Bart Herbison and Erika Wollam Nichols Honored with
Bob Kingsley Living Legend Award
Event Benefits Grand Ole Opry Trust Fund
Nashville – (November 1, 2023) – Two of Nashville’s highly and long-respected champions of supporting the songwriting community, Bart Herbison and Erika Wollam Nichols, were each honored Monday night with the Bob Kingsley Living Legend Award. The event, on hiatus since the pandemic, returned for a 7th time at the Opry House to benefit the Grand Ole Opry Trust Fund. The event began in 2014 to celebrate the remarkable career of Bob Kingsley and has raised more than $350,000 since the event’s inception. Previous honorees have included Kingsley himself in 2014, Joe Galante (2015), Jim Ed Norman (2016), Lorianne Crook & Charlie Chase (2017), Clarence Spalding (2018), and Lon Helton (2019).
Pictured L-R: Nan Kingsley, Erika Wollam Nichols, Rhett Akins, Bart Herbison, Dan Rogers (credit: Chris Hollo)
Monday night’s participating songwriters included Jeffrey Steele, John Rich, Rivers Rutherford, Lee Miller, Steve Bogard, Tim Nichols, Lee Roy Parnell, Victoria Shaw, Tony Arata, Don Henry, Kathy Mattea, Jon Vezner, and Rhett Akins.
The Opry Trust Fund began in 1965 with a mission to help those in the country music industry by offering financial assistance during a time of extraordinary need, emergency, or catastrophe. This includes individuals who are or have been employed full time in a facet of the country music industry (i.e. performer, songwriter, publisher, radio, session musician, etc.). The fund pays for items such as medical bills, living expenses, utilities, and rent or mortgage. The Opry Trust Fund accepts referrals from individuals within the country music community, including Opry members, as well as from other charitable organizations such as MusiCares, ACM Lifting Lives and Music Health Alliance.
About Bart Herbison
Bart operates as Executive Director of the Nashville Songwriters Association International (NSAI), the world's largest not-for-profit Songwriters trade organization and advocacy group dedicated to the songwriting profession. A Paris, Tennessee native, Bart Herbison worked as a reporter and spent 14 years in radio and as a correspondent for The Nashville Banner newspaper before joining the administration of former Tennessee Governor Ned McWherter as Deputy Director of Communications in 1987. Herbison ventured to Music Row in 1997 following his successful political career. He has played a pivotal role in legislative efforts aimed at protecting intellectual property rights, ensuring fair compensation, and fostering a sustainable ecosystem for songwriters in the digital age. Through his tireless lobbying efforts, Herbison has helped shape key copyright legislation, bringing about positive change and safeguarding the livelihoods of countless songwriters. Herbison’s accomplishments include the adoption of the “Music Modernization Act” of 2018, the most important copyright law reform for songwriters in decades which created The Mechanical Licensing Collective. Herbison also led NSAI’s involvement in the 2016 Copyright Royalty Board trial that led to a historic 44 percent mechanical royalty increase for American songwriters. He was instrumental in the passage of the landmark "Songwriters Capital Gains Tax Equity Act" in 2006 and the creation of the first-ever Group Copyright Infringement Insurance for songwriters and music publishers. Bart Herbison continues to shape the music industry, ensuring that the voices of songwriters are heard and celebrated.
About Erika Wollam Nichols
Erika serves as the Chief Operating Officer at the Bluebird Cafe and oversees all aspects of the venue’s on-site and off-site operations along with marketing, sponsorship, and brand development of The Bluebird Cafe name. She is also co-director of the Tin Pan South Songwriters Festival and handles the performance program of the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony. Prior to her role at Bluebird Cafe, Erika held several executive positions within the entertainment industry, enabling her to cultivate a deep understanding of the complexities and nuances of the business. Her expertise in artist relations, talent management, and event production has been instrumental in establishing strong industry partnerships and elevating the profile of Bluebird Cafe.