“The Late Show” Loses Key Ally for Country & Roots Artists

photo: Scott Kowalchyk/CBS
photo: Scott Kowalchyk/CBS

For twenty years and for two separate hosts, senior music producer for The Late Show Sheryl Zelikson has been a key behind-the-scenes champion for under-the-radar country and roots music performers who otherwise may never have been afforded an opportunity for a national television debut.

It began in the David Letterman era, when artists such as Jason Isbell, Ray Wylie Hubbard, Elizabeth Cook, Dale Watson all received a chance on the stage at the Ed Sullivan Theater. When Stephen Colbert took over recently, the honor was also bestowed to John Moreland, Aubrie Sellers, and others. Often these artists were there at the behest of the hosts themselves, but sometimes it was due to the open-mind and quality ear of Sheryl Zelikson.

Hopefully that won’t change when the next person assumes the important and influential position, but Sheryl Zelikson has let it be known that she’s moving on. “Artists have been discovered, careers made, and it has been a tremendous privilege to have been an integral part of the process for over two decades,” wrote Zelikson in a statement. Unlike the priorities of some television shows, The Late Show has prided itself in being part of the discovery process for music as opposed to just being another entertainment outlet for the same popular names already afforded national media opportunities.

According to The Late Show, the decision by Sheryl Zelikson to leave was “very amicable.” She originally started at CBS in the mailroom department. And even though she is leaving, she says she’s still interested in continuing to championing great talent in future endeavors.

Now the late night staple is looking for a new senior music producer. Hopefully it will be one that will continue to prioritize discovering new artists not just from country and roots, but across the music landscape, and keep The Late Show a friend of the little guy.

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