Lillian Williams, Partner, O’Neil Hagaman

Lillian Williams
– Lillian Williams

The Caretakers

Executives making the right moves to keep careers, companies, shows, the business, rolling. Operators as opposed to architects.

Lillian Williams
Partner, O’Neil Hagaman  

Lillian Williams has been taking care of her clients’ financial well-being at O’Neil Hagaman for almost 30 years. In all that time she has never faced as big a challenge to her clients’ well-being as the current one.

COVID hit Nashville, where Williams is from, particularly hard, seeing that many had already lost their homes in the March tornado. With everything shut down, they were deprived of ways to generate income over night. Some of the new artists Williams has been working with, who’ve had a lot of momentum coming into 2020, felt like the carpet’s been yanked from under them. Thanks to her financial wisdom, most of Williams’ clients are doing well for themselves. 

Though the firm’s reported clients include Garth Brooks, Jason Isbell and Laren Daigle, it is company policy not to use their names for self-promotion. 


“It’s not about me,” Williams says, “it’s about watching my artists get to the point, when they’re financially stable and doing very well for themselves, but then turn their efforts towards helping others. That’s when I feel like, ‘Wow, that’s a moment.’ If I can be a small part of that, and steer them through their financial situation, get them to where they make good financial decisions, and then help them expand beyond just them, that’s the bomb for me.”

It’s an attitude she picked up from two of her partners at the firm, Kerry O’Neil and Cheryl Harris, who she also considers mentors. “What I’ve learned from these guys is that if you always make decisions based on what’s best for your client, not for yourself, but for your client, then the rest will come,” said Williams.

The current crisis taught her, “that we’re not immune. What that’s forced us to do as a music community is to dig in, find more creative ways to engage with our audience, to try to fulfil that desire to enjoy live music. Livestreaming’s done some of that, but to me there’s still nothing like being in a room of likeminded folks, who are diverse, from all different colors, backgrounds, races, sexual orientations, we don’t care, we’re in a room, we’re enjoying music, and for one moment we’re all united as one. There’s nothing better than that.”