Behind the Scenes with Country’s Managers

What Needs to Change After Las Vegas

Ann Edelblute manages Carrie Underwood. Kerri Edwards manages Luke Bryan. Marion Kraft manages Miranda Lambert. Mary Hilliard Harrington manages Dierks Bentley. And Virginia Davis manages Thomas Rhett.

All five of these powerful women got together in Nashville recently to talk to Billboard about every aspect of their jobs and how the tragedy in Las Vegas has changed everything.

Rhett’s manager Davis says that they all took action right away. “We immediately increased security on the road. It’s something that I have been monitoring closely. Festivals are different than our hard-ticketed shows because we’re going in with a promoter, and it’s their show. There are multiple acts, and we don’t have as much control as we do inside a building,” she said. She added that because country music is defined by the fans’ accessibility to the artists, that cannot change. “We take that away, we change the integrity of what country music is about.”

“But we have to keep the people that come to our shows safe. So, it’s obviously a conversation we’re all having in the industry right now,” she said.

Lambert had already started to tighten security a year and a half ago, after a finalist from The Voice was shot when she stayed after her Orlando show to sign autographs.

“For us, the security issue became prevalent when the Christina Grimmie attack happened,” Kraft said.

“In ¬≠country, we are very vulnerable because we do all these meet-and-greets,” she explained. “It basically exposes our artists to random strangers. When (our head of security) arrives at the venue, he calls the head of the venue. When it’s indoors, we have much more leverage. Everybody who comes through the meet-and-greet gets wand-ed. People have to leave their bags outside. With festivals, I don’t think the book has been written yet about how we keep everyone safe.”

Bentley’s manager feels like the whole ¬≠country needs to have a conversation about gun control, and maybe that would help. “Given what happened in Texas,” Harrington said, “does the Baptist Church also need to have this conversation?”

“It’s not just country (music), it’s Americans — it’s so much broader.”

Then again, she recommends that artists stay away from talking about hot topics.

“I believe that fans want to connect through music,” she said, “and not politics or whatever the issue of the day might be.”

Alison makes her living loving country music. She's based in Chicago, but she's always leaving her heart in Nashville.