Home » Evening the score: How Quincy Jones opened doors for Black American film composers

Evening the score: How Quincy Jones opened doors for Black American film composers

by The Grio

Music producer Quincy Jones, subject of the Netflix documentary film “Quincy,” poses for a portrait on Friday, Sept. 7, 2018, during the Toronto Film Festival, at the Shangri-La Hotel in Toronto. (Photo by Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP)

Editor’s note: The following article is an op-ed and the views expressed are the author’s own. Read more opinions on theGrio.

In 1933, Jim Crow was America’s faceless monarch. Former slaves were still walking the country. The radio was the primary source of daily entertainment. People watched the news in movie theaters.

Since the birth of Quincy Delight Jones, Jr. on March 14, 1933, much has changed. He ignited much of the country’s cultural and entertainment evolution that still exists 90 years later.

From a Chicago upbringing that was modest at best and dangerous at worst, Jones would go on to be the North Star for so much that American music and Black culture came to love and rely on to this day.

Producer Quincy Jones appears at the Michael Jackson Hand and Footprint ceremony at Grauman's Chinese Theatre on January 26, 2012 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images) thegrio.com

Jones’ accolades are so vast that they border on the mythological. He became an icon by propping up heroes of his day, like Billy Eckstine, Dinah Washington, Count Basie, Frank Sinatra and Ray Charles.

The 28-time Grammy winner defined the role of the music producer and provided the template for contemporary pop music, thanks to collaborations with Michael Jackson, George Benson, The Brothers Johnson and Donna Summer. His clairvoyant sense of progression helped him mentor future stars like James Ingram, Patti Austin, Tamia and Will Smith. As the founder of Vibe Magazine, he put Black entertainment culture on the same pedestal that heretofore was only reserved for white entertainers.

Jones’ resume as a producer and impresario is so outsized that it casts a monolithic shadow on another phase of his career that was equally as crucial to the success of Black creatives: film scoring.

John Williams, Hans Zimmer, Danny Elfman and Ennio Morricone may be the first names…

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