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

Lebanese Media Unite to Support Palestinians in Gaza

Joint newscast billed as Arab world’s first unified news bulletin in support of Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip More

Photogallery Australian PM Alleges ‘Coverup’ at MH17 Crash Site

Meanwhile, Russia's ambassador to Malaysia denies plane's black boxes were opened before they were handed over to Malaysian officials More

Despite Advances in AIDS Treatment, Stigma Lingers

Leading immunologist tells VOA that stigma is often what prevents those infected with disease from seeking treatment 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.
IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Formi
X
July 22, 2014 10:26 AM
Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Form

Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video Relic of Saint Draws Catholics Worried About Immigration Issue

A Roman Catholic saint who is a figure of devotion for those crossing the border into the United States is attracting believers concerned about the plight of undocumented immigrants. Mike O'Sullivan reports from Los Angeles, where a relic of Saint Toribio has drawn thousands to local churches.
Video

Video Ukraine Rebels Surrender MH17 Black Boxes

After days of negotiations, a senior separatist leader handed over two black boxes from an airliner downed over eastern Ukraine to Malaysian experts early Tuesday. While on Monday, the U.N. Security Council unanimously demanded that armed groups controlling the crash site allow safe and unrestricted access to the wreckage.
Video

Video In Cambodia, HIV Diagnosis Brings Deadly Shame

Although HIV/AIDS is now a treatable condition, a positive diagnosis is still a life altering experience. In Cambodia, people living with HIV are often disowned by friends, family and the community. This humiliation can be unbearable. We bring you one Cambodian woman’s struggle to overcome a life tragedy and her own HIV positive diagnosis.
Video

Video Nature of Space Exploration Enters New Age

Forty-five years ago this month, the first humans walked on the moon. It was during an era of the space race between the United States and the Soviet Union. World politics have changed since then and -- as Elizabeth Lee reports -- so has the nature of space exploration.
Video

Video Chicago’s Argonne Lab Developing Battery of the Future

In 2012, the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Science awarded a $120 million grant to a new technology center focused on battery development - headquartered at Argonne National Laboratory in suburban Chicago, Illinois. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, there scientists are making the next technological breakthroughs in energy storage.
Video

Video In NW Pakistan, Army Offensive Causes Massive Number of Displaced

Pakistan’s army offensive in North Waziristan has resulted in the large-scale displacement of the local population. VOA's Ayaz Gul reports from northwest Pakistan where authorities say around 80 percent of the estimated 1 million internally displaced persons [IDPs] have settled in Bannu district, while much of the remaining 20 percent are scattered in nearby cities.
Video

Video Kurdish Peshmerga Force Secures Kirkuk, Its Oil

The Kurdistan regional government has sent its Peshmerga troops into the adjacent province of Kirkuk to drive out insurgents, and to secure the area's rich oil fields. By doing this, the regional government has added a fourth province to the three it officially controls. The oil also provides revenue that could make an independent Kurdistan economically strong. VOA’s Jeffrey Young went out with the Peshmerga and filed this report.
Video

Video Malaysia Reeling: Second Air Disaster in Four Months

Malaysia is reeling from the second air disaster in four months involving the country’s flag carrier. Flight 340 vanished in March and despite an extensive search, no debris has been found. And on Thursday, Flight 17, likely hit by a surface-to-air missile, came apart over eastern Ukraine. The two incidents together have left more than 500 people dead. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Kuala Lumpur.

AppleAndroid