Amy Beth Hale

image_pdfimage_print

Amy Beth Hale

by Rebekah Speer

 

Amy Beth Hale, a native of beautiful Lebanon, Tennessee, grew up on the campus of Castle Heights Military Academy (now closed), where her father taught and became headmaster. Hale was exposed to bluegrass music and festivals early on through her father’s lifelong love for the mountain sound. The Smithville Fiddler’s Jamboree was a particular favorite (and still is) of Amy Beth’s. Enjoying all kinds of music, whatever sounded good to her ear, drove a passion that spurred her to become an archivist at heart. She read liner notes, session notes, songwriting credits, musician credits, tracking listings, and all details related to albums and songs. Is it any wonder that Hale would have an impressive collection of records? She is a treasure hunter these days, always keeping an eye out for an obscure record to add to her stockpile of vinyl. Being a voracious reader to boot and still preferring actual books to a Kindle or iPad, Amy Beth has amassed quite a library of cherished reading material. Laughing, she confesses she is running out of space to display them. This nostalgic keeper of music and books also tries her hand at photography, toying with the idea of taking pictures professionally someday.

Amy Beth's parents

For Amy Beth, her parents were her biggest inspiration. “I admire them both so much and often consider how they would handle a problem or a situation. They were amazing people, and I was blessed to have them,” she said.

For fun, Amy Beth likes to go out and take pictures. “Sometimes that means I’m hiking around in the woods, and sometimes it means I’m taking pictures of musicians onstage.” She adds that in addition to reading and listening to music, “I would say that I love to garden, but since the deer keep eating everything I plant, I don’t love it much anymore.”

Amy Beth made quite the impression on the previous IBMA Executive Director, Paul Schiminger, driving into the ditch in front of the office just before her job interview.

“I didn’t get the job that time around, but another position, for which I was better-suited, opened up, and Paul called me to see if I was interested. I think that he felt I would be a good match for the Membership Director job since I had spent 20 years at SESAC working with songwriters, musicians, and the general public. ” 

In that role, Hale looks over the IBMA membership database, helps members with questions, and tries to keep members actively engaged. She also oversees the balloting for various bluegrass music and industry awards and the board elections. Though not officially the bookkeeper, she works closely with the accountant to pay the bills and track donations for the IBMA and its trust fund.

The IBMA is a non-profit organization, which can pose a few challenges. The workload is heavy and stressful at times. The time of year tends to dictate how Hale will spend her workdays. Right now, all the focus is on World of Bluegrass preparation, keeping her jumping as she closes the final rounds for the IBMA awards. Amy Beth juggles many aspects of helping to organize the convention leading straight down the road to Raleigh, North Carolina, where the International Bluegrass Music Association holds its largest event of the year. There are many details to finalize for that week, and with a small staff, Amy Beth had to wear lots of hats to make it all happen. One day she orders lanyard ribbons for Conference badges, and the next, she talks to award nominees and organizes tickets and passes.

"I would say that because we have such a small staff, you must learn to do a lot of things yourself. Your printer doesn't work? You can't call IT – you are IT – fix it yourself. I didn't know a lot about accounting—the terminology, for example—when I got here. I could balance my checkbook and pay my bills, but I had a lot to learn about dealing with accountants, budgets, and the non-profit world. So, it really tests you and what you're made of, in a way. You must rely on yourself and do it. "

Those are just a few examples of the many things Amy Beth Hale does on any given day. July, August, and September are always super-busy months for the IBMA office, testing everyone’s multitasking skills. Still, Hale helps get it all done and amazingly finds the time to complete interviews for magazines, too! 

Joining the IBMA and working for the IBMA are different things. As the Membership Director, Hale wants people to join, connect, and participate! She wants professional members to actively vote and be part of committees and make their voices heard and for fan members to enjoy being a part of an organization that works hard to promote and protect bluegrass music for future generations.

As far as being an IBMA employee, she said, “be prepared to be thrown into the deep end. But there’s always someone to be there to help you learn to swim. You do have to hit the ground running, though. You can’t be afraid to ask questions. And I hope anyone who wants to work for the IBMA would love bluegrass.” 

There are so many layers to the IBMA, and current and future members should know that it doesn’t just exist for one week a year in Raleigh, NC.

"Yes, World of Bluegrass is our huge and important event. I love it! I'm always happy to see everyone, and it is fun seeing hard work coming to life," she said, adding that IBMA has other programs and resources. "Our Leadership Bluegrass program is still going strong (I'm class of 2011), and it's an incredible opportunity for people to network and learn. It has a far-reaching impact on the individual class members. The IBMA Trust Fund has helped so many bluegrass professionals during times of emergencies. It helps ease a burden and make things a little brighter."

Amy Beth Hale has always attended World of Bluegrass week, even with her previous employer, a convention sponsor.

“But I never really realized exactly what was going on behind the scenes to make things happen. When I started at the IBMA, we had four employees, including the Executive Director. I was absolutely amazed at the amount of work that those four employees (myself included) did to make World of Bluegrass happen. And then, when you get to Raleigh during the event, the volunteers, many of whom have worked this event for years, really become super important to us. They are so much help.” 

Many cherished memories evolve from an International Bluegrass Music Association event. “I can tell you that standing backstage in the wings of the Duke Energy Center during the 2017 IBMA Bluegrass Music Awards watching Bobby Hicks (who was inducted into the Hall of Fame that year) play “Cheyenne” was an incredible experience. I vividly remember standing there with tears in my eyes watching him play onstage.” 

As pleased as Amy Beth is to contribute to the current online membership system, streamline accounts receivable and the payment process, and run IBMA’s massive voting process, Hale hopes her most significant contribution is yet to come. If an award were created for bluegrass music’s most professional multi-tasker, Amy Beth Hale would be a contender every year.