Gina Waters Miller didn’t choose to pursue music; music was ingrained in her from the beginning. Her early memories of music include her mother and grandmothers playing piano and Sundays singing in the church choir. Gina was born into a family of classically trained and church musicians, and she is a licensed music teacher and classically trained musician, herself. Today, she approaches music from a different angle, though, as Vice-President and General Manager at Entertainment One. Gina earned her seat at the table and has continued to grow within the company to create a space for artists to make music with purpose. The Memphis native is aware that her appointment to the position is history-making, as only a few women, specifically African American women, have held that position.
Gina’s dedication to music does not begin and end with her job. Gina is a member of the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences, the Gospel Music Association and the Stellar Awards Gospel Music Academy, as well as the National Association of Black Journalists, the National Black MBA Association, the National Association of Professional Women and the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People. In addition to supporting artists through her work at Entertainment One, supporting the community through various organizations and raising a family, Gina is continuing her education by pursuing her master’s in leadership at TSU. While her work and achievements are significant, it is her contagious energy that makes Gina one-of-a-kind. Welcome Gina Waters Miller as today’s FACE of Nashville.
Walk us through your responsibilities as Vice-President and General Manager at Entertainment One.
Fifteen years ago, I walked in wanting an opportunity, but there were no jobs. I worked for free, for a year, before being offered a part-time job. After that stint, I was offered a full-time job as Radio & Retail Promotions Coordinator. Then, Director of Sales & Label Relations, followed by Marketing Manager. I was named VP of National Promotions & Marketing, to VP National Promotions & Label Relations. I spent seven years as VP before being promoted to General Manager and have had the dual title of VP/GM for over two years now. I oversee the daily operations of our record label, which includes eOne and Light Records, as well as Indie Blu Digital Distribution. I manage every aspect, from budgets to business strategy, artist signings, production, development, distribution and more. All that said, I’d like to think I manage expectations, do whatever it takes and make space for our artists to create and fulfill purpose.
What do you hope to accomplish in this role?
It has been brought to my attention that this role is a history-making moment, not just related to the music that we largely represent, but in all genres. Historically and currently, only a few women and/or African Americans have occupied this seat. I am grateful for the honor to do this work every day. I want it to be said that we create some of the best music ever. I want it to be said that we operate with integrity. I want it to be said that we celebrate, support and serve our artists. I want it to be said that we have been intentional about developing and including possibilities for emerging talent and women. I want it to be said that our music uplifts, inspires and encourages love or hope. I want it to be said that I encourage creatives. I want it to be said that I was kind and did meaningful and significant work. Not only as a woman who did … but a person who did … period.
How do you continue to challenge yourself to stay on top of industry trends/changes?
I live it. It is a privilege to work in a format that is my world. I love music of all genres. But, I especially love gospel and urban music. The music that we primarily create is an extension of my faith, the center of my culture, the heart of my community and what I choose when I listen. I study by reading trades, music business articles and analyzing charts, trends and data. I go to live concerts, conferences, use social media and listen constantly. I am a consumer and fan first. I challenge us to work entrepreneurially minded. I am a mentor who has mentors. Build healthy relationships! Engaging, networking, communicating and sharing information between colleagues can be very helpful.
You are a supporter of various organizations and platforms that celebrate youth, women and music. Tell us a bit about organizations you are particularly excited about right now.
Yes, I serve on boards, am a member of and/or support several organizations. Some include NABFEME (National Association of Black Female Executives in Media & Entertainment™), Women In Music, Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Incorporated, & Saving Our Daughters. I am co-chair of the Nashville Recording Academy Chapter’s Diversity Committee. Memphis’ Harmonic South and Center for Southern Literary Arts (#solitmemphis) are two I love because I was born and raised in Memphis and know the founders of both. Being invited to join a special Spiritual Development Committee at Curb’s School of Music Business and Creatives’ Day Nashville are close to me because I am a Belmont alum and consider myself a part of Nashville’s creative community (my home now for 23 years). Starting the BE Foundation has been my favorite. Empowering and inspiring women to understand that they are enough and how to fully exercise their power to be is some of my best work yet. Our Mantra is: Beautiful Girl, You Are Already Enough.
What is your first memory of music?
I grew up in a home filled with music. My mother and both of my grandmothers played piano. In my mother’s den, there were two pianos and an organ. In my family, everyone had to play an instrument. My mom played at church every Sunday and directed the choir. I was born to BE MUSIC! I grew up singing in the church. I took formal piano, organ and voice lessons. I played for churches. I was classically trained in piano and voice. I was in the marching band from seventh grade to college. I have a license to teach music in Tennessee grades K-12. I can’t imagine my life without music. I am doing what I am supposed to be doing. I was born for this.
What music in on your playlist?
My playlist is very eclectic. I listen to all of the artists on our label daily. I enjoy gospel, jazz, soul, R&B, blues, classical, Americana, roots, alternative, some country and country soul music. My sons (18 and 23) are some of the best A&Rs I know. They love all kinds of music, too, but they keep me up on what’s happening in hip-hop and rap. I listen to what they are listening to. On my playlist right now you’ll find Aretha, Jill Scott, Brik Liam, DJ Rogers, Al Green, Musiq, The Weeknd, Anita Baker, Anthony Hamilton, Samoht, Victory Boyd, Stormzy, Diana Krall, The London Symphony Orchestra and Leontyne Price.
When you aren’t working, where can we find you?
When I’m not working, I’m either mothering (spending time with my sons), mentoring, volunteering my time or writing. I am certain, there are several books in me, and I write poetry, too.
What is the best piece of advice you’ve received, and from whom?
My mom’s teachings I still hear and practice. She’d say: Don’t start something that you can’t finish or continue. My mom also helped me to understand that it is okay to begin again. She emphasized that we were special, gifted, beautiful but not better than anyone, no matter who they were, where they lived, what they did or had. My mom is a musician, career educator, retired Special Education teacher and devout Christian. Those worlds were a huge part of my upbringing. She taught me that my life was not my own, and my actions represented and were a reflection on everyone connected to me. She still reminds me to be a good steward with what in my hands. My mom sees God, good and potential in everyone. Those principles, plus more advice from mom shaped my personal mission statement: “So much of the world is down; I want to be one who lifts. So much of the world is dark, I want to share my light. So much of the world is broken; I want to be a part of its healing. So much of the world is unloved, I want to be one who loves.”
Name three things you cannot live without (excluding faith, family and friends).
Music, love and black leggings. Who can? Maybe I could, but I wouldn’t want to.
Thank you to Gina for sharing your story!
It was a radiation oncology class during his junior year of college that pointed Dyra Harris toward his life’s work. Today, this director of the oncology service line with Sarah Cannon Cancer Institute at TriStar Skyline is fulfilling that passion — and inspiring both patients and employees alike. Click HERE to meet our newest FACE of TriStar!