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Music Industry Pioneer Louise Scruggs Memorialized at Nashville Forum

Ellen Mallernee

Pictured (L-R): Earl Scruggs, Denise Stiff, Museum Dir. Kyle Young, Gibson Guitar Corp. Pres. David Berryman and VP Museum Programs Jay Orr.

Pictured (L-R): Earl Scruggs, Denise Stiff, Museum Dir. Kyle Young, Gibson Guitar Corp. Pres. David Berryman and VP Museum Programs Jay Orr. Photo: Donn Jones

A true hero of American music, Louise Scruggs may be best known as the wife of banjo legend Earl Scruggs, but it was her brilliant and tireless efforts outside the spotlight that allowed for some of America’s greatest music to reach an audience of millions. With her direction and business savvy, she guided extraordinary and beautiful music from the countryside to the campuses, festivals, and theaters around the world. It was her life’s work, and her true passion.

Louise and Earl Scruggs“The rest of the ladies in the neighborhood had tea parties and bridge games, but I wasn’t too interested in that,” Louise once noted. “I said, ‘I think I can do something more. Give me something a little bit more constructive than that.’”

Possessed of an uncanny insight into music trends, Louise Scruggs’ legacy has been known primarily within the music industry—until now.

Though Scruggs died in Nashville on February 2, 2006, her legacy as the city’s first female manager wasn’t far from memory Tuesday evening at the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum, which hosted the inaugural Louise Scruggs Memorial Forum. Husband Earl attended, along with sons Randy and Gary Scruggs. Sponsored by the Gibson Foundation, the forum honored Denise Stiff, longstanding manager of singer Alison Krauss, executive producer of music for O Brother, Where Art Thou?, and owner of DS Management. The evening, which was open to the public, included an in-depth interview with Stiff, as well as photos, film footage, and audio recordings from the museum’s collection.

Denise Stiff was honored for her fierce determination in guiding the career of Krauss, whom she first spotted and snatched up at a Kentucky bluegrass showcase and has since managed through 22 Grammy wins. Each year another prestigious woman in the music industry will be awarded with a forum in Louise Scruggs’ memory.

“Denise has done wonderful things for Alison and for traditional music,” said Earl Scruggs. “Louise would be pleased to know that Denise was selected for this first forum in her honor.”


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