Katie Armiger Countersuit Claims She Was Asked to ‘Sex It Up’ for Radio Programmers
Katie Armiger's counter lawsuit against Cold River Records alleges that label head Pete O’Heeron asked her to “sex it up” for radio station program directors. She further claims the label withheld income from her and that she was fraudulently induced into signing a 2010 recording agreement.
The Boot has obtained legal documents that show the 24-year-old singer's response and counterclaim. She denies quitting country music in June of 2015 and asserts that O’Heeron "pulled the plug" on her career on behalf of Cold River. The documents state that during a June 15, 2015 phone conversation, he told Armiger, “I’m so ready to pull the plug on this” and asked her what her plans were, because he wasn't going to continue to invest in her. The following morning he released a press release stating that Armiger was “taking a breather.” She did not approve that press release, she says.
Prior to a 2015 tour of radio stations, Armiger says O’Heeron gave her money to buy “hot,” “game-changing” clothes that would impress program directors. He further asked to see pictures of the outfits she was considering before she purchased them. O'Heeron allegedly said that if, “they don’t wanna take you home, they’re not gonna play your music. Period.”
O’Heeron and Cold River VP of promotions Jim Dandy also allegedly told Armiger that she needed to hug, kiss, flirt with and sit in the laps of radio program directors. She states that she was uncomfortable with these suggestions, and felt humiliated by the things they were asking her to do. Furthermore, Armiger claims that other female radio representatives also urged her to “sex it up.”
In a response to Armiger’s press release, O’Heeron notes that Armiger continued a campaign for her to be named Country Weekly magazine’s hottest bachelorette. “Her assertions are completely without merit and fabricated,” the label head adds. “Cold River looks forward to clearing its name in court and, when that day comes, hopes that Ms. Armiger will be as vigorous in apologizing to the label as she was in smearing its name."
Armiger’s assertion that O’Heeron and Cold River Records fraudulently induced her to sign a recording contract in 2010 are further explained latter in the lengthy response. She alleges that O’Heeron told Armiger (his first cousin's daughter) that her attorney had reviewed the agreement and found it acceptable. Years later, she found out that was not the case:
O’Heeron and his counsel advised Ms. Armiger that she could ask them any questions, but that they were not leaving Mr. Hayes’ (attorney Craig Hayes) office until the Agreements were signed.
Several paragraphs in the filing are dedicated to fiduciary matters. When Armiger and O’Heeron began working together in 2007, she was still a minor. She claims a probate court’s order required him to set 15 percent of her gross earnings into a trust account. Armiger alleges he never informed her of this, and failed to follow through.
Finally, Armiger alleges O’Heeron interfered with her career by threatening her booking agent with a lawsuit should he book shows on her behalf, contacting SiriusXM radio to refrain from playing a new single, allowing YouTube videos to be taken down and accessing her social media counts and email without authorization.
Armiger was preparing to release new music in August 2015 when her relationship with Cold River fell apart. Both sides remained quiet for the most part, although Armiger quickly denied she said she was "taking a break." Her response and countersuit was filed with the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Tennessee in Nashville on Tuesday (Jan. 26). On Wednesday, she released her own statement.
“I never quit country music. I haven’t spoken because I wasn’t able to,” she explains. “My label filed suit against me, but I kept hoping for an amicable solution. Now, everyone can see my response. The answer I filed with the federal court speaks for itself."
In a chat with the Boot Thursday morning, O'Heeron reiterated that the statement Cold River released on Wednesday ("Her assertions are completely without merit and fabricated") is his official response to the matter, but added that the record label has received an "overwhelming" amount of industry support.
"Lawsuits are long and drawn out and expensive, and we are certainly willing, now that our name has been defamed, we will take it all the way ... [but] I'm always willing to listen to a settlement. I'd love to put this behind me."
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