Over the years The Living Legends Foundation, through our annual Awards Banquet , has honored dozens of the most notable stars and executives in the entertainment business. These are the people who built the foundation of the industry.

Living Legends Hall of Fame

    Al Jefferson   •   August Sims   •   Bernardine C. Washington   •   Beverly Taylor   •   Brenda Andrews   •   Bruce Webb   •   Buzzy Willis   •   Chaka Khan   •   Claude "B.B." Davis   •   Curtis Mayfield   •   Dave Clark   •   Dell Rice   •   Douglass Jocko Henderson   •   Eddie Castleberry   •   Eddie O'jay   •   Edna Mae Hatter   •   Elroy Smith   •   Emma Garrett   •   Enoch Gregory   •   Estes Fletcher   •   Ewart Abner   •   George Daniels   •   Georgie Woods   •   Hal Jackson   •   Henry Allen   •   Irene Ware   •   Irene Ware   •   Jerry Rushin   •   Jim Sears   •   Jim Tyrell   •   Jimmy Bee   •   Kelvin Anderson   •   “King James” Cephas   •   Louise Williams Bishop   •   Martha Jean Steinberg   •   Mary Mason   •   Maxx Kidd   •   Melvin Moore   •   Mildred Carter   •   Quincy Jones   •   Ray Harris   •   Ron Mosely   •   Ruth Bowen   •   Shelley Stewart   •   Sylvia Robinson   •   Ted Hudson   •   Thomas R. Draper   •   Tom Joyner   •   Tom Draper   •   Vaughn Harper   •   Verna S. Green   •   Violet Brown   •   Warren Lanier Sr.   •   Willie Barney   •   Willie Mitchell

Al Jefferson

Al Jefferson, noted media personality, began his career in radio broadcasting where he became interested in the record industry. He continually welcomed the opportunity to introduce other young people to the radio and record industries and helped to launch the careers of individuals such as Curtis Anderson, Don Brooks, Mary Clayburn and Keith Newman.

During his career, he was associated with WOOK, WUST and WWIN radio stations in Washington, D.C. and was able to increase their audiences through his steadfast commitment to listeners and their ever-changing tastes. Mr. Jefferson left WWIN Radio to start “Al & The Kidd Promotions”, an independent record promotion company. He worked closely with the giants of the record industry as he continued to encourage the growing popularity of all types of music and musicians.

In 1985, a proclamation was issued by the mayor of the District of Columbia, Marion Barry, declaring July 19, 1985, “Al Jefferson Appreciation Day”, saluting Mr. Jefferson for his contributions to the music world. In 1985, Mr. Jefferson was also honored by his peers in the record industry and issued a resolution by The City Council of Baltimore in recognition of his “35 Years of Dedicated Service in the Field of Radio Broadcasting”.

August Sims

August Sims adopted his independent spirit from boxer Sugar Ray Robinson and singer Jackie Wilson during his early days on the road with the two of them. These two legends opened doors by introducing Sims to people who otherwise may have remained inaccessible.

In his hometown of Cleveland, Ohio, Mr. Sims was doing his own thing. As a professional dancer, he danced the Lindy Hop in local clubs before moving to New York. After serving in the Army, he returned to New York where he began frequenting Uptown clubs. It was then he first met Sugar Ray Robinson. Soon he became his masseur and for the next 11 years he traveled the world with Sugar Ray, staying with him until his last fight.

Ironically, it was in the same Harlem setting that Mr. Sims met Jackie Wilson. Mr. Wilson took an instant liking to him and asked him to join his management team. Mr. Sims became Jackie Wilson’s manager and right hand man. He stayed with Mr. Wilson until his fateful stroke. Fortunately while touring with Jackie Wilson, Mr. Sims met many industry professionals who later played a major part in future business ventures. He started his own record company, Asoma Records and Tapes, which lasted only a short while. Problems ensued with his label, which forced Mr. Sims to go into the field of independent promotion. Soon he realized that keeping track of store sales was as important as getting airplay. In 1987, Asoma Records became Asoma Marketing. It was there that he perfected his marketing skills. He marketed the product of Lalah Hathaway, Luther Vandross, Gladys Knight, Janet Jackson and Keith Sweat. Prior to his death, you would find him in his box seats at Yankee Stadium.

Bernardine C. Washington

A four-year honor student from DuSable High School and a product of Fisk University in Nashville, Tennessee, Bernadine C. Washington was significantly involved in community activities most of her adult life. Her positive approach to any program made her a “first” in many of her endeavors.

Before entering the broadcast field, she was the first woman of color to become a Fashion Buyer for a department store. She traveled to New York and California markets every six weeks purchasing the latest in styles. Bern, as she is fondly called, was a “smartly groomed oddity” when attending the fashion showings of famous designers, since she was a one-of-a-kind female in the room. Ebony Magazine’s New York photographer and writer accompanied her during one of her unique journeys, which resulted in a five page spread in the national Johnson publication. Because of the innovative ideas she brought to the store, she was made their Community Relations Director in addition to her fashion duties.

Her dulcet voice tones and genial personality when commentating fashion shows brought her to the attention of the entrepreneurs of L and P Broadcasting Company who were forming brand new radio stations in Chicago…the Original WVON-AM and WSDM-FM, (today WGCI-AM/FM). Influenced into leaving the store, she was hired as the station’s Women’s Director and eventually promoted to Director of Marketing.

Through her natural enthusiasm in those positions as well as in-depth community interest, the Bern Club was formed. Comprised of 700 plus females from all walks of life in all areas of the city, the station named the organization for her. When L and P Broadcasting purchased an additional facility in Milwaukee, Wisconsin…WNOV, another Bern Club was effectuated. During its 18 year existence, the group awarded $98,000 in academic scholarships to deserving African-American female high school graduates and to charitable organizations of merit. She is a role model guest speaker in the public schools and Women’s Day speaker in many community churches and spearheaded a book drive to donate books to area schools.

Another first was added to her accomplishments when she was named Vice President of both facilities. Not only was she the first Black female named to this high post in a major market whose signature appeared on all company checks, but the first female period! Realizing that Operation PUSH was the only open forum for the community at that time, one of her first undertakings was in persuading the owners of the company never to charge the organization for their weekly broadcasts. It is still a practice today. It was during this period that she became the first female to receive an Honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters from Chicago State University.

Small in stature and meticulous in appearance, Bernadine C. Washington was noted for her warm personality and meaningful community activities. She was a member of the Board of Directors of the Joint Negro Appeal and was a member of the administrative team of the late Mayor Harold Washington and Honorable Eugene Sawyer. Prior to her death, she served as Director of Management Services to the Mayor’s Chicago Commission on Human Relations. For 21 years, she was married to Ed “Nassau Daddy” Cook, who preceded her in death.

Beverly Taylor

As the owner of The Joy of Music in Cleveland, Beverly Taylor was down-to-earth, savvy, and hardworking. She also did radio promotion for Columbia, Tommy Boy, Rap-A-Lot, and Maverick Records and worked retail promotion for other powerhouses such as Epic/Sony, Arista and Motown.

Ms. Taylor caught the entrepreneurial spirit after working in another record store and started her own store with seven hundred fifty dollars. She developed her business into more than a simple store. It is a community center, a cultural explosion, and a musical mecca where she was affectionately known as “Ma.” With seven schools in the area, she had plenty of opportunities to talk one-on-one with young people about their Blackness and the importance of excellence.

Her boundless energy was also spent as President of retail coalition SIMMS of America, where she worked to promote economic strength and community action. While she worked on projects such as voter registration drives and benefits for a battered women’s shelter, she also thought it was important to take time to talk to people, to try to help them, to touch their lives.

Brenda Andrews

Brenda Andrews is the former Senior Vice President of Rondor Music International Music, the world’s largest independent music publisher. Ebony magazine recognized and included Ms. Andrews in the article, “One Hundred Best and Brightest Black Women in Corporate America”. The title says it all.

Ms. Andrews’ ingredients for her success combine strong spirituality with hard work. Her ascent took time. Her remarkable career began over 30 years ago when she was hired as a receptionist at Rondor Music International. Even then she was sure of what she wanted - to be a major force in the entertainment industry. 

Her hard work, faith, loyalty and talent got her there. Brenda’s days are filled meeting with the creative staff and working with writers. At Rondor, she was considered “The Godmother” because of her open door policy and her sincere regard for those with whom she worked.

Because of Ms. Andrews’ talent of anticipating those needs, she has had many hit songs with scores of top artists including Deborah Cox, Toni Braxton, Whitney Houston, Natalie Cole and Diana Ross. 

The roster of writers that she worked with is equally impressive: Shep Crawford, “Nobody’s Supposed To be Here” and “We Can’t Be Friends”, Will Jennings, “My Heart Will Go On,” from the motion picture Titanic. Ms. Andrews has a strong sense of social responsibility, which was noted by her peers when the NAACP presented her with the Community Image Award and recognized her with their salute of Black Women of Achievement. 

In 1994, the International Association of African American Music honored her for promoting, protecting and perpetuating African American music globally. The Black Entertainment and Sports Lawyers Association also honored her that same year. 

The National Black MBA named Brenda Andrews its Music Publishing Executive of the Year and Impact Trade Magazine and its annual Power Jam Conference proudly established The Brenda Andrews Music Publishing Award. Brenda has served on the Board of Directors with the Los Angeles Urban League, Big Sisters Inc. and the advisory Board of Kwanzaa. As busy as she is, Brenda always has time to devote to her family. She attributes her achievements to their unwavering support and also to a steadfast belief that with having God in one’s life, anything is possible.

Although now retired the “Godmother” is still giving advice to today’s music executives.

Bruce Webb

Bruce Webb’s first exposure to the record industry as an employee came in 1960, through Progress Record Distributors, which was housed in the Majestic Hotel located at Broad and Girard Avenue. Hired to do sales and promotion, he started Joe E. Rack, servicing independent supermarkets with cut out records. Mr. Webb decided to start his first record shop.

In 1963, along with three other friends, Mr. Webb started a department store named Throughgoods. In 1967, going on his own, he changed the name to Webb Through-goods. In 1968, it became Webb’s Department Store. In 1963, he joined Scoop USA News Paper, as entertainment editor which is a position that he currently holds today. Along the way with King James, Paul Mosby and Mr. Ray, he started BRAT’s Record One Stop, with seventy-five other black retailers.

Bruce Webb became an active member of the Black Music Association, and a few years later, along with David Brown and King James, he started Triangle Record Distributors, servicing independent record labels. An active member of the NAACP since 1963, Mr. Webb spent fourteen years in politics and several community organizations honored him with several awards: NAACP Outstanding Service Awards of the West Philadelphia branch; the Black Panther Party; the Girl Scouts; Black Peoples University and BMA, to name a few. In 1972, Mr. Webb and John Martin were instrumental in starting the Wharton Education Community Program. At the Wharton School, part of the University of Pennsylvania, Mr. Webb taught Blacks from the community how to become entrepreneurs.

Recently, he started Mister Webb’s Consultant & Public Relation Strategist. Mr. Webb says he’s still moving on, looking for the next project and the next experience.

Buzzy Willis

Winston Willis, better known as Buzzy has been a true innovator and industry pioneer for all of his 25+ years in the music industry. Born and raised in Harlem, Buzzy thrived on the creative and cultural energy that surrounded him. He attended De Witt Clinton High School and was a member of The Solitaires, a high school doo-wop group that was later inducted into the R&B Hall of Fame. After school, he worked as a stock boy for Royal Roost/Roulette Records before going away to Case Western University in Cleveland, Ohio, on a basketball and scholastic scholarship. Back from college, he didn’t miss a “note” but continued his career in music doing local promotion for MGM/Verve Records. 

Mr. Willis then joined the staff of RCA Records in New York and proved he had the “Midas touch.” With a string of gold records to his credit, his ride to the top was in meteoric style. He holds the distinction of being the youngest Vice President of that company and for creating the first Black Music Division for the label. It was under his guidance that the careers of Jose Feliciano, The Main Ingredient and Hues Corporation were nurtured. Buzzy Willis still found the time to pursue his graduate studies at Pace University in marketing. 

His astute business savvy did not go unnoticed and he was soon recruited by Phillips Electronics Corporation (parent company of Polydor/Polygram Records) to be the Senior Vice President of all American Operations. Always rising to the challenge, Mr. Willis proved that he could conquer the context of corporate politics by being instrumental in the acquisition of Mercury and Verve Records by Phillips. In his capacity as Senior Vice President, he was responsible for the marketing strategies for such world renowned artists as James Brown, Joe Simon and Millie Jackson. A true trailblazer, it was time for Mr. Willis to conquer new territory, so he accepted the position of Chief Executive Officer of CTI Records, the largest jazz record label in the world. Once again, it was the innovative marketing skills, industry acumen and innate creativity of Mr. Willis that propelled the success of jazz greats Grover Washington Jr., George Benson, and Esther Phillips. He was personally responsible for music industry’s first platinum jazz album - “Mr. Magic” by Grover Washington, Jr. Respected by many as a marketing genius, Mr. Willis created the blueprints of success for such artists as the multi-platinum Kool & The Gang, Sister Sledge and Alexander O’Neal. 

In May 1996, Mr. Willis launched One World Entertainment, Ltd. in partnership with The Sanctuary Group (UK), one of the largest management firms in Europe. OWE, Ltd. boasts on impressive roster that includes the likes of Bon Jovi, Iron Maiden, Wasp and Halloween. The Sanctuary Group is partners with the BBC, producing three specials a year for the network.

OWE, Ltd. provides a myriad of services such as artist management, tour direction, record production, contract negotiations, video production and concert tour promotion. As President and CEO of OWE, Ltd., Mr. Willis and his partners Robert “Kool” Bell and industry veteran Cecil Holmes have assembled a collection of talent that is on the cutting edge and represents today’s hottest sounds. Unlike so many of his contemporaries that are confined to the parameters of a specific category, Buzzy Willis has proven that his abilities transcend the barriers of musical genres. OWE Ltd., in union with 89 5th Records, Inc., will feature contemporary music crossing all musical genres and also provide manufacturing and distribution services for new labels. 

An active community leader, Mr. Willis has been recognized for his personal as well as professional contributions. He has been named Young Businessman of the Year by the New York Urban League and the National Council of Negro Women. Listed in the “Who’s Who in America,” he was appointed Minority Market Consultant for the Department of Defense under the Carter Administration, Entertainment Consultant to the United Nations’ 50th Anniversary and was named Chairman of the Cultural Affairs Commission of Jersey City, New Jersey. Winston “Buzzy” Willis remains one of the most influential movers in the music industry.

Chaka Khan

As her record company biography points out so accurately, “There’s only one Chaka Khan.” The Chicago born vocalist has influenced virtually an entire generation of female singers through her distinctive, fiery, soulful sound. Starting out singing locally at the age of 15, Chaka was barely out of her teens when she found herself at the top of the charts with the group Rufus, whose Stevie Wonder-penned “Tell me Something Good” became a major hit in 1974.

Recording classic albums and hit singles with Rufus (including “Sweet Thing,” “Once You Get Started,” “Ain’t Nobody” and “Everlasting Love”) Chaka established her vocal identity with audiences the world over. In 1978, she launched a highly successful solo career with the songs “I’m Every Woman,” “What’cha Gonna Do for Me” and the across the board smash “I Feel for You.”

Claude "B.B." Davis

Claude “B.B.” Davis got started in this business by accident. The first black owned radio station in Shreveport, KOKA, was raising money for the needy. Mr. Davis had pledged some money and no one ever came to pick it up so he decided to drop it off one Sunday. B.B. says, “There was only one person at the station that day, Bill “Omar” Jackson. He let me stay in the control booth and I asked him a bunch of questions about everything. After that, I went back every Sunday. One Sunday Omar walked out of the office and left me by myself. So I opened up the mike and started giving out the station identification. Eventually, the station manager signed me on to do a gospel show from sun up until noon. I was paid fifty cents an hour.”

After five years of working part time on the gospel show, Mr. Davis got his shot at the R & B show one day when the regular jock didn’t show up. He was at KOKA for 30 years, until the station was bought by KVKI where he hosted “The Night Flight with B.B., Bird Brain, Davis.” His nickname, the “Bird Brain” comes from a joke he was telling about the 1955 Apollo space mission. He said, “The Apollo went up today, it’s gonna go up again. Next time I’m gonna go up as an interpreter.” Well, a listener liked the joke so much, he sent a letter addressed to the Bird Brain Davis. From then on, he opened his show as B.B. (Bird Brain) Davis.

Curtis Mayfield

Curtis Mayfield played a major pivotal role in soul music and influenced countless musicians and politicians. Between 1961 and 1971, he wrote a succession of influential singles for his group, including “Gypsy Woman” (1961), “It’s All Right” (1963), “People Get Ready” (1965), “We’re A Winner” (1968) and “Choice Of Colours” (1969).

Mr. Mayfield wrote tender love songs and those protesting social and political equality. Decades later Bob Marley lifted lines from “People Get Ready” to populate his own recording, “One Love”. Two independent record companies, Windy C and Curtom, emphasized Mr. Mayfield’s important role within black music, while his continued support for other artists as composer, producer or session guitarist, enhanced a reputation beyond that of just a singer.

Jerry Butler, Major Lance, Gene Chandler and Walter Jackson are among the many Chicago-based singers benefiting from Mr. Mayfield’s songwriting skills. Having parted company with The Impressions in 1970, he began his solo career with “(Don’t Worry) If There’s A Hell Below We’re All Going To Go”, a suitably astringent protest song. The following year Mr. Mayfield penned one of his biggest songs, “Move On Up”, an energetic dancer that charted in the USA and U.K. alike.

The awards continued as success was maintained with “Freddie’s Dead” (US R & B number 2 / number 4 pop hit) and the theme from “Superfly” (1972), a Blaxploitation film for which he wrote the music. Both singles and the album achieved gold status, inspiring further excursions into the movies. The soundtracks include ‘Claudine’, ‘A Piece Of The Action’, ‘Sparkle’ and ‘Short Eyes’, the last of which featured Mr. Mayfield in an acting role. The singer continued to prove popular and subsequent work, including his production of Aretha Franklin’s 1978 album, “Almighty Fire” is held in high regard. In 1981, he joined the Boardwalk label, for which he recorded “Honesty”, his strongest album since the days of the early 70’s. The death of the label’s managing director left an enormous gap, and Mr. Mayfield’s career was then blighted by music industry lethargy.

In 1990, a freak accident, in which part of a public address rig collapsed on top of him during a concert, left Mr. Mayfield permanently paralyzed from the neck down. The effects, both personal and professional, proved costly, but not completely devastating in terms of his musical career. The material from ‘BBC Radio 1 Live In Concert’ was gathered from the gig at London’s Town And Country Club during Mayfield’s 1990 European tour. In 1993, Warner Brothers released “A Tribute To Curtis Mayfield” featuring various artists including Lenny Kravitz, Whitney Houston, Aretha Franklin, Bruce Springsteen, Rod Stewart, Elton John and Steve Winwood, which was an excellent tribute to the Mayfield songbook. Aretha’s version of ‘The Makings Of You’ was excellent.

A year later Charly Records reissued the majority of Mr. Mayfield’s 70’s albums on CD as well as several compilations. In 1996,Rhino Records gathered the best package in a three-CD box set. At the end of 1996, a new album, “New World Order”, was released to excellent reviews. During the recording of “New World Order”, Mr. Mayfield had to lie on his front, suspended by a harness, in order to give some gravitational power to his voice. His contribution to soul music has been immense. Whatever the limitations of his disability, his voice, however, remained perfect, sensitive and unique. In 1999, Mr. Mayfield passed away in his sleep at the North Fulton Regional Hospital in Roswell, Georgia, U.S.A.

Dave Clark

Dave Clark, former Sr. Vice President of Malaco Records in Jackson, MS, was the first black promoter in the music industry and was dubbed “The Godfather of Promotions”. This blues songwriter extraordinaire and Julliard Conservatory Of Music trained musician got his start in his native town of Chicago in 1938 promoting local blues concerts.

During his 50+ years in the music industry, Mr. Clark worked for a number of record labels in various executive positions, including Chess, Duke/Peacock and Stax Records. Mr. Clark’s many career highlights include being named “The Number One Promotion Man” by Downbeat Magazine in 1963, ‘65, ‘66 & ‘67. He was also inducted into the Chicago Blues Hall Of Fame in 1981. He worked with legendary greats such as Z.Z. Hill, B.B. King, Bobby “Blue” Bland and the J. Geils Band.

Dell Rice

If you’ve ever been to Kansas City, chances are that you’ve heard of Dell Rice.  For the past 25 years, Dell has been the voice of that city’s jazz & R&B stations.  Mr. & Mrs. Skip Carter were the first to notice Mr. Rice’s cool professionalism, and hired him at their station KPRS after he’d been in broadcasting school for just three months.  His rise through the ranks was swift, and in just under two years he became Assistant Program Director.

In 1971, Mr. Rice was made Program Director at KUDL-FM and was hosting a show on its AM sister station.  As his talents became more widely known, his career expanded dramatically.  He was chosen to be the Master of Ceremonies for several jazz concerts held in Kansas City’s Royal Stadium.  There he shared the stage with performers such as George Benson, Teddy Pendergrass, Natalie Cole and Chaka Khan.

After returning to KPRS in 1972 as Program Director, Mr. Rice was afforded the chance to give back some of the love and support that the community had bestowed on him throughout his career.   As a local celebrity, he spoke to high school and elementary school students, volunteering his time and knowledge of broadcasting to inform the city’s students of the many opportunities they might have with a career in radio, television or journalism.    He also held seminars at the University of Kansas.  The local chapters of The Boys and Girls clubs are also thankful to him for his extensive volunteer work with them.

Mr. Rice credits a natural affinity towards music, that is, having been born with an “ear” for it, that led a jazz CD that he’d co-written with the Max Groove Jazz Group to number 12 on Billboard’s 1998 Jazz charts.  ”Midnight Rain” on the Optimism label is considered by many critics to be a splendid recording of contemporary jazz.

Douglass Jocko Henderson

Born in Baltimore, Maryland, Douglass “Jocko” Henderson was the youngest of three sons whose father, Elmer, was the first “Director of Colored Schools” for Baltimore (an elementary school bears his name). He graduated from Douglas High School in Baltimore and attended Tuskegee Institute in Alabama majoring in biology. His first on-air position was in 1952 at WSID in Baltimore. He continued in Philadelphia at WHAT than at WDAS. While on the air in Philadelphia, Jocko commuted to New York to do a live show at WADO. For a period of 20 years, Jocko hosted and promoted hundreds of shows at the world famous Apollo Theatre. He was also the first African-American to host a daily live television show in New York City.

In the early 70’s, Jocko was publisher of Philly Talk magazine, a slick monthly publication geared toward the upwardly mobile black population in the Philadelphia area. In the early 80’s, Jocko founded Get Ready, Incorporated, a Philadelphia company which developed and distributed educational materials that used “rap music” to relay the curriculum to help inspire and motivate today’s youth to acquire basic cognitive skills. Mr. Henderson died in 2000.

Eddie Castleberry

Edward J. “Eddie” Castleberry was born on July 28, 1928, in Birmingham, Alabama. After attending Miles College from 1950 to 1951, he worked as a disc jockey at WEDR and WJLD in Birmingham. Later, he became program director at WMBM in Miami, Florida; newsman and disc jockey for WCIN in Cincinnati, Ohio; disc jockey and news announcer at WABQ in Cleveland, Ohio, from 1961 to 1964; program director at WVKO in Columbus, Ohio, from 1964 to 1967; worked for WHAT in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, in 1967 to 1968; and held disc jockey and news announcing jobs at WEBB in Baltimore, Maryland. Finally, Eddie worked for the Mutual & National Black Networks as anchorman and entertainment editor.

Eddie received the Newsman of the Year Award from the Coalition of Black Media Women in 1980, Newsman of the Year from the Jack the Rapper Family Affair in 1980, and Outstanding Citizen Award from the Alabama House of Representatives in 1983.

Eddie O'jay

“One thing I can say about my career is that it has been varied and productive.”

Eddie O’Jay began his radio career in 1951 as a disc jockey at WOKY in Milwaukee. From there, he went to WABQ in Cleveland and WUFO in Buffalo, finally working his way to the “Soul at Sunrise” show on WWRL, WBLS and WLIB in New York City. After a distinguished 27 year career in radio in the United States, he expanded to include an internationally syndicated radio program on “Swazi Music Radio,” in Johannesburg, South Africa in 1980.

Because of the familiarity and popularity of his voice, he was nominated and inducted into the Black Radio Hall of Fame. You’ve probably heard his voice on commercials for Chevrolet, Schlitz Malt Liquor, Sears, Perdue Chicken, Lipton Tea, Campbell’s Soup and on “Sesame Street.” He was also privileged to have performed in theatrical productions which emanated from the Karamu House in Cleveland such as “My Sister Eileen,” “Wonderful Town,” “Golden Boy,” and “The Connection.”

He was fortunate to have discovered while at WABQ, a fine group of five young beginners in the business called The Mascots from Canton and Masilon, Ohio. He was asked to manage and direct the group which took his name, The O’Jays. The rest, as they say, is history.

Edna Mae Hatter

At an early age Eula Mae Hatter accepted the Lord Jesus Christ as her personal Savior, and she has been in his service ever since. Her mission is to spread the gospel news through her work and the example of her life.

Born in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, Eula Mae Hatter attended East Baton Rouge public schools and later furthered her education at Southern University. Her love for Christ created a burning desire within for her to testify to His goodness and mercies. Ms. Hatter realized that the medium of radio provided a powerful vehicle for mass communication. She knew that the messages of hope and truth that were shared in thousands of local churches would find homes in the hearts of many through radio broadcast. In 1954, she worked on her first gospel show “The Cousin Carrie Gospel Hour,” and for the next 11 years she ministered to thousands of listeners, inspiring many and touching the souls of many more. In 1965, she changed the name of the show to the “Eula Mae Hatter Gospel Hour.” The show quickly gained popularity and soon became one of the top-rated shows on WXOX, extending across nine parishes in Louisiana and making Eula Mae Hatter, the first black woman to carry a gospel radio program within 100 miles of Baton Rouge.

Employed by Citywide Broadcasting as a gospel show hostess, Ms. Hatter had no peers! For 40 years at WXOX, she became the personification of the precepts and doctrines of her show: an embodiment of goodness and light. Affectionately dubbed by friends and followers as the “First Lady of Gospel,” Eula Mae Hatter blazed the trails carrying her torch of truth. At 9:00 a.m. five days a week, listeners tuned in for the very best in gospel music and oftentimes her show served as a clearinghouse for gospel news.

Requests for appearances at seminars, conventions and religious programs poured into her office on a constant basis and she traveled extensively throughout Louisiana and its surrounding states to serve as guest emcee, guest speaker, guest soloist, or in whatever capacity was required. Her witness for the Lord was not confined to the 60 seconds of her one hour gospel show, it consumed all of her time, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. She was an active member of the New Prospect Missionary Baptist Church, and the Publicity Chairman of the Emmanuel Baptist Association. Eula Mae Hatter also served as the musician for the New Prospect and Greater Arlington Baptist Churches as well as a member of the James Cleveland Gospel Music Workshop of America and the Gospel Announcers Guild.

Her over 40 years of incomparable service at WXOX and more importantly its listening audience, received recognition by both Governors of the State of Louisiana, Edwin W. Edwards and Charles “Buddy” Roemer. While Eula Mae Hatter affirmed that her service to God and her fellow man is “the purpose of her creation,” and demands that “all praises are due to her Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,” community organizations, civic groups and political figures, have felt the need to honor her with numerous awards. Former President of the National Baptist Convention, USA, Inc. recognized Eula Mae Hatter for her service to the community, as did the Louisiana State Representatives. The Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc. has also honored Eula Mae Hatter with an Award of Distinction.

Major television networks, The Baton Rouge Daily Newspaper and the bi-monthly periodical, The Woman, are among the many electronic and print media that paid tribute to Eula Mae Hatter’s long and distinguished “labor of love.” To all of this, Eula Mae Hatter responded with humility, reverence and dignified grace. She died in 2000.

“… Then sings my soul, My Savior Lord to Thee; How Great Thou Art, How Great Thou Art!”

Elroy Smith

Say what you will, but through all the ups and downs and good and bad and ugly and beautiful in urban radio, Elroy Smith continues to stay on top of American radio programming without batting an eye, at the same time developing as an entrepreneur with his own radio station in his native Bermuda.

Mr. Smith was born and raised on the island of Bermuda, the youngest of six children born to Ismay and Littenfield Smith. He wasn’t excited about school as a child, and in fact, preferred doing just about anything over studying and behaving in class. As a teenager, he began to develop a keen interest in music. He joined a singing group, the Universal Five, which soon became the Universal Four when he was fired! He decided to look at other ways to get involved in the music business. 

Mr. Smith’s fascination with radio led him to ZFB in Bermuda, where he was told by the PD that he would never make it because of his inability to read. Determined, he went to New York to attend Announcer’s Training School, and when he returned home, PD Sergio Dean offered him a part-time job at ZFB as an on-air personality.

Mr. Smith wanted to go to college, even though he didn’t have a high school diploma. After getting a letter from a politician and a minister in Bermuda, he was admitted to Graham Junior College in Boston. No one knew his secret that he was a college student who could not read. So he took it upon himself to learn to read, and he did this by reading the encyclopedia every night, teaching himself to read. After finishing the two-year program at Graham, he enrolled at Emerson College seeking a bachelor’s degree in mass communications. At Emerson, he did an air shift on the college station, WERS, and then started an internship at WILD in Boston. Steve Crumbley, who was the PD at the time, offered Mr. Smith a slot doing a Caribbean show on the weekends, which eventually led to a full-time air shift. 

In 1983, Mr. Crumbley left the station and Mr. Smith was offered the PD position, but there was a major problem now, as his school visa had run out. Ken and Bernadine Nash, who owned and managed WILD at the time, didn’t want to lose the blossoming Smith, so they not only sponsored Smith, they even paid his legal fees, making it possible for him to stay in the United States.

In 1988, Summit Communications hired Mr. Smith to program its new station, 100.3 Jamz in Dallas. Once again an opportunity in another city called and Mr. Smith replaced James Alexander at WGCI in Chicago in 1992. Mr. Smith made history in 1993 by carrying WGCI to the No. 1 slot in the metropolitan area for three consecutive ratings periods.

In November 2000, he also became PD of Urban AC station WVAZ-FM (V103) and maintained it as one of the top adult stations in Chicago. In 2003, WVAZ-FM received the prestigious Marconi Award for Urban Station of the Year from the National Association of Broadcasters (NAB). Mr. Smith has received numerous awards and accolades over the years, but he will readily tell you that one of his proudest moments was at the 2005 Grammys, when Alicia Keys thanked him for making sure her award-winning song got played. 

In 2007, Mr. Smith found himself at the top of the urban hill again, as he was named OM of Radio One-Philadelphia, where he also took on programming responsibilities at Gospel WPPZ and Urban AC WRNB as well as overseeing urban mainstream at WPHI. He was also the format director for seven inspiration FM radio stations. Currently he is CEO of Integrity Radio Communications, LLC., where he consults the top two national gospel syndicated shows – The Yolanda Adams Morning Show and The James Fortune Show. His client list continues to expand including WJMR/ Jammin 98.3 (Milwaukee) and Townsquare Media Urban Radio Division.

Emma Garrett

It was for the love of music, Emma G. Garrett, started her music career 30 years ago. As a youngster, Emma’s love for music followed her to adulthood where she found her true love in the industry.

In May of 1964, Emma entered the entertainment industry at Campus Distributors where she worked as on inventory clerk. With her excellent achievement she was promoted to office manager after six weeks of being hired. In August of 1968, Henry Stone of Tone Distributor, an arm of T.K. Records, hired Emma. Emma was responsible for servicing accounts and placing orders with major record companies. After three months Emma was promoted to the recording section of T.K Records where she was responsible for artists contracts and calling radio stations about their product.

Emma’s achievements and learning abilities gained her recognition throughout the industry. In April of 1976, Bunky Sheppard hired her at Motown as a promotion manager. Truly earning her way through the industry, Emma was recommended by Fred Ware for a position as promotion manager for Columbia in October of 1976. Emma remained at Columbia for six years.

Enoch Gregory

If you were in the New York metropolitan area in the ‘60’s, you should recall Enoch Gregory. The faceless voice filled the airwaves at a time when we were beginning to identify with our music.

Enoch was born in Hertford, North Carolina. He attended North Carolina A&T before joining the Army where he attended broadcast school. After completing the course, however, he found that there was no place in the Army’s overseas broadcast unit for a Black man. Instead he was sent to a small fort in Kentucky in the press office. Undaunted, he established relationships with local radio stations and began giving them news feeds.

After his Army service, he moved to New York. He took a job at WNJR-AM as a summer replacement. He became an on air personality for WWRL-AM and was known as the “Master Blaster” because he created explosive sounds throughout songs. Enoch is credited with bringing Black radio out of the dark ages and into a time of formats. He took a modem approach to ethnic broadcasting. He took pride in being a down-home guy. He brought plain folk to the airwaves. He recognized that there was a place for everyone in what was going on.

In the late ‘60’s, he moved to Detroit where he was able to bring WCHB-FM to the number one spot in a period of three months. He worked at several stations in the Detroit area before returning to New York. He feels fortunate that he was accepted back into the New York radio scene. Because of his earlier training, Mr. Gregory was able to create and produce national radio commercials for many products. He was singled out in 1974 for creating a series of educational vignettes designed to challenge school children. For his “Cool School’ efforts, he was awarded a citation from New York City and honored with Enoch Gregory Day.

After 25 years in radio, Enoch retired. However, he temporarily re-entered with a gospel ministry program in Maryland.

Estes Fletcher

In the business since 1955, Estes Fletcher, owner of Fletcher’s One Stop Records & Tapes, began as a small neighborhood record store owner in the Chicago-area, carrying a full line of Gospel, R&B, Blues, Jazz and more recently, Hip-Hop music.

“I got into the business because of my love of music”, says Fletcher, who remembers the days when his store stocked 78s, 45s and 33 1/3 EPS. Over the years, Fletcher’s expanded to five locations across the city and a video store.

In 1955, he made the conversion from mom and pop owner to One Stop distributor, serving the Illinois, Michigan, Indiana and Wisconsin areas. “The opportunity for profit is much greater with a one-stop”, says Fletcher, “and at the time there was not much competition.”

Still a family-run establishment, Fletecher prides himself on operating a punctual, well-stocked one stop with knowledgeable, friendly staff. His daughter Susan, recently joined the company as manager.

‘The music business is more professional these days”, he says. ‘Before people were in the business as a hobby, supplemented with regular employment and now most people today are strictly record people. Susan is helping to bring a professional air to the business. She has a modern approach.

Ewart Abner

Chicago-born Ewart Abner’s career as a record executive included stints with two of the most important labels in the history of contemporary R&B and with a musical legend. It was in 1954 that Mr. Abner joined Vee Jay Records as General Manager, and during his total of 12 years with the company he rose to become President and a third partner in the Black-owned independent label, whose diverse roster included (at different times in its history) Pop (The Beatles, The Four Seasons), Doo-Wop (The Eldorados, The Spaniels), R&B (Jerry Butler, Gene Chandler, The Impressions), Gospel (The Staple Singers, The Swan Silvertones), Blues (Jimmy Reed, John Lee Hooker), and Jazz (Freddie Hubbard and Wayne Shorter).

In 1967, Mr. Abner joined Motown Records, initially as Vice-president of the label’s management division, becoming company President in 1973. From 1978 to 1987, he managed superstar Stevie Wonder, and after a three-year period of retirement, was named Assistant to Berry Gordy, Jr., Chairman of The Gordy Company. A former president of the Black Music Association from 1984-85, Mr. Abner also founded the American Record Manufacturing and Distributing in 1958, a forerunner to NARM.

George Daniels

Known as the “Godfather” of independent retailers, George’s Music Room, based on Chicago’s southside, has become legendary and a must stop for any Urban artists looking to sell records in Chicago. What was once called a “Mom and Pop” store has grown to multiple locations including Chicago’s Midway Airport with a location soon to open in Chicago’s busiest travel center, O’Hare Airport.

Mr. Daniels has provided leadership to independent retailers, breaking into ranks once reserved for only the chains or mega-stores. Artists have sought his advice from the legendary Isley Brothers to Chicago’s own R. Kelly. Mr. Daniels has appeared in numerous videos by today’s hottest artists and has hosted shows for BET. George Daniels is a living legend.

Claude “B.B.” Davis - inducted 1996 Claude “B.B.” Davis got started in this business by accident. The first black owned radio station in Shreveport, KOKA, was raising money for the needy. Mr. Davis had pledged some money and no one ever came to pick it up so he decided to drop it off one Sunday. B.B. says, “There was only one person at the station that day, Bill “Omar” Jackson. He let me stay in the control booth and I asked him a bunch of questions about everything. After that, I went back every Sunday. One Sunday Omar walked out of the office and left me by myself. So I opened up the mike and started giving out the station identification. Eventually, the station manager signed me on to do a gospel show from sun up until noon. I was paid fifty cents an hour.” After five years of working part time on the gospel show, Mr. Davis got his shot at the R & B show one day when the regular jock didn’t show up. He was at KOKA for 30 years, until the station was bought by KVKI where he hosted “The Night Flight with B.B., Bird Brain, Davis.” His nickname, the “Bird Brain” comes from a joke he was telling about the 1955 Apollo space mission. He said, “The Apollo went up today, it’s gonna go up again. Next time I’m gonna go up as an interpreter.” Well, a listener liked the joke so much, he sent a letter addressed to the Bird Brain Davis. From then on, he opened his show as B.B. (Bird Brain) Davis.

Georgie Woods

Georgie Woods was a product of four of the largest cities in America. He was born in Barnett, Georgia (near Atlanta), raised in New York, married in Chicago and spent most of his working life in Philadelphia. He was widely known as a talk show host, disc jockey, civil rights activist, community leader, promoter and entrepreneur.

Mr. Woods worked as a disc jockey for WWRL Radio in New York. He moved to Philadelphia in 1950 and got his first job by calling WHAT Radio after reading of a job opening in Jet Magazine. His first salary was $18 net per week. He worked for WHAT Radio for three years and then became employed at WDAS Radio. For more than 20 years, he worked for one or the other of these African-American oriented radio stations as a disc jockey or talk show host.

He began his concert promoter career at Philadelphia’s Town Hall with Jocko Henderson, featuring The Velvelettes. He produced many one-nighters with different groups and moved his show to the Nixon Theatre and eventually to the Uptown Theatre in 1957. Some of the music industry’s top names were presented to Philadelphia by Georgie Woods including, but not limited to Michael Jackson, The Jackson Five, Stevie Wonder, Diana Ross, Jerry Butler and Earth, Wind and Fire. Mr. Woods produced these shows to provide alternative activities for the city’s youth and to create an outlet for their unharnessed energy.

Mr. Woods active civil rights career began in 1960, as vice president of the NAACP. He was credited for bringing peace to the Philadelphia neighborhoods during the 1964 riots. That year, Mr. Woods participated in the March on Washington. Through his efforts, 15 bus loads of people went to Washington for that historical event. Here he heard Dr. King’s famous “I Have a Dream” speech. This made such an impact on him that he became one of Dr. King’s most ardent supporters.

Georgie Woods was active in every civil rights struggle in the country. Locally, he was a key operator in the struggle to get Girard College to admit African-American youth. For years, they kept up a constant vigil outside the walls of the College and had a strong contingent of youth involved in this effort. In 1965, he traveled to Selma, Alabama with Dr. King. As part of a national protest, he led a march on City Hall with 15,000 African-American people tying up traffic. They went to protest the treatment of African-Americans by the government and this was the closest branch of government to which they could take their message.

This was also the period in which Malcolm X was speaking across the country with a very different message of equality for African-Americans. Mr. Woods worked with the Muslim community in support of some of the activities initiated by Malcolm X.

In 1966, Mr. Woods and Sam Evans invited Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. to Philadelphia. Despite some resistance from the African-American leadership about bringing this “outsider” into the Philadelphia civil rights scene, Dr. King was greeted by massive crowds for the five days he spent in Philadelphia. Georgie Woods joined Philadelphia recording artist, Bobby Rydell on a 17-day tour of Vietnam. He was the first African-American to go to Vietnam to entertain the troops.

While disc jockeying and promoting was his main profession, Woods used his position to raise money for the needy. Hundreds of thousands of dollars were raised, primarily from the music industry, to feed the hungry and house the homeless. One of his most ardent supporters was songwriter/producer, Kenny Gamble. Georgie Woods began his formal political career in 1967. He ran for City Council on the Republican ticket and received 333,000 votes. While he won the election with the original count, he lost the recount. This was a very serious political lesson for him.

After Martin Luther King, Jr.’s death in 1968, things seemed to go downhill. African-American leadership seemed to be shattered and the leadership void couldn’t be filled. Mr. Woods began to again concentrate on promoting shows and sponsoring benefits for different groups.

In the 70’s, Mayor Frank Rizzo proclaimed Georgie Woods Day and public schools were closed for the day. The Jackson Five, Don Cornelius (Soul Train) and Mrs. Coretta Scott King came to Philadelphia to help celebrate. He received the Liberty Bell and later the Liberty Bowl, Philadelphia’s two highest honors.

In the 80’s, Georgie Woods worked to get politicians elected. He was active in the elections of the first African-American Mayor, first African-American State Senator, first African-American City Commissioner, and most of the African-American politicians that have been elected since he had been in Philadelphia.

In 1988, Georgie founded the United Black Business Association (UBBA) and built it into a membership of more than 100 businesses in less than a year. UBBA provided a new level of knowledge of minority business in the city. He is the father of one son and three daughters. He is distinguished as being the only African-American to witness the signing of the Panama Canal Treaty by President Jimmy Carter at the White House.

In 1987, he was approached by Saboor Muhammad with an idea to merchandise “Georgie Woods Potato Chips”. Mr. Woods thought he was joking, however, Mr. Muhammad kept coming back to him and after the third visit, he said “yes”. His first check was received a month later and they reported selling over 3 million bags a year. Mr. Woods passed away in 2005.

Hal Jackson

Harold “Hal” Jackson was a popular radio and television personality and one of the most respected men in the communications industry. As a radio pioneer, Mr. Jackson experienced many “firsts” that assisted in opening doors for other aspiring Black broadcasters, musicians and performers. He was the first Black radio announcer in network radio; the first Black host of a jazz show on the ABC network; the first Black play-by-play sports announcer on radio in the country; the first black host inducted into the National Association of Broadcasters Hall of Fame in 1990 and the first black inducted into the National Radio Hall of Fame in 1995. Until his death in 2012 at the age of 96, he hosted the “Sunday Classics” radio program, which was rated #1 by Arbitron in its time slot for many years on WBLS in New York. He was on the air over 75 years.

Born in Charleston, SC, Mr. Jackson grew up in Washington, D.C., and attended Howard University there. He launched his broadcasting career by announcing the school’s home games and the American Negro League games over station WOOK. Later, he could be heard daily on three different stations - a nightly news interview program over Washington’s WIMX, a five hour sports show on Baltimore’s WSID, and another sports show on WANN in Annapolis.

He went into television, hosting a variety show that was broadcast from the stage of the Howard Theater. The show gave him the opportunity to interview such historic figures such as Mary McLeod Bethune, Dr. Charles Drew, Dr. Ralph Bunche, Adam Clayton Powell and A. Phillip Randolph.

For over 23 years, Mr. Jackson was the Executive Producer and host of the Talented Teens International competition, which highlights the intelligence, creativity and talents of young minority women 13-17 years of age. The ladies are given the opportunity to display their talents and compete for educational scholarships and trips abroad.

In 1989, Hal Jackson’s 50 years of broadcasting and his major contributions to youth and charitable causes were acknowledged by Honorable Mervyn M. Dymally of California on the floor of the House of Representatives, which became a part of the Congressional Record.

This gentle and charitable man lived a life devoted to sharing his talent and time to helping those less fortunate. His career and lifestyle can be summarized by the theme he has chosen for his radio programs — “It’s nice to be important, but it is more important to be nice.”

Henry Allen

Long before there was a Russell Simmons, Andre Harrell or Sean “Puffy” Combs, Henry Allen was carving a path for the Black executive in the music industry. He has the distinction of being the first Black Vice President and the first Senior Vice President of a major label. A little known fact is that he was president of his own label, Cotillion Records, distributed through a major record company, Atlantic Records, and making him a true pioneer - a true living legend! 

Born in Ohio, Henry Allen attended Springfield High School and later Wilberforce University. He took a job as a jukebox repairman before moving to New York in search of fame and fortune. In the big city he found work at Tops Records and later moved on to join the staff at Atlantic Records as a stock room clerk. His pristine work ethics and dedication to duty, clearly distinguished him as an exemplary employee and his superiors could not ignore his ability to always get the job done. Job promotions came, and each time Mr. Allen met them with new resolve and a sense of responsibility. He was soon in charge of local promotion, and then regional promotion and later national promotion. The next step was to be appointed as the Vice President of the Black Music Division.

His rise through the ranks and up the ladder of success is not attributed to being able to produce a hit track, but rather to good old fashioned hard work! In his position as Record Executive, Mr. Allen had in his charge the careers of some of the biggest names in show business - Wilson Pickett, Otis Redding, and the undisputed Queen of Soul - Aretha Franklin… just to name a few.

Always forging new frontiers, the forever progressive Henry Allen set his sights on a new goal. In an unprecedented move, he formed an independent label as a subsidiary of Atlantic Records. He was now at the helm of his own ship as the President of Cotillion Records. His roster of artists comprised of an impressive array of young talent the likes of - Stacy Lattisaw, Johnny Gill, Slave and Sister Sledge. Their successes are just mere reflections of the vision and creative genius of Henry Allen. 

Many things have changed in the music industry since Henry Allen travelled the world, presided at board meetings and called the shots at Atlantic Records, but one thing has not…. 

”There is no substitute for decency, honesty and integrity.”

Irene Ware

Mrs. Irene Johnson-Ware’s long-standing illustrious career in Gospel radio started in 1961 in Mobile, Ala. Mrs. Ware began at WGOK as the host of The Mandy Show, now known as “The Brighter Day.” There she rose to the level of General Manager and enjoyed an unprecedented thirty-seven and a half year tenure. Mrs. Irene Johnson-Ware has exemplified the terms empowerment, mentoring and networking, by positively impacting the lives and careers of women in the entertainment industry. Mrs. Ware’s stellar career is evidenced by her numerous appointments and awards:

• 1966 – Open Mike Magazine’s Gospel Personality of The Year • 1967 – Record World Magazine, Top 10 Gospel Personality • 1975 – 1976 Who’s Who Among Black Americans • 1977 – Jack The Rapper’s Roy Hamilton Award • 1979 – Gospel Music Workshop of America’s Gospel Announcer of The Year • 1990 – Recipient of the NBPC’s First Heritage Award • 1990 – NBPC Gospel Announcer of The Year Award • 1992 – Urban network’s Living Legend Award • 1997 – PUSH Excellence Award in Communication

Marie V. Dixon Order of the Eastern Star #875, Humanitarian Service Award General Manager of the Year, BRE Magazine Two-time winner of the Thomas Dorsey Award, Midwest Radio and Music Association

In 1992, Mrs. Ware was elected president of the struggling YBPC, Young Black Programmers Coalition, later renamed NBPC, National Black Programmers Coalition. Under her direction, the NBPC’s growth in industry visibility, membership and financial status was extraordinary. Noteworthy as well is the dynamic increase in the national conference attendance and donations to the organization’s scholarship fund. Known for her “always put God first” lifestyle, Mrs. Ware is a faithful member of the Greater Mount Olive Baptist Church in Mobile, AL. There she serves as Counselor of the Matrons, member of the HB Choraliers, member of the Trustee Board and the first woman to serve as Chairman of the Trustee Board.

Mrs. Ware was the popular host of the WDLT-AM midday Gospel program, A Brighter Day and a devoted mother of two sons, Darryl and the late Ronnie Johnson, who was Sr. Vice President of R&B Promotion, Atlantic Records, at the time of his death.

Mrs. Ware always has words of inspiration and encouragement for all she encounters and continues to inspire with her unrelenting drive to improve opportunities for African Americans in the music and entertainment industry.

Irene Ware

Mrs. Irene Johnson-Ware’s long-standing illustrious career in Gospel radio started in 1961 in Mobile, Ala. Mrs. Ware began at WGOK as the host of The Mandy Show, now known as “The Brighter Day.” There she rose to the level of General Manager and enjoyed an unprecedented thirty-seven and a half year tenure.

Mrs. Irene Johnson-Ware has exemplified the terms empowerment, mentoring and networking, by positively impacting the lives and careers of women in the entertainment industry. Mrs. Ware’s stellar career is evidenced by her numerous appointments and awards:

1966 – Open Mike Magazine’s Gospel Personality of The Year 1967 – Record World Magazine, Top 10 Gospel Personality 1975 – 1976 Who’s Who Among Black Americans 1977 – Jack The Rapper’s Roy Hamilton Award 1979 – Gospel Music Workshop of America’s Gospel Announcer of The Year 1990 – Recipient of the NBPC’s First Heritage Award 1990 – NBPC Gospel Announcer of The Year Award 1992 – Urban network’s Living Legend Award 1997 – PUSH Excellence Award in Communication Marie V. Dixon Order of the Eastern Star #875, Humanitarian Service Award General Manager of the Year, BRE Magazine Two-time winner of the Thomas Dorsey Award, Midwest Radio and Music Association

In 1992, Mrs. Ware was elected president of the struggling YBPC, Young Black Programmers Coalition, later renamed NBPC, National Black Programmers Coalition. Under her direction, the NBPC’s growth in industry visibility, membership and financial status was extraordinary. Noteworthy as well is the dynamic increase in the national conference attendance and donations to the organization’s scholarship fund. Known for her “always put God first” lifestyle, Mrs. Ware is a faithful member of the Greater Mount Olive Baptist Church in Mobile, AL. There she serves as Counselor of the Matrons, member of the HB Choraliers, member of the Trustee Board and the first woman to serve as Chairman of the Trustee Board.

Mrs. Ware was the popular host of the WDLT-AM midday Gospel program, A Brighter Day and a devoted mother of two sons, Darryl and the late Ronnie Johnson, who was Sr. Vice President of R&B Promotion, Atlantic Records, at the time of his death. Mrs. Ware always has words of inspiration and encouragement for all she encounters and continues to inspire with her unrelenting drive to improve opportunities for African Americans in the music and entertainment industry.

Jerry Rushin

Jerry Rushin is dedicated to the preservation of Black music. He furthered these efforts with his executive positions at WEDR-FM and WRBD-AM.

Mr. Rushin was born in Georgia and reared in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida. He returned from the Army to resume his high school job at a furniture store. He was passed by for promotions because the senior management did not believe the other workers would take orders from a Black man. He then decided to change career paths, following in his brother’s footsteps, by going to broadcasting school. After finishing school, he landed a job at WEDR-FM as a part-time announcer. Rushin knew from his previous experience that he had to be better than good because of his color. He gained more responsibilities with full time positions as R&B Announcer, Program Director, and in 1980, he became Vice President/General Manager.

While many radio professionals were moving from station to station, Mr. Rushin took the time to invest in WEDR. He brought the station from 16,000 watts in the ‘70’s to 100,000 watts. He credits his mentor and broadcasting school instructor Bob Gaynor in helping him make productive career choices. His secret to success has been his ability to look at the long range picture. He was more concerned with making good career moves than finding a job.

Mr. Rushin credits WEDR’s success to being faithful to the Black format. He believes in Black people and their causes and helps by being involved in the rebuilding of the Black community. He was also involved in the rebuilding of WRBD-AM, the station he purchased in a joint venture with James Thomas and WEDR. They picked up the troubled station and were committed to turning it around. The two ventures (WEDR-AM and WRBD-FM) worked together until the sale of WRBD in 1997. In 1980, Mr. Rushin was named general manager, and later Miami VP and Market Manager for Cox Media Group, which, in addition to WEDR, included WFLC 97.3 FM, WHQT 105.1 FM, and WFEZ 93.1 FM. He retired from Cox Media in 2012 after 40 years in radio.

Jim Sears

The measure of a man may not be summed up in monetary value of dollars and cents but on the accomplishments he has made to help someone else survive against the odds. That odds maker is radio legend “Diamond” Jim Sears.

Diamond Jim, as he is known by coworkers in the radio industry, has had the unique experience of having served as one of the few pioneer Black radio salespersons in major markets and achieving the title of General Manager. He began his career more than 30 years ago in the budding years of Black radio. He worked part-time at WSID-AM in Baltimore before taking a full-time position at WEBB-AM. There, while working with Program Director Jerry Boulding, Mr. Sears divided his time between being an on-air personality and a station account executive. He accepted the challenge of becoming General Manager in 1968, a year before the station was purchased by recording artist James Brown.

“Mr. Brown was not only the hardest working man in show business, he was a hard-nosed businessman who wanted WEBB to generate revenue. He used to call me up at 3am to discuss business,” recalls Mr. Sears. “I worked with James Brown for more than 12 years, and during that time he helped me to help others. We organized events to feed the hungry, distribute toys at Christmas and extended a helping hand to our listening audience the community of Baltimore.”

During that time span, Mr. Sears did a little more than help the community. He developed the community, giving young men an opportunity to pick up a microphone to become a disc jockey. For many, that opportunity helped establish a foundation for their future. The confidence they developed on-air led to career successes. Among those persons who were impacted by opportunities on WEBB-AM during Mr. Sears’ tenure were Kirby Carmichael, Chuck Woodson, Bernard Miller, Kwesi Mfume, and Curtis Anderson to name a few.

Mr. Sears left the Northeast and headed south to Miami, Florida in 1979 and began a new phase in his life working with a recognized “Living Legend,” Jerry Rushin of WEDR Radio. He embraced the South Florida community, working as a salesman of WEDR and at The Miami Times, a 74-year old weekly publication which had never missed an edition. “I have been blessed to have worked for three great Black men, each of them leaders in their own right: Jerry Rushin, Garth Reeves and James Brown, the godfathers of radio, print and music,” he proudly exclaimed.

After ten years of working radio and print, Mr. Sears established his own firm. Until his death in 2011, he enjoyed spending his days on the golf course and developing promotions and special events in the Miami area.

Jim Tyrell

Jim Tyrrell was a widely experienced executive businessman, skilled in the marketing of consumer products and services, as well as corporate administration. He provided the benefit of his unique experience to entrepreneurs in the Black community for many years, counseling firms and individuals involved in various enterprises. Through the years, Mr. Tyrrell was a full service management representative for recording artists who had achieved gold and platinum sales awards and/or significant critical acclaim.

Mr. Tyrrell is a native New Yorker who was one of the founding members and officer of the fraternity of Recording Executives (FORE) and the Black Music Association (BMA). He conceived and founded the PACE Scholarship fund, which for many years benefited New York City Public High School graduates on their way to college. In addition to cash grants, the students were mated with high-achieving notables who would serve as lifelong mentors. In his words, “No one can do it entirely on their own.”

A musician who began his studies at age four, Mr. Tyrrell become a popular New York studio musician, one of the first to play the fender electric bass in live performance as well as recordings. Many of the hits of the top artists from the 50’s and 60s have used Tyrell’s bass sound on their records, which includes several hits by the “Godfather of Soul” James Brown. In the mid 60’s, he left the Apollo Theatre house band and Broadway to become a pioneering end innovative executive in the new field of pre-recorded tape cartridges, better known as eight track and cassette.

For nearly ten years at CBS, Mr. Tyrrell advanced to Senior Vice President of Epic & Associated Labels Group where he made a key contribution to the seven year growth of sales from $6 million to more than $190 million. More importantly, he was the first black record executive to handle both Urban and Pop music. The label broke more than seven artists in each of those years: Clint Holmes, Jeff Beck, Labelle, Harold Melvin & The Blue Notes, Teddy Pendergrass, The O’Jays, Tammy Wynette, Johnny Paycheck, Boston, REO Speedwagon, Meatloaf, Charlie Rich, Ted Nugent, Englebert Humperdinck Cheap Trick, and The Jacksons, to name few. He was responsible, held approval, authority and influence in all creative, administrative and budgetary areas: operations in sales, merchandising, advertising, artist development, product management, promotion, production and inventory coordination, personnel development, branch sales and key customer relations. On top of all that, he served on all divisional executive groups.

In 1983, Mr. Tyrrell was selected by a longtime music industry friend to serve as Managing Director of the Kingston, Jamaica-based Tuff Gong Records, LTD., the enterprise founded by the late Bob Marley. This full service operation included recording labels, recording studies, retail and wholesale sales activity and disc pressing plants. Before departing Tuff Gong, Mr. Tyrrell successfully reversed the negative cash flow conditions in one year.

Prior to his death, he served as Corporate Secretary, Member of the Board of Directors, executive Vice-President of Safe Waste Systems, Inc., a publicly held New Jersey firm, which manufactured and marketed a unique industrial chemical to hazardous solid waste remediators around the world.

Jimmy Bee

It was the vision of a bold, six-year old street corner singer to someday take the professional road less traveled to become a music industry entrepreneur; and it was that young but focused child’s father who served as the inspiration for that vision. While his father passed away before seeing his own dreams come to fruition, in retrospect, it may have been the divine purpose of his father’s efforts to ignite a fire of strength, purpose and unique “entrepreneurialism” in his son… born Jimmy Brunson… and now known to all as the legendary JIMMY BEE.

By his prominence in the music industry, one might be mislead into believing that the road that brought him here was easily spoken into existence. When, in fact, the very “road” many artists and music executives can now walk freely was but dust and stones when Jimmy Bee began his career some 30 years ago. Mr. Bee had to not only “speak” his young vision into a reality but also work, demand, challenge and create within this industry (and in the community at large) in order to affect the type of change he wanted to see and bring to life all aspects of his vision.

Mr. Bee set out for these great tasks, not in search of anyone’s approval. He affirmed his own self-worth, declared the validity of his own career and charged forward. He found himself somewhat driven by the frustrating hypocrisy that the industry seemed to perpetuate. While the music industry was viable for Black talent (both musically and corporately), he felt it was just as responsible for the damage it was doing in the Black community. Black people had been and were being exploited. It was for this reason that his singing career (which included singing in various European cities), his independent marketing firm (of the early seventies) and his oldest and most active business venture, O’Farrell Entertainment, were dedicated to effecting change. Albeit entrenched, Jimmy Bee was unable to “pledge allegiance” wholeheartedly to an industry doing too little to help and too much to hurt. So, this United States war veteran created “Jimmy Bee’s Law” - that is (as he once put it) “I don’t care how much money a record company offers me (to represent them), if they will not support the Black community, I will not represent them.

“If I can be responsible for record companies (getting their) records played and making millions and millions of dollars from the Black community;(then) I’m going to get some support for my people.” It was his law then and one he passed on to his protégés. While there are many other ways in which Mr. Bee committed himself to the “Black cause” during his career, there are two issues for which he deemed true priorities. That is, human rights for children and greater opportunities for the Black woman. Bee is probably responsible for more Black female executives being in this business today than most anyone. He reflects, “I’m proud of what I’ve contributed.”

Bee had, over the years, challenged artists and executives alike (especially those whom he represented but even those he helped along the way) to keep their success in perspective. He encouraged them to do so by now working from within their companies to protect the integrity of Black music and Black talent. He challenged them, as he had always committed himself, to find a balance, one that properly continues to keep the opportunities for Black talent flowing equally with positive and socially uplifting service within the Black community.

Mr. Bee was by far one of the heads of this industry and someone whose “just due” is given from day to day as he watches “seeds” planted decades ago blossom and give back.

Jimmy suffered a fatal heart attack in 1994 en route to be inducted into the Living Legends Hall of Fame.

Kelvin Anderson

Kelvin Anderson was the owner and driving force behind the well-named “World Famous V.I.P. Records”, in Long Beach, California. Upon moving to Los Angeles in May 1972, fresh out of high school in Mississippi, Mr. Anderson began his music career working for his oldest brother Cletus Anderson, the founder of V.I.P. Records. He credited most of his success in the business to his brother’s teachings and on the job training. He worked for Cletus for six years. During that time V.I.P. Records became one of the most successful independent retailers on the west coast and a household name.

After opening several successful stores in the Los Angeles area, Cletus opened V.I.P. Records in Long Beach. In January 1979, Cletus offered the Long Beach location to Kelvin, and Kelvin grabbed the chance of a lifetime and built his career in music. For over 2 decades V.I.P. Records grew to become one of the most recognized stores in the nation, and is known around the world as the location where ‘Snoop Doggy Dog’ filmed his first of several music videos. Kelvin Anderson is well known in the music industry because of his knowledge, dedication, aggressiveness and the ability to survive.

He is also known to be outspoken regarding the well-being and survival of independent retailers. Mr. Anderson is the president of the United Independent Music Retailers Association (UIMRA) of Southern California and started his own production company, “At Last V.I.P. Entertainment”, working to develop new talent. His goal this year is to secure a major production or label deal that would create an avenue in which to release artists he has signed.

“King James” Cephas

After serving nearly four years in the United States Air Force, James Cephas went to work for the Postal Service for eight years. During that span, he realized that he liked playing the piano and entertaining so he formed a jazz band and started doing nightclub work, college gigs and cabarets. He became King James and his band was known as “King James & His Men Of Rhythm”. In the beginning it was weekend work but the demand for this band became so great that in 1961, he was forced to resign from the post office so that he could travel with his band. In 1968, King James opened a record shop on 52nd Street in West Philadelphia. The idea was to have something constructive to do during the day time and also to supplement income. He used his stage name for his store, “KING JAMES RECORDS”. The business did well so in 1971, he opened a second store on Girard Avenue in North Philadelphia. That store also did very well. King soon realized that he favored retail over playing on the road and decided to quit the stage to run his store full time.

He joined the NARM Organization and traveled to its conventions annually to obtain merchandising knowledge and meet other retailers from all across the country. In 1975, King won a sales increase contest from CBS Records that awarded him an all-expense paid trip to Acapulco for seven days. He joined The Black Music Association which also took him to many parts of the country. He later became Vice President of the Philadelphia Chapter of The BMA. King was twice awarded Retailer of the Year at the Black Radio Exclusive conference.

In 1980 James opened a third store in a West Philadelphia Strip Mall called Haddington Plaza. With an outstanding inventory, a lottery machine, a casino transport service and a concert ticket agency, this latest store has proven to be the most busy. King James has survived 25 years as a retailer. He has witnessed many changes in the industry, including configuration changes in product; policy changes, price changes and distribution changes. King believes that to survive in this business, you must always “pay attention”.

Louise Williams Bishop

State Representative Louise Williams-Bishop was born in Cairo, Georgia. She is a graduate of West Philadelphia High School and received her degree in communication and radio broadcasting from the American Foundation of Dramatic Arts.

Ms. Bishop was re-elected to the Pennsylvania House of Representatives in 1990 to begin her second term as a state legislator. She is an ordained Baptist Evangelist minister and has a 30-year career that spans the Philadelphia air waves as a radio personality. She was first ordained Evangelist by the Pennsylvania Baptist Association in 1978. She serves her ministry with the Message of God’s Saving Grace and has conducted revivals throughout the East Coast. Her radio career began on WHAT until she began hosting her own program on WDAS-AM and FM, where she currently is host and Gospel Programmer of “The Louise Williams Show” on WDAS-AM.

Representative Bishop was appointed by House Speaker Robert O’Donnell to the following House committee assignments for the 174th Legislative Session: State Government, Aging and Youth and Liquor Control Committee. She is currently the secretary for the Pennsylvania Legislative Black Caucus and a member of the Legislative Housing Caucus.

For her commitment and dedication, Ms. Bishop has been honored with the following awards: Philadelphia Mayor’s Council on Youth Opportunity “Outstanding Citizen Award”; City Council of Philadelphia Citation Merit “Outstanding Woman Award”, Bright Hope Baptist Church; Richard Allen Award (Highest African Methodist Episcopal Church’s Award); “Mother of the Year”, Penn Memorial Baptist Church; Missionary Baptist Pastors Conference “Community Service Award”; “Woman Preacher of the Year”, Ministers Conference; an honorary doctorate of Humanities from Monrovia College; Philadelphia Mass Choir of the James Cleveland Workshop of America “Community Service Award”; Philadelphia Tribune Achievement Award; Outstanding Radio Personality Awards by: CBS Records, Philadelphia Record Promoters and Gamble & Huff; “Woman of the Year Award”, Operation Push; Thomas A. Edison Home & School Association “Community Award”; The Voice of Fellowship; United Holy Church of America; and Pennsylvania State Choir.

Ms. Bishop is a member of the Pennsylvania Legislative Black Caucus: NAACP; National Political Congress of Black Women; Afro-American Historical & Cultural Museum; Baptist Minister’s Conference; National Association of Women’s Clergy; LaSalle University (Honorary).

Ms. Bishop is the mother of four children: Todd James, Tabb Jody, Tamika Joy and James Alburn Bishop, Jr.

Martha Jean Steinberg

Contrary to popular belief, there is indeed royalty in this land of ours. Over 30 years, Martha Jean “The Queen” Steinberg reigned over the airwaves of radio stations in six states. Starting in 1967, a group of dedicated followers known as “The Queen’s Community Workers” was in civic service involving penal institutions, senior citizens, youth scholarship and tutoring programs and working with housing authorities throughout Michigan.

“The Queen’s” career in radio began at the Tennessee based station WDIA, the first 50,000 watt Black oriented station in America. Broadcasting through five southern states, Ms. Steinberg took on the role of “town crier”, and alerted her listeners to impending legislation, civic, cultural and religious events that were upcoming in the area.

The year 1963 had her moving to Inkster, Michigan, on WCHB, but it was in 1966, after a move to Detroit to WJLB, that she found her true calling. Electing to dub herself a voice of the people, she was an immediately respected spokeswoman of the community at large. She had an instrumental part in quelling the 1967 civil disturbance due to her appeals for non-violence and her personal appearances at vigils to restore peace in the riot-torn neighborhoods of her listenership. Following the uprising, she originated a program entitled, “Buzz the Fuzz”, which featured then police Commissioner John Nicholas. The program was nationally acclaimed and helped to re-establish a trusting relationship between the police and the citizens of Detroit.

Such efforts and accomplishments did not escape national attention—the “Queen” was the guest of both Presidents Nixon and Carter, and was also asked to give the opening prayer for Congress’ 1993 session. Her contributions to such national organizations as the March of Dimes, where she held a post as an Executive Committee Member, and the NAACP, which has awarded her an Outstanding Service Award at the annual Freedom Fund Dinner, are further testament to the altruism that belied her every effort.

The respect that the African-American community held for her has had influence on the private sector as well. The National Bank of Detroit, A&P Supermarkets, the City National Bank, Lane Bryant and the City National Bank all called upon her for consultation regarding public relations in the black community. Such a well-rounded career garnered her a place in the Detroit Historical Museum’s prestigious Black Women’s Hall of Fame.

Martha Jean “The Queen” Steinberg died in 2000.

Mary Mason

She’s been tagged a “Philadelphia Institution.” Humanitarian, on-air personality and entrepreneur, Mary Mason has been involved with radio since 1958 when she joined station WHAT. During a 28-year run, Mary switched from gospel to popular music and became the first black radio talk show host in October 1970.

The co-owner of several radio stations throughout the country, Ms. Mason formed the Mary Mason Community Foundation several years ago. The organization has been responsible for distributing close to a half-million dollars to radio disc jockeys who are in financial need.

A founding member of the Black Music Association, a National Board Member of the Martin Luther King Foundation for Non-Violence and a National Board Member and Executive Vice-President of the National Black Media Coalition, Ms. Mason ministered to people through her highly-rated and much-loved daily morning talk show on WHAT in Philadelphia until 1986 and then on WWDB in the same city.

Maxx Kidd

Not only is Maxx Kidd a living legend, he is a bridge who links the soul music of the 60s to the go-go and hip hop sounds of today. As a young man in West Virginia, Maxx was inspired to start a career in music after meeting Nat “King” Cole in the nightclub his father owned. He soon acquired a job at a local drive-in restaurant as a Calypso singer and, except for a brief stint in the Army, he has worked in the music industry ever since. 

Mr. Kidd arrived in Washington, D.C. in 1960 and quickly earned a reputation as a devoted, professional musical talent. He caught the attention of Curtis Mayfield, who was then heading his record company, Curtom Records. At Curtom, Mr. Kidd began to produce recordings by artists such as Jerry Butler, Gene Chandler, Chuck Brown and the Soul Searchers, and the Stridelles. Some of the hits that feature his trademark sound are “Teacher to Preacher” by Gene Chandler, “I Like Candy” by the Stridelles, “I Need Money” and “Blow Your Whistle” by Chuck Brown. 

In the late 1970’s, Mr. Kidd helped to pioneer a brand new sound that became known as “Go-Go” music. Working with bands such as Trouble Funk, EU, and Chuck Brown and the Soul Searchers, Maxx Kidd’s production technique became legendary. A movie titled “Good to Go” told the story of Mr. Kidd’s contributions to the evolution of this highly charged new music. At the same time, he was starting his own record company, Tedd Records.

As an independent promoter and marketer, Maxx Kidd’s list of clients included the O’Jays, Lou Rawls, Van McCoy, Johnny Taylor, the Temptations, Carrie Lucas and Shalamar. He has worked with nearly every major record label, including Columbia, Motown, MCA and Polygram.

Mr. Kidd’s achievements in his field were recognized by then-Mayor Sharon Pratt-Kelly of Washington D.C, who placed him on her Task Force for Entertainment, which helped to promote the city as a place where national acts and companies will find an eager audience. He has also led seminars at Howard University, the University of D.C, American University, and the city’s public schools. He has already won awards from Jack the Rapper, the Black Music Association and Black Radio Exclusive (BRE).

Melvin Moore

Oklahoma-born Melvin Moore began his show business career 56 years ago as a vocalist with a number of big bands, including groups led by Ernie Fields, Dizzy Gillespie and Fletcher Henderson. In 1952, through Ruth Bowen, Moore joined the world-famous Ink Spots as a singer and drummer and literally traveled the globe with the group until 1963. In 1964, renowned record exec Joe Medlin introduced Moore to the world of promotion and he became National Promotion man for Decca Records. In 1970, Moore left to join Brunswick Records, where he worked records by such artists as Jackie Wilson, The Chi-Lites, Tyrone Davis and Bohannon. Until his death Moore continued working as an independent promotion consultant for several independent New York-based labels.

Mildred Carter

Mildred Carter owns the oldest Black radio station in the United States. Mildred’s late husband, Andrew, bought KPRS-AM after many unsuccessful attempts to get a license. It was with the help of Missouri’s Governor Landon that he was finally able to obtain a license and purchase the radio station in 1950. During the next ten years, Andrew was able to move the station to Kansas City where KPRS-AM became KPRS-FM/KPFT-AM.

Meanwhile, Ms. Carter was working with a public relations/promotion firm that brought prominent Black entertainers into the Kansas City area. She knew of Andrew but did not meet him until 1960. They met at a dinner party and were married five months later. Andrew immediately brought Mildred into the broadcasting business, teaching her most of what she knew about broadcasting.

Ms. Carter was always involved in the Black causes of the day. She remembered marching on picket lines in the South and bringing the bread line to Kansas City. KPRS-FM has maintained top status in the marketplace by giving the people the kind of music they want to hear. She had many opportunities to sell the station but kept it in the family because that is what her late husband would have wanted.

Mildred and Andrew Carter moved to Florida when he became ill in 1970. Between 1971 and 1988 she spent many tearful years running the station out of Florida. At one point she spent 11 months away from her husband until she found the right station manager. She is proud to say that with the exception of one, all of the managers were Black. KPRS is now run by her grandson, Michael Carter. Prior to her death in 2003, Ms. Carter served on the Board of the Cape Canaveral Hospital and was affiliated with the local Chamber of Commerce. She received many awards during her career including the National Association of Black Owned Broadcasters Award and she was voted one of the Most Outstanding Black Women by Good Morning America.

Quincy Jones

Is there anything that hasn’t been said by the man called “Q”? Entrepreneur, record producer, arranger, songwriter, musician, film producer… a man who has won countless awards (including 25 Grammys) and accolades.

A partial list of the Chicago-born maestro’s credits include stints as a trumpeter with Lionel Hampton, musical director for Dizzy Gillespie’s band, record producer for Dinah Washington and Sarah Vaughn, Vice President of A&R at Mercury Records, composer of major film scores (“The Pawnbroker,” “In The Heat Of The Night,” “In Cold Blood”); hit maker, through his own albums “Body Heat,” “Mellow Madness,” “I Heard That,” “Sounds… And Stuff Like That,” and production work on Michael Jackson’s “Off The Wall,” Aretha Franklin, The Brothers Johnson, James Ingram, Patti Austin, Rufus & Chaka Khan, George Benson & Tevin Campbell. 

Since the beginning of the 80’s, Quincy Jones has produced some of the best-selling albums in history, Michael Jackson’s “Thriller,” and the landmark “We Are The World” single; worked on the hit movie “The Color Purple,” launched Qwest Records, returned to the top of the charts with his 1990 multiplatinum album “Back On The Block,” and been the subject of the film “Listen Up: The Lives Of Quincy Jones.”

Ray Harris

Ray Harris is the Founding Chairman of The Living Legends Foundation.  He created the organization and helped to draft its original By-Laws as well as getting the organization incorporated in 1991. He served as Chairman until 1997. He currently sits on the Advisory Board of the Foundation.

Mr. Harris held the position of RCA Division Vice President Black Music from 1980-1982. He had total P&L responsibility for his division, which included A&R, Promotion, Marketing, Sales and Publicity, and overall administration. This was a rare position for anyone of color in the early 80’s. During his tenure at RCA he worked with superstar and established artists such as Nina Simone, Diana Ross, Friends of Distinction, Main Ingredient, New Birth, George Clinton, Edwin Starr, The Tymes, Hall & Oates, Ahmad Jamal, and Whispers. Under his supervision, RCA “broke” new artists such as Evelyn “Champagne” King, Brainstorm, DJ Rogers, Odyssey, Dr. Buzzard’s Original Savannah Band, John Lucien, Instant Funk, Skyy, Hues Corporation, Stephanie Mills, Chocolate Milk, Memphis Horns, Carl Carlton, Vicki Sue Robinson, Silver Convention, Shalamar, Lakeside, Midnight Starr, Dynasty, Carrie Lucas, Salsoul Orchestra, amongst others.

In 1982 Mr. Harris relocated to Los Angeles to accept a position as President of Solar Records and continued working on the successes of The Whispers, Lakeside, Midnight Starr, and established Klymaxx and the Deele. In 1985 he left Solar Records to form his own consulting and production company. It was during a stint as consultant to Avant Garde Management in 1988 that he accepted a position as Vice President of Black Music Promotion for Warner Bros. Records. In 1990 he was promoted to Senior Vice President of Black Music & Jazz Marketing & Promotion for Warner and Reprise Records. During his tenure at Warner/Reprise Records he worked with superstar and established artists such as Prince, Quincy Jones, Chaka Khan, Miles Davis, George Duke, Sheila E., Earth, Wind, & Fire, Cameo, George Benson, Al Jarreau, Michael Franks, Little Jimmy Scott, Roger Troutman & Zapp, Frankie Beverly, Morris Day, The Time and Hiroshima. The company “broke” new artists such as Karyn White, Tevin Campbell, Keith Washington, Ice-T, Big Daddy Kane, Take 6, Biz Markie, amongst others.

In 1995 he left Warner Bros./Reprise Records and joined Epic Records in January 1996 in the position of Sr. Vice President Black Music, working with such superstar acts as Michael Jackson, Babyface, and Luther Vandross, as well as working with Brownstone and breaking and establishing Ginuwine. He left Epic Records in 1997.

Ray, whose motto is “Each one Teach one”,  has won every major industry award given including induction into the BELSA (Black Entertainment And Sports Lawyers Association) Hall Of Fame and was by honored by his native Harlem, NY by receiving the Adam Clayton Powell Award by the Adam Clayton Powell Foundation. He was awarded the Impact Music Publication’s “Record Executive of The Year Award” for a record breaking 5 consecutive years (1990-94). The award was later renamed the “Ray Harris Award” for deserving executives.  Ray has received over 75 Platinum & Gold awards for the artists he’s represented over the years.

Ron Mosely

Ron Mosely enjoyed over three decades of success in the music business. His accomplishments include over 20 gold records for songs such as, ‘‘Lean on Me,” “Ain’t No Sunshine,” and “Scorpio.” He has worked with many celebrated recording artists, including Luther Vandross, Michael Jackson, the Isley Brothers, Bill Withers, Isaac Hayes and Anita Baker. After studying at American University and spending four years in the U.S. Air Force, Mr. Mosely began his career in the music business in 1963 as an independent producer/writer. He then joined Screen Gems as a producer/writer. Later he became General Manager of End Records. However, it was with MGM that he received his first gold record with Spider Turner. Mr. Turner went on to become head of National R&B Promotion and Special Products at Warner Brothers, where his success continued with “Hypnotized” by Linda Jones. Next, he was appointed National Pop Singles Promotion Manager at ABC/Dunhill Records. He discovered the Occasions, who went gold with “I’m A Girl Watcher”.

At Capitol Records, where he was Director of R&B Activities, Mr. Mosely coordinated promotion and marketing for the label’s R&B product. He was responsible for such hits as “Band of Gold” by Freda Payne and “Give Me Just A Little More Time” by Chairman of the Board. He also directed the successes of Candi Staton, Nancy Wilson and Lou Rawls.

As co-founder of Sussex Records, Mr. Mosely prided himself on the success of Bill Withers, with whom he achieved four Gold Singles, one Platinum Single and one Gold LP. Mr. Withers’ “Lean on Me” became the biggest selling single in the history of the music business at the time, selling over 2 million copies.

In 1974, Mr. Mosely became Director of R&B Promotion and A&R Director at Polydor Records. He soon took on additional responsibility as Polydor’s National Promotion Director for all product. He left Polydor to become Vice President of Black A&R and Marketing at RCA. There he was responsible for the acquisition of TABU Records, where he worked with Evelyn “Champagne” King and Vicki Sue Robinson. He was also responsible for the initial success of “Sara Smile” by Hall &Oates.

In 1985, Ron formed Ro-Mo and Associates, an independent promotion, consultation and management firm. As CEO, Ron was involved in the personal management of Isaac Hayes, Sweety “G”, Carolyn Townes and Octavia. His clients included TABU Records, Warner Brothers Records, Qwest Records, Quincy Jones and Elektra Records and others.

Ruth Bowen

There’s no doubt that without Ruth Bowen, any number of today’s legendary R&B stars might not have enjoyed the incredible success they’ve had over the last few decades. Starting out in public relations, working with acts like Dave Brubeck and Earl Bostic, the wife of the late Billy Bowen of The Ink Spots managed the great Dinah Washington for several years before she formed Queens Artists, which later became Queen Booking Corporation. 

During her tenure as the premier Black booking agent, Ruth worked with literally everybody from Aretha Franklin, Sammy Davis, Jr., Richard Pryor, The Isley Brothers, Dionne Warwick, The Dells, Millie Jackson, Kool & The Gang and Ray Charles, as well as Motown’s early 60’s stable of emergent new artists including The Supremes and “Little” Stevie Wonder.

Shelley Stewart

For more years than he could remember, Shelley Stewart woke up at 3:30 a.m. so he can be on the air at 5:30 for his morning show on WATV in Birmingham, Alabama. His radio career began in 1949 at WEDR where he became known as “Shelley the Playboy.” It was his outspoken stand on race relations that singled him out as an on-air jock, and through his years at stations in and around Birmingham, Mr. Stewart became the most popular radio personality in the area.

In addition to his radio shows, Mr. Stewart promoted shows throughout the South through the 60’s, working with acts like Sam Cooke, Little Richard, Lou Rawls, Bobby Bland, James Brown and B.B. King. In 1964, he began a stint with the legendary Otis Redding as his personal P.R. representative. His association with Phil Walden Management led to work with acts like Sam & Dave, Isaac Hayes and Johnnie Taylor. While pursuing P.R. ventures, Stewart remained in radio and had been on the air continuously for 43 years, during which time he had never been out of the Top 5 in ratings. A mentor to industry stalwarts like Ray Harris, Hank Spann, Tom Joyner and Sidney Miller, Stewart was co-owner of WATV and ran Shelley Stewart & Associates, which worked on image-building for individuals and municipalities.

Sylvia Robinson

Sylvia Robinson’s creative instinct kept her on the cutting edge of the music business. She also understood the importance of having your own and worked toward helping other independent entrepreneurs to maintain their own as well.

Ms. Robinson was born Sylvia Vanderpool in New York City. Her musical talents were recognized by her parents at an early age. She learned piano as a child and at the age of 12 was recording for Savoy Records. In high school, she was taught guitar by Mickey Baker. At 16, she teamed up with Baker to record the hit single “Love Is Strange.” They continued as a duo until Baker moved to France. By that time Ms. Vanderpool had met Joe Robinson and their alliance evolved into a marriage and business partnership. In the early ‘70’s they formed All Platinum Records. It was here that Ms. Robinson honed in on her writing and producing skills. Her biggest successes came with the Moments (“Not on the Outside,” “Sexy Mama”) and her own rendition of “Pillow Talk.” She would produce another top 10 hit with Shirley Goodman’s “Shame, Shame, Shame,” which became one of the first disco hits.

All Platinum acquired the Chess catalogue in 1975. They were able to reissue some of the Chess classics before running into financial problems in 1978. In the autumn of 1979, Ms. Robinson came up with an idea that would change the music business forever. While attending a disco party she happened upon these guys who were rapping into a microphone. Her instinct told her that this was an idea, and as she says, “the rest is history.”

This concept gave birth to the Sugar Hill Record Company. They released “Rapper’s Delight” by the Sugar Hill Gang, which became an underground hit and a number one song in many countries. Sugar Hill went on to record hits by Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five, Melle Mel, Sequence and other rappers.

Ms. Robinson made another controversial move when she released the Sugar Hill hits to the smaller distributors and mom-and-pop stores before shipping them to the larger chains. By this time, her three sons had joined the family business. Their efforts helped to keep the music young and alive. Sugar Hill kept the hits coming while critics believed rap would not last. It would take five years for the major labels to take rap seriously.

Ms. Robinson continued her revolutionary concepts under her new record label, Diamond Head Records, releasing a song by Kyro. Ms. Robinson’s earlier songs can still be heard via samples on current rap records. Ice Cube and Dr. Dre have both used her music.

Sylvia lived in Englewood, New Jersey until her death in 2011.

Ted Hudson

Ted Hudson believed that the easiest way to sum up his forty-six years in the music industry was to say, “Time flies when you’re having fun.” Mr. Hudson’s whole family enjoyed music. They would frequently patronize the only African American music store in St. Louis. In 1950, he realized the popularity of this entertainment medium, and its potential for growth. As a result, he opened his first retail record store, “Hudson’s Embassy Records, Inc.” The logo was a phonograph record with the credo “First with the Latest” emblazoned on the rim.

The “Embassy” portion of that name came from the concept that American Embassies serve as safe havens for American Citizens overseas. He wanted to give artists a safe and friendly outlet for their music and music lovers a safe and friendly place to listen to and purchase music. By 1982, Hudson’s Embassy Records, Inc. expanded to eleven retail record stores. In addition, the concept for “Hudson’s Embassy” was franchised six times. In 1965, he opened one of the first African-American owned distribution companies, serving approximately 100 independent record labels and artists with distributions along the Eastern seaboard, Midwest and Southeast.

Ted’s One Stop, Inc. opened in 1968 as a wholesale operation servicing local and regional retail record stores. He also opened an advertising/promotional agency, a recording studio for independent record labels and artists and an electronics wholesale business. Mr. Hudson considered himself fortunate to have been a founding member of the National Association of Television and Radio Announcers (NATRA) and the Black Music Association (BMA). After resigning his political office as Committeeman of the 19th Ward of the City of St. Louis, Mr. and Mrs. Hudson sat back and enjoyed life’s little pleasures.

Thomas R. Draper

Tom Draper began his career in the music industry in 1965 with RCA Records in Detroit as a consumer electronics sales trainee, where he progressed to National Promotion Director in the music division. From there, his career flourished with an array of executive management positions at Warner Communications/Time Warner.

One of his most interesting positions was at Warner Communications as Vice President of Community Relations. In this position, he was able to expand the organization’s image in minority communities and reaffirm its commitment to responsible corporate outreach by forging alliances with leaders of not-for-profit organizations.

Other notable milestones during his career at Warner Communications/Time Warner included developing media concepts and public relation strategies, such as the Paul Simon U.S. and Canadian Graceland Benefit Concert Tour. During the tour, receptions were planned to discuss UN sanctions against South Africa relative to artist collaborations and activities.

Mr. Draper also produced the Al Jarreau/Roberta Flack and Friends Concert at the world famous Apollo Theatre to benefit the Correctional/Osborne Associations. He conceived “Beat the Odds” as an effort to reach out to the younger generation. The event is a program for the Children’s Defense Fund, which draws on music industry executives to honor young people for excellence in pursuing their goals while surmounting tremendous odds. The program is now celebrated in Los Angeles, Atlanta, Washington, DC, Minneapolis and New York.

In March of 1991, he was presented with the first annual “Pioneer in Music” Award from the National Association of Black Owned Broadcasters, Inc. He was also a guest lecturer for the “Portraits in Rhythm and Blues” series at the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C.

Tom Joyner

He’s been called the “Fly Jock” and the “Hardest Working Man in Radio.” Now Tom Joyner is the ultimate breakfast host as star of “The Tom Joyner Morning Show”, heard in over 100 markets nationwide through his syndication company, Reach Media. Each weekday Mr. Joyner invites a nationwide audience, via the radio waves, into his studio home. 

This live, syndicated national urban morning program treats listeners to an on-air team that reports and comments on the latest news and sports of interest to the audience. Also featured are drop-in celebrity guests, an in-house band, on-site remotes and an audience-tested urban playlist. Weaving it all together is Mr. Joyner’s upbeat altitude, energy and humorous insights.

A four-time Billboard Magazine award winner, Mr. Joyner began his radio career immediately after he graduated from college. The Tuskegee, Alabama native had received his bachelor’s degree in sociology from Tuskegee Institute when a friend offered him a news broadcasting job at Montgomery, Alabama’s WRMA-AM.

After his debut on Montgomery’s airwaves, Mr. Joyner worked on air at WIOK-AM, Memphis; KVYK-AM, St. Louis; and KKDA-FM, Dallas. His success eventually brought him to Chicago where he entertained Windy City audiences at WJPC-FM, WGCI-FM, WVON-AM and WBMX-FM. 

Mr. Joyner made headlines in the mid-1980s when accepted the simultaneous positions of morning drive man at KKDA-FM and afternoon drive talent at WGGI-FM. His daily round trip commute between Dallas and Chicago earned him national publicity, high ratings and millions of frequent flyer miles.

In addition to his collection of Billboard “Best Urban Contemporary Air Personality” awards, Joyner has received IMPACT Publication’s Joe Loris Award for Excellence in Broadcasting. As an added honor, IMPACT’s Best Radio Personality of the Year Award was renamed The Tom Joyner Award because he received it so many times. Joyner resides in Dallas and has two adult sons, Thomas Jr. and Oscar.

Tom Draper

Tom Draper began his career in the music industry in 1965 with RCA Records in Detroit as a consumer electronics sales trainee, where he progressed to National Promotion Director in the music division. From there, his career flourished with an array of executive management positions at Warner Communications/Time Warner.

One of his most interesting positions was at Warner Communications as Vice President of Community Relations. In this position, he was able to expand the organization’s image in minority communities and reaffirm its commitment to responsible corporate outreach by forging alliances with leaders of not-for-profit organizations.

Other notable milestones during his career at Warner Communications/Time Warner included developing media concepts and public relation strategies, such as the Paul Simon U.S. and Canadian Graceland Benefit Concert Tour. During the tour, receptions were planned to discuss UN sanctions against South Africa relative to artist collaborations and activities.

Mr. Draper also produced the Al Jarreau/Roberta Flack and Friends Concert at the world famous Apollo Theatre to benefit the Correctional/Osborne Associations. He conceived “Beat the Odds” as an effort to reach out to the younger generation. The event is a program for the Children’s Defense Fund, which draws on music industry executives to honor young people for excellence in pursuing their goals while surmounting tremendous odds. The program is now celebrated in Los Angeles, Atlanta, Washington, DC, Minneapolis and New York.

In March of 1991, he was presented with the first annual “Pioneer in Music” Award from the National Association of Black Owned Broadcasters, Inc. He was also a guest lecturer for the “Portraits in Rhythm and Blues” series at the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C.

Vaughn Harper

For more than 3 decades, millions of listeners tuned in to Vaughn Harper’s broadcast, confident that his smooth voice would enhance their evenings. His appeal to an audience with an ear for ballads, jazz, fusion, classics and today’s R&B is not just legendary, it’s well documented (repeatedly rated #1 by Arbitron metric services). As the front-runner in Quiet Storm programming he has influenced generations of Quiet Storm host who still admire, respect and seek his professional knowledge. Mr. Harper has been credited by some with initiating the platform for Smooth Jazz radio by being one of the first to feature a vast array of Smooth Jazz artist prior to it becoming an established format.

Beyond the radio industry as host of Millennium consumer’s most successful video game “Grand Theft Auto 4”, Mr. Harper is featured as the voice of the in-game station VIBE RADIO. His sultry voice directs the R&B and Classic Soul that accompanies the action while young adults are playing the game. His influence also reaches the artistic side, after featuring Joe Sample’s album cut “In My Wildest Dreams,” night after night on New York radio as his show theme from 1987-1995, former New York resident, rapper Tupac Shakur, featured the track as the backdrop of his 1995 hit “Dear Mamma.”

Throughout his career, Mr. Harper’s accomplishments have been featured in trade publications such as Billboard, Cashbox, and Urban Network and in popular news periodicals NY Times, NY Daily News, NY Post and The Amsterdam News. He is the recipient of numerous awards some of which include Black Radio Exclusive’s “2008 Jeep Unlimited Radio Personality of The Year”, an induction into The Living Legends Hall of Fame and landing the #4 spot as “Best Urban DJ of all-time” via a 2010 online industry survey.

A native New Yorker, Mr. Harper’s first career choice was basketball. Starting as an All City High School player at Boys High in Brooklyn, recruited as an All American standout that played in the NIT tournament with his alma mater Syracuse University, then spending a brief stint with the CBL, which garnered him a try-out with the Detroit Pistons. But make no mistake about his transition to radio; it’s been a championship run from day one.

Recruited to the broadcast field and trained by legendary programmer Frankie Crocker, Mr. Harper is often referred to as Mr. Velvet Voice, because his smooth voice is as personable as it is distinctive, contributing to the preservation of “Personality” radio. On the commercial front, the Quiet Storm Captain has spanned the globe with commercial success as the voice of Great Kings Of Africa (Budweiser Black History month special), host of Japan’s Suntory Quiet Storm (rated #1 for three years straight), voice talent for Clear Channel Urban properties, master of ceremonies for Amateur Night at the Apollo, the CEBA Awards, the UNCF national telethon along with serving as the in-flight announcer of Delta Airlines “A Journey Of Soul” (black music month special). Harper also served as co-producer of the 2004 ballad driven album “Vaughn Harper Presents Quiet Songs”. On the Philanthropic front he established an annual “Celebrity Toy Drive” that provided gifts to underprivileged children in the New York metropolitan area during the Christmas holidays.

Verna S. Green

Ms. Green was appointed General Manager of WJLB-FM April 1982 and led WJLB through the most comprehensive turnaround in ratings and sales in the history of Detroit radio. This turnaround encompassed aggressive recruitment of new talent and management, tightly focused marketing, consistent pricing, and a firm commitment to community service.

In 1982, Green initiated Detroit’s Coats for Kids, a program that has distributed over 200,000 coats to needy children. This program has been copied in cities all across the United States. Since she began her radio career with WJLB, Ms. Green has ensured that listeners have access to major national entertainment and has overseen WJLB’s presentations of massive free concerts, such as Ladies Night Out and family Fun Day. Ms. Green was promoted to Vice President in 1986, and in 1994 her responsibilities were increased to include managing the powerful FM urban duopoly of WJLB-FM and WMXD-FM (Mix 92.3).

Ms. Green’s performance is unique in that she is the only African American woman in the country to lead a radio station in a top-ten broadcast market to first place ratings in all major demographics- not just once, but for many successive rating periods. WJLB has been the number one FM in Detroit since 1985 and is currently Detroit’s top ranked radio station in all major demos. Throughout her broadcast career, Ms. Green has demanded that African American consumers be treated with dignity in commercial messages and in promotional activity.

Prior to broadcasting, Ms. Green’s experience included organization development, marketing, human resources management and labor relations in the automotive and health care industries. A native of Detroit Mich., she is a graduate of Cass Technical High School. She earned a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration from Wayne State University and her MBA from Michigan State University through its Advanced Management Program.

Ms. Green is a graduate of the Greater Detroit Chamber of Commerce’s LEADERSHIP DETROIT program, where she served as Vice Chair of the Board of Trustees. Ms. Green was recently elected to represent the state of Michigan on the Radio Board of Directors of the National Association of Broadcasters. She is active in many civic, service and professional organizations and has been recognized with many civic awards. Ms. Green is the proud mother of two sons.

Violet Brown

For as far back as she could remember, Violet Brown has always marched to the beat of a different drummer. From an early age she knew that music would be an integral part of her life. Her mother, a musician, took her on several trips to local record stores and at age six she bought her first record, “The Twist” by Chubby Checker. This started her obsessive “dance” with music - a dance that would last the rest of her life. By the time she started junior high school, she was the proud owner of an impressive and extensive record collection and was called upon to supply and play the music for school affairs.

At 12 years of age, Ms. Brown started working in a retail record outlet, and by 15 she was running her own record store. When the sale of compilation 4 and 8 track tapes became illegal, she joined the staff of Wallach’s Music City (a popular record chain on the West Coast), and soon after was recruited by the company that distributed product to Wallach’s, Nehi Distributors. In 1976 at age 22, Violet Brown started what was to be a long and distinguished career with The Wherehouse, and moved swiftly through the ranks holding positions as Store Manager, District Manager, and Manager of Order Service. She was the Urban Music Buyer for the chain and was responsible for advertising, promoting and purchasing new urban product for 224 stores.

Always looking for the opportunity to challenge her abilities in other contexts, Ms. Brown worked as an A&R Consultant for Hollywood Records in 1990, and produced her first compilation CD “Slow Jamz From Back in the Day” for Quality Records in 1995. In 1997, her sophomore production effort spawned the highly successful, “In the Beginning There Was Rap” - a tribute to “old school” rap that featured the talents of some of hip hop’s biggest names and brightest stars. The list includes Snoop Dogg, Wu Tang Clan, The Dogg Pound, Master P, Cypress Hill and Sean “Puffy” Combs. The album was certified gold in the USA and Canada, and a mere 27,000 units shy of being platinum.

But even this accomplishment loses its metallic luster when compared to the many awards and accolades that she has received over the course of her more than 25 year professional career in record retail. She has won almost 40 national display contests, been awarded the “Employee of The Year” twice, named to Source Magazine’s “Hip Hop Power 30” for two consecutive years and chosen to attend a dinner for Nelson Mandela. The list of recording artists for whom she has organized and orchestrated “in store” appearances reads like the Who’s Who of music. The list includes The Jackson 5, Diana Ross, Marvin Gaye, Al Green, Anita Baker, Jodeci, MC Hammer, LI Cool J, Luther Vandross, Mary J. Blige, New Edition, and many, many more. And all the while, just as in her junior and high school days, Violet Brown continued to hone her DJ skills and was much sought after by local dance clubs. She formed a DJ service in 1979 that serviced many local and regional customers and remained active until 1995. 
 Violet Brown is still marching to the beat of a drum - her drum! She sponsors rap competitions adjudicated by celebrity judges, and hosts an annual block party that attracts thousands of local residents and participants from near and far. Today, many artists seek her advice in selecting labels, choosing singles and soliciting producers. Brown’s many years of service in the industry are a true testimony to her dedication and determination. The respect and reputation that she enjoys is a tribute to her honesty and humility.

In her time, Violet Brown has witnessed many changes in music and its configuration. She has worked with 4 track, 8 tracks, 45s, LPs, cassettes, CDs and digital downloads but one thing has remained constant, and that’s her love for music and others.

Salesperson, Manager, Buyer, DJ, Producer, Executive Producer, Entrepreneur, Consultant and add to the list-Living Legend!

Warren Lanier Sr.

Warren Lanier, Sr. is a public relations specialist who offers the best in creative services to achieve positive and rewarding results for clients, with a professional approach. Over the past fifteen years, he has focused on introducing ideas and images relevant to the communities of black consumers the world over.

His weekly syndicated column is called “Ebony Etchings Etc.” Mr. Lanier’s clients over the years have included Etta James, Jimmy Smith, B.B. King, Johnnie Taylor, Barry White and The Love Unlimited Orchestra, LTD, The Dells, Denise Williams, Millie Jackson, Marla Gibbs, Fred Williamson, Richard Roundtree, Roger E. Mosley, The Gospel Keynotes, and countless others. Other corporate assignments have included the United Negro College Fund, Cinerama Releasing Corporation, Brut Productions, Miller Brewing Company, Black Associated Sports Enterprise, and numerous others.

Willie Barney

Willie J. Barney was raised by his aunt and uncle in Chicago, IL. His entire family eventually relocated to Chicago where he attended Rosenwall High School. After graduation, he worked in a print shop and later worked for a clothing manufacturing company. He looked forward to his visits to the barber shop where his father worked because across the street was a very popular record store that was owned and operated by The Wright Brothers, the hottest juke box operators in the area. Mr. Barney was always intrigued by the whole process of record releases and new singles. He recalls that “in those days you had to order your single and wait two weeks for delivery.” He vowed that as soon as his finances would allow, he would open up a record store. His chance came in 1953 when he was only 25 years of age, and with no prior knowledge, but bubbling over with enthusiasm, Mr. Barney said good-bye to the world of 9 to 5 employment and became the proud owner-operator of his own business. In the same building that he decided to set up shop, he created a space for his father to operate his own barber shop. When he viewed the sign hanging over the door, “Barney’s Swing Shop,” he knew he had arrived. 

He soon found out it takes more than a dream to make it. Hard work, tenacity and good judgment are equal ingredients in the “American Dream.” Feeling that the original name lacked market appeal, Mr. Barney changed both the name and location of his store to its current address, Barney’s One Stop Records. It was not long before Barney’s One Stop Records became one of the most popular retail outlets in Chicago, and enjoyed the reputation of attracting some of the biggest names in show business. Nancy Wilson, Lou Rawls, The Temptations, The Isley Brothers, Aretha Franklin and “The Greatest” - Muhammad Ali, are among the many celebrities who have visited the store. Scores of plaques adorn the walls of the establishment in recognition of the store’s participation in the platinum and multi-platinum success of countless artists. 

Willie J. Barney cited his “staying power” as the accomplishment for which he is most proud. He outlasted many of his competitors and claims that in his 45 years of operation he has seen a countless amount of businesses come and go. He reflects with some degree of chagrin that “it is not easy for a minority business to flourish” and “raising capital for improvement and expansion could prove to be a difficult task to the Black entrepreneur.” He could still recall his bitter disappointments at being rejected for loans, when others, with less credentials were showered with financial aid and support. 

Determined to improve this disparity, Willie J. Barney became active in local business organizations, and to this day, sits on the board of the 24th Ward Business Association, The Chicago Chamber of Commerce and the Greater Westside Development Corporation. The proud father of five, Willie J. Barney has relinquished the reins of control to his two sons Raymond and Reynaldo, who now accept the responsibilities for the day to day operation of what is now a wholesale and retail establishment that provides employment for 12 area residents.

At a time when it was not fashionable to be a successful Black businessman, Willie J. Barney succeeded against the odds. He claimed his victory and created a family business that stands tall as a trophy of his blood, sweat and tears. After 45 years in the music business, Willie J. Barney exclaims in exasperation, “I could write a book!”

Willie Mitchell

Wherever radio signals travel, Willie Mitchell’s music has been heard. For more that four decades now, “Pops”, as he’s known within the industry, has been writing, arranging, producing and playing on hit records. The purity of his sound has become a signature trademark. Soft, tough, elegant and junky no one does what Pops does. He is rightfully accredited as one of soul music’s greatest producers.

Willie Mitchell’s talent was recognized at an early age. Before he could finish high school, several big bands were recruiting his talents on the trumpet, and he was also asked to play on B.B. King’s first recordings. Rust College became his base soon after, and from there Willie Mitchell be-bopped as a part of the special services band that backed Vic Damone. Upon being discharged, Willie formed a jazz band and signed with Hi Records in 1961. Hi wanted him because of the hits he’d produced on the label for the Bill Black Combo. From there his name underscored Ace Cannon’s pivotal bestsellers, and then Willie began making a radio signature of his own, scoring a string of 22 instrumental hits in the sixties that were defined by “Soul Serenade” and “2075” that made the Willie Mitchell band consistently the hottest touring band in the world. As the 70’s dawned, after ten years a beloved, accomplished, best-selling and respected player, Willie Mitchell’s switched hats to a full-time producer and recreated history.

Al Green, Ann Peebles, O.V. Wright, Denise LaSalle, Syl Johnson, Hi Rhythm - to connoisseurs of rhythm & blues, such a roster constitutes an impressive field of heavyweights style called southern soul. All were discovered and brought to media life by Mr. Willie Mitchell. No one could reproduce the Mitchell sound, and the public ate it up. Willie produced 22 Gold & Platinum records with Al Green alone. He mastered the recording of Ann Peebles’ signature “I Can’t Stand The Rain” during this same period, and directed the touring bands that wowed sold out-audiences throughout the world. Willie Mitchell has produced tracks for Ike & Tina Turner, Bobby Bland, Paul Butterfield, Jesse Winchester, David Hudson, Lynn White, and Rufus Thomas. He is a Memphis music legend and a recording industry icon, deservedly recognized with a Grammy Award in 1986.

Willie Mitchell has always been an unselfish talent, serving on the Executive Board of the Memphis Music Foundation, the Beale Street Foundation, and was appointed to the Tennessee Film, Tape, and Music Commission to lend his particular expertise in a way that would help the city’s recording industry.

Willie Mitchell made his transition in 2010, in his beloved Memphis, Tn.