As one of the creators of Country Radio Seminars, (CRS), Charlie Monk has become known for hosting the New Faces Show, which is the ending climax of CRS, a show that helped launch the careers of legends like George Strait and Reba McEntire.
Beyond CRS however, Monk is often referred to as the “Mayor of Music Row,” mainly because he has been a key element in so many music artist’s careers over the past several decades. It could also be credited to the fact that he is so well liked and even a little courageous.
Monk explains, “If I go to a party – I don’t stand around on the periphery, I go in the middle and start shaking hands and I introduce myself. Because if you want someone to recognize you or remember you or just be friendly towards you or have a chat with you, tell them your name!” Monk emphasizes. “Your name is very important! It’s the one thing people are going to remember about you – hopefully.’
Monk continues, “I’m a big people-person…I’ve really been involved in many aspects of show business but my business forte is probably the music publishing. Probably because I like people, I had some intuition – and because I like music and had played so much music on the radio as a disc jockey. I also found I was a pretty good editor – I liked to read, I liked lyrics – that’s why I particularly liked rock ‘n’ roll and country music because it was so much about the lyric…so I’ve edited a lot of very successful songs, in part, because I’ve worked with so many writers over the years.
I have never sought out a business relationship with songwriters – they’ve always come to me. But I’ve had hundreds to come to me that I didn’t think had the attributes for a songwriter. I think God gives you the talent, life gives you the lines and you enhance it by working at your craft. Some people say, ‘I’ve got to be inspired.’ Well, inspiration should be perspiration too.”
When Charlie Monk moved to Nashville in 1968, he was already well known as a disc jockey and, with the skills he learned from being a radio man, he put to work in carving out his legacy. He had started out earlier in his career sweeping floors and doing odd jobs at the radio station in Geneva, Alabama. Not long after, they offered him a spot on the air for one of the weekend shifts. Talk about taking advantage of an opportunity!
Monk admits he was originally fearful at first about branching out or pulling too far away from his roots. But then he had an epiphany. “I probably spent the first few years of my [career] life worried about being a failure – but when I consciously stopped worrying about being a failure I was able to concentrate on being a success. I was just sick of being afraid.
Because I’d been raised on this cotton patch in Alabama and I didn’t want to be poor, but I was afraid I was going to be,” he confesses. “But then I realized I’d done two or three things in radio and television already – and I thought “I’m already a success. Why am I worried about being a failure?”
Fortunately, he doesn’t have to worry about that anymore. Monk said it best when he said “UNTIL YOU LOSE THE FEAR OF LOSING, YOU CAN’T WIN!!!”
With the attitude that you have to create your own success Monk took life by the tail and hung on for dear life. After high school he went to college, then joined the Army, then returned to college. There he met his bride, wife Royce, they married, had children and Monk continued his career in radio and music – and the rest, as they say…is history.
“I got a lot of help. The Lord has moved in strange and mysterious ways in my life – giving me a lady who I married and who was brilliant,” claims Monk. She is an amazing woman and she has been able to handle our finances and raise our four children and…we had a partnership – I was able to develop a partnership with a woman who truly is a partner!”
A good marriage and a long-time radio career are not Monk’s only successes. He has written for Billboard and Rolling Stone, he has been a song publisher and has worked with some of country music’s biggest stars. But he always works with artists who are songwriters. You may have heard of Randy Travis, Kenny Chesney or Holly Dunn, to name a few.
“I never got involved with someone because they were first a singer, I got involved because they were a first a songwriter. Because my theory was, if they were a writer and didn’t become a star, they were still a writer. But if they were just a singer and didn’t have success, I didn’t have anything from a business point of view. So everyone I was involved with was a songwriter FIRST and became a very successful artist. They didn’t necessary record their own songs…but they did write.”
His company “the Monk Family Music Group” is a prosperous business and he is still very active in the music business. This business of music that keeps Nashville the epicenter of country music (and many other genres of late) has had it’s up and downs. And Music Row’s Mayor has been there throughout the good times and the bad times and has always kept a positive spirit.
Today, you can still hear Monk hosting his own show on SiriusXM radio – and he’s still enjoying life and hitting 100 on the likeability scale. Even his hometown of Geneva, Alabama named a street after him, Charlie Monk Lane.
So if you are out and about and see Charlie Monk – be it at CRS this week or at some other venue, extend your hand and introduce yourself! Because that’s how the Mayor of Music Row rolls!