Forget about fancy birthday gifts and trinkets, it does not get any better than spending your birthday with Q, or Quincy Jones. And not for any of the obvious reasons either.
Of course he is a living legend, we all know that. Respected worldwide for his legendary accomplishments in music, film and television. The most nominated Grammy artist with a total of 76 nominations and 26 Grammy Awards to his credit. He has also received an Emmy Award and seven Oscar Nominations. Over the years other legendary performers such as Frank Sanatra, Count Basie, Sarah Vaughan, Dizzier Gillespie, Louis Jordan, Barbara Streisand, Billy Eckstine and Tony Bennett have all recorded his songs. Of course Jones produced Michael Jackson’s first solo album, "Off the Wall," which sold 8 million copies, and "Thriller" in 1982, which became the biggest selling album of all time, selling over 30 million copies around the globe. And of course it was Quincy who brought together Michael Jackson, Lionel Richie, Bob Dylan, Bruce Springsteen and others in 1985 for one of the most amazing projects in pop music history, USA for Africa, which produced the single "We are the World," which in turn became the most selling single in music history! Of course we know all of this, or at least, we should… Celebrate it too.
But what you may not know, what really makes Quincy a special, God inspired human being… and certainly what he would not tell you (about) himself, is all that he quietly does to help others. The world, even. Things – many, many things – which in the least, equal his professional accomplishments, if not dwarf them completely because they are completely about helping others…
He would not tell you about the way he continues to reach out to the new, young generation of hip-hop artists, working hard to give them a sense of direction, historical perspective, and a real purpose in their lives beyond "getting paid." While we were there several even dropped by the house to pay their respect to "the Man."
He would not tell you about how he mentors young people in general, and Black men in particular, trying to make a difference. Young men like music producer Dallas Austin and his partner David Gates, both of whom spent time with us on this rainy Sunday afternoon. Young men like comedian and actor Chris Tucker, ….and young men like me.
He would not tell you about the hours he has spent on the telephone, having nothing to do with his business, making money, or even HIM for that matter — expressing a positive frustration over all that is not being done by world leaders to solve poverty and to address suffering in the world’s most challenged places, …giving me advise and counsel on life in general, and my life in particular (priceless), a history lesson that can only come from living it, and sharing an indescribable knowledge base that is uniquely Q, gained from and through his 51 years of travel to and through most every country in the world today. Sharing his passion for making a difference, and not just talking problems to death.
So interested is he in you and what you are doing, he probably would not tell you about what he has done just recently with the new Glocal Forum in Rome, Italy, and his newest and boldest initiative yet, designed to bring peace, healing and hope to the world’s children, We are the Future.
Around the world, millions of innocent children are killed, orphaned or left homeless because of war. And so, Last year music icon Quincy Jones and Ambassador Uri Savir founded We are the Future on one simple philosophy: give children the tools to create better lives and a peaceful world is possible. Abandon them, and the cycle of poverty and violence will continue. We are the Future is now a reality, not just a project on paper that people talk and dream about.
On May 16, 2004, We Are the Future launched with a spectacular concert from the Circus Maximus in Rome, with more than 700,000 people in attendance. Music legends, world-class athletes, celebrities and artists from around the globe gathered for a four hour mega-concert to raise money and give voice to the children struggling to survive. Artists and celebrities lending their support included Quincy’s close friend, Oprah Winfrey, Alicia Keys, Carlos Santana and friends, Norah Jones, Herbie Hancock, Stomp, Angelina Jolie and a host of others. All net proceeds from the concert was used to build Child Centers in war-torn communities, providing proper nutrition, life-saving vaccines, and basic healthcare.
There are now WAF projects in Kigali, Rwanda, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, Asmara, Eritrea, Freetown, Sierra Leone, Kabul, Afghanistan, and Nablus, Palestine. Once a child is strong enough, they can learn computer skills, enroll in sports, music, and arts programs, and find out how to grow crops that provide essential nutrients year after year. As an example of their work, the Rwandese WAF Center officially opened on April 8th, 2004, and marked the first pilot center to open its doors to the public. The opening was on Rwanda’s Genocide Memorial Day; which marks the ten year anniversary when one million people were killed in just 100 days due to the racial conflict between Utu and Tutsi.
"We are trying to resurrect from that tragedy," said the Mayor of Kigali, Theoneste Mutsindashyaka. "The best way to do it is to invest in children."
We Are the Future, co-funded by the Glocal Forum and Quincy Jones, is committed to inspiring the young survivors who still have hope, and giving them back the opportunity to make their dreams a reality. You can support Q’s cause by visiting the website for the Quincy Jones Listen Up Foundation.
And so, because Quincy would never tell you any of this (about himself), with all he does for society and the world we live in, I am telling you!
Quincy Jones is the man. He is not only the very definition of a hero (at a time when mentors and heroes are in short supply), simply put, Q is the very definition of a (real) man.
Thank you Q, …for being there for me, …for sharing your home with my sweetie and I (all day……………I might add!), …thank you for sharing your world of friendships (Clarence Avant, you are an amazing man, period. End of subject. Gotcha! Julie Taymor too, Tony award winning director and costume designer of Broadway’s "The Lion King"), …and thanks for the birthday cake too! It was amazing! And so are you.
Call me anytime, anywhere, anyplace, for anything my friend…and I will be there.