In Country Swag’s “Woman of the Month” series, we’re bringing you stories from women who are chasing their dreams and building a life that they love.
Each month, we highlight a different female pursuing her passions. Introducing you to women who are taking risks, working relentlessly, and turning their dreams into reality. These are empowering women of the country music community, and beyond, who serve as role models and should be celebrated.
“I think I’m most proud of not only the artists that are trusting me with their career and their livelihoods, but I’m proud of the artists that I’m getting to do that with because I truly believe in them.” – Kerri Edwards
This month, we celebrate Kerri Edwards, President, KP Entertainment as our September 2021 Woman of the Month.
Edwards is a woman and a business owner that we truly admire. She is authentic, passionate, and compassionate- a true pioneer in the music industry. In our conversation, Edwards shared her story, her love for country music and the artists she works with, as well as, tips for women hoping to break into the music industry.
Growing up in a small town in West Virginia, Edwards was always drawn to music. “I grew up a music fan,” she shared. “My music taste back in high school and even college, it was very broad. I liked the Pop, the hairbands, country.” She later added, “I really did just bounce around, it just kind of depended on the day.”
Despite an early love for music, Edwards shared “working in the music industry never even entered my mind like as a job.” It was not until she went to Lipscomb University in Nashville did the idea start to develop. As a communications major looking for an internship her senior year, Edwards found herself with an opportunity to intern at (then) Arista Records.
“At a [music] festival in West Virginia, I was introduced to a lady backstage named Denise Nichols. She worked at Arista Records at the time,” declares Edwards. “I went to intern there and worked in their radio promotions department.” Soon after Edwards realized she had stumbled upon something special. “I fell in love with it, I was just enamored by the whole deal, I was like I can’t believe this is a job.”
After her internship, she earned a job at the label, working as an assistant in the A&R department. “I didn’t know what I was diving into,” she began, adding later, “I couldn’t have planned it any better. It couldn’t have been a more perfect fit for myself.” During this role, Edwards found herself in a position where she would be a champion for the songs, something she was very passionate about.
“The fact that I got to hear songs on the front of them, worktapes, demos, be a part of selecting things that you think are a hit and you get to share it with your artist roster, it was just unbelievable. Just the fact that I was exposed to so many amazing, gifted, talented human beings was incredible.”
After a merger at the record label, Edwards, along with many others at the company, found herself unemployed. It was at this time that she decided to switch gears and enter the world of publishing. “My instinct was to go to publishing because it was still on the song side of things, so that’s kind of what I did.” Shortly after beginning at an independent publishing company, Edwards would meet a young songwriter and her career trajectory would take a major turn. That songwriter’s name was Luke Bryan.
“He had just gotten signed there as a writer, right before I got hired to pitch songs. He was a brand new writer, assigned to me,” she shared about her budding relationship with Bryan. Eventually, after seeing him play at a club in Georgia, she realized how special his talent truly was. “It just became a little passion project,” said Edwards, about her championing Bryan from his start.
Flash forward to today, Edwards owns her own management company called KP Entertainment. Her roster includes artists like Luke Bryan, Cole Swindell, Dylan Scott, and many others. Since managing the careers of these artists, Edwards has gotten the opportunity to watch them succeed both personally and professionally.
She recalls the night that both Bryan and Swindell won coveted awards at the ACM’s back in 2015. As Bryan took home Entertainer of the Year and Swindell was awarded Best New Artist, Edwards shared how proud she felt of them and her entire team in that moment. “That night the fact that legit Luke [who was also hosting the show] could not stop worrying about Cole was just so awesome in his own way,” she added.
Although she has had great success and many ‘wins’ in her career, the human side of her job is what always stands out the most. “I want them to be proud of who they represent,” she shared of her staff, adding “It’s about building a team and getting the right people.” Edwards continues to hire employees who have a passion first and come with positive energy over those who have the most experience for this exact reason.
At the end of our conversation, we of course had to ask Edwards one last question. When asked about the advice she would give to women trying to break into the country music industry, she shared simple, yet profound advice that we all can embody. “Find your passion and find something that you believe in that much and go get it,” adding, “If you believe in it, you keep pushing it, you keep going for it, you got this.”