Film & Commericals
By utilizing the strength of its contacts in the film industry, that have been developed over a span of 30 years, Burgess Management & Over The Garage Productions represent award-winning film composers for Film Production, Network Television, Music Videos, Commercials, Theatre and Events. Our innovative and creative approach to film composition projects have garnered recognition…
Fostering the creativity of an artist and introducing it to the world is one of the most important roles of artist management. With executive level record label experience, Burgess Management / Over The Garage Productions has high-level expertise in the recording process from Contract Negotiations, Legal, Artist Development, Budgeting, Recording, Publishing, Publicity and Digital Marketing.
Creating and producing innovative musical experiences is our passion. Whether it’s consulting for Kennedy Center Honors, or reimagining the Detroit Symphony Orchestra’s Paradise Jazz Series, or a fundraiser Burgess Management/Over The Garage values collaborations and is driven by achieving timely project goals with memorable touch points.
Art has to be a kind of Confession
The poet James Baldwin once said that “Art has to be a kind of confession.” He was referring not to a gossipy type of confession but the type of expression that emanates from examining ones life. Examination allows the artist an opportunity to not only face their life but to also discover the terms that connects them to the lives of others. It is this artistic expression, born from examination, that allows the audience to discover themselves through your art. It may seem complicated but mostly it’s a natural unforced process. I have traveled and performed across the world and I’ve met and connected with people from all walks of life. I recently performed a concert and participated in a panel discussion on the role of music in the Civil Rights movement with the acclaimed New York Times columnist Charles Blow in Little Rock, Arkansas. Soon after, I received a poignant letter from Tim, a gentlemen who was in the audience that evening. He shared with me his thoughts on my remarks and how the concert had sparked an exploration into the role of music in his own personal journey through life. With Tim’s permission, I am sharing our correspondences that illustrate Baldwin’s point that Art is a confession.
Tuesday, July 11, 2017
I feel compelled to write you after spending two evenings in your company in Little Rock in April. I attended the discussion with Charles Blow at Mosaic Templars and the show the following night at South on Main. I was lucky (and motivated) enough to sit up front for both events, and I’m grateful to have had the opportunity. I started this letter back then and shelved it, but I’ve continued to give my experience a lot of thought so I finished it this morning.
Those experiences were compelling for a number of reasons. Only a week prior to your visit to Arkansas, the local PBS station aired a documentary, Dream Land, about Taborian Hall. That historic ballroom is the last standing monument to the all-but-obliterated 9thStreet district, once the epicenter of African-American culture in Arkansas. A few days later, as we sat in the Mosaic Templars building –a replica of the other cornerstone to the 9th Street district- I was struck by some superficial commonalities between us, along with a vast dichotomy of experience.
You mentioned your father. You and I are less than a year apart in age. You said your father was 40 years your senior. So was mine. Our fathers were born in 1922 and 1923. Your father and mine lived through the depression and the war. Both were southerners and lived through the Jim Crow era. You mentioned his love of opera. My father loved opera, too, and his passion for it helped instill the love of music in me.
Your story of your father being moved to tears because he was able to gain entry into the hotel ballroom where he once worked as a busboy hit me like a ton of bricks. You see, if my father had been able to afford entry into that ballroom in the 1930’s, 40’s or 50’s, he could have walked right in.
My father was a product of his time and place. He was a racist. A bigot. My father would have called your father “boy,” or worse. He used the N—word at the supper table and decried Dr. King as a troublemaker. He mocked the civil rights movement and expressed admiration for the alleged honor in the heritage of the confederacy. All of this despite being an educated, cultured, intelligent, and religious man.
And of course, my father raised me to be a racist, a bigot.
Unlearning is a hard thing. Our biases simplify a complex world and give cold comfort to unexamined ideas. But, as a child of the baby boom, I was quick to challenge my parents. In my early teens, mine was simply unfocused adolescent rebellion, but I was quick to question their values in many ways, just as they questioned mine. By the late 70’s, hair and music were no longer points of contention for many of my friends’ parents. But in my house, long hair was for sissies and the rock music I loved was “noise.” Or worse, it was overtly African to them. I pushed back against that bias with righteous indignation.
I didn’t know any black people until 1979, when I was 16 years old and my family returned to the Little Rock area from Texas. I made friends with a few black kids at school but mostly the races kept to their own. But my youthful worldview wasn’t shaken so much by my peers as it was on a spring night in 1979 by a 67-year-old black man from the Mississippi Delta.
Since I was a small child I have been obsessed with listening to music. I listened to what my older brothers listened to –Beatles, Stones, and Led Zeppelin- plus lots of singer-songwriters. The older I got, the more diverse my tastes became. But, in the late 70’s I was all about rock music, and most music by black artists was, in my opinion, “disco.” And disco sucked, as the saying went. (My love for soul, funk, and jazz were still many years away.)
In the spring of 1979, Eric Clapton came to Pine Bluff, Arkansas, about 50 miles from my teenage home. I knew a little bit of his music, and I yearned to experience live music more than almost anything. My chances had been few, so I was eager for this show. I had never heard of the opening band. Our carload of friends arrived early, before the doors opened. We were first in line and bolted for the standing room in front of the stage, pressing into the barricade at the center of the stage. We waited. Then, when the lights went down I was standing 10 feet from Muddy Waters.
I had never heard anything like it in my life. The music was primal, propulsive, and sexual, with a rhythmic energy that connected with me in a way I still feel. Of course, Muddy Waters was a veteran performer who commanded the stage with huge charisma and professionalism. I was shaken to my core.
Eric who? Today, I really don’t remember much about Clapton’s set but I recall “She’s Nineteen Years Old,” “I’ve Got My Mojo Workin,” and “Manish Boy” vividly.
The music reverberated. I bought a Muddy Waters record immediately, and proceeded to wear it out. My mother, who had endured my phases with the likes Kiss and Ted Nugent, was freshly aghast. Listening to the blues was beyond rebellious, it was proof that I was somehow defective! She told me how she and her friends had laughed at the men who played music like that when she was growing up. Unlike some of the (in retrospect, admittedly bad) music she had criticized, Muddy Waters struck a different nerve.
There I was, left to reconcile the fact that I felt immediately, intimately connected to the blues. I was yet ignorant to the history and influence this music shared with my little record collection. I formed a relationship with the music, just as I had with the Beatles, and Paul Simon, and a list of sundry FM radio staples. How then, would I square what I felt and knew with what I had learned in my racist household? I could not separate the humanity of the artist from the art. TS Eliot said “poetry communicates before it is understood.” Somehow the blues was telling me about myself. Then, as now, I experienced art as sense of connection. A 67-year-old black man from Mississippi by way of Chicago had grabbed a middle class suburban white teenager by the soul.
That experience was singular, but of course my journey through the rejection of the bigotry in my upbringing was much longer and more complicated. I had more soul-searching to do. In the process of growing up, another event stands out.
Fast-forward a few years. I had just completed my freshman year in college. A friend and I heard that there was to be a KKK rally in east Arkansas. We were morbidly curious and decided to go and “protest.” We dressed in our neo-hippy finery so our presence couldn’t be construed as support. We arrived to a soybean field in McCrory, Arkansas –the middle of nowhere, really- where 50 or so heavily armed men had gathered. We were scared shitless. We stood at the edge, silently listening and watching.
They were pathetic.
I expected to somehow tell those people how wrong they were. I expected to hate them. As revolting as their ideas were, I felt something like compassion for them, seeing that they were, in their way, victims of their own circumstances. I saw ignorant, poor, uneducated people parroting simple-minded bigotry with a thin veneer of patriotism and religion. Later, when I related this story to my father, he told me something that haunts me to this day. He said that his grandparents, who raised him, were supporters of the Klan, and “probably would have agreed with everything they said.” It chilled me to the bone. I was revolted by this connection to the past, but revulsion doesn’t sever the tie. Those bigots in the bean field were my people.
I didn’t ask for that. I didn’t get to choose my parents. We don’t get to choose our history. I loved my parents, for all of their faults. It doesn’t excuse their bigotry to say that they were victims of their own histories, and for whatever reason they never experienced a profound change of heart, or if they did I never knew it.
I don’t know what changes other people’s hearts. Mine changed over time, with education, experience, open-mindedness, and a moral clarity I’ve tried to nurture. And, it’s all got a soundtrack. Music has changed me for the better in many ways, sometimes uncomfortably so.
Your set at South on Main has stayed with me for three months now. I can’t unpack it, but it resonates in the deepest ways possible, conjuring the chaos, anger, and conflict of the troubled days we live in. Amid the dissonance, I also found sweetness and comfort there. Just like a kid hearing the blues for the first time, I was rattled to the bone.
I get to take that with me. Your music is a gift; I thank you for it with the deepest sincerity.
Little Rock, AR.
Thursday, Jul 13, 2017
I need to thank you for your letter. Its power and grace has filled my heart with the belief that love wins out every time, overtime. Your experiences with your father are not unlike mine in some respects. My father wasn’t a racist, but his views on some issues were skewed by life experiences, which could be a bit outdated. The thing that I loved about my father though was his willingness to allow me to argue with him on various topics from music to politics. His major thing was always “make your point.” That approach has allowed me to be corrected on issues from time to time by my own kids today. Lol!!!
I really appreciate your openness and candor about your life. It’s a window into the daily struggles we all have to face in our own backyards before we have to face the world. Those moments of being confronted with your own truth. Thank you so much for sharing.
If you don’t mind, I’d love to post this letter without your name if that makes you feel safe? It needs to be out there for all to see, feel, hear, and debate.
Thanks for the moment in time this morning that gives me hope for our shared future.