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Melissa Chambers & Emmie Chambers | Head of Production, Gaither Music Group LLC & Production for Primary Wave (Sun Records)

Melissa Chambers & Emmie Chambers actually have no relation to each other, but not only have the same last name, they are also both in production for subsidiaries of the legendary Sun Records.  We were approached by the team to share a few different divisons at Sun as so many women are leading the way there and of course we were thrilled to do so.  Sun Records began when Sam Phillips launched his record company in February of 1952. He named it Sun Records as a sign of his perpetual optimism: a new day and a new beginning. Sam rented a small space at 706 Union Avenue for his own all-purpose studio. The label was launched amid a growing number of independent labels. In a short while Sun gained the reputation throughout Memphis as a label that treated local artists with respect and honesty. Sam provided a non-critical, spontaneous environment that invited creativity and vision. As a businessman, Phillips was patient and willing to listen to almost anyone who came in off the street to record. Memphis was a happy home to a diverse musical scene: gospel, blues, hillbilly, country, boogie, and western swing. Taking advantage of this range of talent, there were no style limitations at the label. In one form or another Sun recorded them all.

Fast forward to 2023 and we’re starting off by shining a light on production Melissa the Senior Director of Operations and Productions at Gaither Music Group LLC & Green Hill Productions.  Gaither Music Group is one of the largest independent Christian music companies in the world known worldwide for its award-winning and top-selling recordings, including the Gaither Gospel Series. The company developed a partnership with Cracker Barrel Old Country Store® in 2008, one of the most successful music launches in Cracker Barrel® history; and its alliances with Capitol Christian Music Group, Universal Music Group and Time Life Music remain bedrocks for the company.

Emmie on the other hand does production for Primary Wave as Operations Manager. She oversees all physical and digital distribution for the artists on the label, including all Sun Records releases. Primary Wave Music was acquired by Sun in 2021 and is the leading independent publisher of iconic and legendary music in the world. The company is home to some of songwriters, artists, and record labels across the history of recorded music including Bob Marley, Stevie Nicks, Whitney Houston, Prince, Olivia Newton-John, Ray Charles, Aerosmith, Def Leppard, Devo, and many more. The songs represented by Primary Wave include over 1,000 Top 10 singles, and over 400 #1 hits. Throughout the company’s 15-year existence, Primary Wave Music has embraced an entrepreneurial spirit, offering and executing proactive one-of-a-kind ideas, unique services and marketing campaigns for their artists.

In their free time Melissa is walking on the trail near my home, hanging with family and friends, writing.  And Emmie spends one week every year at a summer camp: “I grew up going there and loved it, and mentoring kids is one of the most fulfilling things I get to do. I love being outdoors, anything to do with water, and going dancing.”

Photos Below: Melissa (left), Emmie (right)

How did you get into your industry / What motivated you?

Melissa: I answered a want ad! I started at Green Hill Productions way back in the nineties as a production assistant. I’d done a six week stint as a temp at RCA in their video department, which I’m convinced is what got me this job. It’s really more something I fell into as a young person and it’s still sticking all these years later!

Emmie: I’ve always loved music, I grew up listening to my dad play bass in a rock band (they usually practiced in our basement, I would fall asleep to their music). I didn’t realize music industry could be a career path until I heard about the boutique music business program at the University of North Alabama in Florence, AL, conveniently located in the legendary Muscle Shoals area. It’s been an incredible full circle moment: Johnny Cash has been my “good luck” artist since I was a teenager, and then I went to school in the birthplace of Sam Phillips (founder of Sun Records), and now I get to work at Sun with some of the most iconic music!

What is a day in the life like?

Melissa: Sometimes it feels like my day is all about email management! But in between emails, I manage album projects from master delivery through to supply chain ingestion and printing and manufacturing. For most of my career, I handled the job alone, but the department has grown to three of us in the past two years, so I oversee and field questions from our other team members in an ongoing training effort. It’s wonderful seeing two other young women grow in roles similar to mine and understand what I’ve done alone all these years. I feel seen!

Emmie: What I love about my job is that there is some structure, but there are new challenges all the time and no day is the same. Typically, I’m emailing artist teams to gather all the metadata and audio assets needed to manufacture the vinyl, coordinating the artwork creation and proofing, pitching our physical products to our distribution and record partners, and generally keeping the team aware of all deadlines. On rare occasions, I go on impromptu adventures to pick up original James Brown tapes – those are the really fun days.

In your opinion what has been your favorite / the coolest thing you’ve worked on?

Melissa: In the mid-2000’s, one of our labels ventured into rock. We had a group on that label called After Edmund who were sort of alt rock. It was the first time I’d worked on an album that I would have been listened to without work driving me to it! That group was nominated for a Grammy that year and had their pic taken with Ben Gibbard of Death Cab for Cutie. It was like my personal music life and my work music life were merging for the first time! I had that framed pic in my office for a long time!

Emmie: There are two that are tied for me – one is the Olivia Newton-John and Dolly Parton “Jolene” collaboration that came out on Just The Two Of Us: Duets Volume 2 in May. It was incredible to work on such an incredible song with ONJ and Dolly, two of the kindest and most iconic artists in the industry. The other is the absolutely STACKED Ian Hunter record, Defiance Part 1. It features SO many rock icons and is just a solid album, and was so great working with his team. As a bonus, I also love working on anything Chris Isaak does, he is one of the funniest and most engaging artists I’ve had the pleasure of working with. Sorry I can’t narrow it down, I’m biased but everything I do is cool!

What has been / is the most difficult part of your job?

Melissa: It’s often the job of the production department to crush the dreams of sales and marketing! It’s our responsibility to work up the cost of goods analysis per project so we can ensure we’re not upside down financially, especially when elaborate packaging is involved. It’s never fun to stifle anyone’s creativity. But if we’re not profitable, we can’t stay in business, so it’s a necessary evil, and we in production are often the messenger of the bad news.

Emmie: It can sometimes be difficult to keep projects straight, there are so many people involved and each deal we do with each artist or catalog is different, so keeping it all organized and front of mind is a challenge. I’ve enjoyed learning more about the financial & legal aspects of my role and how it affects physical distribution.

What advice do you have for someone wanting to get into pursuing what you’re doing?

Melissa: It’s tough to break into the industry. It really helps if you know someone. We find a lot of our new hires by word of mouth or through networking at events. I know this isn’t a fun answer for introverts, but sometimes it can really help being a part of the organizations like Women in Music or even attending a conference like Music Biz and drumming up conversation whenever you can.

Emmie: Be kind and go to parties. You never know who you’ll end up talking to, and that person could offer you your next job or a cool connection that provides a solution to a need in your current role (and vice versa!). This industry is small – it’s important to make (and keep) friends across all levels. Keep up with current music business news – it’s always changing!

Are you a vinyl collector yourself? What drew you to it?

Melissa: I guess you could say so, as I’ve saved all my vinyl from the 80’s! On my wall here in my home office, I have some of my favorite vinyls from the 80’s: Prince’s ‘Purple Rain’, Rick Springfield’s ‘Success Hasn’t Spoiled Me Yet’, The Police’s ‘Zenyatta Mondatta‘, Adam Ant’s ‘Vive Le Rock’, Duran Duran’s self-titled album, and Men at Work’s ‘Cargo’.

Emmie: I wouldn’t call myself a “collector” just because I’ve seen real collectors and I don’t come close, but I do have a collection that’s really special to me. My dad started my collection by giving me old records from his teenage years, well before I ever owned a record player. As I went through my History of Popular Music course, I would go to my local record store and buy records from each era (I got really into Big Band and Chuck Berry) as well as new records from my favorite artists. I will say that after a year and a half working heavily in vinyl, my eye is much sharper when I browse record stores! I’ve enjoyed expanding my collection as I pay more attention to picture discs, exclusive colorways, and other cool incentives artists and labels have started including in their vinyl packaging.

What types of things are happening in your industry / with vinyl that you’re excited or worried about? i.e. innovation, or trends you’re seeing.

Melissa: I’m super excited that we’re seeing more plants pop up and existing plants expand their number of presses. Just in the past couple of years we’ve gone from seeing turn time take up to almost a year from the time you hold capacity to it just taking a few months to turn vinyl. It feels like we’re getting closer to being able to release at the same time as the CD and digital album go live. It would be great to see the trifecta go live all at once!

Emmie: I’m really excited about vinyl being treated as a merch item rather than utility. While audiophiles will always appreciate the superior sound quality, I think this widens the market for physical consumers to include more casual fans. I think this also solidifies that vinyl (at least for now) has a permanent place in the market, almost immortalizing the products.

Who has been influential to you and your growth as a professional in this industry?

Melissa: So many people along the way! Shout outs go to Mary Kraker & Sandy Cave who have been role models for almost three decades from the financial side of the business; Lynn Lowe, President of Music Services, who has taught me so much about publishing and royalty accounting; Celeste Winstead, my Gaither Music co-worker who has always kept me abreast of the marketing side of the industry; Greg Howard, who helped me understand things from an A&R perspective; and my long-time boss and president of Gaither Music, Paul Sizelove, who has always lifted me up and supported me.

Emmie: I can’t give enough praise to Melissa Chambers (no relation) and Meghann Wright for giving me a shot and really teaching me everything I know about this industry. They’ve been such wonderful mentors to me! Also have to give a shoutout to Kevin Jones, whose advice and guidance has been incomparable as I move towards my goals, and my dad, who inspired my love for music and vinyl at a young age and has taught me how to be a leader.

Anything else you’d like to add; if not tell us what you’re listening to: 

Melissa: This week, I’ve been listening to several Foals albums, the new Foo Fighters album, Royal Blood‘s latest album, and then some comfort listening of my favorite Replacements record, “Don’t Tell A Soul.”

Emmie: Indie folk rock has been dominating my listening at the moment! Ruston Kelly‘s new record is a current favorite. An all-time favorite is New Zealand based artist Jamie McDell, who is coming out with new music in June!

Find Melissa & Emmie: 


Sun Records: @sunrecordcompany

Gaither Music Group: @gaithermusic

Green Hill Productions: @greenhillmusiclabel

Primal Wave: @primarywave

Emmie: @emersonchambers_

Sun Records: @sunrecords

Gaither Music Group: @Gaithermusic

Green Hill Productions: @MyGreenHill

Primal Wave: @PrimaryWave

Emmie: @EmmieChambers

Sun Records: @sunrecords

Primal Wave: @PrimaryWave


Sun Records: www.sunrecords.com

Gaither Music Group: www.gaither.com

Green Hill Productions: www.greenhillmusic.com

Primal Wave: www.primarywave.com

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