The Black Business Association (BBA), the oldest ethnic business organization in the State of California, will commemorate Black Music Month by recognizing two nationally-renowned African American entertainment icons: music executive and film producer Clarence Avant, and radio pioneer Lee Bailey. The BBA’s Awards Dinner will take place at the Millennium Biltmore Hotel in downtown Los Angeles on June 20, 2017. Themed “The Business Behind the Music;” Ms. Ethiopia Habtemariam, President, Motown Records & SVP Urban Music-UMPG, Inc., serves as the Awards Dinner Chairperson, and the illustrious Mr. Quincy Jones serving as Honorary Awards Dinner Chairman, for his close and longtime friend, Clarence.
“Clarence Avant and Lee Bailey are two highly influential executives in the music and entertainment industries,” said BBA President and CEO Earl “Skip” Cooper II. “They each are single-handedly responsible for opening doors and making the way for today’s black music genres. It is the BBA’s honor to acknowledge and highlight their contributions to disseminating African American culture around the world.”
Clarence Avant is known as the “Godfather of Black Music” for his deal-making acumen and business savvy. In addition to managing artists like Blues legend Little Willie John, jazz producer Creed Taylor and composer Lalo Schifrin, he launched two record companies, Sussex and Tabu, which cultivated the careers of Bill Withers, Dennis Coffey, and the S.O.S. Band. As a businessman, Avant worked with Al Bell to finalize a deal to sell Stax Records to Gulf & Western Industries for $4.3 million, a record-setting amount in the late 1960s.
Over the span of six decades, Avant has diligently and steadily built a storied career, including promoting Michael Jackson’s first solo tour and serving as chairman of Motown Records. Along the way, he has mentored such music producers as Jimmy Jam & Terry Lewis, and LaFace Records’ L.A. Reid and Kenneth “Babyface” Edmonds. Avant has been honored with numerous awards including a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in 2016.
Legendary broadcaster Lee Bailey launched Bailey Broadcasting Services out of his garage in 1979. This was the humble beginning of the iconic on-air magazine, RadioScope, which lasted for two decades. The show was a forerunner in syndicated Black radio programming, setting the stage for an entire genre of syndicated radio programming. An early adopter of technology, Bailey launched Electronic Urban Report, EURweb.com, in 1996. Since its inception, EURweb has become one of the premier Black entertainment and headline news sites on the web, with more than two million unique visitors per week.
During the course of his career, Bailey has interviewed music industry superstars ranging from Michael Jackson to Chaka Khan to Don Cornelius. Billboard magazine honored him as the “Best Syndicated Urban Radio Program” and he received the “Men of Courage” award from The Carnation Company.
On several occasions since 1980, the BBA has paid tribute to music industry legends. Among the past honorees are Berry Gordy Jr., Smokey Robinson, Jheryl Busby and Janet Jackson to name a few.
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