Image by Beyoncé.
Many of us have used music to comfort our most inner feelings and communicate our deepest thoughts. Historically we’ve seen music connect us in ways that transcend race, economic status, or societal views. Whether it be the artistry of those who use their life experiences to express through sound , or the intellect of those who have bravely navigated through learning the business of music to bring those sounds to the forefront; Black people have made great strides within the music industry to not only provide us with music that feeds our souls but unapologetically tells our stories.
Like most things, music is made with love. So to no surprise, there have been Black couples who have dedicated their lives and relationships to giving us some of the greatest hits and breaking the greatest artists so that we can continue to hear songs that we cherish, remember, and ultimately the soundtracks to our lives.
Clarence + Jacqueline Avant
Clarence and Jacqueline Avant is a couple some may not know simply by name, but who’s life work has had tremendous impact on the progress of the Black entertainment industry. Clarence, also known as “The Black Godfather” began his career as a music executive under the mentorship of Joseph “G”, manager to great talents like Louis Armstrong and Billie Holiday. Clarence would then move on, taking his learnings through his time with Joseph Glasper to launch his own management career beginning with jazz artists like Sarah Vaughn, Luiz Bonfa, Freddie Hubbard and Creed Taylor. These steps allowed him to eventually incorporate Avant Garde Enterprises, expand his offices to the west coast, and become an advisor, board member and executive of the National Association of Radio Announcers.
Clarence’s vision motivated him to extend his catalog of clients across through several genres, including music, sports, and film, where he empowered young Black talent to make the necessary connections to increase their revenue and income. Clarence helped aid in making deals, negotiating pricing, and networking with others for the betterment of the people he was tasked with managing—an area of business where Black artists are still struggling to see fair today.
Clarence’s tireless efforts in the industry has led him to receive numerous awards for his ever-important work including the Trustees Award from the National Association of Recording Arts and Sciences, a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, the President’s Merit Award as a Grammy Icon by fellow music legend Clive Davis, as well as the Ahmet Ertegun award from the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. Despite the demands of his professional career, he made one of the greatest and most important decisions of his life by marrying his wife Jacqueline in 1967.
Jacqueline was the epitome of a help-mate for the music giant; affectionately known as Jackie, Ms. Avant forged her own professional path of service by not only raising their two children, daughter Nicole and son Ted, but also serving as the president of the Neighbors of Watts, a support group serving children in the the Los Angeles, South Central area. Jackie also served as a chairwoman for the NOW benefit auction and membership throughout her life alongside being on the board of directors of the International Student Center at the illustrious UCLA.
Together in their 53 years together, Jackie and Avant made great impact and bred a legacy of intentional service to not just their own communities but those that surrounded them living an ultimate life of true love and servanthood.
Image by Netflix
Shawn”Jay Z” + Beyonce Carter
The music legends, moguls, and biggest global icons of our time have not been deemed Hollywood’s elite haphazardly. Beyoncé, who famously began her career in her childhood girl group Girl’s Tyme before transitioning into Destiny’s Child, has been a star since she’s exposed her talents to the world. A true artist through and through, Beyoncé has written numerous hits for herself and her groups recently breaking the record for Most Grammy Awards of all time with 34 to her name thanks to her recent wins at the awards this past January for her groundbreaking album, Renaissance.
Jay Z, birth name Shawn Carter, has had a similar journey in writing classics since his debut album Reasonable Doubt. Released at the seemingly “late” age of 29 according to Hollywood standards, Jay Z defied all the odds set against him and went from a kid from the Marcy projects in Brooklyn to a bonafide legend, even being named as the greatest rapper of all time by numerous publications over the years. Through his music, he has poetically detailed the life and times of Black people in this country and the harsh realities of how growing up in poverty led him to a life of drug dealing. Thanks to his professional goals, Jay Z was able transcend beyond the streets of Marcy and create a name and legacy for himself and what would become his future family of biological connection and spiritual ones.
Long time collaborators with their friends of years, Beyoncé and Jay Z together have managed to provide a blueprint for how to honor the loved ones in their life through the blessing of opportunity. Beyoncé has worked with her longtime publicist Yvette Noel Schure to provide the best of her artistry for over 25 years while Jay has given access to his childhood friend Emory “Vegas” by giving a shot at an executive position with his company Roc Apparel Group after an early release from prison.
Together, they continue this theme of celebrating the power of human connection with their art. Beyoncé in 2012 founded her own record label, Parkwood, which has since been responsible for all of her projects as well as the artist signing of sister duo Chloe x Halle. Jay’s Roc Nation label has also been responsible for most of his projects, as well as the management and signing of stars of today like J. Cole, Snoh Aalegra, Rihanna, Megan thee Stallion and DJ Khaled. Where others are fearful of sharing “industry secrets” and keys to success, Jay Z and Beyoncé not only aren’t fearful of such an act but do so daily. Through their business projects, the couple continues to pass down their career learnings to their peers and the next generation; equipping a roster of artists with knowledge they too can pass down one day to keep artistic wealth and prosperity growing for ages. For the Carter’s, their legacy will not just be one their children Blue, Rumi and Sir will be able to glean from but also the culture. And it doesn’t get much more historic than that.
Image by Getty
Written by Writer, Kennedi LéShea