Jazz Foundation Helping Music Legends Overcome Obstacles

Executive Director of the Jazz Foundation of America, Wendy Oxenhorn, explains the many ways the Foundation is helping jazz legends, who have come on hard times, overcome obstacles in order to continue to do what they do best... create music.

2/1/17 #2013






"We are pleased to welcome Wendy Oxenhorn, Executive Director, Jazz Foundation of America. How you doing? I'm good, how are you? Great, this organization does what for whom? Okay, you know, if you think of the world without music, it would be devastating. I think there isn't one person alive who music has not allowed them to not commit suicide after a divorce, celebrate their marriages and their relationships and their lives so we are the folks that take care of the musicians when things happen to them because this is an unusual population of people. What do you mean? These are folks that were independent, never would think of taking help from anyone their whole lives. They came up at a time when the opportunities were different and these are folks that made it on their own. They were the kings and queens traveling through Europe. They were famous and revered and they found a really interesting way to be in the world, especially people of color. So, this is someone who, at a later time in their life, when the phone stops ringing and you're too old or too ill to tour. You never went to doctors, you never... For instance, when you did a record with Frank Sinatra, you'd get 300 dollars. You'd be thrilled... With Sinatra. You'd pay your rent. Right. They perform with Sinatra, they get 300 dollars. 300 dollars to record and then Sinatra would get the royalties when the album sold and when CD's were invented, there was nothing that covered that, so you didn't get anything on that. Wow. So you'd get these one time little buyouts for when you'd go and perform at places. There's no health insurance, there's nothing to cover you. So later in life, you end up in a pretty rough way. So what do you do for them? Some of the specific programs? Okay, first of all, if someone is sick or ill or something happens and I'll give you a quick story. We had this great guy, Jimmy Norman, who co-wrote "Time Is On My Side", the tune that made the Rolling Stones famous. Sure. He had had a triple bypass. He couldn't tour with the Coasters. He had been with The Coasters for 30 years. He never got a dime for that tune because he didn't get the publishing rights. So, here's someone who's about to be evicted. It was heartbreaking. I went to court with him and we convinced the landlord's attorney that this guy is a national treasure. He was also the guy that first produced Bob Marley. Bob Marley wanted to be an R&B star. Wow. And he told him, "Go back to your roots..."