QUINCY JONES’ career has encompassed the roles of composer, record producer, artist, film producer, arranger, conductor, instrumentalist, TV producer, record company executive, magazine founder, multimedia entrepreneur, and humanitarian.
Quincy’s creative magic has spanned over six decades, beginning with the music of the post-swing era and continuing through today’s high-technology, international multi-media hybrids. As producer and conductor of the historic We Are The World recording and Michael Jackson’s multi-platinum solo albums Off The Wall, Bad, and Thriller, Quincy Jones stands as one of the most successful and admired creative artist/executives in the entertainment world.
Quincy Jones was born on March 14, 1933 in Chicago and brought up in Seattle. In junior high school, he began studying trumpet and sang in a gospel quartet at age 12. His musical studies continued at the prestigious Berklee College of Music in Boston, where he remained until the opportunity arose to tour with Lionel Hampton’s band as a trumpeter, arranger, and sometime-pianist. He moved on to New York in 1951, and by the mid-’50s he was arranging and recording for such diverse artists as Sarah Vaughan, Ray Charles, Count Basie, Duke Ellington, and Cannonball Adderley.
Quincy won the first of his many Grammys in 1963 for his Count Basie arrangement of “I Can’t Stop Loving You.” He also teamed with Basie for the classic Sinatra At The Sands, containing the famous arrangement of “Fly Me To The Moon,” the first recording played by astronaut Buzz Aldrin when he landed on the moon’s surface in 1969.
In 1985, Quincy co-produced Steven Spielberg’s adaptation of Alice Walker’s The Color Purple, which garnered eleven Oscar nominations, introduced Whoopi Goldberg and Oprah Winfrey to film audiences, and marked Quincy’s debut as a film producer.
In 1990, Quincy Jones formed Quincy Jones Entertainment (QJE), which produced NBC’s Fresh Prince Of Bel Air, UPN’s In The House, and Fox Television’s Mad TV, among other syndicated shows and television specials. As a record company executive, Quincy remained highly active in the recording field throughout the 1990s as the guiding force behind his own Qwest Records, which boasted important artists and also released soundtrack albums from the major motion pictures Sarafina! and Malcolm X.
Quincy has been awarded seven Oscar nominations, an Emmy for his score of the opening episode of the landmark TV miniseries Roots, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences’ Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award, 27 Grammys, and N.A.R.A.S.’ prestigious Trustees’ Award and the Grammy Living Legend Award. In 1990, France recognized Quincy with its most distinguished title, the Commandeur de la Légion d’Honneur. He is the recipient of honorary doctorates from the Berklee College of Music, Brandeis University, Harvard University, New York University, and The American Film Institute, among many others. In 2001, Jones was a Kennedy Center Honoree.
In 1990, his life and career were chronicled in the film Listen Up: The Lives of Quincy Jones. In 2001, his autobiography Q: The Autobiography of Quincy Jones entered the bestseller lists of The New York Times, Los Angeles Times, and the Wall Street Journal. In conjunction with the autobiography, Rhino Records released a 4-CD boxed set of Jones’ music, spanning his more-than-five-decade career in the music business, entitled Q: The Musical Biography of Quincy Jones.
Jones’ recent and current projects include the release of Soul Bossa Nostra (2010), an album featuring some of today’s biggest recording artists and producers, who have joined together to celebrate the music of the multi-Grammy winning producer, composer, and arranger by recording contemporary versions of popular recordings from his massive catalog; the book Q on Producing, which recounts his six-decade long career working in the recording studio with music icons such as Count Basie, Duke Ellington, Ella Fitzgerald, Frank Sinatra, and Michael Jackson; a duets album with Stevie Wonder and Tony Bennett; and multiple projects for film and television.
With a long history of humanitarian work that began in the 1960s and ’70s, Jones was one of the key supporters of Jesse Jackson’s Operation P.U.S.H. In 1985, he pioneered the model of using celebrity to raise money and awareness for a cause with “We Are The World.” The song remains the best-selling single of all time, and raised more than $63 million for Ethiopian famine relief.
In 2004, in front of a live audience of more than a half-million spectators, Jones launched the We Are the Future initiative with a concert featuring Carlos Santana, Alicia Keyes, Josh Groban, Oprah Winfrey, Norah Jones, and a host of other entertainers from around the world.
Through his personal foundation, The Quincy Jones Foundation, Jones raises awareness and financial resources for initiatives that support global children’s issues in areas of conflict, malaria eradication, clean water, and efforts to restore the Gulf Coast (post-Katrina). Philanthropic partners include Malaria No More, Millennium Promise, and R&B singer Usher’s New Look Foundation.