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Every year Clive Davis throws a pre-Grammy party that’s almost as big as the awards. This year, the invitation-only event will honor Clarence Avant. “For several decades, Clarence Avant has been the quintessential adviser to almost every successful African American music executive and artist,” Davis said. “He defined the term master mentor and definitely has played a vital role in music history.”

Avant, according to Variety, began his career as a manager in Teddy P’s Lounge in Newark, NJ during the 1950s, which led to him managing such prominent artists as Sarah Vaughn, Freda Payne, Jimmy Smith and Lalo Schifrin. Avant later worked at Venture Records and eventually started his own label, Sussex Records, which housed artists such as Bill Withers and guitarist Dennis Coffey.

In 1976, he launched Tabu Productions (S.O.S Band, Alexander O’Neal, Cherrelle) and continued as a manager, working with Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis, Kenneth “Babyface Edmonds,” and L.A. Reid. Other awards Avant has received over the course of his 50-year career include a Thurgood Marshall Lifetime Achievement Award, an NAACP Image Awards Hall Of Fame Award, a BET Honors Entrepreneur Award, and the Recording Academy’s Trustees Award.