The Rhythm & Blues Foundation, formed two years ago to provide financial aid to r&b innovators, is continuing its efforts to expand. On the boards are plans to establish with the Smithsonian Institution a national r&b archives that would be open to the public, as well as a series of r&b album reissues.
The foundation, an independent nonprofit organization that describes as its chief aims cultivating wider recognition of the form and financial support for its practitioners, will present over $100,000 to r&b innovators at its Pioneer Awards ceremony, being held Feb. 21 at Gotham’s Tatou.
Recipients are chosen by the Foundation’s Board of Trustees, which includes chairman Ray Charles, Atlantic chairman Ahmet Ertegun and LeBaron Taylor, chairman of the event and v.p./g.m. of corporate affairs at Sony Music.
“The Foundation is unique in that it looks out for the pioneers in the rhythm & blues field,” says Taylor. “Especially those who unfortunately received inadequate royalties during their careers and have suffered for it.”
While there will be no entertainment at the awards event, Taylor says such artists as Bonnie Raitt and Ruth Brown will be presenters. Also expected to attend are representatives from all record companies and music publishers.
The foundation is housed in the Smithsonian; together the foundation and the Smithsonian are researching the production of a series of reissues of original postwar r&b recordings, with both audio and high-definition video releases possibly available within the next year.
No date has been set for the opening of the r&b archives, featuring various recordings and memorabilia of historical interest.