Today, October 17th is the day that a concert film called Still Playin’ Possum: Music & Memories of George Jones will be showing in select theaters in a one-day event. Filmed on April 25th in Huntsville, Alabama at the Von Bruan Center, the film celebrates the life of George Jones 10 years after his passing. It features performances from Brad Paisley, Dierks Bentley, Tanya Tucker, Jelly Roll, and others.
But there’s one hitch that fans of George Jones and country music should know about this film that the numerous media outlets rebroadcasting the press release are overlooking. The film—just like the concert—was produced by accused rapist and sexual predator Kirt Webster, who is also currently managing the George Jones estate as reported by Saving Country Music back in May.
Kirt Webster is the former President and CEO of the once major country music publicity firm Webster Public Relations. On October 27th, 2017, a country artist by the name of Austin Rick, who performed under the name Austin Cody in the late ’00s, enumerated numerous instances where he said Kirt Webster sexually assaulted him, in part with promises that he could help further Rick’s career if the young performer complied. Webster allegedly bribed and intimidated Rick to keep the behavior quiet.
At that time, Webster Public Relations and Kirt Webster 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 William Michael Morgan, and artists outside of country music such as Cyndi Lauper and Kid Rock. Beyond the publicity work, Kirt Webster was also a significant power player in Nashville in other roles.
The accusations from Austin Rick were significant, but they were just the very beginning of a wave of accusations that emerged in the coming days and weeks. A second young male singer came forward, as did nearly two dozen employees and other associates of Webster Public Relations, speaking to both The Nashville Scene and Buzzfeed about the toxic environment working for Kirt Webster at Webster Public Relations. Many spoke on condition of anonymity due to fear of retribution from the powerful publicist.
Employees said they were asked inappropriate sexual questions by Kirt Webster, that pornography was played in the work environment, and that sexual favors were requested from Webster in exchange for favors within the industry, among other disturbing allegations. Amid the scandal, high-profile Webster artists began to leave the firm including Dolly Parton and Kid Rock. Then on November 1st, 2017 as the allegations continued to pile up, Webster Public Relations closed.
Metro Nashville Police investigated the allegations against Kirt Webster from Austin Rick, and released a report on December 21st, 2017 that showed there was enough evidence to prosecute Kirt Webster for sexual assault. But since the alleged occurrences happened in 2008 (9 years previous), it was too late to bring charges due to the statute of limitations.
Despite the litany of allegations and all of the negative press coverage for Kirt Webster, he continues to be entrenched in the country music industry via shadow hand management of the publicity company 2911 Media, and the management company Spinning Plates where he often works through intermediaries. Saving Country Music exposed this by interviewing previous employees who also verified that the abuse of Kirt Webster is ongoing.
One of the numerous ways Kirt Webster has attempted to launder his reputation is by naming himself as the producer for numerous television specials and movies for clients he manages such as Lee Greenwood, Don McLean, and the George Jones Estate. Another way is by taking pictures with important artists.
On September 17th, viral “Rich Men North of Richmond” artist Oliver Anthony made his debut appearance in Nashville as part of the annual Tootsie’s Orchid Lounge Birthday Bash on Lower Broadway. It’s extremely unlikely that Oliver Anthony had any idea who Kirt Webster was when the disgraced publicist walked up to him and asked for a photo. But Webster has a way of working his way into the inner circle of artists and unlocking opportunities for them, and thus earning their loyalty.
There is no indication that Oliver Anthony is currently working with Kirt Webster or any of his intermediaries. At this point, it appears to be just a photo. But if there was anyone that Oliver Anthony would need to categorically avoid in the music business, it would be Kirt Webster.
Along with managing the George Jones estate, Lee Greenwood, and Don McLean, Kirt Webster also represents the Charley Pride estate, the BJ Thomas estate, and other high profile estates and clients.
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If you’re a victim of abuse at the hands of Kirt Webster or have further information about his behavior, please reach out to Saving Country Music.