Cash Money’s Bryan and Ronald Williams, Charlamagne Tha God Among Honorees at 30th Annual Living Legends Foundation Gala

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“The only thing I want to do is create platforms for people who have something to say.”

So noted Charlamagne Tha God when accepting the Living Legends Foundation’s Jerry Boulding Radio Executive Award. The co-host of WWPR’s syndicated show (Power 105) in New York The breakfast clubmultimedia entrepreneur and best-selling author was the first of eight laureates hailed during the foundation’s 30th anniversarye anniversary awards gala, held Friday night (October 7) at the Taglyan Complex in Hollywood.

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Crediting various mentors in his career, such as iHeartMedia’s Thea Mitchem and Bob Pittman, Frankie Crocker and Tom Joyner, and his wife (“Strong men are safe enough to step aside and let strong women lead,” a he said, followed by hearty applause), Charlamagne implored the audience to “consider each day who have you helped or empowered to help people be the best versions of themselves”. That sentiment echoed throughout the three-hour ceremony that saw Cash Money Records co-founder/co-CEO Bryan “Birdman” Williams and Ronald “Slim” Williams receive the Lifetime Achievement Award.

Ahead of the presentation, producer Polow da Don paid tribute to the brothers: “They represent and give voice to people in the trenches.” In a recorded message, Baby and Slim also thanked their various mentors, including the former GM/Executive of Universal Records. vp Jean Riggins, who launched Cash Money. “She took a liking to us, stayed with us, and taught us how to make the system work,” Baby said. “Our long journey is still ongoing. We will continue to push because we like to change lives.

One of the most emotional moments of the evening occurred when Sharon Heyward received the AD Washington President’s Award for a Breakthrough Career, highlights of which include stints as Urban Promotions Chief of Virgin Records and later Senior Vice President/General Manager of its Urban Division, President of the Jimmy Perspective Records production duo of Jam and Terry Lewis, and founder of marketing/consulting firm Sharon Heyward Enterprises (SHE).

Longtime industry colleagues and friends David C. Linton and Ray Harris, LLF President and President Emeritus, respectively, presented the award to Heyward, who currently owns and operates industry mentorship firm The Solutionist. LLC. “I’m a hard-nosed, hunterless girl,” Heyward said, visibly moved, as she accepted the final award of the evening. “One of the greatest legacies of my career are mentees and others telling me how much I’ve helped in their careers.” She also blamed naysayers for calling the industry’s older generation “dusty”.

“It shows no respect for the legacy that has been left to you,” she added. “We have to respect each other; to go back and forward. Joined on stage by her daughter Monique, who also works in the music industry, Heyward played snippets of The Impressions’ hits “Keep on Pushing” and “I’m So Proud” before concluding, “The record business is no joke for women. I didn’t want my daughter Monique in this but I’m so proud of her… and [to the audience] thank you for allowing me to be a mentor to some of you.

The LLF also honored five additional winners:

Media Icon Award – Curtis Symonds, Founding Partner/President and CEO of 24-hour streaming network HBCUGO TV

Music Executive Award – Geo Bivins, industry veteran (Jive Records, Capitol and RCA); now chairman/founder of record label consultancy Port Perry Entertainment

Digital Executive Award – Tuma Basa, Director of Black Music and Culture, YouTube

Mike Bernardo Female Executive Award – Johnnie Walker, First Senior Vice President/Promotion for Def Jam Recordings; now Founder/CEO of the National Association of Black Female Executives in Music & Entertainment Inc. (NABFEME)

Founders Award – Veteran Industry Executive Henry “Hank” Caldwell (WEA, Cotillion, Atlantic, SOLAR Records, Epic and Death Row Records)

Hosted by syndicated radio personality DeDe McGuire (FromFrom in the morning) with musical interludes led by DJ Battlecat, the evening marked the Living Legends Foundation’s first in-person awards ceremony in three years due to the pandemic. Among the distinguished guests and presenters in attendance for what ultimately turned into a huge industry family reunion were Epic Records President/CEO Sylvia Rhone, artists PJ Morton and Johnny Gill. (Caldwell presenter) and talk show host/writer Tavis Smiley.

“We are strongest when we all work together,” LLF’s Linton said during his opening remarks after the Reverend Marilyn Batchelor’s invocation. “Our mission is to keep pushing culture forward. Tonight is your night!”

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