Maggie Cavender

Induction Year: 1989

Birth Name: Mary Margaret Polk

Birth Date: 09-01-1918

Place of Birth: Nashville, Tennessee

Death Date: 03-24-1996

Place of Death: Nashville, Tennessee

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 University.

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 1985.

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.

Maggie Cavender

Induction Year: 1989