Quincy Jones

Keynote address

Live Shots
Photo by Gary Miller

Quincy Jones

Austin Convention Center, Thursday, March 19

Quincy Jones was slated for a 75-minute keynote address Thursday afternoon, but he never had much use for constraints or conventions. A full 2½ hours after he started, the coolest cat in the industry had chronicled his life from gangster-run Chicago streets to Grammy Legend Award winner, dropped more truisms than a fortune cookie factory, and had a room full of music industry blowhards standing up and holding hands, pledging to love one another and be better human beings.

Only Q.

Who else could claim to have worked "side by side with over 95 percent of every one of America's musical giants of the last 60 years" without sounding the least bit boastful? Jones hasn't lost his grounding through the long journey and remembers the moment he found music, stumbling across a piano while looting an armory for bullets.

"God's whisper spoke to me and said, 'Idiot, go back into that room.' I let my fingers slowly slide down and touch the keys, and this was the moment of truth for me because every bone in my body knew in a heartbeat that my life would be music forever."

Donning a pair of "gangster glasses," the 79-time Grammy winner lamented the death of the music industry, advocated for a U.S. Secretary of the Arts, and solicited suggestions for a sustainable business model.

"We've tried iTunes and iPods, but we're still getting iScrewed."

Finally, the man that helped launch the careers of Michael Jackson, Oprah Winfrey, and Will Smith introduced 14-year-old Philadelphia singer Bianca Ryan, who performed "God Bless the Child" accompanied by recent Cuban emigrant Alfredo Rodriguez, who followed with his own scorching Latin jazz solo.

"You've given me much more than I've given you, because you let me be myself," Jones closed. "I thank you for that."

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