The Recording Academy and Clive Davis today announced that industry veteran and urban music pioneer Clarence Avant will be honored at Davis’ annual Pre-Grammy Gala, taking place at the Beverly Hilton on Feb. 9, the night before the 61 st annual Grammy Awards. At the ceremony, Avant will be recognized as the 2019 Grammy Salute to Industry Icons honoree for his groundbreaking contributions to the music industry.
Past recipients of the award include Herb Alpert & Jerry Moss, Irving Azoff, Martin Bandier, Sir Richard Branson, Shawn “JAY-Z” Carter, Clive Davis, Ahmet Ertegun, David Geffen, Berry Gordy, Lucian Grainge, Debra L. Lee, Doug Morris, Mo Ostin, and Antonio “L.A.” Reid.
“We are incredibly excited to honor Clarence Avant with this year’s GRAMMY Salute to Industry Icons Award,” said Neil Portnow, President/CEO of the Recording Academy. “His pioneering work in the industry has redefined what it means to be a leader and opened countless doors for musicians from all backgrounds.”
“For several decades Clarence Avant has been the quintessential adviser to almost every successful African-American music executive and artist,” said Clive Davis, co-host of the Pre-Grammy Gala. “He defined the term master mentor and definitely has played a vital role in music history.”
Avant, who spoke with Variety about his career in 2016, began his career as a manager in Teddy P’s Lounge in Newark, New Jersey, during the 1950s, which led to him managing such prominent artists as Sarah Vaughn, Freda Payne, Jimmy Smith and Lalo Schifrin. Avant later worked at Venture Records and eventually started his own label, Sussex Records, which housed artists such as Bill Withers and guitarist Dennis Coffey. In 1976, he launched Tabu Productions (S.O.S Band, Alexander O’Neal, Cherrelle) and continued as a manager, working with Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis, Kenneth “Babyface Edmonds,” and L.A. Reid. Other awards Avant has received over the course of his 50-year career include a Thurgood Marshall Lifetime Achievement Award, an NAACP Image Awards Hall Of Fame Award, a BET Honors Entrepreneur Award, and the Recording Academy’s Trustees Award.