Veteran producer and music publishing executive Mark Bright has been named president and CEO of Word Entertainment. He succeeds Jim Van Hook, who decided to retire after more than 30 years in the faith-based music industry.

Bright will oversee Nashville-based Word Entertainment's entire operation, including the label group, publishing, distribution, and church resource divisions. He will report to Warner Bros. Records chairman and CEO Tom Whalley.

"With his rich musical background as an accomplished performer, songwriter, and producer combined with his successful track record as a music industry executive, Mark embodies a truly unique blend of creativity and leadership," Whalley said in a prepared statement. "I am confident that Mark will bring a spirit of innovation and artistry to Word Entertainment and uphold its celebrated tradition as one of the world's preeminent homes of contemporary Christian music."

"Mark will bring a lot of excitement and talent to Word Entertainment," said Word chairman Mike Curb. "He will continue to build on the terrific team already in place, including Rod and Susan Riley, Mark Funderburg, and the other dedicated employees, artists, and songwriters. I would also like to compliment the tremendous contribution of retiring CEO Jim Van Hook, who has led the company through four important years."

A veteran record producer, Bright has worked with Carrie Underwood, Rascal Flatts, Sara Evans, Billy Ray Cyrus and Mark Schultz, among others. In addition, Bright formerly served as VP of EMI Music Publishing and co-founded co-venture Teracel Music, whose staff writers included Brett James, Rascal Flatts, and Danny Wells.

The founder and former head of the Provident Music Group, Van Hook retreated from the music industry for just four months before returning in an academic role. He was named first deanship of Belmont University's new Mike Curb College of Entertainment and Music Business. In 2004, Van Hook added the leadership of Word Entertainment to his resume and, through a unique relationship with Curb and Warner Bros., Van Hook turned Curb College into the only institution in the music business with a dean who was active as an executive in the music industry. In 2006, Van Hook stepped down from his role at Belmont to devote his attention to Word, which has been Billboard's Christian Imprint of the Year for the last two years.