Terri Nutter’s rich, eclectic and vibrate life journey recently put her in a gem of a place as executive director of the Donelson Hermitage Chamber of Commerce.
The path to the position could almost be termed “six degrees of separation,” with her life choices and directions intertwined in what she said was “God charting my path” to the juncture.
She’s worked as executive director at the chamber for five months, but she’s already has made an impression on the communities where she’s lived the most impactful years of her life.
Nutter, a widow of seven years, and mother to three, lived in Donelson for several years and also traveled back and forth to Branson, Missouri and was on the road during her music career. She recently bought a home in Hermitage from a friend of 40 years who worked with her at Opryland Theme Park when they were youngsters and had their toes dipped in the music industry.
It’s long-term links like this that have shaped Nutter to be a strong, independent and soulful person who manages to keep connections, make longtime friends and appreciate loyalty.
It’s currently the mindset she steers toward for her chamber responsibilities. She loves her chamber operations manager Danielle Dobbs, who she promoted with a new title from administrative assistant when Nutter accepted the director’s position.
“The biggest key to this chamber is relationships with people in our community,” Nutter said.
Let’s throw in a bit of serendipity as well. Nutter is a fascinating person who hopes to share her enthusiasm and some fresh ideas with the chamber that was founded in February 1977 with just a few members and currently boasts 400-plus businesses, individuals and organization members.
“My goal is to grow and introduce more programs,” she said.
Path to today
Let’s throw in a bit of Nutter’s fascinating past. She has 30 years in the music industry, four years as a leader of a children’s ministry at a Donelson church, and she has ties with the chamber in Branson and experience as a committee chair at the Donelson Hermitage Chamber of Commerce.
She’s mother to Austin Smith, owner of Nashville and Donelson’s popular Party Fowl restaurant with a new location planned for the Nashville International Airport. Nutter moved to Hermitage to be near to him and her grandchildren there.
Daughter Kayla Oakley lives in Portland, Oregon, and youngest, Mackenzie, 21, is a senior at Lipscomb University.
However, Nutter does not have “empty nest syndrome” and looks forward to fulfill the duties at her new job with the chamber.
There were plenty of other eye-opening jobs in Nutter’s past to this point.
She was born in Memphis and graduated from high school at 16. A year later, Nutter moved to Donelson to impart on a journey at Opryland Theme Park.
“It was a great stepping stone,” she said. “You would not believe the number of actors and singers that came out of that training ground.”
She lived in the Donelson-Hermitage area off and on for more than 40 years. She worked in Branson in the early 1990s, and after returning to Tennessee, she performed again at Opryland and in the Music Valley area of Donelson, as well as in Pigeon Forge.
She’s sung at the Grand Ole Opry, is a published songwriter and was a recording artist at Warner Bros. Records. She’s performed internationally.
One of the foremost mentors of Nutter’s is Jeannie Seely, an award-winning, iconic singer.
“She’s my daughter’s Godmother,” said Nutter.
They happened to be on the road together, and Nutter asked Seely if she could go on stage and sing harmony with her. The rest is history.
Nutter was known for impersonating singers, and that morphed into a long gig doing “Always Patsy Cline,” where she belted out the singer’s hits to the delight of people.
“I think I learned 116 Patsy Cline songs,” she said with a laugh.
Add to this impressive resume, Nutter has 20 years experience in the real estate business.
Fast forward, Nutter loved to volunteer at Donelson Church of Christ and ended up taking a position as children’s minister, where she spent four years from 2015 until 2019. All the while, she was involved with the chamber’s Women in Business group, served as its committee chair and led the chamber’s gala.
“The director position came open, and I applied for the position the last day it was open for applications,” she said.
Another profound moment was in this time she took a little “alone time” trip and asked God to give her black and white, and while at a little inn at Red Boiling Springs she went to church with the owner. On her way out, she saw signs along the driveway that said chamber of commerce.
“And, in black and white,” she said. “That was all I needed.”
Needless to say, the next day, she was asked to fill the position, and she accepted.
“I’m so excited,” she said. “We have great plans.”
It probably won’t be out of the realm of possibility Nutter might be an entertainment prospect at some upcoming chamber events or fundraisers.