Michelle Tigard Kammerer – aka MTK – had her first introduction to country music as a young girl, listening to The Grand Ole Opry on the radio with his grandfather.
“I learned to sing all the songs, and my grandfather and I sang together,” she said. “I remember he once asked me if I wanted to sing at the Grand Ole Opry like the superstars we heard on the radio. I said, ‘No, grandpa, I want Course the Opri.
MTK, who is now head of country music at Amazon Music, clarified that she didn’t necessarily mean she wanted to work at the Opry, the world-renowned country music venue in Nashville, Tennessee, but rather that she wanted to be part of the country music industry.
“This music brought so much joy to me and my grandfather, and I was passionate about sharing it with as many people as possible,” she said.
His love of all things country – and the words of an early mentor to “follow the music” – led MTK through the close-knit country music industry to his current role in developing the genre. country for Amazon Music. She is now responsible for helping millions of fans connect with the music they love through fun experiences like live streams, award shows and merchandising campaigns.
“I knew what I wanted from a young age, and I’m so lucky to be able to live out that dream here at Amazon Music,” she said.
We caught up with MTK to find out more about her career and how she got to where she is today. Keep reading to learn more about her career highlights, her hilarious moments with country icons, and how she’s breaking new ground at Amazon.
Meet his heroes
After nearly two decades of working at major talent agencies and record labels, we knew MTK would have stories about meeting country music’s biggest stars. What we didn’t expect was how much we laughed when she told us the story of meeting one of her heroes.
“Reba McEntire is the biggest of the big ones to me. She’s from Oklahoma and I’m from Kansas,” MTK explained, “So to me, she always represented that you could leave your small town and live your dreams. I was so excited when I had the chance to meet her early in my career at Creative Artists Agency (CAA).
McEntire was under contract with CAA at the time, and the team had the chance to meet her after a listening session.
“It was my moment – she was the queen of country music and I was finally going to meet her,” she said. “Reba was standing in line to introduce herself to everyone, and I was getting more and more nervous and excited the closer she got to me. I was practicing what I was going to say in my head. me and said, ‘Hi, my name is Reba. Nice to meet you.’ And I said, ‘Hi, I’m Stephanie. Wait, that’s not my name. And I looked at the floor, I walked out of the room, I got in the elevator, I got in my car and left crying on the way home.
Eight years passed before MTK found the right opportunity to redeem itself. She had been in the same room as McEntire at many events since the initial reunion, but it took a nudge from her boss at Big Machine Records to muster up the courage to reintroduce herself.
“I was working in the press room at the Country Music Awards when my boss walked in with a look on his face that told me he was up to something,” she said. “There had been rumors that Reba was going to be there, and all of a sudden I get a tap on the shoulder and I turn around and Reba says, ‘Hi, I’m Reba. I heard you had a story to tell me.
Fortunately, McEntire found the situation as hilarious as we did.
“She was laughing out loud and said, ‘Well, let’s make it official. Shall we go? Hi, I’m Reba. Nice to meet you.’ And I said, ‘Hi, I’m Michelle,'” MTK laughed. “She’s magical and wonderful and smells like rainbows and sunshine. That’s what I’ll say about Reba McEntire.
Play a part in country music history
Over the ensuing years, MTK has grown accustomed to working alongside major artists, and their enthusiasm for helping fans discover new artists has only grown stronger. During her career, she has been instrumental in launching hit songs and developing major bands, such as Lady A and Florida Georgia Line.
“What’s so great about the music community is that a lot of us are close friends who work together and have real relationships,” she said. “I was involved in the discovery and development of Lady A early in my career at CAA, and we remained close when they took off – they were even at my wedding.”
“I also had the honor of surprising Florida Georgia Line with a #1 plaque on stage at their sold-out concert at Fenway Park. The song was “God, your mom and me” with the Backstreet Boys and they were on tour together, so I had the opportunity to be part of the presentation. It is a gift to share such special moments with artists.
Helping artists achieve their dreams is rewarding in itself, and MTK said it really comes full circle when fans connect with the music she’s worked on.
“Sometimes I’m at the supermarket and I hear someone singing a song I’ve been working on, and I feel so proud,” she said. “I go back to this little girl who fell in love with country music and I’m so grateful to play even a small part in helping fans connect with the stories country music has to tell.”
Innovating at Amazon Music
Since joining Amazon in 2021, MTK has led a talented team with the goal of connecting more fans with the music and artists they love, and they’re off to an incredible start. With head of country programming Emily Cohen Belote, whom MTK calls “Golden Ears,” the Country Heat brand on Amazon Music reached more than 5 billion streams with its “Country Heat” playlist and podcast during the last year only. The team has also bolstered customer service offerings by embracing rising country stars like Bailey Zimmerman and BRELAND, and rising stars like Lainey Wilson.
“Being the Country Leader at Amazon Music is so special because we can engage artists and share their music globally,” MTK said. “We’re telling artists’ stories and connecting with fans in new ways using Amazon’s wide range of services.”
In its first year with Amazon Music, MTK had the opportunity to work with teams from across the company to help produce the Academy of Country Music (ACM) show.
“Prime Video ramped up the airing of the ACM Awards this year, and the country music team was supportive as they worked to get it all in place in record time,” she said. “The timing was tight, and it was amazing how many people at Amazon, from fashion to Prime Video, music and Twitch, came together so quickly to move a mountain. The fact that everyone effort was driven by a passion for music made it even more amazing.We also worked with the amazing Dolly Parton, who was a huge more.”
It was the first fully-streamed music awards show, and the streaming format made it easier than ever for customers to watch the show from their devices. His team also developed live streams through Prime Video, Twitch and the Amazon Music app to give fans access to historically exclusive events, like album launch parties and intimate shows.
“It’s exciting to be able to help artists reach a much wider audience when they release new music, while helping millions of fans access new experiences through streaming,” she said. .
It’s a lot of work to develop an entire genre for Amazon Music, but this step of building something to its full potential is exactly the kind of challenge MTK loves. As she continues to build on her storied career in the country music industry, the sky is the limit for what MTK and her team will bring to Amazon Music customers next.
“Little Michelle would be so proud if she could see how far she’s come,” she said. “I used to watch shows like the ACMs on TV and listen to my favorite artists on the radio, and now I’m working my dream job making fans fall in love with country music. easier than ever.”