Avant is being recognized for his groundbreaking contributions to music during his more than 50-year career. The executive, known as the “Godfather of Black Music,” began his career in Newark, New Jersey, during the 1950s. He managed talents including singers Sarah Vaughn and Freda Payne, organist Jimmy Smith
The honoree began his own label, Sussex Records, which was home singer-songwriter Bill Withers and guitarist Dennis Coffey, among many others. In 1976, Avant founded Tabu Productions, giving a platform to artists such as the S.O.S Band, Alexander O’Neal
In the ’80s and ’90s, Avant worked with celebrated production duo Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis, singer-songwriter Kenneth “Babyface” Edmonds and music exec. L.A. Reid.
In a press release obtained by EBONY.com, Neil Portnow, the president/CEO of the Recording Academy, said the organization was “incredibly excited” to honor Avant.
Portnow added, “His pioneering work in the industry has redefined what it means to be a leader and opened countless doors for musicians from all backgrounds.”
Davis commented, ” For several decades Clarence Avant has been the quintessential adviser to almost every successful African-American music executive and artist. He defined the term master mentor and definitely has played a vital role in music history.”
Avant will join past recipients of the Grammy Salute to Industry Icon Award, who include JAY-Z, Debra Lee, Berry Gordy, David Geffen
The Pre-Grammy Gala will take place Feb. 9 at the Beverly Hilton in Los Angeles on the eve of the 61st annual Grammy Awards.