Frances W. Preston

Is your surname Preston?

Research the Preston family

Share your family tree and photos with the people you know and love

  • Build your family tree online
  • Share photos and videos
  • Smart Matching™ technology
  • Free!

Frances Loree Preston (Williams)

Death: June 13, 2012 (83)
Immediate Family:

Daughter of Baumann Williams and Private
Ex-wife of Private

Managed by: Private User
Last Updated:
view all

Immediate Family

About Frances W. Preston

Frances W. Preston (27 August 1928 — 13 June 2012) was an American music executive. She was the Chief executive officer of Broadcast Music, Inc. from 1986 to 2004. Preston was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame in 1992, Gospel Music Hall of Fame in 2004 and Music City Walk of Fame in 2007. Apart from her inductions, Preston received the Grammy Trustees Award in 1998.

Early life

On 27 August 1928, Preston was born as Frances Loree Williams in Nashville, Tennessee.


Preston completed a teacher's program at Peabody College.


Preston started her career with WSM (AM) as a mail clerk and became a television host for WSM-TV. She then worked in event promotions for a precursor of the CMA Music Festival. Preston moved to Broadcast Music, Inc. in 1958 and launched a Nashville branch for the organization. She planned the creation of the BMI Country Awards and was promoted to vice president in 1964. She remained as vice president until she was named senior vice president of performing rights in 1985.

From 1986 to 2004, Preston was the chief executive officer and president of BMI. During her time as president, Preston was a part of the Copyright Renewal Act of 1992 and Copyright Term Extension Act in 1998. She remained as CEO until August 2004 and was named emeritus for the rest of 2004. Outside of music, Preston served on committees for Jimmy Carter and Al Gore.

Awards and honors

In 1992, Preston was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame. Also that year, Preston received an honorary doctorate of music from Berklee College of Music. Additional inductions include the Gospel Music Hall of Fame in 2004 and the Music City Walk of Fame in 2007. Outside of music halls, Preston was awarded the Grammy Trustees Award at the 40th Annual Grammy Awards and named to the Broadcasting and Cable Hall of Fame in 1999.

Personal life

Preston was divorced and had three children.


Preston died from heart failure on 13 June 2012 in Nashville.

---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- (note: bio precedes her death)


PRESTON, Frances Williams

One of the most successful and highly placed female music executives in the history of the entertainment industry, passed away Wednesday, June 13, 2012 at age 83, surrounded by family at her Nashville home. Considered the guardian angel of songwriters, Mrs. Preston is credited by many with coining the Nashville songwriter's creed, "It all begins with a song." Mrs. Preston spent virtually her entire six-decade career with performance rights giant BMI (Broadcast Music Inc.) and was long the international face for Nashville's music industry, first as head of BMI's Nashville office and later as president of the company (1986-2004), head-quartered in New York. She was a member of the Country Music Hall of Fame, the Gospel Music Hall of Fame, and the Broadcasting & Cable Hall of Fame.

Mrs. Preston retired from BMI in 2004 and returned to Nashville full-time in 2007. Mrs. Preston's groundbreaking career was one that made history with many firsts -- she was the first female executive on Nashville's fledgling Music Row, joining BMI shortly before her friend, Jo Walker-Meador, was named to lead the Country Music Association (CMA); was reportedly the first female corporate executive in Tennessee; the first woman elected to the board of governors of the Nashville Area Chamber of Commerce; the first woman to serve as board chair of the CMA; and the first woman appointed to the board of directors of New York's prestigious Friar's Club. She was honored and awarded countless times, even after her retirement.

At the 1998 Grammys she received a National Trustees Award, the highest recognition given by the Recording Academy (NARAS) to a non-performer. In 1999, she was named Person of the Year at the MIDEM convention in Cannes, France, the highest international award accorded to a music industry executive. She accepted the President's Award from the National Music Publishers' Association (NMPA) in 2001, and in 2002 was given the President's Award by the Nashville Songwriters Association International (NSAI). In 2007, she was enshrined in the Music City Walk of Fame in downtown Nashville. In 2010, the women's music industry organization SOURCE gave her the Jo Walker-Meador Lifetime Achievement Award, and the Nashville Songwriters Foundation (NSF) paid tribute to her with their Mentor Award, renaming it the Frances Williams Preston Mentor Award. At the 2011 BMI Country Awards, the top prize for song of the year was rechristened the BMI Frances W. Preston Award.

Preston volunteered her time to many philanthropic endeavors; dearest to her was the T.J. Martell Foundation, the music industry's leading charity. Upon receiving the Martell's Humanitarian Award in 1992, she expanded the foundation's outreach to include the Nashville community and spearheaded the creation of the Frances Williams Preston Research Laboratories as a cornerstone of the Vanderbilt-Ingram Cancer Center (VICC). Vanderbilt's Medical Research Building II, the focal point for VICC research, was renamed the Frances Williams Preston Building in 2001.

In 2009, she was given the Lifetime Music Industry Award at the inaugural T.J. Martell Honors Gala in Nashville. At the 2012 Martell Honors event on March 26, she and Emmylou Harris presented Kris Kristofferson with the rechristened Frances Williams Preston Lifetime Music Industry Award.

Preston was born on August 27, 1928 in Nashville. She graduated from North Central High and attended the George Peabody College for Teachers at Vanderbilt University. Her first job was at the National Life & Casualty Insurance Company in downtown Nashville, which segued into the receptionist's position at the company-owned WSM radio station. Her vibrant personality caught the attention of Robert J. Burton, then president of BMI, and in 1958 Judge Burton hired Mrs. Preston (then Frances Williams) to open a Nashville office for the company, making BMI the first performing rights entity with a full-time presence in the South.

Preston was preceded in death by her parents, Irene and Baumann Williams; her brother, Douglas Williams, a noted artist and interior designer. Preston married the late E.J. Preston, a Nashville businessman, in 1962. She is survived by three sons, William Kirk Preston, David J. (Emily) Preston and Donald L. Preston all of Nashville; six grandchildren, Taylor Preston, Lindsey Preston, Jake Preston, Matthew Preston, Stuart Preston and Frannie (Brent) Daughrity; great granddaughter, Preston Rose Daughrity. Visitation for family, friends and colleagues will be on Sunday, June 17, 2012 from 5-9 p.m. at the Country Music Hall of Fame, where Mrs. Preston will lie in repose in the Rotunda. A private funeral will take place at First Lutheran Church, with a private graveside service and burial to follow at Nashville's Landmark Spring Hill Cemetery.

view all

Frances W. Preston's Timeline

August 27, 1928
June 13, 2012
Age 83