Theresa Montgomery/CMA

Australia’s Lee Kernaghan is the recipient of the first CMA Global Artist Award. Kernaghan was invited to accept his award and perform at the Greased Lightning Riverfront Park Stages at Fan Fair 2003 but was unable to attend. Accepting the award on his behalf is Australia’s Catherine Britt.
(l-r) Catherine Britt, former CMA Executive Director Ed Benson, and CMA Board member Jeff Walker. Photo credit: Theresa Montgomery/CMA

Tim Daley, General Manager of the Country Music Channel in Australia accepts the 2004 Global Country Artist Award on behalf of Kasey Chambers. CMA Executive Director Ed Benson presents the award to Daly at the Greased Lightning Riverfront Park Stages on Sunday, June 13 during the CMA Music Festival, Country Music's Biggest Party. Two other Australians receive international awards from CMA including Meryl Gross (Jo Walker-Meador International Award) and Country Music legend Slim Dusty (posthumous Global Country Artist Award). (l-r) CMA Board member and President of AristoMedia Jeff Walker; Tim Daley, General Manager of the Country Music Channel in Australia; GAC Television host Kylie Harris, CMA Executive Director Ed Benson and CMA International and New Media Coordinator Kelly Randall. Photo credit: Theresa Montgomery/CMA

Tim Daley, General Manager of the Country Music Channel in Australia accepts the 2004 Global Country Artist Award on behalf of Kasey Chambers. CMA Executive Director Ed Benson presents the award to Daly at the Greased Lightning Riverfront Park Stages on Sunday, June 13 during the CMA Music Festival, Country Music’s Biggest Party. Two other Australians receive international awards from CMA including Meryl Gross (Jo Walker-Meador International Award) and Country Music legend Slim Dusty (posthumous Global Country Artist Award).
(l-r) CMA Board member Jeff Walker; Tim Daley, General Manager of the Country Music Channel in Australia; GAC Television host Kylie Harris, former CMA Executive Director Ed Benson and CMA International and New Media Coordinator Kelly Randall. Photo credit: Theresa Montgomery/CMA