There has been a seismic shift in the balance of the equation as we lost another
great one. Indeed, this loss is close to home and is personal to many of
us who have come through When Steel Talks/Basement Recordings. Educator,
intellectual and philosopher Teddy Vann passed away Sunday December 6. (2009)
Doctors, lawyers, network executives, writers,
friends - folks from all walks of life gave testament after testament
at his funeral, as to how this life-long Brooklynite impacted positively on their lives. It was a
true celebration of the life of Teddy Vann.
Of course in true Teddy Vann fashion
and humor, his casket was partially open with a pair of his basketball shoes
ready to jump out. Nothing as simple as death was going to stop Teddy
Vann. And if the truth be told - it has not, and will not.
We at When Steel Talks/Basement
Recordings have been extremely fortunate in being able
to interact with - (beyond rubbing
shoulders and working closely) - some geniuses, and having them take a special interest in our organization, development, goals and progress. Teddy Vann
like the late great arranger and musician Clive Bradley, and legendary jazz drummer Max Roach
- was definitely one of these special people.
Mr. Vann was a regular lecturer at
Basement Recordings Digital Media classes who
freely shared his insight into the music
business. He also did important music works with steelpan player
Victor Brady in the early years. Mr. Vann worked with all the notables of
the music industry.
In 1991 Teddy Vann won a Best R&B Song
Grammy for "Power of Love/Love Power," a song he co-wrote with Marcus Miller and
Included among Mr. Vann’s many successes, accomplishments and awards is a
Grammy - as a winning producer and songwriter. His song “Power of Love” was
a monster hit for famed vocalist Luther Vandross. He worked with almost
everyone of note in the music industry. But his greatest success was
his family, and the thousands of people he influenced, motivated and successfully
challenged to accomplish their full potential.
Teddy made you think. Never giving you an answer but
instead a method that you
could use for your whole life to sort things out.
Teddy was a warrior. Teddy was a thinker.
Teddy motivated people in different ways - those who needed a boost got a
boost, those who needed a slap got a slap - but moreover - those who got the
challenge to prove him wrong, got the ultimate. And when you did, you were
never sure if this was not Teddy’s plan from the start!
Teddy Vann was an original who navigated
treacherous waters and dangerous seas
without a compass, manual or map, in a time when the accepted and expected norm
was failure. He was one of the first people of color to come through the
minefield that is the music industry, with much less exploitation, and achieved success by using his wit and superior intellect. He figured it out by himself.
His legacy will always be remembered by
all the doctors, lawyers, writers, engineers, ball players, directors and
business folks, among others, who became successful when everyone told them they
would not. Indeed, there are many graduates of the Teddy Vann ‘academy.’
Teddy saw brilliance in our youth where
others refused to. Moreover, he made them expect, and see it in themselves.
Like the other geniuses we have
encountered, Mr. Vann stressed the need to validate yourself and to tell your
own story. He was always one who valued our thinking outside the box -
and who said “why not you?”
We owe a debt of gratitude to Mrs. Vann
and his family for sharing Teddy with us.
Mr. Vann will be missed, but his impact
has just begun, will continue to be felt...
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