Vince Gill, a multi-GRAMMY winning singer-songwriter widely respected for his humanitarian work and generous support of charitable causes in Nashville, will receive the hospitality industry’s top award for contributions to the success of the tourism and convention business in Nashville by someone outside the industry, the Nashville Convention & Visitors Corp announced today. Gill is the third recipient of the E.W. “Bud” Wendell Award, joining former Gov. Phil Bredesen and former Mayor Karl Dean.
“Whether he is playing guitar for All for the Hall, advocating for the Women’s Final Four or serving as Mayor of Smashville during the NHL All-Star Game, Vince Gill has contributed mightily to who we are as Music City,” said Ken Levitan, board chair of the Nashville Convention & Visitors Corp and co-president of Vector Management. “There is no better ambassador to represent the diversity of music that is thriving in Music City than a musician who can go from traditional country to bluegrass to western swing to gospel to just about any kind of musical style with the ease that Vince does. Most of all, Vince embodies the kind of warmth that makes Nashville the friendliest city in the world, and Music City would not be who we are today without his numerous contributions.”
One of the most honored artists in country music, Gill is a member of the Country Music Hall of Fame and Grand Ole Opry. His deep commitment, along with that of his wife contemporary Christian and pop star Amy Grant, to charitable causes have made a significant impact on the city. Notable among his contributions has been his unwavering support of junior golf. Additionally, Gill’s involvement in the hospitality industry has helped shape Nashville into the top global destination it is today.
Gill will be presented the E.W. “Bud” Wendell Award at Nashville’s National Tourism Week Hospitality Industry Celebration, which will take place on May 3 at 11:30 a.m. at the Karl F. Dean Grand Ballroom at the Music City Center. Nashville Mayor Megan Barry will offer the keynote address. Registration to attend the luncheon is still open.
In the early 1990s, Gill was part of a group that helped select a design for Bridgestone Arena and was the only musician to serve on the committee. He’s been a supporter of the Nashville Predators since they started playing at the Arena and is one of the team’s most high-profile season ticket holders. He was named Mayor of Smashville during the 2016 NHL All-Star Game, serving as the face of the star-studded event. Additionally, Gill was deeply involved in Nashville’s selection to host the Women’s Final Four in 2014.
Gill was a strong advocate for the expansion of the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum, serving as its board president and founding the All for the Hall concert series that he continues to co-host with Keith Urban. When Nashville was struck with the devastating floods of 2010, Gill hosted a flood relief telethon, accentuating the city’s “Open for Business” message to encourage visitors to keep coming to Music City and exemplifying the volunteer spirit that helped Nashville pull through flood recovery.
The E.W. “Bud” Wendell Award honors the work of a Nashville business executive who helped make Nashville into the music entertainment destination it is today. Wendell began his career with the National Life and Accident Insurance Company (then the parent company of WSM and the Grand Ole Opry). He was named manager of the Grand Ole Opry in 1968 and was ultimately named president and CEO of Gaylord Entertainment in 1991. He expanded the Opryland Hotel into Nashville’s largest convention facility, and he oversaw Gaylord’s renovation of the Ryman Auditorium and the opening of the Wildhorse Saloon dance club, which helped revive a declining downtown Nashville. Wendell is a member of the Country Music Hall of Fame.