We’re bringing you stories from women who are chasing their dreams and building a life that they love with New York Country Swag’s, “Woman of the Month.”
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 who serve as role models and should be celebrated.
This month we interviewed an icon in the music business in Nashville, Susan Nadler. Nadler who is 72 years young is one of the Shady Ladies of Music City, a new podcast premiering next week. Along with Evelyn Shriver, the two women infiltrated the music business in the 1980s and 1990s, becoming the first women to ever run a music label, Asylum Records. In our hilarious phone call, Nadler is honest about her life, being a woman in the industry and gives some of the best advice to young girls who are following this dream.
Nadler took us back to the days growing up in Pittsburgh, to her journey to Israel, running a popcorn stand in Key West, and eventually making her way to Music City to further her love and respect for the music business. As a child, she recalls playing the flute, her sisters playing the piano and the violin and there always being music in the house. She loved R&B, listening under the covers at night to a tiny transistor radio that her father gifted her. “It was a great way to grow up, music was a huge part of my life,” she says.
She recalls going to see Bob Dylan and Joan Baez in concert, “Bob Dylan and Joan Baez were two of the first that I ever heard that made me fall in love with folk music, I still loved R&B but I got to hear so many different kinds of music, I was pretty lucky,” she tells us. “I used to go to the record store on Fridays, there was a place called the National Record Mart, and I would buy 45s every Friday.” Still, to this day, she explains that she is the only person she knows who still goes on Amazon to buy CDs from artists that she loves.
To say her life before Nashville was unconventional is quite the understatement, over the years between growing up in Pittsburgh and marrying a songwriter in Tennesee, Nadler lived in Israel, was busted for smuggling drugs, spent time in a jail in Mexico and owned a popcorn stand outside of a bar in Key West, Florida that was popular for its drag shows.
After marrying her second husband who had written the popular song for Glen Campbell, “Dreams of the Everyday Housewife” she started writing for The Tennessean, and sort of fell into public relations in the music industry. “I met all of these incredible songwriters, they all got along great and they all played their music together, they weren’t so competitive, they were really friendly,” she tells us. She worked closely with Tammy Wynette, stating she was the most generous person she had ever met in Nashville. “She was just unbelievable when I first started working for her, I didn’t have a dime, Tammy and her husband offered me money if I needed help to get into the music business,” she recalls. She managed Lorrie Morgan before meeting Evelyn in 1988 and the two of them teamed up to run Asylum Records, making them the first females to ever run a major Nashville label. They went on to sign George Jones and help him release his Grammy-winning album Cold Hard Truth. She explains how it was tough being women in that industry because the men who were running everything weren’t thrilled with them being in that position.
We discussed what a day in the life looked like during those years and she explained: “Every day there was stuff going on, there were number one parties all of the time, people coming to pitch us songs, where you don’t want to take the time out to listen to it, but you never know who you’ll hear,” Nadler says. “Every day was very busy, it was really fast-paced, we were hard-pressed to keep up with it all.”
As two women who were pioneering the way for others over the past four decades, Nadler and Shriver have seen many changes in the music business over the years but Nadler says one thing that hasn’t really changed “the boys run the city and they run the business”. Explaining she feels there are a few women who have broken in but that most of the time, women are too nervous to fight for what they want.
As far as advice, she simply laughs and says “Don’t fuck anybody, that’s the first thing I’ll say. Don’t get involved with anybody romantically or sexually that you are in business with, its a huge mistake.” She also is heartfelt when she says to not lose your love for the music, for the reason you are in this business in the first place. “No matter what else happens and keep listening and keep looking for new stars.”
Nadler still resides in Nashville and is getting ready for the release of the podcast Shady Ladies of Music City. She also loved poetry as she was growing up, and always thought that she would become a writer, which eventually she did, becoming a published author of three books, all available here on Amazon.com.
The first episode of Shady Ladies of Music City will be released on June 4th but you can listen to minisodes now about Evelyn and Susan below. Check back next month when we will feature Evelyn as our June Woman of the Month.
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