Former Kirt Webster Employees Detail Ongoing Abuse and Deception

If you’re a victim of abuse at the hands of Kirt Webster, please reach out to Saving Country Music.

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As Saving Country Music reported on May 4th, disgraced country music publicist and manager Kirt Webster has far from retired since the allegations of some two dozen individuals came out in 2017, accusing Webster of sexual misconduct and harassment—and in the case of former country performer Austin Rick—prolonged rape and abuse. Not only does Mr. Webster continue to represent artists such as Lee Greenwood, Don McLean, and Janie Fricke through intermediaries, Saving Country Music has confirmed that Webster also continues to represent the estates of numerous country legends, including Charley Pride, BJ Thomas, and others.

Along with the continued involvement of Kirt Webster within the country music industry, Webster is also is continuing his pattern of alleged abusive behavior according to one former employee who worked for Kirt Webster in 2021—years after the initial revelations about Webster went public.

“He will ruin everything for me, because he kind of already has,” the former Kirt Webster employee says, asking for her name to be withheld due to concerns for her own safety. “I can’t even come back to Nashville now for fear of being in the same city as him.”

She confirms that Kirt Webster is still very much active in the business of managing country artists, but uses individuals like her to keep his involvement out of the public eye. “He was managing them. But this way, I was a front for him. That way he could stay in the shadows.”

Similar to how Kirt Webster would coerce music artists into his management and publicity fold with promises of opportunity and stardom, Webster did the same with this former employee. “He told me, ‘I want to watch your career in fireworks, watch you become amazing, watch you be what I know you can be, and I can teach you how to do that. I know how to. Nobody else can. I know this business. You’ve seen who I’ve represented.”

This former employee had intimate knowledge of Kirt Webster’s business because she would stay in the guest house of his estate in the Hermitage portion of Nashville with her husband. She would work with Webster at his home, have meals with him, and help to fulfill merchandise orders in Webster’s garage. “We were working 12-15 hour days, and never got a penny from him. I only got paid when an artist I managed had a show, and then I only got a third of 10%. Third for him, a third for another lady, and a third for me.”

“He tries to find the weakest people possible,” she continues, “so then he can prey on them. And then he can groom them, and he can make them feel like they are nothing without him. But they’re going to have all of these opportunities. And he can do anything. And I’ve watched him do stuff that someone may think is impossible, because he does make deals happen. People just don’t know that they’re making deals with the devil.”

This former employee says she knew about the previous accusations against Kirt Webster, but believed they had all been disproven. She only learned recently that Metro Nashville Police did not move forward with charges in the Austin Rick case because the accusations fell outside of the the statute of limitations due to timing. “I just wanted to continue to work in the industry. I loved the music. I loved the clients. I loved standing back stage, watching a client fulfill a dream.”

While she was working for Webster, she said Kirt was obsessed with working to repair his reputation. This is why Webster has actively worked to release favorable press for himself, and why Saving Country Music recently received a letter requesting the takedown of articles related to the 2017 revelations about Webster’s alleged abuse of Austin Rick.

“He was so worried about clearing up his Google search,” the former employee says. “When he typed in his name, he wanted all of the negativity to be at least three or four pages back. That was his goal. He was very concentrated on doing that for any potential clients or potential partnerships. Typically, people don’t go past page 1.”

Kirt Webster is the former President and CEO of the once major country music publicity firm Webster Public Relations. At that time, the importance, power, and the magnitude of Webster Public Relations and Kirt Webster in country music and beyond was significant. The firm represented a large stable of artists, including legends like Dolly Parton, Hank Williams Jr., Kenny Rogers, and Tanya Tucker, more contemporary artists such as Justin Moore, and artists outside of country music such as Cyndi Lauper, Kenny G, and Kid Rock. Beyond the publicity work, Kirt Webster was also a significant power player in Nashville in other roles.

After the revelations about Kirt Webster’s behavior in 2017, many of the firm’s high profile clients left. Webster Public Relations briefly rebranded to Westby Public Relations under Kirt Webster’s right hand man Jeremy Westby, before rebranding once again as 2911 Media.

“If anybody believes that 2911, that Kirt doesn’t have a back deal with Jeremy Westby, they’re wrong,” says the former employee. “Yes, on paper and for the Secretary of State, tax wise, it’s all under Jeremy’s name. Kirt has a part of that company. I’ve seen the documents. There’s a behind-the-scenes deal between Jeremy and Kirt. But that’s why all of those clients run through 2911. And any of the decisions made by other clients are all run through Kirt, even if the client doesn’t know it.”

One former employee of 2911 Media, Jason Ashcraft, also confirms this shadowy relationship between Kirt Webster, publicist Jeremy Westby, and 2911 Media.

“I was the first employee hired into 2911 Media in January 2018 right after Webster PR shut down from a multitude of legitimate sexual abuse and sabotage allegations that were brought against Kirt Webster,” Ashcraft tells Saving Country Music. “Both before and after I was hired, I was assured by Jeremy Westby that Kirt Webster had absolutely no involvement whatsoever in the company. I accepted the job on that premise, and like so many others, I inevitably learned that was all a big lie.”

As Jason Ashcraft’s employment at 2911 continued, Kirt’s role was revealed. “Webster was behind everything. The computer equipment I was provided, the blood money that Westby accepted from Webster paid my meager salary, and the mind-control that Webster still has over Jeremy Westby to this day. It just made me sick to learn all of this. In December of 2019, in my letter of resignation to Jeremy Westby, I specifically cited Kirt Webster’s bullshit as one of two reasons for my resignation.”

Jason Ashcraft is one of the few people who is willing to use his own name while speaking about Kirt Webster because of the intimidation Webster continues to use behind-the-scenes in the country music industry.

“I am damn sure not going to participate in this established culture of silence and fear about sexual rapists and industry predators that has been going on in Nashville before I marched into this town in 2018,” says Ashcraft. “If that means that I sacrifice my career in the country music industry in the process of pursuing what is right, then so be it. This will be one hell of a way to go back to being just a fan of music again…

“However… I would like to think that all of the real country music artists, and industry professionals in Nashville actually believe in the values, morals and life principles that real country music often seeks to instill in its listener. Please tell me that actions still speak louder than words in Nashville. I call upon the artists, the entertainment buyers, the tastemakers, those in the media, and the entire country music industry and family to hold Kirt Webster accountable for his actions, including the multitude of legitimate allegations which have been brought against him, for which all he’s done is run, hide and evade from. Let go of your fear. It is time for the truth to be known. It is time that industry predators like Harvey Weinstein, R. Kelly and allegedly—Kirt Webster—to be stopped dead in their tracks.”

One of the reasons Jason Ashcraft and others are speaking out is due to the fear that more individuals will be victimized by Kirt Webster in the future.

“One of the things in one of the articles—and I didn’t remember it until I saw it—but it was when a co-worker had her pony tail grabbed, and he pretended like there was going to be oral sex,” says the former Kirt Webster employee speaking on condition of anonymity. “I didn’t have a pony tail grabbed, but I had the back of my head grabbed the same way, like he wanted oral sex. There was a lot of sexual conversation about my boobs, or how my husband and I would have sex, or what my husband liked. I would just laugh it off as ‘Well, he’s a man,’ and just move on. But he would be on phone calls with people and I would be sitting in the room, and he would have them on speaker and be on mute, constantly making fun of them or acting like he was jacking off, or just making rude comments.”

The former employee says that on a regular basis, Mr. Webster would mock his clients and employees on the phone while they were on mute.

“One instance was BJ Thomas’s wife. She was on mute, because he got tired of listening to her be in her depression and sadness that her husband had passed away. He would take her off mute and say, ‘I’m so sorry,’ put her back on mute, and talk awful about her. Same way with Lee Greenwood. He can’t stand Lee, and he talks about his wife like she’s so awful. He puts them on mute, and then makes fun of them.”

“Him and Don McLean have had some of the worst fights,”
the former employee continues. “But it will end with Kirt saying to Don, ‘Who else is going to take you on? You’re an old dried-up one hit wonder.’ Same way with Lee Greenwood. ‘You’re an 80-year-old has-been.’ It’s not like all the nice things he says about these clients in articles. He doesn’t care. All he cares about is the paycheck. And he says, ‘I try to make money on them before they’re dead. And then after they’re dead, I’ll make even more money on them.”

Another former employee of Kirt Webster and a previous publicist for Webster Public Relations is also wanting to warn and compel the industry to stop working with Kirt Webster. In a statement sent to Saving Country Music, this publicist says,

As a former employee of Kirt Webster and a member of the music and PR communities, I feel it necessary to speak out against the re-embrace of a man who has committed atrocities towards so many people. As the saying goes, where there’s smoke, there is fire, and the ‘smoke’ that I and many colleagues have personally witnessed through the years are things that, alone, no one should be permitted to continue.

Mr. Webster has never publicly or privately atoned for any of his wrongdoings, to my knowledge, and it is on all members of an industry / community such as ours to prevent abusers from repeating their prior misdeeds in the future. According to my own and shared experiences over the past several years, Mr. Webster has not changed and continues to bully, whether directly or through anonymous methods.

I encourage others to voice their dissent and commit publicly to not work with, nor enable, people like Mr. Webster so that we can ensure a healthy and productive environment for all. Recent events have made this action even more necessary and relevant. I am fully aware of the negative repercussions I am opening myself up to with this statement, even anonymously, but there is strength in numbers and I am praying I won’t be on an island alone through the storm to follow. I call on media outlets to shine light on the situation, music industry companies to commit to not working with predators and an overall change in the culture of abuse and corruption in the music industry.

As for the more recent employee who spoke to Saving Country Music, she says the final straw came around Christmas of 2021. While running an errand for Kirt and stopping to see a client of hers and Kirt’s who lived nearby, a delay in returning to Kirt Webster’s house caused one of the numerous outbursts she experienced during her employment. This one escalated into a violent altercation.

Webster first allegedly yelled at her on the phone, chastising her. “You’re just a fucking asshole. You make a fucking mess of everything. I can’t believe you’ve left me stranded here,” she says Kirt screamed at her on the phone before she returned to his house.

Back at the house she says, “He wasn’t saying anything at first. We were packing merch orders to get them out before Christmas. And then he started throwing things, and hitting things, and calling me everything that he could. He told me that he made me, and he could destroy me. And he started hitting stuff—walls, the refrigerator, the bar with his fist as hard as he could. And I was going to be next because he had reared back, and then my husband walked in. And thank God my husband walked in because I would have been next.”

“I had never seen him that angry,” she continues. “I got my composure and got back to work, because I could not tell my husband right then because Kirt would be in the hospital. And then Kirt just acted like everything was fine. It was 2 in the morning. I told my husband briefly what had happened. And I said, ‘We’ve got to go. I’ve got to get out of here. I can’t be here ever again.’ So we dropped off the merch at the airport, we got across the State line, and I texted Kirt and said that I will never ever be talked to or abused like that ever again. I’m gone. And I have not been back to Nashville since.”

Since the incident she says, “I’ve been alienated, and I’m fearful. If he did start hitting me, he may have never quit. Because he didn’t quit on the walls or the refrigerator, or the bar. My husband saved my life that night because he walked in when he did … [Kirt] will call me every now and then and I always answer the phone, because I don’t know what he’s going to do if I don’t. I don’t know if it helps another person. But I don’t want to see him do it to anybody else. And yet he did to the person that came right behind me. She and I were friends prior.”

Often when these accounts come up—including with Kirt Webster in the past—many ask why they stayed through the incidents of abuse.

“It’s my fault. I shouldn’t have stayed,” says the former employee. “But it was about the artists for me. It was about watching them see their dreams come true, and having that special access to watching that happen. That was the carrot. That was the incentive to keep coming back. The artist I was working with, they sang the soundtrack of my life growing up. It was the opportunity to work with artists that I’ve admired my whole lifeI can’t get a job anywhere else in the music industry, which is what I wanted to do. I made the mistake of telling Kirt that 13-year-old me wrote in my diary that she was going to move to Nashville and work in the music industry. And she tried. She tried.

Webster also would allegedly say the right things at the right times to smooth over altercations. He would tell her, “‘I’m so hard on you because I believe in you so much. Your career can be fireworks, and I want to watch that show.’ It’s the typical abuser behavior. The typical grooming. He never said ‘I’m sorry.’ And he always said ‘I’ll never say I’m sorry for being hard on you.’ I should have left.”

Far from Kirt Webster learning or rehabilitating after the revelations from Austin Rick and others in 2017, the former employee says, “He’s even more emboldened than he was before because in his eyes, he thinks he was cleared of all charges because they did not charge him … I want Austin [Rick] to know that he didn’t do it for nothing. I hope Austin knows that. And I’m sorry. I’m sorry that we all didn’t believe him right away.”

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Saving Country Music reached out to 2911 Media and Jeremy Westby for comment on this story. Kirt Webster responded,

You are correct, I have not retired. I have taken a different approach to who I work with and what role I handle for each of those clients. Sure, I have flaws like everyone does. I work on myself every day. Every experience is a live and learn situation. Not everyone’s dynamics always mesh. I love making things successful. I wish everyone success and I know that as you have success others are always looking to bring you down. I can’t control what people say or how they feel about me, but as Carl Perkins once told me ‘1/3 of the people will love you, 1/3 of the people will like you and/or work with you, and 1/3 of the people will hate you. So gravitate to that 2/3 that love and like you’. So I choose to focus on those people.

Stay tuned to Saving Country Music for continuing coverage of Kirt Webster and his alleged behavior. If you’re a victim of abuse at the hands of Kirt Webster, please reach out to Saving Country Music.

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