Former Sony/ATV Music CEO Donna Hilley Passes Away - | Nashville News, Weather & Sports

Former Sony/ATV Music CEO Donna Hilley Passes Away

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NASHVILLE, Tenn. - Donna Hilley, the former Sony/ATV Nashville president and CEO and a prominent female executive in country music, died on Wednesday from an extended illness, the company announced.

She became president and CEO in 1994 and was instrumental in negotiating the acquisitions of Acuff-Rose, Little Big Town, and the catalogs of Conway Twitty, Buck Owens and Merle Haggard.

Hilley was named the fourth most powerful person in country music by Entertainment Weekly, and was the 1994 Lady Executive of the Year, an honor given by the National Women Executives. She was also honored by Belmont's Mulloy Award.

Hilley, from Birmingham, Alabama, began her career at Nashville's WKDA radio station. She later joined Tree International, a top country music publishing company, which was bought by Sony in 1989.

Current president of Sony ATV Nashville, Troy Tomlinson, released this statement:

"Donna Hilley's legacy at Sony/ATV Music Publishing, on Music Row's artists and songwriters and on the broader Nashville community could never fully be expressed with words. She was an icon in every sense – an inspiring trailblazer for women executives in the music business, a staunch advocate for artists and songwriters and a genuine competitor who was respected, but never underestimated, by her peers. Sony/ATV is forever better because of Donna's leadership and immeasurable contributions to our shared successes. Our artists, writers and staff grieve today along with her family on the passing of our intrepid leader and great friend."

Hilley retired from Sony in 2005, after 31 years on Music Row.

(The Associated Press Contributed To This Report.)

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