2023 Women Of Live: Debra Rathwell

Executive Vice President of Global Touring & Talent | AEG Presents

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More than four decades into her illustrious career, Debra Rathwell is hitting yet another pinnacle just as one of her longtime clients hits his.

Elton John’s historic “Farewell Yellow Brick Road Tour,” which began some five years ago in 2018 in arenas and will finish this year in stadiums, when all is said and done, will have the highest record-setting gross of all time. And if you think that was an easy feat, try doing it amidst a global pandemic which shuttered all and everything
and led to entire legs of “FYBRT” being canceled and/or rescheduled.

Working with an all-star team that included John’s longtime agent
Howard Rose, manager David Furnish, Marshall Arts’ Barrie Marshall, tour director Keith Bradley, and AEG Presents’ Donna DeBenedetto, Rathwell in a Billboard interview called herself a “utility player,” a “coach,” a “captain” and “the bossy girl with the clipboard.”

Of course, as one of the most senior touring executives, Rathwell’s role is far greater than that. She’s come a long way from her humble Canadian roots working in the music business while still a student at Carleton University in Ottawa. She moved to Montreal in 1982 and joined Donald K Donald Productions where she promoted shows by some of the era’s biggest and best including the Rolling Stones, David Bowie, Celine Dion, Tina Turner, Leonard Cohen and Rush.

Rathwell relocated to NYC in 1994 to work for John Scher’s Metropolitan Entertainment and ran its concert booking department before joining AEG in 2002. She helped open the global promoter’s New York City office and worked on a variety of major tours by artists including Justin Bieber, Luke Combs, Carrie Underwood, Hugh Jackman, Tame Impala, Lorde, Tyler, The Creator, Maggie Rogers and JoJo Siwa among many others. In 2019, Rathwell was named SVP of the newly created Global Touring and Talent department.

“I’ve been so privileged to be a part of the ongoing growth and success of AEG’s concert business since I arrived in 2002,” Rathwell stated at the time of her promotion. “It’s continually inspiring to come to work every day surrounded by such talented artists and co-workers, graduating, she joined RCA’s sales department, pulling SoundScan at 5 a.m., studying trends and connecting artists to fans. Famous for speaking when passionate, Mabe product-managed Carrie Underwood, fresh off “American Idol,” and former classmate Brad Paisley.