Known simply as “The Godfather of Black Music,” former music executive Clarence Avant will receive the Grammy Salute to Industry Icon award at the 2019 Pre-Grammy Gala hosted by Clive Davis. Clive Davis hosts this Pre-Grammy Gala every year and makes it his point to acknowledge individuals who have made a significant contribution to the music industry. Few people can deny that Avant has done just that. In fact, without his genius, some of your favorite artists would not have had a platform to showcase their gifts.
For more than 50-years, Avant has made significant contributions to Black music and paved the wave for many to follow. Known as a solidified master negotiator, Avant began his career in Newark, New Jersey during the 1950s. He managed the likes of Sarah Vaughn, Freda Payne, organist Jimmy Smith, and composer Lalo Schifrin.
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Avant would go on to launch his own label Sussex Records, which launched the career of Rock & Roll Hall of Fame inductee Bill Withers and guitarist Dennis Coffey. In 1976, Avant founded Tabu Productions, giving a platform to artists such as the S.O.S Band, Alexander O’Neal, and Cherrelle. Through Tabu, Avant helped to introduce Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis and singer-songwriter duo Kenneth “Babyface” Edmonds and L.A. Reid.
Clearly impressed by Avant’s impact on Black music, Davis remarked, “For several decades Clarence Avant has been the quintessential adviser to almost every successful African-American music executive and artist. He defined the term master mentor and definitely has played a vital role in music history.”
The Pre-Grammy Gala will take place Feb. 9 at the Beverly Hilton in Los Angeles on the eve of the 61st annual Grammy Awards.