Frances Preston Remembered by Dolly Parton, Linda Moran, Lamont Dozier, International Publishing Execs, More
Frances Preston Remembered by Dolly Parton, Linda Moran, Lamont Dozier, International Publishing Execs, More

preston Frances Preston in her role as then-vice president of BMI. (Photo: Billboard Archives)

The music community was saddened today by news of the passing of Frances Williams Preston, longtime head of BMI and one of the pioneering female executives in the music industry. This morning, many of the artists she helped and executives she worked with reacted to her passing. We published a collection of these reactions earlier, and have put together a further list of reactions, memories, and condolences below.

Frances Preston, Former BMI CEO and Pioneering Female Exec, Dead at 83

"We've lost our beloved Frances Preston. She was the heart of BMI, not only for me but for every BMI writer. She was a great leader and a great friend to us all. Frances, you were very loved and you will be truly missed." -- Dolly Parton

"Frances Preston was a great friend to the broadcast community during her nearly two decades as president and CEO of BMI. She was a person of substance, grace and humanity, and her unwavering support for songwriters will be her legacy. We join our music industry friends in mourning the loss of this truly one-of-a-kind woman." -- NAB Joint Board Chairman Paul Karpowicz

"We lost a great lady, someone who has done so much for our Foundation." -- Tony Martell, Founder & Chairman of the T.J. Martell Foundation. Frances reigned as President of the T.J. Martell Foundation National Board of Directors for more than 16 years.

Frances Preston Remembered by Roseanne Cash, Del Bryant, Joe Galante, Many More Execs and Songwriters

"Frances was world class... a well-respected and formidable executive in the music industry, not to mention one of the most vibrant and engaging people you'd ever want to meet. NARM and BMI have enjoyed a productive working relationship through the years, and Frances was a close colleague of NARM's longtime leader Mickey Granberg, who died in 2010. They were among a very select group of strong female executives who broke barriers for women throughout the industry, and set the standard for dynamic leadership for all of us." -- Jim Donio, president of NARM

"Frances was so very special to those of us on the board and in the songwriting community, that I do not feel I have to go on to list all of her professional achievements, other than to say that we were all so fortunate to have had her in our lives, personally and professionally, and she will be missed more than words can say.

"On a personal note, Frances was a mentor, a confidant and a 'girlfriend.' She accompanied me to Switzerland one year when I did a Warner Music Group/Time Warner project at the Montreux Jazz Festival. Most of her travel was for business and she said she said she had never been on vacation with a female before -- and I told her not to expect me to carry her luggage! We spent the week just being 'girls' and having fun. We got thrown out of a private party at Claude Nobs' house (founder of MJF) because he invited us, but forgot he had rented it out to bankers; we almost missed our stop and had to jump off a tour boat; and gossiped and laughed a lot. I introduced her to my longtime Atlantic colleague, Arif Mardin, who was always taking pix, and she could not believe he was using a disposable camera. Shortly after we returned, she sent me a photo book with handwritten captions on each photo and sent Arif a good camera! She was amazingly thoughtful that way ... she remembered birthdays and anniversaries with flowers or gifts, and personally signed in calligraphy her Christmas cards, which were always prints of her brother's artwork. I will always save the memories and good times we had throughout the years; but none more so than the week we spent together when she was able to be just Frances and not 'Frances the CEO.' My good pals at BMI tell me she talked about the trip for a long time." -- Linda Moran, president/CEO of the Songwriters Hall of Fame; SVP, Warner Music Group, 1970 - 2004

"Frances Preston was a pioneer for female executives in the music industry. During her six-decade-long career with BMI she fought for songwriters and publishers rights and encouraged the development and support of new artists. During her eight-year-long term as President/CEO of the company, BMI saw consistent increases in revenue and royalties distributed to its composers, publishers and songwriters. She was also a staple on Capitol Hill, fighting for legislation to ensure compensation of songwriters as music entered the digital age. She served on additional boards within the music community, including BMI and CMA -- and was also recognized for her philanthropic work for AIDS, Cancer and Leukemia research. The music industry has suffered a great loss of one of its true visionaries. Our thoughts and condolences go out to her family, friends and all of those whose careers she influenced." -- Neil Portnow, president/CEO of The Recording Academy

"Frances Preston was one of the giants of her generation. When I was the head of CISAC, The International Confederation of Authors and Composers Societies, I witnessed firsthand how she put BMI on the map, tirelessly advocating for music creators' rights and, as one of our long serving board members, making BMI resources available to help us advance the cause of copyright protection worldwide. Frances was a great friend of SOCAN and to the amazing creative community we have here in Canada. Thanks to her and the smart people she always surrounded herself with, SOCAN and BMI have been seamlessly working together for the greater good. I will miss her personally, her advice, her passion and her experience, but I know her legacy will be inspiring all of us for a long long time." -- Eric Baptiste, CEO, SOCAN

"I had the privilege of working with Frances for a decade and it wouldn't be a stretch to say that she was probably the most influential music exec in my career. While most CEO's were driven by the bottom line, her passion, tenacity and sheer force of will came from an authentic and absolute love of the songs and songwriters. And while she's getting fully justified credit for helping break the gender-barrier in music biz board rooms, I think most folk would agree she was one of the most effective leaders and managers of any gender." -- Mark Fried, president, Spirit Music Group; worked at BMI from 1985-1995

"It is with a heavy heart that we have learned the sad news of the passing of our good friend, former BMI President and CEO, Ms. Frances W. Preston. JASRAC would like to express its deepest condolences to her family and to all at BMI who have lost a dear presence.

"During her splendid tenure as president and CEO of BMI, Ms. Preston provided the copyright community with much guidance, and it was a pleasure for JASRAC to have the privilege of welcoming her to Japan several times and to JASRAC's 60th anniversary event. Her accomplishments and deserved awards and accolades are but a part of the remarkable individual she was, and the international music industry will truly miss her." -- Mitsuo Sugawara, president of JASRAC

"Frances Preston was the "Grande Dame" in the international family of collection societies. With confidence and a fine political feeling she successfully represented and stood for the ideal and economic interests of the authors represented by the big American collection societies. She was the face of BMI with her charm, elegance and inimitable kindness. With her presence alone she managed that whatever sincere dispute between whoever could end in an amicable conversation. With all of that she was predestined to be successful in responsible positions in international associations of the collection societies. Even after she resigned from the daily business not so long ago the spirit and style she represented still remained. All of us sincerely revered Frances Preston and even more loved her from the deep of our hearts. The family of collection societies and especially GEMA will mourn for her for a long time." -- Dr. Harald Heker, CEO of GEMA

"Frances was a towering figure in our industry. She was an advocate for the rights of songwriters and composers and became one of the most successful and influential executives in the music industry. Frances was dedicated to the art and business of songwriting and she was loved for it. The music industry is a better place for musicians and writers thanks to her pioneering efforts -- Frances will be very sorely missed." -- Brett Cottle, CEO of APRA/AMCOS

"It is with great sadness to hear of Frances Preston's passing today, she was a formidable personality, campaigner and believer in rewarding the creator -- a real songwriters' hero and a true "grande dame" of the industry. She was a huge inspiration to us all and will be dearly missed." -- Karen Buse, International Director, PRS for Music

"We are so sorry to hear of the great Frances Preston passing today. She understood the value copyright and gave creators the world over a strong, credible and vital voice. She was a true pioneer and her legacy will live on. We will miss her." -- Guy Fletcher, Chairman, PRS for Music

"The loss of Frances Williams Preston is cruel news for all the community of creators. Besides her major contribution to the US musical industry, Frances, as President of BMI, has devoted herself for many years to the protection and promotion of author's rights worldwide. Her professional achievements with her charismatic and visionary personality have greatly helped the collective management societies, notably for the development and evolution of technical resources, such as FastTrack, of which she was one of the founding members. SACEM was proud to work with Frances and developed a strong and friendly relationship with her. She will remain in our memories as a respectable, talented and exceptional person." -- Bernard Miyet, Chairman, SACEM