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.