Renowned leader in the Nashville music community, Charlie Monk, passed away on December 19 in his home in Nashville, TN. He was affectionately named and known by many in the industry as the Mayor of Music Row. He created a lasting impact in radio, song writing, record producing and television in a career spanning more than 60 years. Monk’s career began at WGEA in his hometown of Geneva, Alabama while he was in high school. He then attended Troy University where he worked a full-time shift on WTBF radio. In 1968, Monk moved to Nashville and propelled his career even further. His free-form music and talk show for WMTS radio was the first daily broadcast from Music Row. He joined the staff of The American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers (ASCAP) in 1970 and was a co-founder of the Country Radio Seminar, the long-running media gathering. There, he hosted the “New Faces Show” for 40 years as it launched legends including Jason Aldean, Reba McEntire, George Strait, Miranda Lambert, Eric Church and Vince Gill. As a publisher, Monk notably fostered the careers of country music stars Randy Travis and Kenny Chesney. In 1977, he became Nashville chief of CBS Songs, which quickly became one of Music City’s top three publishers. He founded his own company, Monk Family Music Group, in 1983, taking a leave of absence in 1988 to spearhead the return of legendary publisher Acuff-Rose to its former glory. During Monk’s tenure, Acuff-Rose was the first publisher to win “Most Performed Song of the Year” from both ASCAP and Broadcast Music, Inc. (BMI) in the same year. Monk came back to radio in 2004 to host the morning show on SiriusXM’s Willie’s Roadhouse. Most recently, Monk hosted a show on SiriusXM’s Prime Country and Willie’s Roadhouse.
Monk has served the music community in a variety of ways, including being an alumnus and former board member of Leadership Music, a member of the Country Music Association, the Academy of Country Music, and the Gospel Music Association, where he formerly served as vice president. He also served as vice president of the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences, the Nashville Songwriters Association International and as local president of the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (SAG/AFTRA). He has been inducted into the Country Radio Hall of Fame, the Alabama Music Hall of Fame and the Tennessee Radio Hall of Fame. In 2017, Monk was honored by his hometown of Geneva with a street named Charlie Monk Lane. In 2021, he received the Country Music Association’s Joe Talbot Award, recognizing outstanding leadership and contributions to the preservation and advancement of Country Music’s values and traditions.
Friends and colleagues in the Nashville music community shared their thoughts on Charlie Monk’s passing:
“My heart is literally in pieces. I simply cannot picture my future without Charlie Monk in it. His support of my career since it’s inception up through my current place at Willie’s Roadhouse has always amazed me, and our mutual love of humor was a personal bond between us. I will miss that, I will miss his voice, I will miss his jabs at me, I will miss his laughter, I will just miss him. Period. He has left us in tears, but there’s a lot more laughter in Heaven tonight.”–Jeannie Seely
“Charlie had a few minutes for everyone, and never too busy for some kind words, and usually funny. He made you feel like a friend. Charlie always had that quick wit and a smile, and he was so very accomplished. A unique individual who will be miss The Mayor. Rest in peace.”–Exile
“Charlie was always so supportive of Country Music artists. I always looked forward to and enjoyed my time spent with him. He was a champion and will be missed by all who knew him.”–John Berry
“Charlie was an icon, a visionary and a person who kept reinventing himself and every time he did it expanded his career and the music business in Nashville and beyond. We sure could use more folks like him right now thank you Charlie.”–Kent Blazy
" It's a very sad day in country music and Charlie will be sorely missed."–Heidi Newfield
"This is sad sad news!! Charlie Monk was a character! Since I moved to Nashville in 1982 he had always been at EVERYTHING!! It will be so strange without him. He was proud of me, then he rooted for Hillary and for our Scott family project with Lang and Rylee Jean as well. There's a huge hole left in the heart of Music Row that only Charlie will ever fill. You'll never be forgotten Charlie. My deepest condolences to his family."–Linda Davis