This past Friday industry vet and the “Godfather of Black Music,” Clarence Avant got his just due on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. The industry icon was celebrated with a star for his numerous musical, film and industry achievements. Avant has not only given many industry icons their first break in the industry, he has also been an industry advocate for the often forgotten black influence in the music industry. He helped to launch one of the first black radio stations and the 85 year old icon has been active in the industry since the 60s doing everything from radio promotion to negotiating to producing (without producing according to him). Avant took a chance and signed then unknown Bill Withers who was an older unconventional singer turned down by almost ever label in the industry. Avant heard something in Wither’s “Grandma’s Hands” that only a black industry exec could relate to and he took a chance and signed him.
Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis were offered a great deal of money to sign with other companies but opted to sign with TABU records instead for virtually nothing because they had a great feeling about Avant. The rest is history. Read his amazing industry past and presence in this great article in Variety. In attendance, Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis, Berry Gordy, Bill Withers and more.