News / USA

Quincy Jones Has Still Got the Groove

Producer reflects on a half-century in music

Quincy Jones at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland on January 21, 2004.
Quincy Jones at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland on January 21, 2004.

Multimedia

Audio

The name, Quincy Jones, is synonymous with the best of American popular music.

Iin a career spanning more than five decades, the producer has garnered 79 Grammy nominations and taken home 27 of the prestigious awards - the most of any living musician.

Jones, 77, has just published "Q on Producing," the first of a planned autobiographical trilogy in which he shares his rich experience with a younger generation of musicians.  

Thrills

Jones co-produced one of the bestselling music albums of all time.

Michael Jackson's "Thriller" has sold more than 104 million copies worldwide. It earned Jones and Jackson the Grammy for Album of the Year in 1983. The single, "Beat It," won Record of the Year, and the men shared the Grammy for Producer of the Year as well.

In 'Q on Producing,' Quincy Jones shares his experiences with a younger generation of musicians.
In 'Q on Producing,' Quincy Jones shares his experiences with a younger generation of musicians.

Two years later, Jones won two more Grammies as producer of the best-selling single of all time, "We are the World."

As someone who's received more Grammy nominations than anyone else, Jones clearly knows good music when he hears it.

"You say, what do I like, what touches me, what gives me goose bumps. If that happens, that's the best start," says Jones. "To me, the worst thing that can happen is to make a record that is based on what somebody else likes and you're not connected to it, and then they don't like it either."

Early life

Jones was born on March 14, 1933, in Chicago. He moved to Bremerton, Washington, when he was 10, which was a bit of a culture shock.

"We came from Chicago, the biggest black ghetto in America, during the Depression, the thirties," he says. "And my father took us out to the Northwest and it was a different thing, because we had no identity at all. There were no black people in the book."

Jones snagged his first professional job playing trumpet with Lionel Hampton's band in 1951. However, after suffering a brain aneurysm in 1974, doctors told him to give up the trumpet.

He's best known for his work behind the scenes. As a producer and arranger, he's worked with not only Michael Jackson but also Frank Sinatra, Aretha Franklin, Paul Simon and a host of other musicians.

He studied composition in France with Nadia Boulanger, who also taught Aaron Copeland.

"She said, 'Quincy, your music can never be more or less than you are as a human being, and there are only 11 notes. Just learn what everybody did with the music.' And I did, and I'm glad because it services me. What every you feel, you can do."

Color barrier

Jones has composed television themes, and scored major motion pictures.

Ray Charles, who sang the title song for 1967's "In the Heat of the Night," was a close friend. He and Jones first met as teenagers in Seattle, years before the Civil Rights era.

"We had to form these ideologies to survive. You know the tone in America at that time - even the military forces were not integrated. And Ray and I used to say to each other all the time, 'Not one drop of my self worth depends on you're acceptance of me.' We had that attitude to keep strong during any kind of adversity. We just kept our eyes on our dreams, and thank God, we realized a lot of our dreams."

In 1961, Quincy Jones broke the color barrier when he became vice-president of Mercury Records and the first high-level black executive of an established major record company.

With more than half a century in the music business, Jones shows no signs of slowing down. Over the years, he's expanded his reach into television and film production, magazine publishing and Broadway with "The Color Purple."

And a new generation is rediscovering some of Jones' older music.

"Soul Bossa Nova" was sampled by rapper Ludacris in his 2005 single "Number One Spot." It was also used in 1997 as the theme to the movie "Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery" and the theme for the 1998 World Cup competition. Jones wrote "Soul Bossa Nova" in 1962 - proof that a half-century later, the veteran music man has still got the groove.  

You May Like

Tunnel Bombs Highlight Savagery of Aleppo Fight

Rebels have used tunneling tactic near government buildings, command posts or supply routes to set off explosives; they detonated their largest bomb this week under Syria's intelligence headquarters More

Sierra Leone Launches New Initiative to Stop Ebola Spread

Government hopes Infection and Prevention Control Units, IPC, will help protect patients and healthcare workers More

UN Official: Fight Against Terrorism Must Not Violate Human Rights

UN High Commissioner for Human Rights says efforts by states to combat terrorism are resulting in large scale rights violations against the very citizens they claim to defend More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Video Claims to Show Shia Forces in Iraq Executing Sunni Boyi
X
Jeff Seldin
March 05, 2015 2:36 AM
A graphic mobile phone video is spreading on the Internet, claiming to show Iraqi forces or Shia militia executing a handcuffed Sunni boy. Experts have yet to verify the video, but already Islamic State followers are publicizing it across social media, playing on deep-rooted sectarian fears. VOA’s Jeff Seldin reports.
Video

Video Video Claims to Show Shia Forces in Iraq Executing Sunni Boy

A graphic mobile phone video is spreading on the Internet, claiming to show Iraqi forces or Shia militia executing a handcuffed Sunni boy. Experts have yet to verify the video, but already Islamic State followers are publicizing it across social media, playing on deep-rooted sectarian fears. VOA’s Jeff Seldin reports.
Video

Video Ukrainian Authorities Struggle to Secure a Divided Mariupol

Since last month's cease-fire went into effect, shelling around the port city of Mariupol has decreased, but it is thought pro-Russian separatists remain poised to attack. For the city’s authorities, a major challenge is gaining the trust of residents, while at the same time rooting out informants who are passing sensitive information to the rebels. Patrick Wells reports for VOA.
Video

Video Volunteer Gauge-Watchers Help Fine-Tune Weather Science

An observation system called CoCoRaHS is working to improve weather science, thanks to thousands of volunteers across the country who measure precipitation in their own backyards, then share their data through the Internet. VOA's Shelley Schlender reports.
Video

Video NASA Spacecraft Approaches a Dwarf Planet

NASA’s Dawn spacecraft will make history on Friday, March 6, when it becomes the first man-made object to orbit a dwarf planet named Ceres. It is located in the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter, almost 500 million kilometers from Earth. Among other objectives, Dawn will try to examine two mysterious bright white spots detected on the planet’s surface. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Young Muslims Radicalized Online

Young Muslims are being radicalized ‘in their bedrooms’ through direct contact with Islamic State or ISIL fighters via the Internet, according to terror experts. There are growing concerns that authorities and Internet providers are not doing enough to counter online extremism - which analysts say is spread by a prolific network of online supporters around the world. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video African Americans Recall 1960s Fight For Voting Rights

U.S. President Barack Obama and thousands of people will gather in the small southern U.S. city of Selma, Alabama, Saturday, March 7 to commemorate the 50th anniversary of a historic voting rights march that became known as “Bloody Sunday." VOA’s Chris Simkins traveled to Alabama and introduces us to some of the foot soldiers of the voting rights struggles of the 1960s.
Video

Video Positive Messaging Transforms Ethiopia's Image

Ethiopia was once known for famine and droughts. Now, headlines more often point to its fast-growing economy and its emergence as a regional peacemaker. How has Addis Ababa changed the narrative? VOA's Marthe van der Wolf reports.
Video

Video Cyber War Rages Between Iran, US

A newly published report indicates Iran and the United States have increased their cyber attacks on each other, even as their top diplomats are working toward an agreement to guarantee Iran does not develop a nuclear weapon and to free Iran from international sanctions. The development is part of a growing global trend. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London.
Video

Video Answers Elude Families of MH370 Passengers

For the families on board Malaysia Airlines flight MH370, an airline official’s statement nearly one year ago that the plane had lost contact with air traffic control at 2:40 AM is the only thing that remains confirmed. William Ide reports.

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More