Board Of Directors
Betsy Brumley – Chairman – is one of the 3rd generation of Brumley’s to be involved in the music industry. Born and raised in Powell, Mo, she was never far from her grandfather, Albert E Brumley. Being raised around the legends of the music industry, she has a deep appreciation for the contributions of these pioneers of today’s modern country, bluegrass and gospel music.
Melanie Merkling – Vice Chairman – Born and raised in Bentonville, Arkansas, Melanie Merkling is a well-known connector in the Northwest Arkansas business community and beyond. With a career in business and brand development spanning 17 years, Melanie has a proven track record of generating profits in startups, reviving businesses under financial duress across varying industries and helping companies secure and grow their business with Walmart and Sam’s Club. Melanie has worked with a diverse mix of clients, both domestic and international, ranging from tech start-ups to food producers to creative agencies seeking to grow their businesses.
Scott Burford – Secretary – is the President of Inside View Sales and Marketing corporation in Bentonville, AR. He holds a B.S. in Marketing from Southeast Missouri University. He has worked for Walmart & Sam’s Club in various capacities for many years prior to The Inside View. His earliest musical influence came from his father who had a love and appreciation for Jazz, Big Band & Swing music. At a young age, Scott began learning and playing multiple instruments and performing all around the Midwest. He is currently an active performer in the Northwest Arkansas music scene. He has a deep appreciation for all kinds of authentic music and in particular an interest in the history and preservation of the past and the development of the next generation of music makers.
Jeff Collins – Treasurer – is a Senior Technology Manager with Walmart Stores Inc. in Bentonville, AR. His twenty-eight years of Walmart experience has given him unique inside experience with budget management as well as insight to technology evolution and supply chain operations.
Jeff is a US Army Veteran and a graduate of the US Army School of Music in Little Creek, VA. Jeff’s passion for music started at an early age. Fueled by musical family members, Jeff started playing drums at the age of four. His earliest paid performance was at twelve years old. Jeff is currently an active member of the Northwest Arkansas music scene. Jeff’s wife, Rebecca, has taught in the Northwest Arkansas public schools for many years. Her love of children and his lifelong passion for music come together with the I’ll Fly Away Foundation.
Kevin Bernier – I have a love for music that goes back to my childhood. As a kid I helped a friend of my fathers that owned a pizza bus and was a vendor at the local concerts. I remember my first concert was the Beach Boys. I was hooked. I loved everything about live music and have been to many shows since. I didn’t know how to become involved with music so after school I working in the Airline Industry. It was while working for American Airlines that I met and eventually married Betsy Brumley. When we met, I had no idea her Grandfather was a famous songwriter. After leaving American Airlines in 2003, I moved to Tulsa to be with Betsy. I worked a few small jobs in Tulsa before we decided to move to Northwest Arkansas to be closer to her parents. I began working for Beaver Lake Aviation, a Walmart Subsidiary. I left Beaver Lake Aviation in 2006 and together, Betsy & I founded I’ll Fly Away Productions, a television production company that produced a local travel show called “And God Created” that featured family friendly travel destinations. We also produced the 40th Annual Brumley Gospel Sing and aired the program worldwide and sold a commemorative DVD set of the series. After working closely with Brumley & Sons Music on the project, Betsy & I launched the I’ll Fly Away Foundation, a non-profit organization, in December of 2011 to bring music education to children all over the world.
Roger Thomas – Roger Thomas was born and raised in Memphis, TN, in which such a music city obviously would steer his music aspirations. Being heavily influenced by southern gospel and learning to play guitar as a preteen in the 70’s, he started playing and writing rock, country and blues songs as a teenager. However, while living a short stint in Harrison, AR through his high school and community college years, he held a job at the local phone company where he would sit and wait for callers to call in to make collect calls, pay phone calls, and Directory Assistance calls, and it was here that he developed songwriting skills while waiting in between these calls.
In 1985 at age 20, Roger moved back to Memphis to pursue work as a musician / singer / songwriter, married his wife Sherry (in 1986), who supported his music dreams, and he worked in both the telecommunications field and as a professional musician for the next decade. In 1995 at age 30 the Thomas’ moved back to Arkansas, Bentonville, to pursue having a family and raising their children while being close to their immediate and vast extended family. In 2008, Roger, along with Laura Dereszynski, put out an all original contemporary Christian CD called The Altered Project, recorded at Crisp Recording Studios in Fayetteville, in which Roger and Laura wrote the songs. In 2011, Roger created the electric blues band THE DOWNTOWN LIVEWIRES, and put out a CD called Cruisin’ for a Bluesin’ where they cover legacy blues songs intertwined with originals that Roger wrote. THE DOWNTOWN LIVEWIRES are still very much currently active.
Today, Roger primarily plays with his blues band and solo gigs locally in Northwest Arkansas. During his LIVE performances, Roger is known for having fun conversations with the audience members and to get the audience involved with the show!
Sherry and Roger have one son already graduated and the other son attending the University of Arkansas in Fayetteville, and a daughter who attends Bentonville High School. They are also part of a successful IT firm called TeleComp located in both downtown Bentonville, and downtown Little Rock, in which they have held various levels of ownership for the past 20+ years.
Bruce Phillips – Bruce is a native of Little Rock and a graduate of the University of Arkansas School of Law, where he served as Note and Comment Editor of the University of Arkansas Law Review. Bruce has practiced law for twenty-five years on Music Row in Nashville, Tennessee, where he represents recording artists, songwriters, producers, record labels, music publishers and other members of the entertainment community. His clients have included recording artists such as Lynyrd Skynryd, Kenny Rogers, Bill Gaither, Carrie Underwood, and the Oak Ridge Boys, and songwriters such as Songwriter Hall of Fame member, Steve Dorff. In 1999, Bruce developed the Entertainment Law course currently offered at the University of Tennessee – Knoxville College of Law, where he served as Adjunct Professor of Law for ten years. He also serves on occasion as Visiting Professor of Law at the University of Arkansas School of Law. Bruce is a frequent speaker on entertainment and intellectual property related subjects. He is a 2007 alumnus of Leadership Music and a Fellow of the Nashville Bar Foundation.
Bruce’s love for music began around the house where his mother often sang standards from classic musicals like The Sound of Music, Oklahoma!, and Fiddler on the Roof . By his early teen years, Bruce’s interest in music turned to Bob Dylan, Joan Baez, Kris Kristofferson and John Prine, who prompted him to learn to play guitar, sing and write bad songs on a Fostex four track recorder. Although limited talent-wise, Bruce’s passion for music has led to a satisfying career helping aspiring artists and songwriters pursue their dreams, and established artists protect and maximize their interests. He believes his career as a songwriter may have been much more successful had the Power of Music been available in 1970 in Little Rick elementary schools.
Derek Champagne – Derek Champagne is a husband, father, and a serial entrepreneur. Derek is a regular guest lecturer sharing his story of growing up from humble beginnings, on stage at age of 3, his years as a Hollywood musician, and his diverse journey to get where he is today.
Beverly Keel – is chair of MTSU’s Department of Recording Industry, where she has been a professor since 1995.
She is also an award-winning music journalist journalist and pop culture commentator who has covered the music industry for more than 25 years. She writes for Parade magazine and The Tennessean and has served as a music industry management/publicity consultant for artists including Jamey Johnson, Lionel Richie, Scotty McCreery and others.
In 2014, she joined forces with Tracy Gershon and Leslie Fram to create Change the Conversation, a coalition designed to help fight gender inequality in country music.
During her tenure at MTSU, she also served as director of the John Seigenthaler Chair of Excellence in First Amendment Studies. She is the past president of the International Association for the Study of Popular Music-US.
In 2010, she took a leave of absence from MTSU to serve as senior vice president of Media and Artist Relations for Universal Music Group Nashville. She developed and implemented extensive media campaigns for UMG Nashville’s chart-topping roster of artists, including Lionel Richie, Scotty McCreery, Vince Gill, Sugarland, Jamey Johnson, Josh Turner, Lee Ann Womack, George Strait, Kip Moore, and many more.
She spent a decade as the Nashville correspondent for People magazine and served as the celebrity columnist at The Tennesseannewspaper for two years, during which time she won the Charlie Lamb Award for Excellence in Country Music Journalism.
She was an editor of American Profile magazine, for which she wrote cover stories on President Carter, Billy Graham, Laura Bush, Andy Griffith, John Grisham, Joe Namath and many more, and also served as editor of CMT Life. Her work has appeared in Parade, InStyle, New York, Oxford American, Weekly Standard, Rolling Stone, USA Today, Country Music, New Country, Country Music Today and Music Row magazines.
A former music industry columnist for the Nashville Scene and Nashville Banner newspapers, her journalism has received awards from the Associated Press and the Association of American Newsweeklies.
Keel has served as a commentator on country music personalities and events and has been featured on ABC’s Six Degrees of Martina McBride, CBS’ 48 Hours Mystery, as well as numerous shows on VH-1, Bravo, CMT, GAC and other networks. She has been quoted as a music expert in publications such as the Washington Post, Chicago Tribune and Reader’s Digest.
A graduate of Leadership Music, Leadership Nashville and Leadership Middle Tennessee, she currently serves as board member of the Recording Academy, Music Makes Us and The Women’s Fund. She is a past member of the Nashville Mayor’s Music Council and is a past board member of TPAC. She is an editorial board member of the Journal of Popular Music Studies and a member of the International Women’s Forum.
In 2015, she was inducted into the Metro Nashville Public Schools Hall of Fame and in 2016 was named an honoree of the YWCA Academy for Women of Achievement. She has been given the Nashville Business Journal’s Women in Music City award for the past three years. A Nashville native, she earned her bachelor’s degree from Middle Tennessee State University and her master’s degree from the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism.
In 2018, Beverly was voted onto the Board of the Country Music Association.
Duane Allen – Lead Singer, Oak Ridge Boys – A native of Taylortown, Texas, Duane (“Ace”) Allen had formal training in both operatic and quartet singing before becoming a member of the Oaks in 1966. He has written a book on the history of Gospel music and has an honorary doctorate from a Christian college.Duane graduated from Paris Junior College, and then Texas A&M University at Commerce, Texas. He received a B.S. in Music from Texas A&M, studying with Metropolitan Opera stars Richard Webb and William Abbott. For his classical music degree, he concentrated on voice, piano, and composition. He has received the Distinguished Alumni Award from both Paris Junior College and Texas A&M. He and his wife Norah Lee underwrite a scholarship fund for Texas A&M University Department of Music students.
Bob Brumley – President & CEO, Albert E. Brumley & Sons Music – Bob has worked his whole life in the music industry. Growing up the son of the famous songwriter Albert E. Brumley, he has worked in music publishing and songbook production since childhood. In his early years, Bob played bass and traveled the countryside playing music with his brothers. Bob has also made his mark as an event promoter. While working with his father and brother Bill, Bob worked with them to create both the Brumley Gospel Sing and the Hill & Hollow Folk Festival in 1969. The Brumley Gospel Sing still operates on the first weekend of August and attracts people from all around the country to hear only the best in Southern Gospel Music. In 1986, Bob purchased his brothers share of Albert E Brumley & Sons Music and started a country music publishing company called Country Gentlemen. He has had several songwriters working under his guidance for several years. Over his career, Bob has received many industry awards including the Marvin Norcross Award and the James D. Vaughn Impact Award. In 2011, Bob was inducted into the Southern Gospel Music Association Hall of Fame.
Sheri Clark – President & CEO, Sheri Clark Media – Since 1984, Sheri has worked in the acoustic, bluegrass, country, and gospel genres providing sound services and consultation for several projects and events, including television, DVDs, and live shows.After years of developing relationships with promoters, industry executives and artists, Sheri was then asked to work with artists one on one. It was then, a full in-house management, artist development, promotion and production company was started.
Tim Fink – Vice President Writer/Publisher Relations, SESAC – With SESAC since 1990, Fink’s tenure with the company has put him in a position to work closely with SESAC songwriters and publishers from a wide range of genres. Appointed the head of the Nashville Writer/Publisher Relations team in 2002, Fink has been instrumental in building the company’s burgeoning roster of top songwriters resulting in the company’s unprecedented growth. Chicago-born and Wisconsin-raised, Fink attended the University of Wisconsin, before graduating from Middle Tennessee State University with a degree in Recording Industry Management. Tim was also recently named to the Americana Music Association Board of Directors.
Hank Adam Locklin – Associate, Bone McAllester Norton PLLC – Hank Adam Locklin currently serves as an Associate for the Law Firm Bone McAllester Norton PLLC. He is working with clients in multiple fields of Law. Hank was the past Director of Music & Business Development for the State of Tennessee within the Tennessee Film, Entertainment and Music Commission. Governor Bill Haslam appointed him in December of 2011. Prior to his current role, Locklin served as Interim Executive Director and Chairman of the Board for the Alabama Music Hall of Fame, an Alabama State Agency honoring the many musicians and entertainers from Alabama who have garnered worldwide acclaim. Locklin was appointed as Interim Executive Director in December of 2010, and elected Chairman in August of 2011. Before his service in Alabama, Locklin spent seven years as Senior Manager of Membership and Industry Relations for The Country Music Association (CMA), an international trade association with over 6200 members in 43 countries. During this time, Locklin worked with legendary CMA leader Ed Benson and his successor, Tammy Genovese, to expand the value and importance of CMA to its members and music industry. He was responsible for developing CMA membership through recruitment and other forms of outreach designed to formulate relationships in and out of the music industry. He also worked to maintain and increase CMA’s presence in the areas of state government relations, artist outreach and relations, the use of Country Music in film and television, and the development of strategic initiatives and operations designed to foster relationships with individuals and companies outside of the music industry.
Lizzy Long – Lead Singer, The Little Roy & Lizzy Show – Lizzy began her music accomplishment at an early age and her interests are very eclectic ranging from Dolly Parton, Loretta Lynn to the Earl Scruggs Revue to Fleetwood Mac. While starting out on the piano, Lizzy soon took up the fiddle, guitar, autoharp, bass, banjo, and mandolin, and has become an accomplished musician, alternating between these instruments as part of her entertainment repertoire. Lizzy has been won for twoDove Awards and has won several fiddle and talent contests.
Brittany Schaffer – Associate, Loeb & Loeb LLP – Brittany is an attorney with Loeb & Loeb, LLP in Nashville, Tennessee, where she handles a diverse range of entertainment, copyright, trademark, and right of publicity transactions, litigation and counseling primarily for clients in the music and publishing industries. Her principal clients include record labels, publishing companies, video production and live stage production companies, management companies, recording artists, producers, songwriters, authors, and other parties in the entertainment industry. She received her B.A., magna cum laude, from Vanderbilt University, and her J.D., magna cum laude, from Samford University, Cumberland School of Law, where she also served as Editor-In-Chief of the Cumberland Law Review, and published articles on copyright law and on the right of publicity. In the legal treatise, Intellectual Property Law in Cyberspace, Second Edition (2011), Brittany authored the chapter “What May Be Protected By Copyright: Unique and Specific Applications of Copyright Law Online.” Brittany was recognized by Super Lawyers as one of the “Mid-South’s Rising Stars” and by Variety magazine as one of “Hollywood’s New Leaders.”