NASHVILLE, Tenn., November 3, 2008 - In honor of late music industry pioneer Louise Scruggs, the Country Music Hall of Fame® and Museum will host a special interview with Museum Senior Vice President for Public Relations Liz Thiels on Tuesday, November 18, at 6:00 p.m. In a career spanning nearly four decades, Thiels, an early co-owner of the Exit/In and founder and owner of influential music industry PR firm Network Ink, has broadened the scope of music public relations in Nashville and has nurtured and trained legions of Music City's current PR professionals.
The Louise Scruggs Memorial Forum, made possible by the Gibson Foundation, explores issues related to the business side of the music industry and is presented annually to honor a music industry leader who represents the legacy of pioneer Louise Scruggs. Scruggs was the first woman in country music to take on roles as a booker and manager. She guided the career of Flatt & Scruggs and, later, those of her husband, Earl Scruggs, and their sons, Gary, Randy and Steve. She continued to guide Earl’s successful career until her passing in 2006. As the first woman in country music to assume these roles, she set new standards for the industry.
The forum, which takes place in the Museum’s Ford Theater, will include an in-depth interview with Thiels, supplemented with photos, film footage and audio recordings culled from the Museum's collection. A reception will follow the program. Admission is free.
“It is altogether fitting that we undertake this second annual salute to Louise Scruggs with the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum,” says Henry Juszkiewicz, chairman and CEO of Gibson Guitar. “Louise’s attention to detail and strong commitment to her family’s music is very much in keeping with the Museum’s mission and the Gibson Foundation's goal of advancing education for music and the arts, and I can’t think of a more fitting recipient than Liz Thiels, whose efforts have broadened and heightened the profile of the country music industry."
Like Louise Scruggs, Thiels forged an unconventional path through the music industry with an open-ended, broad-minded interpretation of country music and an unwavering creative vision. Thiels contributed to Nashville’s international clout by helping launch the Exit/In, one of the city’s premier music venues; she created Nashville’s first PR firm specific to the city’s music industry; and she helped shape the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum’s worldwide reputation as a valuable cultural institution.
“Liz Thiels is a consummate professional whose big-picture decision making is essential to the Museum,” said Museum Director Kyle Young. “Her deep understanding of both the institution and this genre has been essential to our growth and development over the last quarter century, and her work has raised the Museum’s profile as ‘country music’s Smithsonian,’ nationally and internationally."
Thiels has been a fixture in the entertainment community for nearly four decades. After moving to Nashville in the late 1960s, she worked as an account executive for Holder, Kennedy & Co. Public Relations, then the city’s top agency. During the early 1970s, Thiels became a partner in Nashville’s Exit/In, the internationally renowned “listening room” that showcased such rising stars as Billy Joel, Linda Ronstadt, Steve Martin and John Hiatt, as well as music legends like Jerry Lee Lewis and Muddy Waters. In 1976, she was appointed director of public relations for Sound Seventy Corporation, where she was instrumental in accelerating and broadening the career of Charlie Daniels and elevating his annual “Volunteer Jam” concerts into a major American musical institution.
In 1979, Thiels co-founded Network Ink with Nashville public relations pioneer Hal Kennedy and Mike Hyland. The company was the first to mesh full-service public relations with Nashville’s music industry. Thiels became sole owner of Network Ink in 1985 and has represented artists such as Clint Black, Brooks & Dunn, Guy Clark, Kathy Mattea, Reba McEntire, Dolly Parton, Ricky Skaggs, Wynonna and many others, and institutional clients including Marlboro Music, Benson & Hedges Blues and 650 WSM-AM.
Her public relations efforts for the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum began in 1981, and she was instrumental in the $15 million capital campaign that partially financed the Museum’s downtown home. In December 2001, Thiels closed Network Ink to join the Museum staff and spearhead the Museum’s new public relations department. Throughout her tenure with the Museum, Thiels has worked tirelessly to educate the Museum’s many audiences about its status as a nationally accredited not-for-profit educational organization. She has helped to raise the institution’s profile and deepen understanding of its mission, and has been the guiding vision for dozens of key Museum events, including donation ceremonies and the annual Medallion Ceremony, during which new members of the Country Music Hall of Fame are officially inducted.
“Liz has done wonderful things for our city’s music,” said Country Music Hall of Fame member Earl Scruggs. “Louise would be pleased to know that Liz was selected for this second forum in her honor.
Founded in 2002 as the philanthropic division of Gibson Guitar, the Gibson Foundation is committed to making the world a better place for children worldwide through its own initiatives and by its support of other non-profit organizations that advance music and the arts, health and welfare, education and environmental causes. For more information please visit www.gibsonfoundation.org.
These programs are made possible, in part, by grants from the Metropolitan Nashville Arts Commission and by an agreement between the Tennessee Arts Commission and National Endowment for the Arts.
Accredited by the American Association of Museums, the Country Music Hall of Fame® and Museum is operated by the Country Music Foundation, a not-for-profit 501(c)(3) educational organization chartered by the state of Tennessee in 1964. The Museum’s mission is the preservation of the history of country and related vernacular music rooted in southern culture. With the same educational mission, the Foundation also operates CMF Records, the Museum’s Frist Library and Archive, CMF Press, Historic RCA Studio B, and Hatch Show Print.
More information about the Country Music Hall of Fame® and Museum is available at www.countrymusichalloffame.com or by calling (615) 416-2001.