Video uploaded March 2013
music-industry reign spans more than six decades. He’s taken home
a phenomenal 27 Grammy Awards, and found winning formulas for the likes
of Michael Jackson, Frank Sinatra and Barbra Streisand. A major multimedia
presence, he produced TV’s The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air,
created Vibe magazine, and co-produced the movie The Color
Purple with director Steven Spielberg. Topping off his voluminous
achievements are a Kennedy Center Honor, the French Légion d’Honneur
and seven Academy Awards nominations.
When Jones met John Sie, founder of Starz Entertainment Group, the two
became fast friends. Today they work together in advancing a number
of pet projects, including the Global Down Syndrome Foundation, the
founding of which was inspired by Sie’s granddaughter, Sophia,
who has Down syndrome.
In 2009, GDSF created the Quincy Jones Exceptional Advocacy Award in
recognition of the musician’s prodigious philanthropy. As the
producer behind two We Are the World recordings, he played an
integral role in raising financial support for famine relief in Africa
in 1985, and aid to those affected by the Haitian earthquake in 2010.
ABILITY’s Chet Cooper caught up with Jones in Los Angeles.
did you get involved with the Global Down Syndrome Foundation (GDSF)?
Jones: John Sie
is an old friend of mine. He’s a pioneer of cable television,
high-definition television and a range of technology. He knows his business
backwards and forwards. So we were kicking around the idea of launching
a black-oriented entertainment network, because I wanted to see one
that’s more useful to the black community than what is being offered
today. Eddie Murphy, Denzel Washington and Will Smith were going to
come together on it with me. We decided to put that project on hold
for a while, ultimately, but John and I became friends forever. He truly
is my brother from another mother.
Cooper: Do you
think you might still pursue the creation of that network?
We recently met with AT&T, TNT, DirecTV and Comcast. It’s
exciting. It gets me out of bed in the morning.
Cooper: As your
friendship with John evolved, he called you up and said,“I have
an idea for a nonprofit.” Is that how it happened
I took a trip to Denver, where I met beautiful little Sophie, his granddaughter,
and it was love from then on.
talk about the Linda Crnic Institute.
Jones: The people
there are doing great work. They’re so passionate about the mission,
and John is totally committed to it.
than Sophia, have you met many children with Down syndrome?
my life: A lot of celebrities have kids with Down syndrome. For the
last two years, I’ve been working with Jamie Foxx, whose sister,
DeOndra, has Down syndrome. He brought her in to do our Be Beautiful,
Be Yourself fashion show, and she said, “I’m the star!”
all these kids on the runway would be shy, but they’re strutting
like Naomi Campbell and Christy Turlington, you know? One time they
had me on the dance floor, and they almost put me in the hospital. (laughs)
I just love them, man! These kids are so smart and so emotional.
Cooper: So many
of us are guarded in what we say and in showing how we feel. The people
I know with Down syndrome seem to be more honest and sincere.
Sincerity flows out of them. Every time I’m with the kids, they
want to feel my hair. I had two brain operations for an aneurysm, and
they get curious.
we talk a little bit about your aneurysm?
a weakness in the main artery to the brain, a congenital weakness, and
it hit me like a ton of bricks. I was in a coma. I didn’t know
what had happened until I came out of it. My head was all wrapped up.
Doctors had drilled a hole in my head and sawed out a piece of bone.
They told me, “The good news is, you lived. The bad news is, you’ve
got another one, and we’ve got to go back in.”
Man, I lost it!
(laughs) When they operated on me again, two months later,
I became paralyzed on my left side. My doctor said, “Get your
butt on that road, or you’ll be a vegetable the rest of your life.”
My band had a 15-day tour in America, and a 15-day tour in Japan the
following year, so I went out on the road.
She was right: When
I finished the tour, I wasn’t paralyzed any more.
was your physical therapy?
Shakin’ my booty! [laughter] It was great, man! It makes
you appreciate life more, I’ll tell you that.
Garr had an aneurysm, too.
Jones: A couple
of actresses have had it. It’s no joke.
Cooper: I was
at her house for an interview, and she wouldn’t come downstairs.
Her daughter thought it was strange that her mother was still in bed.
She realized something must be wrong. Turned out Teri was having an
Jones: Oh, my God,
man! While you were there?
Jones: You don’t
know what it is, at first.
daughter thought she was just tired.
Jones: When it happened
to me, I blacked out all of a sudden. I looked at the television and
suddenly I had double vision. It felt like a shotgun had been fired
into my brain. I went in and out of a coma because of the pain, I guess.
It’s amazing. I didn’t know my own children’s names,
or even my own name. My daughter was just six months old.
working with a doctor in Stockholm for the last five years. There are
also 14 doctors I see, once a year, over the course of six days. They
get together to compare findings. They share information with me about
the coming nanotechnology, which they say will be a billion times faster
than this dinosaur stuff we’re using now. I hear them talking
about the paradigm shifts that will happen as a result of these innovations.
It’ll shake the world to the ground.
Cooper: Do you
have any heart problems?
Jones: Oh, no. I’ve
got a heart like a mule. Like a Viking. My daddy was half Welsh, and
boy, that global gumbo is very strong.
talk a bit about the global gumbo that is music. It’s interesting
to me that it’s both artistic and mathematical. Do you ever think
of music in terms of wavelengths?
Jones: Are you kidding,
man? I’ve thought about it that way for most of my life. For one
thing, symphony orchestras tune up to A, right? That’s 440 cycles.
It’s not an accident that the universe is 450 cycles.
I traveled with
Nat King Cole in the early ’60s. He’d do a verse of Autumn
Leaves, a capella, and then the orchestra would come in under him—and
the orchestra was out of tune because Nat King Cole had perfect pitch.
Mathematics and music are absolutes—brothers of a sort.
Music always engages
the left and right sides of the brain. You’ve got emotion and
intellect at work at all times, and that makes it easy to learn everything
else. I’m a strong advocate of having music connected to your
life. It’ll turn you upside-down. I see people with dyslexia and
attention deficit disorder (ADD) benefiting from it.
Cooper: We actually
are working on a music-therapy program.
written what we call The ABILITY Song (Everyone Be Beautiful).
Anyone can join in the song by playing the kazoo, because if you can
breathe, you can play kazoo.
Jones: Did you write
Cooper: It was
a co-production between Molly, an editor who’s on sabbatical now,
and myself. She’s a wonderful singer and an incredibly talented
love to hear that; I could make it an anthem. (laughs) And
everybody can play a kazoo.
amazing how many people with disabilities are involved in music.
Jones: Look at Albert
Einstein. He had ADD, he was .....
in ABILITY Magazine
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the Quincy Jones Issue Oct/Nov 2011:
Bruyère, PhD — Creating Possibilities at Cornell
Jacko, CEO — Blind Visionary
Jones — Renaissance Man and More
David Zimmerman — Sharing the Spotlight
Sie Whitten — Things Are Looking Up
Swinging — An Inside Look at Adaptive Golf
Humor Therapy — Coupons Are For Suckers
in the Quincy Jones Issue; Humor — Coupons Are For Suckers; Ashley
Fiolek — 2011 Women’s Motocross Champ!; Sen. Tom Harkin
— Working For More Jobs; Cinderella — A New Spin on an Old
Tale; Still Swinging — An Inside Look at Adaptive Golf; Susanne
Bruyère, PhD — Creating Possibilities at Cornell; Virginia
Jacko, CEO — Blind Visionary; Meet the Biz — Actors Training
Actors; PAWS/LA — The Sick and Elderly’s ‘Best Friend’;
Quincy Jones — Renaissance Man and More; Michelle Sie Whitten
— Things Are Looking Up; Workout Dvd — First You Get Off
The Couch...; The Old Guard — A Change is Gonna Come; OCD —
From Pain to Published Author; ABILITY's Crossword Puzzle; Events and