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BMI’s Preston Passes Away

Expanded members’ rights, confronted digital future

Former BMI President and CEO Frances Williams Preston has died. According to news accounts she had congestive heart failure.

Preston was president of the performance rights organization from 1986 through 2004. Born in 1928, she started with BMI in 1958 and rose through the ranks. According to BMI Preston worked to reform and extend songwriter rights and also navigated the difficult shoals of the digital media revolution.

NAB Joint Board Chairman Paul Karpowicz said in a statement: “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.”

Current President and CEO Del Bryant said: “Frances Williams Preston was a force of nature. She was smart, beautiful, tenacious and generous. She put BMI on the culture map and shaped the careers of many …”

Preston won many industry awards for her service and has been inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame and is in the Gospel Music Hall of Fame and Broadcasting & Cable Hall of Fame. Check out a slide show of Preston and a who’s who in music, entertainment and politics at the BMI website.