One of Nashville’s most highly regarded artist managers, Clarence Spalding, was honored for his impact on country music with the Bob Kingsley Living Legend Award during an event held this week at the Grand Ole Opry House. The award was created in 2014 to recognize the most deserving individuals across the spectrum of record label/industry, creative/production and radio/media. The evening benefited the Opry Trust Fund, which for more than 50 years has supported members of the country music community in need.
Among the artists who performed Tuesday evening were Jason Aldean, who also presented Spalding with his award, Terri Clark, Brooks & Dunn, Exile, Rascal Flatts, Reba, and Darius Rucker. Many of Spalding’s industry colleagues and friends were also a part of the honor including Steve Buchanan, Robert Deaton, John Esposito, Randy Goodman, Mary Ann McCready, Stan Moress, Brian O’Connell, Sally Williams and more.
Clarence Spalding truly is a maverick. His stamp on Music City is undeniable, and for the past 30 years the Kentucky native has built and reinvented the careers of some of music’s biggest names.
While studying at the University of Kentucky, Clarence’s love of music motivated him to schedule bands for on-campus parties, and he soon found himself booking talent for area clubs. In 1980, Clarence booked Central Kentucky band Exile – the group had a massive ‘70s pop hit with “Kiss You All Over,” but were redefining themselves as country music artists. Spalding became the band’s road manager and was influential in landing Exile a Nashville record deal, which yielded a string of hits. Spalding developed friendships and relationships throughout the industry and in the late ‘80s accepted an offer from Stan Moress’ management group, settling in Nashville to work with such artists as Lorrie Morgan, K.T. Oslin, Eddie Rabbitt, Mike Reid and Restless Heart.
In 1993, Spalding joined Bob Titley Management and worked directly with the newly-signed Brooks & Dunn. Spalding’s management of the talented pair helped establish the duo as one of country music’s true superstar acts, and his success in developing new artists was evidenced as the company became Titley Spalding & Associates. In 2004, Spalding formed his own management arm – the aptly named Spalding Entertainment – and the firm quickly became a sought-after destination for hitmaking artists. Today, it remains such, boasting a powerhouse roster that includes Jason Aldean, Rascal Flatts, Darius Rucker, Reba McEntire, Brooks & Dunn, Terri Clark and others. Ever the entrepreneur, Spalding in 2014 partnered with Maverick, a consortium of managers around the globe, to create broader opportunities for his clients. He consistently finds himself ranked on Billboard’s coveted Power 100 and Nashville Power Players lists.
Spalding offers his time and resources to the community, giving years of service to the Country Music Association (including time as its Chairman, and lead roles on key board committees), the Academy of Country Music and Country Music Hall of Fame boards, and the board of the Vanderbilt Children’s Hospital. He’s played behind-the-scenes roles in his artists’ causes – Rascal Flatts’ Vanderbilt Monroe Carell Jr. Children’s Hospital wing or Jason Aldean’s partnership with Susan G. Komen For The Cure, for example. In 2015 he was inducted to the Kentucky Music Hall of Fame.
Jessica Blankenship is the owner and founder of Kentucky Country Music website. The Berea College graduate has been a music journalist and historian for over 20 years. She enjoys providing concert photography, reviews, historical articles, red carpet event coverage, and exclusive interviews of your favorite musicians. Jessica is proud to be a Kentucky Colonel and alumni of the FFA and 4-H Clubs. In 2018, she was named one of Laurel County’s Ten Under 40 Award Recipients. In 2019, she was a member of the Inaugural class of BRIGHT Kentucky as part of Leadership Kentucky. She has been featured on the Kentucky Music Preview podcast, Hollercast podcast, Overtones radio show, WFKY Nashville News Roundup, KET, and more. Beyond music, she enjoys traveling, helping her community, collecting gnomes, and Volkswagens.