Jo Walker-Meador, the first executive director of the Country Music Association, was born Josephine Denning in Orlinda. One of ten children, her early ambition was to become a girls' basketball coach. She attended Lambuth College and George Peabody College and worked in a variety of jobs before being hired as the office manager and sole employee of the newly formed Country Music Association (CMA) in 1958. In 1962 she became the executive director of the association and remained in that position until she retired in 1991.
Under her direction, the CMA grew from a one-person organization to an association with worldwide influence. During the thirty years of her directorship, the number of country music stations in the United States increased from one hundred to two thousand, fully 25 percent of all United States stations. While at CMA, Walker-Meador initiated the Country Music Hall of Fame in 1961, Fan Fair in 1971, and the annual CMA Awards ceremonies.
In 1954 she married Charles Walker, who died in a motorcycle accident in 1967. They were the parents of one daughter, Michelle. In 1981 she married businessman Bob Meador.
Published » December 25, 2009 | Last Updated » February 28, 2011