Photo Courtesy BMI
Preston served as President and CEO of BMI from 1986 to 2004. Throughout her career, the Nashville native was an invaluable ally for countless songwriters, performers and publishers from all musical genres. Her appointment as Vice President of the organization in 1964 reportedly made her the first female corporate executive in Tennessee, and the first full-time performing rights organization representative in the South. In 1985, she became Senior Vice President, Performing Rights, and was named President and CEO the following year.
Kris Kristofferson dubbed Preston (pictured below with John Lennon) the "songwriter's guardian angel" and Fortune magazine called her "one of the true powerhouses of the pop music business." A tireless advocate for creators' rights, she was instrumental in several key initiatives benefiting songwriters, including the Copyright Amendments Act of 1992, which extended copyright protection to older compositions. She also served as a member of the Panama Canal Study Committee, as well as on the commission for the White House Record Library during the Carter administration, and in 1995 and 1996, was a member of Vice President Al Gore's National Information Infrastructure Advisory Council. In 1994, she oversaw the development and launch of BMI.com, one of the music's industry's first websites.
Photo Courtesy BMI
Throughout her lifetime, Frances Preston supported numerous humanitarian efforts, including serving as president of the T. J. Martell Foundation for Leukemia, Cancer and AIDS Research, the music industry's largest charity. She is the namesake of the Frances Williams Preston Research Laboratories at Vanderbilt-Ingram Cancer Center in Nashville.
Preston is survived by her three sons, Kirk, David, and Donald, as well as six grandchildren and one great-grandchild. Funeral arrangements are pending at this time.