Joe GalanteJoe Galante, Chairman of Sony Music Nashville and widely regarded as one of the most powerful men on Music Row, has announced that he is leaving the company that has been his employer for his entire adult life.

"As a 21-year old kid from Queens starting out at RCA Records in New York, I never dreamed of the nearly 40-year journey that was before me," Galante says. "In 1974, a temporary Nashville assignment turned permanent, and it changed my life. I thank God for it every day."

Galante, who says he has no plans to leave Music City, is credited with starting or shaping the careers of several of country music's biggest stars, including Carrie Underwood, Kenny Chesney, Brad Paisley, Martina McBride, Keith Whitley, Brooks & Dunn, The Judds, Sara Evans, Montgomery Gentry and Miranda Lambert (with whom he is pictured above), among many others.

"I have been inspired by so many exceptional artists and songwriters and feel privileged to be a part of their careers," Galante says. "I've worked with unique managers and executives who helped me learn more about this business and how to better my craft. My RCA, BMG and Sony family's support and passion for our artists' music helped us build the label group of the year for seven of the last eight years ... This is solely my decision and I'm excited to begin my journey down another road."

Sony Music Nashville has not yet named a replacement for Galante, who says he will stay on as Chairman until the position is filled.