The Impact of Quincy Jones

The Journey

Jones elevated above his callous beginnings. He took that badass upbringing and parlayed it into creating badass new sounds, busting through glass ceilings and breaking the mold, forging his own path as one of the first powerful black men in a white man’s musical world. He did it on his own accord, encountering some pretty impressive mentors and contemporaries along the way. He created legends out of artists like Frank Sinatra, who he performed with, Michael Jackson, whose albums he produced, and Will Smith, who starred in The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, executive produced by Jones. We have those gangster aspirations of his to thank for these staples that are now permanent pieces of our cultural history book.

His upbringing, vacant of any respectable role models, resulted in a man who seeks to learn from everyone he meets, who finds endless inspiration in learning about other cultures, in the sounds of the world. He revolutionized that music. Over his six-decade musical journey, he introduced the sounds of the Fender bass and the synthesizer into the popular spectrum, combined bebop with hip-hop, made jazz mainstream, and set the soundtrack for Hollywood.

His home in Bel Air is filled with artifacts from his journey, such as a trophy case displaying his 27 Grammys. The walls in his personal theater are lined with posters from movies he made along the way, from 1985’s 11-Oscar-nominated The Color Purple, which was the first film Jones co-produced, to 2005’s 50 Cent biopic Get Rich or Die Trying, for which Jones provided the 35th musical score of his career.

His epic journey was immortalized not only by the music he created but also by the Warner Bros. film Listen Up: The Lives of Quincy Jones and by his book, Q: The Autobiography of Quincy Jones. During our conversation, he shared some of the invaluable lessons that he learned along that journey from his mentors and contemporaries.