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UNSUNG REVIEW: Billy Preston… One Very Sad Show

Originally Posted July 18, 2011. See the new shows. Without question, TV One has a HUGE hit with UNSUNG. I got a raw unedited copy of Billy Preston yesterday and I HOPE they don't change the final edit because this has to the best UNSUNG I have seen... thus far. It is silently and collectively engrained in our (black) culture that if we ignore certain things it will enable us to maintain our OWN level of sanity... even when it has to do with someone harming our children... but what about the child's sanity? Billy Preston's mother refused to accept what Billy had confessed to her as a child, he told her that he was being molested by a man. His mother's refusal to accept the news categorically (and ironically) weighed heavier than the molestation itself by destroying Billy's self worth well into the realm of his adulthood and massive success. He hid a great amount of pain and self hatred behind a huge gapped-tooth smile by being completely disconnected from himself, his success and the world for his entire 50 year career. Every manager and booking ripped him and paid him pennies where he should have been making thousands but he didn't have the business savvy (and/or gumption) to fight. He finally turned to hardcore drug use in an attempt to merge all the parallels in his life, of course to no avail.   The drugs only exacerbated the situation. There was not one person in this show that did not end up in tears while talking about Billy and his concerted and feigned efforts to conceal an extremely sad, complicated and difficult life. Billy's career began in the church and by the time he was 10-years-old he was playing the organ as a guest on the short-lived Nat King Cole show (the show was cancelled because white sponsors refused to advertise on the highly rated show by the black singer).   Billy and Nat were very close but Ray Charles was Billy's true mentor. He took Billy on the road with him and Billy also toured and performed with major rock acts that few if any black acts got to tour with including members of The Beatles and The Rolling Stones. Billy branched out and formed a group with three men in the late 60s/early 70s and I was shocked to hear (and the fact TV One did not edit it out) one of the men openly admit that when he first met Billy, Billy had asked him if he could give him some head. He said he was shocked because Billy was so masculine that Billy made HIM feel like HE acted like a girl. He had no idea Billy was gay. Preston admitted he would never openly come out because the black church and the music industry (and black people) would have turned against him. He was not the first black singer to be in this position (and he won't be the last). Billy's tenure on Motown where he sang the massive hit with the late Syretta Wright (an ex wife or girlfriend of Stevie Wonder who was once considered to replace Diana Ross in the Supremes) was MISERABLE. He HATED being on the label and the massive extremely somber love song, "With You I'm Born Again" was a single that had been sitting on the shelf at Motown for quite some time and was a far cry from Billy's (then) modern day Little Richard gospel/rock persona. Billy desperately wanted to leave Motown and go back to A&M records. Billy would have lived but his massive addiction to drugs which finally ended up with a foray into the cheap street drug crack, ultimately took his life when he was still using it in huge amounts even AFTER receiving a successful kidney transplant. There are some people who commit suicide immediately and others who do it over a period of years, but it's ultimately the same thing. I will let you get the rest of the story from the show. It is a must-see. The Show airs July 25 on TV One. Check local times for listing. Kev Ross

BUSINESS: Fry’s Names Monica Garnes as President

Monica Garnes, FrysMonica Garnes Named President of Fry's Division Ms. Garnes launched her career with Kroger in 1995 when she joined the management training program in the Columbus division. She held a variety of leadership roles in her 23-year career with the company, including human resources coordinator, produce buyer, store manager, public affairs manager, and district manager before advancing to produce-floral merchandiser in the division. Ms. Garnes was promoted to vice president of merchandising for the Fry's division in 2013, and named to her current role in 2015. "Monica is a recognized leader in our business and across the industry," said Mr. Donnelly. "She combines a willingness to embrace fresh ideas with a keen business savvy that yields real results. As the company's first African-American division president, we are excited to have Monica drive and influence change in our company through her expertise and perspective, and we are eager for her to bring her passion for people and results to Fry's." Ms. Garnes was twice-named one of the Top Women in Grocery by Progressive Grocer magazine and has been recognized as one of the "Most Innovative Women in Food and Drink" by Fortune and Food & Wine magazines. Ms. Garnes has supported the community as a member of the United Way's Women of Tocqueville and Herbert R. Brown Society. She currently serves on the United Way of Greater Cincinnati Board of Directors, Mount St. Joseph University Board of Trustees, and Lucky's Market Board of Trustees. Fry's is headquartered in Tolleson, Arizona. The company operates 123 stores and employs more than 22,000 associates.

Clarence Avant and Lee Bailey Honorees at The Black Business Association’s “Salute to Black...




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.

For more information on BBA’s Salute to Black Music Awards Dinner in recognition of Black Music Month, visit www.BBALA.org

Prince Partners with Independent Publishing Company

While the World Mourns the Passing of Prince, is his Publishing up for Grabs?

Prince-Collabs-with-Warner-Bros-for-New-Music-Purple-Rain-Anniversary-Album(2) Several music industry folks and I have been talking about Prince's legacy and his amazing catalog of music. The iconic singer who was found dead this morning was outrageously private, unmarried, without children and previously estranged from his family. It's no secret that he was at war with his former label Warner Bros Records when he changed his name to a symbol and had the word "Slave" written across his face several years ago, becoming an independent artist from that point on. While those close to him say he became incredibly business savvy after that experience where does that leave his publishing after his death? I can guarantee you there are already fights over his money as you read this and stories pertaining to his publishing will be very interesting. Who, if anyone, did he leave it to? RIP
Jeezy Named Multicultural Advisor for Avion Tequila

Jeezy Named Multicultural Advisor for Avion Tequila

Radio Facts: Radio Facts: This is definitely a new generation of rappers or musicians for that matter. They are truly becoming business men. Ken...