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NASHVILLE PAYS LOVING TRIBUTE TO PHRAN GALANTE

“I Touch Myself.” Fireball shots. F-Bombs. The celebration of the life of the very singular Phran Galante saw Congregation Micah in some uncharted territory, but Rabbi Laurie Rice offered a strong endorsement for the way Joe Galante and especially his partner in all things filled the dash between the day she was born and left this world.

Ronnie Dunn offered a most tender rendering of “I Believe,” intimate and yet resolved, while he and Kix Brooks, who’d just entered the Country Music Hall of Fame on Sunday, told wry stories about how Phran brought people together. After singing “Turn! Turn! Turn!,” Restless Heart’s Larry Stewart marveled at her ability to take a wild-eyed band intent on their bite of the Big Apple and leave New York without arrests.

The sacred and the profane formed a tender balance in the life of the fierce friend, charity organizer and once-upon-a-time record executive. Tales of the fundraising masseuse at the Music City Tennessee Invitational were matched with tackling Nashville’s “worst shelters in America” status and transforming it into one of the best.

Girlilla Marketing’s Jennie Smythe spoke of the measured-in-months relationship that shored up her own cancer battle, while Morris Higham’s Clint HIgham offered a Top 10 List of Why People Loved Phran, and Warner Music Nashville’s Shane Tarleton told a story about an email list outreach seeking a foster for a family of gerbils and his Reply All response: Richard Gere? While people laughed, Phran’s response was to embrace and validate his ironic sense of humor and encouragement to never tame what was wild inside.

For Joe, who greeted everyone by welcoming them to “Phran’s first sellout,” and sister/best friend Debbie Schwartz Linn, who closed the service with Phran’s two favorite two-word phases, “Bark On” and “Fuck Cancer,” then led the assembled in a Fireball shot, the loss is palpable. Yet, the joie de vivre that Phran embraced with abandon informed every crevice.

UMG’s Mike Dungan, Warner’s John Esposito, Sony Nashville’s Randy Goodman and Ken Robald, and Big Machine founder Scott Borchetta brought the heavy label presence, while Red Light leader Coran Capshaw and Mary Hilliard Harrington, Sandbox Entertainment’s Jason Owen, Shopkeeper’s Marion Kraft, Maverick’s Clarence Spalding, Larry Fitzgerald, Bonnie Garner made for a similarly heavy management contingent.

Just as powerful were the artists in attendance. Not performing but sitting in the temple honoring Phran’s memory were Kenny Chesney, Vince Gill, Emmylou Harris, Little Big Town and Radney Foster. Martina McBride concluded the laughter-filled, tear-spilled service with “Amazing Grace.”

Among the many celebrants were Country Music Association leader Sarah Trahern, Academy of Country Music acting director RAC Clark, barristers Jess Rosen and Gary Gilbert, CAA’s John Hughey and Rod Essig, Paradigm’s Jonathan Lavine and Mike Betterton, CMA Awards producer Robert Deaton, Evelyn Shriver, Renee Bell, radio legend Gerry House and myriad old-guard Music Row folks. After the Fireball was chugged, everyone adjourned to the social room—or, as Joe called it, “backstage”—for Phran’s favorites: deep-dish pizza, hot pretzels, chicken fingers, frozen margaritas and ice cream scooped while you stood there.

As she lived, so was she celebrated. Somewhere, Phran Galante—the New York girl who left Chrysalis Records for RCA Nashville, then starting Arista Nashville—inspired one last robust adventure for all who loved her.

This tribute video, made in 2018, provides a succinct view of Phran's fierce spirit and many accomplishments:

 

 

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