Gaylord Abandons Country Label Plans

Gaylord Entertainment, the company that owns the Grand Ole Opry, has abandoned its plans to launch a country record label, even though the company was at the point of signing several artists earlier this summer. Among the prospective signees were Chris Knight, who was formerly with Decca Records, and newcomer Michelle Poe.

Dooming the label was the sudden resignation of Gaylord CEO Terry London in July, followed in September by the equally unexpected departure of Tim DuBois. London had hired DuBois as Gaylord’s president of creative content and empowered him to set up a label. It was to be Gaylord’s second attempt to become a major player in the country record field. The company had tried and failed in this mission in the late ’80s with 16th Avenue Records.

“My understanding is that we’re not [starting a country label],” says Page Kelley, Gaylord’s vice president of business affairs. Kelley formerly worked for DuBois at Arista, serving as senior director of business and legal affairs. “We had signed Michelle Poe to a demo deal,” Kelley continues. “We were about to sign a number of other artists, including Chris Knight, and I don’t believe that’s going to happen now.” Poe confirms that Gaylord has released her from her contract.

Steve Williams, who quit as Arista’s senior director of A&R (Artists & Repertoire) to work with DuBois at Gaylord, has since left the company.

Edward Morris is a veteran of country music journalism. He lives in Nashville, Tennessee, and is a frequent contributor to