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Groundbreaking Female Music Exec Debra Rathwell Honoured with Canadian Music Industry Hall Fame Induction

Canadian Music Week has announced that Debra Rathwell, Executive VP of Global Touring & Talent at AEG Presents, will be inducted into the Canadian Music & Broadcast Industry Hall of Fame. Rathwell will  be honoured for her remarkable career in the music industry at the  annual Canadian Music and Broadcast Industry Awards Gala at Bluma Appel  Theatre in Toronto on Thursday, May 21, 2020. She will also give a  Keynote Interview prior to the Awards as part of the Canadian Music Week  Music Summit at the Sheraton Centre.

CMW says Rathwell is being recognized as one of the most respected and admired  professionals in the music industry, as well as being one of the  highest-ranking female executives working on the live side of the  business today.

After attending Carleton University in Ottawa, she began her career in  that city as executive assistant to Canadian music legend Harvey Glatt  at his full service music companies, Treble Clef and Bass Clef. She also  counts Harold Levin and the late Howard Lapides as mentors during her  time there; the support and guidance the two provided helped her rise to  concert manager at the company.

In 1982, Rathwell moved to Montreal to join Donald K Donald Productions,  that city’s leading concert promoter, as the company’s first vice  president. She was soon after promoted to senior vice president,  managing a staff of 20. During her tenure DKD promoted shows by Pink  Floyd, the Rolling Stones, The Who, David Bowie, Madonna, Rush, and  Celine Dion, among many others. Under Rathwell's direction, DKD produced  five musicals that have been brought to Broadway, including Tango  Argentino, Flamenco Puro and the Tony Award-winning Black and Blue,  in addition to countless events, and presenting approximately 300  concerts each year. Other signature projects under her auspices were  “The Moscow Circus”, “Torvill and Dean,” and “The Music of Andrew Lloyd  Webber”.

1994 brought yet another move, this time to the States, when Debra  accepted the position of Senior Vice President at New York’s  Metropolitan Entertainment. Under her guidance, the company’s concert  division presented the biggest names in rock and pop music — including  the Woodstock anniversary concerts of 1994 and 1999 — while the touring  division presented successful outings from artists including Whitney  Houston and Sarah Brightman, and created concept tours such as “Down  From the Mountain”, “Family Values” and “Up in Smoke”.

She joined AEG’s concert division to open its New York office in January  2003 — heading up a small team of eight to focus on both one-off shows  and tours — overseeing a territory running from the Carolinas to Eastern  Canada. She lent her leadership and vision to the launch of the  American Idol tour franchise, and followed that with a string of  successes in the “television meets live event” sphere: Dancing With the  Stars, America’s Got Talent, and So You Think You Can Dance, to name a  few. The company’s success brought growth and change: the staff grew to  45 and focused its strength on its touring business. The  newly-christened AEG Presents became the exclusive touring company for  artists such as Carrie Underwood, Justin Bieber, The Who, John  Mellencamp, Miley Cyrus, JoJo Siwa, Shania Twain, and many others. More  growth and expansion soon followed in New York as AEG Presents formed a  partnership with promoters Bowery Presents, further broadening the  concert division’s presence. Simultaneously, AEG Presents’ entire  touring division was renamed Global Touring and became a standalone  entity existing side-by-side with concert promotion, with a group of  talented Senior Vice Presidents — Debra among them — in charge of the  touring agenda. Her recent promotion to Executive Vice President has  given her an expanded role across artist development and global tour  strategy. It’s a roster that includes not only the aforementioned  artists, but also Maggie Rogers, Lauren Daigle, Dan + Shay, Luke Combs,  Hugh Jackman, Tame Impala, and Tyler, The Creator to name a few.

Today, Debra’s current focus is orchestrating the "Elton John: Farewell  Yellow Brick Road Tour", launching arena and stadium dates with Justin  Bieber, working the last 50 dates of a 150-show worldwide tour for JoJo  Siwa, and putting up a number of “too soon to talk about” tours slated  for late 2020 and 2021.

Canadian Music Week will return to Toronto May 19 – 23, 2020.

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Michael Raine is the Senior Editor at Canadian Musician. He is also a co-host of the popular Canadian Musician Radio weekly podcast.
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