ANIMALS
FUNNY
INSPIRING
LIFESTYLE
NEWS
PARENTING
RELATIONSHIPS
SCIENCE AND NATURE
WHOLESOME
WORK
Contact Us Privacy Policy Cookie Policy
© GOOD Worldwide Inc. All Rights Reserved.

There'll never be another Clarence Avant – the ‘Black Godfather’ in the world of music

Throughout his life, Clarence Avant' promoted and defended Black culture and entertainment in the West.

There'll never be another Clarence Avant – the ‘Black Godfather’ in the world of music
Cover Image Source: Music executive Clarence Avant attended the premiere Of Netflix's 'The Black Godfather' at Paramount Theater on the Paramount Studios lot on June 03, 2019 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Leon Bennett/Getty Images)

It was a dark day for Black Entertainment on August 13 when they lost an icon in the form of Clarence Avant. The music mogul died peacefully, surrounded by his family at his home. His family made the news public with a heartfelt statement, "It is with a heavy heart that the Avant/Sarandos family announce the passing of Clarence Alexander Avant. Through his revolutionary business leadership, Clarence became affectionately known as ‘the Black Godfather’ in the worlds of music, entertainment, politics, and sports. Clarence leaves behind a loving family and a sea of friends and associates that have changed the world and will continue to change the world for generations to come. The joy of his legacy eases the sorrow of our loss. Clarence passed away gently at home in Los Angeles on Sunday, August 13, 2023," reported NBC.

CLEVELAND, OHIO - OCTOBER 30: Clarence Avant attends the 36th Annual Rock & Roll Hall Of Fame Induction Ceremony at Rocket Mortgage Fieldhouse on October 30, 2021 in Cleveland, Ohio. (Photo by Arturo Holmes/Getty Images for The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame)
Image Source: Clarence Avant attends the 36th Annual Rock & Roll Hall Of Fame Induction Ceremony at Rocket Mortgage Fieldhouse on October 30, 2021 in Cleveland, Ohio. (Photo by Arturo Holmes/Getty Images for The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame)

 

Clarence Avant's contribution to promoting the interests of African-American individuals in the industry cannot be understated. He has been fondly given the unofficial title of 'Black Godfather.' The icon's career in the industry started as a nightclub manager. From there he started managing artists like Lalo Schifrin and Jimmy Smith. Thereafter he established two record labels. These labels gave opportunities to individuals like Bill Withers, Sixto Rodriguez, and Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis. The legend was also responsible for the sale of Stax Records back in the 1960s. 30 years down the line, he took the role of chairman on the board of Motown Records. His achievements garnered him the honor of becoming the first Black individual to take on the position of a board member at PolyGram.

HOLLYWOOD, CA - OCTOBER 07: Record Producer Quincy Jones (L) attends a ceremony honoring Music Executive Clarence Avant (R) with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame on October 7, 2016 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Matt Winkelmeyer/Getty Images)
Image Source: Record Producer Quincy Jones (L) attends a ceremony honoring Music Executive Clarence Avant (R) with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame on October 7, 2016 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Matt Winkelmeyer/Getty Images)

 

The pioneer was also responsible for launching one of the first fully Black-owned radio stations. Throughout his life, he promoted and defended Black culture and entertainment. He took on the role of a consultant to MGM and ABC in the 1970s for that specific purpose. In official and unofficial capacity, he served as a consultant to former presidents Jimmy Carter, Bill Clinton, George Bush, and Barack Obama. He has always acted as a father figure to Black talent in the industry. L.A. Reid, Babyface, Sylvia Rhone, Jheryl Busby, and Jimmy Iovine all have mentioned him as a mentor who has helped them immensely in their career. NFL star Jim Brown launched his acting career at his suggestion. He received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in 2016.

CLEVELAND, OHIO - OCTOBER 30: Lionel Richie presents Clarence Avant the Ahmet Ertegun Award onstage during the 36th Annual Rock & Roll Hall Of Fame Induction Ceremony at Rocket Mortgage Fieldhouse on October 30, 2021 in Cleveland, Ohio. (Photo by Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty Images for The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame )
Image Source: Lionel Richie presents Clarence Avant the Ahmet Ertegun Award onstage during the 36th Annual Rock & Roll Hall Of Fame Induction Ceremony at Rocket Mortgage Fieldhouse on October 30, 2021 in Cleveland, Ohio. (Photo by Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty Images for The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame )

 

Avant's best friend Quincy James opened up about his influence in the industry, “Everyone in this business has been by Clarence’s desk if they’re smart.” In his 2016 interview with Variety, Avante credited his success to the teachings of former Louis Armstrong and Barbra Streisand's manager Joe Glaser, “It all goes back to something Joe Glaser taught me: aim high." He added, “You can’t walk up the Empire State Building — you’ll get tired, your knees might give out. But you can ride the elevator and walk down. You always aim up here, and walk down later if you have to.”

LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA - JUNE 03: Clarence Avant attends Netflix world premiere of
Image Source: Clarence Avant attends Netflix world premiere of "THE BLACK GODFATHER at the Paramount Theater on June 03, 2019 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Charley Gallay/Getty Images for Netflix)

 

Tributes came pouring in for the music executive after the news of his demise became public. The former president and First Lady, Barrack and Michelle Obama, gave a joint statement, "Clarence Avant was one of our favorite people. He exemplified a certain level of cool and street smarts that allowed him to move confidently into worlds that nobody had prepared him for, never doubting he could figure it out......Michelle and I will always be grateful for Clarence's friendship and wise counsel. Our thoughts are with Nicole, Alex, Ted, and everyone else whose life was touched by a truly remarkable man." 

More Stories on Upworthy