Women in Music 2019

Nashville Songwriter Kim Williams Dies at 68

Jason Kempin/Getty Images
Kim Williams performs during 2012 SESAC Nashville Music Awards at The Pinnacle at Symphony Place on October 28, 2012 in Nashville.

Ace Nashville songwriter Kim Williams passed away on Thursday (Feb. 11) at the age of 68. A native of Kingsport, Tenn., he started early in the business, actually writing his first composition before he was a teenager. He also played in several regional bands until he got married and started to raise a family, before going to work in the construction and electronic-technical sector.

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In 1974, he was severely burned in an electrical fire at a glass plant that he was working at. Williams endured over 200 surgeries in the aftermath. Many of his treatments required travels to Vanderbilt University in Nashville, and the trips re-lit his musical fires, as he began to seriously hone his skills as a songwriter for the first time.

He signed with Buddy Killen at Tree International in 1989. It took him only a couple of years to register his first major success as a tunesmith, with Joe Diffie’s “If The Devil Danced (In Empty Pockets),” which hit No. 1 in 1991. Along the way, he had initiated a friendship with a once-struggling performer named Garth Brooks. With his success firmly in place by that point, Williams struck gold with the singer on several occasions – including 1993’s “Ain’t Goin’ Down Till the Sun Comes Up” and “Papa Loved Mama.”

Williams also registered cuts from artists such as George StraitReba McEntire, and George Jones. In 1994. Williams was named the ASCAP Country Songwriter of the Year. The next year, his “Fall In Love” became the very first top 10 hit for future superstar Kenny Chesney.

Williams’ brightest moment in the spotlight came in the early 2000s as co-writer on Randy Travis’ hit “Three Wooden Crosses.” The song would wind up winning Song of the Year honors from the CMA, ACM, Nashville Songwriters Association International and the Gospel Music Association. For his long and storied career, Williams was inducted into the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame in 2012. At the time of his induction, his daughter, Amanda – a writer and performer in her own right – wrote a touching tribute to her father on her website.


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