Photos: Alan Mayor
On Tuesday evening (10/25), it was all about “giving back” at the Ben Folds Studio on Music Row.
The occasion was the fourth annual presentation of The Cecil Scaife Visionary Award. The salute was to the Mike Curb College of Entertainment and Music Business at Belmont University. The honorees were Norbert Putnam and David Briggs. Both of them, especially Norbert, were so kind to me when I was a pup in Music City.
Cecil’s daughter, LaRawn Scaife Rhea, welcomed everyone and introduced music journalist Dan Daley as the evening’s host. He, in turn, introduced Jaci Wisot. The singer/pianist was the inaugural recipient of Cecil Scaife Belmont scholarship money and proved her worth by performing her original and award-winning ballad “Firefly.”
Second daughter LaQuela Scaife Cude recounted her late father’s vision for a music-business school in Nashville. She said that Cecil helped create the first Belmont music curriculum with his 1971 class on music marketing.
Tony Brown praised Norbert and David as pioneers of non-country recording on Music Row. “Nashville is more than country music,” he said. “These two guys did it years ago and didn’t need to tell anybody.” Neil Young, Joan Baez, Dan Fogelberg and Jimmy Buffett all recorded at their Quadraphonic Studio, not to mention R.E.M. David’s House of David publishing company was the home of hits for Whitney Houston, Steve Winwood and more.
Tony called the honorees, “two of my heroes and two of my best friends.” He was also hilarious, recalling Elvis Presley anecdotes from the days when he and David both played in The King’s band.
Ray Stevens called the honorees, “some of the major boys who made the noise on 16th Avenue.” John Briggs and Dan Daley read letters of congratulation from Kris Kristofferson, Dolly Parton, Joan Baez and Barbara Mandrell, plus a proclamation from Rep. Marsha Blackburn.
The 2011 Cecil Scaife Scholarship recipient is singer and mandolin player Jena Rickards. She performed her lovely pop song “Waiting Up.”
“I had a nightmare last night, because I dreamed I would follow Tony Brown and Ray Stevens and two beautiful singing ladies,” said Harold Bradley. “And it was true.” He presented David’s award.
“Thanks to all the guys who told all the lies about us,” David said. “Thanks to all you people tonight for coming, but you’re not here for us. You’re here for the future.” He sagely remarked that there aren’t enough jobs in the music business for the Belmont grads, but added that there weren’t enough slots when he and Norbert arrived, either.
Cecil’s widow Sherytha Scaife and son Joe Scaife presented Norbert’s award. David Pomeroy presented an AFM 50th anniversary pin to David. “The thing that makes Nashville unique is the give-back and the pass-through,” he noted.
Cecil Scaife, who died in 2009 at age 81, was the first sales and promotion director at Sun Records in Memphis when Elvis began his career there in 1954. In Nashville, he co-founded the Gospel Music Association, worked as a CBS executive, was a radio entrepreneur, served as a president of the NARAS chapter (1971-72), established one of the city’s first multi-track studios, produced records, was a song publisher and urged the creation of the Belmont music-biz program.
The prior winners of the Visionary award in his name have been Mike Curb, Tony Brown and Wynonna Judd. The honor is given annually, “to a an individual whose life and work have made it possible for future generations to realize careers in the music industry.”
The historic host studio, formerly RCA Studio A and Javalena, was transformed into a nightclub for the eve. Black-draped tables with turquoise-hued candle centerpieces were arrayed in front of a stage set with elegant living-room furniture. The invitations said that this was to be a “reception” from 6-8 p.m. That turned out to mean continuous hors d’oeuvres. To wit: burger sliders, chicken skewers, pork sandwiches, shrimp cocktail, spicy hot cheese mini-balls, cupcakes and bacon, basil and tomato on toast points.
Working the room were Don Goodman, Don Cusic, Susan Stewart, Suzi Ragsdale, Becky Judd, Bob Fisher, Ben Folds (it was, after all, the pop star and Sing Off TV judge’s studio), Sharon Corbitt-House (she manages it), Diane Pearson, Harold Shedd, Lisa Harless, Lori Badgett, Rick Sanjek, Pamela Johnson, Gilles Godard, Steve Gibson, Jay Orr, Randy Moore, Pat Alger and Fletcher Foster.