April 25, 2024
Clarence Avant, "The Godfather of Black Music," Dies at 92

Clarence Avant, "The Godfather of Black Music," Dies at 92

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Passing of a Music Industry Icon: Clarence Avant, “The Godfather of Black Music,” Dies at 92

New York : In a significant loss to the music industry, Clarence Avant, revered as “The Godfather of Black Music,” has passed away at the age of 92. Avant, renowned for his multifaceted roles as a manager, entrepreneur, facilitator, and adviser, breathed his last at his residence in Los Angeles, as confirmed by a statement from his family.

Shaping Careers Behind the Scenes

Avant’s profound influence extended far beyond his credited roles, with his strategic guidance and mentorship profoundly impacting the careers of iconic figures like Quincy Jones and Bill Withers. While his work often stayed out of the spotlight, his strategic acumen left an indelible mark on the music landscape.

A Legacy of Resilience and Tenacity

Born in an era of racial segregation in North Carolina, Avant’s journey from humble beginnings to becoming a transformative force in the music industry showcased his resilience and determination. He absorbed invaluable advice from his early mentor, Joe Glaser, which urged him to never reveal the extent of his knowledge and to confidently negotiate for his worth.

Shaping Music Eras: From the 1950s to the 1990s

Avant’s entry into the music scene as a manager began in the 1950s, representing distinguished talents like Sarah Vaughan, Little Willie John, and the composer of the iconic “Mission: Impossible” theme, Lalo Schifrin. His influence expanded in the 1970s when he championed Black-owned radio stations, and in the 1990s, he assumed leadership at Motown after its acquisition by Berry Gordy Jr.

Clarence Avant, "The Godfather of Black Music," Dies at 92
Clarence Avant

Entrepreneurial Ventures and Artistic Discoveries

Beyond his managerial roles, Avant’s entrepreneurial spirit led him to establish labels like Sussex and Tabu. These platforms provided a launchpad for artists such as Bill Withers, Jimmy Jam, Terry Lewis, and the S.O.S Band. Notably, Avant’s keen eye for talent also shone when he introduced the world to the relatively obscure singer-songwriter Sixto Rodriguez, whose story later gained global recognition through the Oscar-winning documentary “Searching for Sugarman.”

A Remarkable Legacy Continues

Clarence Avant’s passing marks the end of an era defined by his strategic prowess, mentorship, and profound impact on the music industry. His legacy as a visionary manager, astute entrepreneur, and guiding force behind the success of numerous artists will undoubtedly continue to influence generations to come.


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