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Joe Vincent and Black American Standard Music

 Joe Vincent – RIP

From Joe Vincent’s Obituary….

 Yiskla Adiakia-Hanna, aka Joe Vincent, was born February 17, 1942.  As he was a man of diverse interests and talents, he touched the lives of many people.  Joe was perhaps best known for his love and active participation in the music and entertainment industry.  His career as a musician in his early years blossomed later in his life to his establishment of SSV Music Publishing and Production Co., where he was a driving legal advocate for the rights and recognition of original artists.

A gentleman by the name of Joe Vincent, has had a great deal to do with shaping my thinking on this topic. Joe himself had been an artist back in the 1950’s.

Later he became the kind of an advocate for artists & their rights that we would all hope existed, but could never really be sure. By the time I met Joe Vincent, he had of course “forgotten” much more than I will ever know about this subject, and the good thing about that is that he had taken the time to document much of what he had “forgotten” and to share it with me, once he knew that my sentiments lie with the artists and not with record labels, promoters, managers, and other bloodsuckas.

Most importantly, it was Joe Vincent who gave me the term “Black American Standard Music,” to accurately describe the precise topic that seemed to be most concerned with.

I am about to write a review of a great new jazz album called “Standards” and with a title like that, it sho nuff made me think of the late/great Joe Vincent!

When Joe passed away in 2005 I wrote the following…..

Joe Vincent and Black American Standard Music


If for no other reason, people here should remember Joe Vincent for giving to us this simple, yet wholly accurate phrase for describing the music that we are discussing here on Soul-Patrol.

This term captures the essence of the music.

 – It’s “standard”, regardless of what year it was created

 – It’s not simply “old music”, because all “old music” isn’t worth remembering

 – It allows for the inclusion of “new music” as warranted

 – It’s defiantly “Black American” music, even when it isn’t performed by Black artists, or even by Americans.

 It encompasses the total scope of the music we are discussing here. And Joe Vincent was a person who should know these distinctions. He lived them all. And he lived long enough to tell the story and he has left behind a strong legacy to prove it. Joe passed away a few weeks ago and I had intended to write something about him, but I haven’t been able to till tonight.

On a more personal note, Joe Vincent was a man who took me under his wing and taught me what he thought I needed to know. He spent many hours on the phone with me, taking me to school on the past, present and future of artists, music, technology, record companies, promoters, legalities and more.

He often said to me….

“Boy, if I just tell you the answer to the question that would make you just like the white folks who always want information for nothing. If I just tell you the answer, you won’t believe me anyhow, because the truth is sometimes an elusive thing, it often contradicts the facts you think that you already know. Many times the “truth” will tell you just how little you actually know. Do your homework, gather the facts, then put the puzzle together…”

 Once I posted one of my “rants” here on the Soul-Patrol Daily mailing list and Joe wrote back to me…”Good job boy, you got it right and you pieced it all together without me having to give you the answer…”

 Much of the philosophy embodied in Soul-Patrol today, is directly because of the influence of Joe Vincent. Here are a few quotes…

 – “Bob, you have a chance to actually make a difference, make sure your site  is about the ARTISTS, and leave the gossip to others…”

– “If you choose not to try and make a difference, you will have squandered a huge opportunity”

– “If you choose to try and make a difference, don’t count on making much money, the people who have the money are going to hate your guts, and in fact will try to shut you down”

– “What makes some of this hard is that most artists are their own worst enemies”

– “Sometimes the white people aren’t the problem”

 So why should I pay attention to some old fart like Joe Vincent???

It’s because Joe Vincent knew more about the history, I mean the REAL HISTORY of the music we are discussing here than was contained in all of the books, magazines, video’s, DVD, etc. combined that you could possible imagine.

 He would see things posted on the mailing list and call me…

 – “Bob, here is REALLY what happened…..”

– “Bob, let me connect a few dots for you…”

– “Bob, I have so and so and such and such [Insert Famous artist name] on the line with us to explain how the RIP OFF actually occurred…”

 – “Bob, I want you to call up this lawyer who can explain as much as you want to know about the case….”

 Sometimes I would go to my mailbox and see huge boxes sitting there waiting for me. Inside of the boxes were 25 pounds of paper documents. They were court documents. Inside there would be a note saying,

“You said that you wanted to know about the Platters, well here are the complete details about their entire history. Happy reading….”

 Talk about someone who “put skin into the game”. Joe Vincent’s picture should be right next to that phrase in the dictionary. He put his money where his mouth was. That’s why he eventually became one of the sponsors of Soul-Patrol.

 Joe said to me…

 “I got to not only make sure that you survive, but you need to be able not to have to worry about the financial aspect of things, so that you can spend your time writing”.

 Joe said to me once….

It’s good that in your writings that you sometimes focus on the technological aspect of how technology impacts the history and the future of the music. The artists understand it from the performance side and so do the fans to a lesser extent. But few people understand the impact of technology on the business side of the music industry.

One of the “side activities” of Joe Vincent was that he also served on several different task forces under the umbrella of the United Nations, dealing with technology and distribution. He told me how the distribution and copy write laws were formulated in such a way that guarantees that the artist (and ultimately the fan) will ALWAYS get ripped off.

Another time he said…

“On your journey for the “truth” about the history of Black American Standard Music, you will discover that many times, the people that you think are “heroes”, actually turn out to be “villains” and the people that you think are the “villains”, will turn out to be “heroes”. The truth is supposed to provide clarity, but sometimes the “truth” only leads to more questions….”

 Two other things that Joe Vincent had a hand in that I can tell you about are:

 1. The creation of the R&B Foundation – It’s a long story, but the bottom line is that Joe, Ruth Brown, Dave Marsh and a few others started the R&B Foundation with the intent for it to be an advocacy organization, focused on securing things like health insurance, a legal defense fund to give artists a mechanism to sue crooked promoters that were using fake groups and to lobby congress/state legislatures. Once the record companies turned it into a charity organization, more concerned with staging big splashy events, Joe pulled out.

 2. The first Doo Wop 50 TV special – Joe personally secured all of the artists who appeared on the show and negotiated not only their appearance fees but also the future residual fees from the sale of CD’s and Videos. After the success of the first year, the producers realized that they had created a franchise that was bigger than the artists themselves and so therefore they no longer had to pay as much to secure the artists and Joe was removed from the show. That’s the reason why the artists that you see appearing on the PBS specials today are only paid the minimum “scale” (a few hundred dollars) for making a TV appearance and they get NOTHING on the future residual fees from the sale of CD’s and Videos.

 I could tell you 101 stories about Joe Vincent. But I think that I have run out of space. He was a unique individual. Truly one of a kind

 I’ll miss him….

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