Maggie Cavender was the founder of the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame and
the original executive director of the Nashville Songwriters Association
International (NSAI). She was a Nashville native who graduated from the city's
Hume-Fogg High School and earned a law degree at Vanderbilt
With husband Pete Cavender, she relocated to California and became involved in
the aviation industry. During World War II, she was an executive at Lockheed
Aircraft in Dallas, Texas. She oversaw the work of 160 female employees there
and was later instrumental in the company establishing itself in Tennessee. She
remained interested in aviation and retained her pilot's license for the rest
of her life.
Maggie Cavender returned to her hometown in 1964. Her first job in the music
business was with Pamper Music in copyright administration. The firm published
the classic works of Willie Nelson and Hank Cochran, among others.
With the Country Music Association, she helped coordinate the first CMA Awards
show in 1967. She subsequently worked in the music-publishing businesses of
producer/songwriter Jack Clement (Jack Music) and Sun Records executive Shelby
Singleton (Shelby Singleton Music).
When the Nashville Songwriters Association was formed in 1967, Maggie Cavender
became its founding executive director. She also continued to run her own
business. She founded Maggie Cavender Enterprises in 1970; her office served
double duty as the NSAI headquarters for decades. She even hosted a small
museum about the Hall of Fame members in her building at 25 Music Square West
from 1977 to 1978.
When everyone else on Music Row turned down the early songwriting efforts of
Randy Owen, Cavender listened to his songs and encouraged him. In 1980, she
became the publishing administrator of his catalog and those of Teddy Gentry
and Jeff Cook, his partners in the multi-million selling band Alabama. She
remained with that publishing company — Maypop Music/Alabama Band Music — until
She devoted herself to the NSAI full-time thereafter. Her tenacity, zeal,
passion and dedication on behalf of the Nashville songwriting community became
legendary. She created workshops, seminars, newsletters and listening/critique
sessions. She lobbied the U.S. Congress on copyright and royalty legislation.
Maggie Cavender guided the NSAI until 1989, when she became its director
emeritus at age 70. In recognition of her service, she became the first
non-composer inducted into the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame.