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Teddy Vann - A Giant Remembered

Grammy Award Winner Impacts Steelpan Music Organization


Teddy Vann at WST - Basement Headquarters

Luther Vandross performing Love Power - written by Teddy Vann

New York - 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 Luther Vandross.

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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