I began playing piano when I was six years old and trumpet when I was ten. I was required to practice both, every morning, seven days a week. I became a musician and attended the University of North Carolina at Greensboro on several music scholarships, to the chagrin of my father (the one who woke me up everyday). In college I was able to book our band on a tour of the Caribbean, North Atlantic, Europe, and North Africa one summer and a tour of Japan, Taiwan, the Philippines, and the Pacific Islands the next. I graduated from UNC-G Magna Cum Laude in 1970 with a Bachelors of Music Education.
I graduated from the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill, School of Law in 1973 and joined CTI Records where I learned the music business. I ran the publishing companies and became responsible for business affairs, contracts, production, manufacturing, and distribution. I was also asked to edit singles, pick songs for upcoming records, and suggest artists to sign.
I founded and ran the Horizon jazz label for A&M Records between 1975 and 1977, when I opened my own jazz record label, Artists House, with the financial support of Herb Alpert, of A&M Records.
I was very fortunate in my associations in the music industry. John Hammond and Lester Koenig were mentors and I co-produced recordings with Jerry Wexler, among others. I worked for Creed Taylor, Herb Alpert and Jerry Moss, Ahmet Ertegun, Nesuhi Ertegun, and Bob Jamieson.
As an artist manager, I managed Chet Baker, Gerry Mulligan, Jim Hall, Gil Evans, Ornette Coleman, and Art Pepper, among others. As a music producer I produced records with Etta James, Dave Brubeck, Count Basie Orchestra, George Shearing, Sun Ra, Cecil Taylor, Thad Jones & Mel Lewis, Louis Belson, Gerry Mulligan, Chet Baker, Dizzy Gillespie, Art Blakey, Don Cherry, Ahmad Jamal, Derek Trucks, Mavis Staples, James Cotton, Junior Wells, the Muddy Waters Band, Charles Brown, Honeyboy Edwards, Robert Lockwood, Jr., Gatemouth Brown, and Larry Garner, among others.
I recorded Eric Clapton, Paul Simon, Shirley Caesar, Buddy Guy, Santana, Bonnie Raitt, Bobby Womack, Peter Wolff, Dr. John, Wynton Marsalis, Stevie Wonder, Gregg Allman, and Isaac Hayes, among others on various blues, R&B, and tribute records.
Thirty-two of the over 350 new recordings I produced between 1975 and 2016 were Grammy nominated and five won.
I was in the CD revolution and was one of the first producers of LP reissues on CD. I produced over 400 CD reissues of famous LPs, as well as compilations, best-ofs, boxed sets, and special products of well-known pop, rock, jazz, blues, gospel, and R&B artists for every major company (RCA, CBS, A&M, MCA, GRP, CTI).
I produced reissues or compilations of Elvis Presley, Arthur Crudup, Perry Como, Aretha Franklin, Sidney Bechet, Lou Reed, Glenn Miller, Gil Evans, Miles Davis, Nina Simone, Jefferson Airplane, Charles Mingus, the Andrews Sisters, and The Golden Gate Quartet, among others. I was able to work on historic recordings, iconic artists, original tapes, and every type of recording technology that has ever existed. I think our team of producers at RCA was responsible for over one billion CDs sold.
In the late ‘90’s, the great cabaret artist, Bobby Short, introduced me to Eli Callaway, founder of Callaway Golf, and I became friends with a great American entrepreneur who was also a patron of our efforts with respect to Bobby Short. With Mr. Callaway’s support, I became an early adapter of DVD audio technology.
In 2001 I was offered a grant from the Norman and Rosita Winston Foundation of New York to start “non-profit recording company to help jazz artists”. From this idea, which I initially declined, came the restructuring of Artists House to move it from dormant record label to living entity dedicated to careers and entrepreneurship in the arts. In 2002 we launched our first video website and turned our attention to being a business education resource for musicians.
In 2002 I began to teach, first at Fairfield University in Connecticut, for a semester, then at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro, for a semester. During this period I received a $500,000 grant to produce a series of jazz master classes for DVD and broadcast on educational television. The series included Cecil Taylor, Hank Jones, Clark Terry, Percy and Jimmy Heath, Phil Woods, and Barry Harris, among others and it was produced in conjunction with NYU.
In 2004 I was recruited to apply for the position I currently hold, the Hilton/Baldridge Eminent Scholar in Music Industry Studies, Professor, Chair of the Department of Music Business, and Director of the School of Music Industry.
During my tenure as chair, the program has tripled in size. When I began in 2004 there were 22 incoming freshmen. Last year there were 120 freshmen. We have the fastest growing and most popular degrees on campus. We have almost 340 students and a dozen faculty and staff and we are known for our entrepreneurial approach to the arts and to our students.
Katrina came on the first day of classes of my second year at Loyola, August 2005. It changed everything. Within a week after the levees broke, when all communication was cut off – no phones, websites, or communications systems worked – we managed to create a data base of hundreds of students and parents from the then fledgling Facebook, built a website, and we produced and posted videos of encouragement, news, and information.
Within two weeks we had five online courses with over 120 students enrolled, thanks to LSU allowing us to use their course management system and the industriousness of our faculty and our students. No other college, department or program was communicating internally, externally or posting online courses. We were doing all of those things.
When we returned to the campus after the Katrina semester it quickly became apparent that everything needed to be rebuilt. Everyone in the community was suffering some loss, often devastating, life-changing loss. It was a chaotic and difficult time.
We had to step up. We wrote grants, we created a consortium of schools to work on the problems of music education and music industry together, we recruited the Thelonious Monk Institute from USC to relocate at Loyola to help us rebuild. We started the Center for Music and Arts Entrepreneurship and began producing events, seminars and clinics related to the problems that needed to be solved, video taping and webcasting them and broadcasting them on local educational public access television.
We began a student-run company program to provide media, management, marketing, event production, broadcast, design, and booking services to the University community as well as the community at large. These “companies” have bank accounts, equipment, offices, business plans, faculty advisement, and they make money by providing professional services at good prices.
Pedagogically, this allowed us to connect the theories of the classroom with the practices of the world, but it also allowed us to produce hundreds of hours of content, including all of the concerts and events from the College, and make it available on a website that we built for the Center. It also allowed us to create a culture of can-do, DYI, bootstrapping entrepreneurship that has greatly contributed to self-confidence of our students and the reputation of our program. We know that we can do what needs to be done because we have done it.
I have served on the Louisiana Music Commission, appointed by Governor Blanco and Governor Jindal. I wrote the strategic plan for music for the State of Louisiana. I wrote the enabling legislation for the Music Commission for New Mexico and was appointed to that Commission by Governor Richardson. I have also served on the NARAS Board of Governors and National Screening Committees.
I co-founded the performance health and wellness initiative, Athletes and the Arts, in 2009 with the American College of Sports Medicine. This has grown into a national consortium of music teacher, music and dance performance, and sports medical organizations with the common goals of addressing the physical and mental health issues of performing artists.
Our Department started new degrees in Popular and Commercial Music, Digital Filmmaking, and Music Theatre in 2014, and the first two launched in 2015 exceeding enrollment expectations by 75%. We gave the Music Theatre degree to the Theatre Department, where it has grown and dramatically increased enrollments.
We wrote the Urban Production degree, along with a half dozen other degrees that await consideration, in 2017 and it will launch in the fall of 2019. We are in the process of creating a Media Composition degree for launch in 2020.
I have been very much involved with various arts education organizations in New Orleans and in Louisiana. I advised First Lady, Donna Edwards in respect of her music and arts educational foundation, Louisiana First. I worked with the Fertel and Benjamin Foundations in respect to music education to bring Nadja Salerno Sonnenberg to New Orleans and to Loyola, I worked with the Lt. Governor’s office to start the New Orleans Jazz Museum and hire the current Executive Director, I worked with the Louis Armstrong Summer Camp to create a residency at Loyola, and I’m working with GNO, Inc. and the New Orleans Business Alliance, among other business groups to assess and grow the local music industry and creative economy.
As President of Artists House and Chair of the Department of Music Industry Studies at Loyola University New Orleans, I am riding parallel tracks to the same destination. The academic program that I have designed, with the help of many other people, is an outgrowth of the philosophy and mission of Artists House:
We help musicians and music entrepreneurs create sustainable careers.
As time has passed, this mission has evolved to include helping teachers, students, parents, and all those in other art forms that benefit from the same copyright protection songwriters and musicians do. We know now that we should be serving all artists and helping them monetize their rights and work as a business that can sustain them and their art, benefitting them, us and the future. We know that we can do these things.
I look back on my life and see that I spent my future doing just that, helping artists and creative people. I’ve always cared about musicians and the music, and I’ve always been amazed by the way it made me feel to play and listen to music. When I moved to NYC in my 20’s and realized that the music business was not honest and it was anti-artist, and yet it still created careers and works of art. I resolved to do something about it and with it. And when I realized that my access created unique opportunities and responsibilities, I had no choice.
From the minute they put me in charge I tried to do things differently, to maximize the value exchange between artist and listener. I do not feel it is enough to witness change. I think it is imperative that we bring it about; change that creates the most good for the greatest number of people.
I am the luckiest person. My opportunities come from my experiences, from what I know, what I have and love, who I love and who loves me, and what I know is possible and true: music and art make this world what it is and what it will be – a better place.
Most people my age who are not teachers do not have 18, 20 year-olds asking their opinion or advice every day. I do and this makes me the luckiest person on earth. I know it will end some day so while I have it I intend to make the best of it.
I love what I do. I love the fact that it is necessary, that it works, and that it matters.
Thank you for reading my story. I appreciate your time.