Music, Business Leader, and Mentor Legend Dies

By Lauren Victoria Burke
NNPA Newswire Correspondent

Clarence Avant, a music business icon and mentor to many, has died at 92 years old. Avant was called “The Godfather” by many because of his long reach in the business community and his ability to bring all sides together in negotiations.

“The Godfather” has left us. This man was singularly responsible for helping so many Black artists get paid their worth. Also was a wonderful supporter & former board member of @NAACP_LDF. Rest in Peace & Power #ClarenceAvant,” wrote attorney Sherrilyn Ifill on social media.

Avant was born in North Carolina in 1931. He went on in the business to promote and manage Sarah Vaughan and discovered Bill Withers. Avant also promoted Michael Jackson as he laughed on his first tour as a solo artist. Avant, along with his wife, Jacquline, were the subjects of the Netflix feature, The Black Godfather.

Tragically, Jacquline Avant, at 81, Clarence Avant’s wife of 54 years, was murdered during a burglary in the early morning hours of December 1, 2021, in the couple’s home in Beverly Hills. The murder was was a home invasion in the wealthy Trousdale Estates area of Beverly Hills. Clarence and Jacqueline Avant married in 1967

“He’s a deal maker, he’s the best in the business,” said Rev. Jesse Jackson, Sr., in the documentary of Clarence. Several participants in the documentary referred to Jacqueline as a key to Clarence’s success. The Avant’s children, Nicole and Alexander were also featured in the Netflix documentary. Nicole Avant is married to Netflix Co-CEO Ted Sarandos.

A statement was released by the family:
“It is with a heavy heart that the Avant/Sarandos family announce the passing of Clarence Alexander Avant,” the statement from his children, Nicole and Alexander and son-in-law Ted Sarandos. “Through his revolutionary business leadership, Clarence became affectionately known as ‘the Black Godfather’ in the worlds of music, entertainment, politics, and sports. Clarence leaves behind a loving family and a sea of friends and associates that have changed the world and will continue to change the world for generations to come. The joy of his legacy eases the sorrow of our loss. Clarence passed away gently at home in Los Angeles on Sunday, August 13, 2023.”

Lauren Victoria Burke is an independent investigative journalist

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