THE BLACK GODFATHER – A Review by Hollywood Hernandez
June is Black Music Month and just in time for the celebration is a Netflix documentary by director Reginald Hudlin called The Black Godfather. It’s an amazing story about African-American Clarence Avant who is probably the most influential man in Black music you have never heard of. Amazing is the only word to describe the path he’s left on Black music and culture.
He began as a manager in Harlem in the late 1950s and only recently received his recognition with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in 2019 (he’s now 84 years old). The names and the stories involved with his help to achieve success reads like the history of Black Entertainment.
He worked in nightclubs helping to give legitimacy to artists like Sam Cooke and Dinah Washington and is credited with amazing deals with artists like Jam and Lewis, L.A. and Babyface, Michael Jackson, Quincy Jones and he even had a hand in brokering a deal to get Barack Obama the Democrat nomination for President. His daughter got her father’s blessing to work in Obama’s campaign. Even though he thought Obama would lose he is given most of the credit for getting the first black President in office.
The loving story shared by all of the famous artists, athletes, and politicians is an amazing and inspiring story of a man who always gave a “hand up” to African-Americans who needed a hand. Even President Bill Clinton talks in the movie about how Avant gave him the strength to keep going on when Republicans were trying to kill his legacy and get him out of office. He says Avant just advised him to stay the course and do his job.
There are so many jaw-dropping stories about artists who needed help and who got it from Clarence Avant. When Biggie was killed in Vegas it was Avant who got Puffy out of town by car so he wouldn’t be in public by catching a flight. Puffy gives him credit for saving his life.
In another story, Michael Jackson cut a soundtrack for the movie of E.T. and didn’t have permission from a rival record label to release it. Avant brokered that deal to get in released leaving Michael so impressed that he hired Avant to be in charge of the Bad Tour.
The stories go on and on but Clarence Avant’s life story is a very enjoyable tale. It’s on currently on Netflix. On “My Hollywood Popcorn Scale” I rate The Black Godfather a JUMBO!