Backbeat: Annual Hollywood Meets Nashville Party Benefits Oklahoma, Kicks Off CMA Music Fest Week

From left: Greg Page, Donna Caldwell and Charles Howe at the Hollywood to Nashville party on Monday, June 3 

Representatives from Nashville’s film and music community gathered together Monday night (June 3) for the annual Hollywood Meets Nashville party, held each year at the start of the CMA Music Festival week.

The purpose of the party, as explained by Donna Caldwell, is to bring together the two communities for networking and a relaxing evening. The invitation-only event had a second purpose this year, as guests were asked to bring donations for Second Harvest Food Bank, with some of the food and supplies earmarked for Oklahoma. Caldwell says she hopes to add to the one event she has each year by creating workshops and seminars for people to attend. “People are excited about the idea,” she said, “so I have to work to get strategic partnerships with businesses in town who will support our efforts.”

“This is a wonderful party to raise awareness for Second Harvest and to help people who have lost so much,” Joseph McLean Gregory said. Of the party, Gregory, founder and CEO of The Hope Diamond Collection, said the Nashville community has always welcomed all aspects of entertainment to the city, including all genres of music.

“The city embraces a lot of characters with wonderful gypsy stories who are the storytellers who come together to tell their life in song,” Gregory, who is working on putting together two television shows, says. “This party brings together all the elements into one place to get to know each other.” 

J. Karen Thomas, who stars as Audrey Carlisle in the ABC series “Nashville,” said the party had all the elements of a Hollywood event with the downhome feel of Nashville. The actress and singer said she hopes Tennessee and Nashville will offer more incentives to keep the films and television shows coming to Music City. “Nashville” had a $40 million impact on the local economy, she says, which makes local businesses want production to stay in the city.

Tim Ash found himself at the party because of his agent, Morgan Graham. He is doing a series of concerts that benefit Thumbs Up for Lane, a young boy who had childhood cancer. A portion of the proceeds from Ash’s concert tour will go to the organization and to help raise awareness for childhood cancer. Graham said parties like Hollywood Meets Nashville are great places to meet other people in the entertainment business in Nashville.

Tim Wipperman, CEO of Sonus Rights Management, and his wife, Susan Burger of Third Tier Music, were enthusiastic about the gathering. “The New York Times named Nashville the new ‘it’ city, and it’s really nice to get that kind of affirmation for Nashville,” Wipperman said. “It’s nice to see Nashville grow and blossom into a multi-cultural, multi-genre city.”

Terrance Hurd of The Hurd Agency says he has recently placed talent for advertisements for the Bank of America and the Gold Strike Casino. He had several of his clients at the party, including Russian dancer and owner of Sunrise International Dance Company, Oksana Chernyuk, Olga Alexeeva and Chase Crutchfield.

One of the youngest entertainers at the party was 17-year old Mary Sarah, who has pulled together an ambitious album featuring Dolly Parton, Willie Nelson, Ray Price, Oak Ridge Boys and Vince Gill. She was at the party with her manager, Sharon Dennis of Dennis Management.

“I have met so many writers at events like this,” Mary Sarah said. “Going to things like this is a great way for me to meet new people in the business. It motivates me to see people who are doing what they love.”