Beverly Keel and Media and Entertainment
Changing the Conversation for Women in Music
Beverly Keel is the first female Dean of Middle Tennessee State University’s College of Media and Entertainment. Beverly is also a co-founder of the advocacy group Change the Conversation and is an important voice advocating for women in the music industry. Her interesting career as a music executive, publicist and journalist for publications such as Rolling Stone and People Magazine has given her a unique perspective on women as artists and consumers of music.
What should we know about Beverly?
Beverly’s multi-faceted career has given her a wide-reaching perspective on gender equity, the music business and education. Not only is she the first female dean at MTSU but she has been an award-winning journalist and a music industry consultant who has worked with artists including Jamey Johnson, Lionel Richie, Scotty McCreery and others. Beverly has been a pop culture commentator who has covered the music industry for more than two decades. During her tenure at MTSU, she also served as director of the John Seigenthaler Chair of Excellence in First Amendment Studies.
What is Change the Conversation?
Beverly joined forces with Tracey Goshen and Leslie Fram in 2014 to create Change the Conversation, a coalition designed to help fight gender inequality in country music. The group’s tomato logo came from an interview with radio consultant Keith Hill who advised stations not to play women artists back to back. He infamously compared a radio playlist to a salad, saying the male artists were the lettuce and the “tomatoes of our salad are the females.” Today the group continues to advocate for women in music and recently hosted a conference for songwriters seeking career knowledge and advice.
Why is there a disconnect between women’s buying power and their representation in pop culture?
Beverly recognizes the power of the Lipstick Economy in music and entertainment. Women are buying the concert tickets, buying the t-shirts, and buying products endorsed by female celebrities. White major brands recognize the strength of the female consumer, there have been myths perpetuated in the music industry that women don’t support other women. But new artists like Taylor Swift and Lizzo are showing that they have strong female communities. Myths need to be corrected through research and proof of the value of the female artist.
Why is community powerful for women?
Women make friends everywhere they go and are always looking to connect with people and learn from each other. Beverly says “men live in black and white while women live in color”, meaning women add more vibrancy to relationships. New artists particularly need community and role models who teach and lead.
How is MTSU providing opportunity for students?
MTSU is providing experiential opportunities such as a recent trip to the 2020 Grammys to meet professionals, many former MTSU students, and learn more about the industry from an insider view. In the past decade, 75 Grammy nominations have been received by MTSU alumni, students, and faculty.
What does it mean to be the first female dean at MTSU?
Her new role is resonating with students and faculty, causing Beverly to recognize the responsibility of being the right role model for women and men. She realizes that women have to see other women in leadership roles to understand they can obtain similar goals.
Resources and Links
Changing the Conversation