Clarence Avant, the music industry veteran who has been dubbed the “Godfather of Black Music,’ will be honored for his groundbreaking contributions to the industry at Clive Davis’ pre-Grammy gala next month.
Avant will be recognized as the 2019 Grammy Salute To Industry Icons honoree for his long-spanning career in the music business that included managing artists like Sarah Vaughn, Babyface and L.A. Reid, as well as launching Sussex Records.
Past recipients of the honor include Herb Alpert & Jerry Moss, Irving Azoff, Martin Bandier, Sir Richard Branson, Shawn “JAY-Z” Carter, Clive Davis, Ahmet Ertegun, David Geffen, Berry Gordy, Lucian Grainge, Debra L. Lee, Doug Morris, Mo Ostin, and L.A. Reid.
“For several decades Clarence Avant has been the quintessential adviser to almost every successful African-American music executive and artist,” said Clive Davis, co-host of the Pre-GRAMMY Gala. “He defined the term master mentor and definitely has played a vital role in music history.”
Avant began his incredible career as a manager in Teddy P’s Lounge in Newark, New Jersey, during the 1950s, which led to him managing the careers of some of the most talented musicians during that time, including Freda Payne, Jimmy Smith, and Lalo Schifrin.
Avant later worked at Venture Records and eventually started his own label, Sussex Records, which housed artists such as Bill Withers and guitarist Dennis Coffey. In 1976, he launched Tabu Productions, where artists such as the S.O.S Band, Alexander O’Neal, Cherrelle, and many more built their reputations. Avant continued on the artist management side as well, working with Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis
The gala will take place on Saturday, Feb. 9, 2019, at The Beverly Hilton, the evening preceding the 61st Annual GRAMMY Awards.