Over the course of my life, I have wanted to be a lot of things.
A long, long time ago when people used to laugh and sing, I wanted to be Mrs America, maybe even president. Though both of those positions probably have their ups, downs and all around.
Thankfully, those aspirations changed for me. Then they changed, and the changed then once again they changed again. I can’t even begin to remember all the positions or things that I wanted to rock at! Lawyer, Director of Home for expectant mothers who were chosing to give up their children for adoption, traveler,peace corp worker, social worker, rock climber, mother, wife, friend, artist, musician, explorer. My life and who I am lead me in different directions. Here, there and everywhere.
When I was younger, the last thing that I wanted to do was work in our family business. My dreams were far and wide. I wanted to conquer the world. In whatever way that I could. I had spent summers and time off from school typing classified ads. I typed acres so many times that I never really wanted to type it again. My family had a paper/typesetting business. I think that I made a C in typewriting. I had aspirations of not typing acres over and over and over again. For whatever reason the acres was what stuck in my head from those days so long ago. It was the 80’s. Only if we had purchased some more of those acres in those days. My parents were fortunate to purchase a small piece of property close to the heart of Fayetteville. Though the acreage was small, the building was fantastic.
The first home that I remember was also a business. I grew up under the table of production and fell asleep to the sound of typewriters. Typewriters, typewriting a theme that seems to resonate with me in a different way now. Family meals were often discussions of our business. This hasn’t always been a good thing. The years of hearing the good, the bad and the ugly of our business did not make me aspire to be a part of it. It made me want to run to the middle of nowhere as fast as I could. My dreams of conquering the world did not include the family business. I wanted to develop a life for myself. Way down deep, I thought the family business would be something that I came back to work in after conquering the world.
The reality is that life got in the way. I got in my way as well. The twists and turns I experienced as I was supposed to be headed out to conquer the world caused me to be hospitalized. Oh wait hospitalization was not in my plan of conquering the world. Oh well.
I have been blessed to know many rock stars in my life. Being a rock star was not ever really on my aspirations. Not a literal rockstar. But don’t we all want to be a rockstar! We want to rock the stars of whatever we do. Right?! Until we don’t feel like it.
Today I felt like a rock star. And I meet another who is a rockstar who made many, many people real literal rock stars! Like Prince!
AL BELL!!!! Speaker at NWAYPSummit:
Al Bell (born Alvertis Isbell in Brinkley, AR) is the former Chairman & Owner of Stax Records, where he was responsible for the careers of numerous music icons and the overall direction of American soul music and subsequently served as President of Motown Records Group. Throughout his career, Mr. Bell has been considered a visionary, a seer, an icon, a music mogul, a communications and entertainment maverick and a legend, which is how most people throughout the industry view him today.
In 2011, Mr. Bell received the highest honor the music industry bestows, the Grammy Trustees Award, putting him in the company of an elite group that includes Steve Jobs, Walt Disney, Ira Gershwin, Frank Sinatra, the Beatles and others who have received the award for making industry-changing contributions in music in their lifetimes.
Stax Records, with Bell as its Chairman & Owner, was valued by Price Waterhouse in 1975 at $82 million (2nd largest minority-owned business in U.S.). Stax had 167 Hits on Billboard Top 100 Chart and 243 Hits on the Billboard R&B Chart. Al Bell, himself, has been inducted into 30 Halls of Fame.
In Soulsville USA: The Stax Records Story, a book by Rob Bowman chronicling the history of Stax Records, the Rev. Jesse Jackson says, “Stax was not just a record company. It was a sound. It was a piece of culture. It was a moment of conscience and experience of mankind. “At the right time, it meant a lot to us. People still heavily borrow upon the tradition of Stax and the lineage laid down by the very special genius of Al Bell.”
Al Bell has written over 200 songs. One song, however, was written through him – Something happened inside of him one evening in Little Rock in 1971. Al Bell was sitting on the hood of an old school bus that his father kept in the backyard. He had just been to the funeral of his murdered brother. He didn’t feel comfortable, even in that familiar place. Thinking about his brother, he began to hear music, then words – I know a place Ain’t nobody crying Ain’t nobody worried Ain’t no smilin’ faces Lying to the races. That became “I’ll Take You There.” Recorded by the Staple Singers and released by Stax Records, the single written and produced by Mr. Bell was number one on the Billboard R&B Singles chart for four weeks.
Mr. Bell discovered the music group Tag Team and released “Whoomp! (There It Is),” which sold over 5 million copies and remains one of the biggest-selling singles in history.
Then, Prince asked Al Bell to release a single record, after Warner Brothers Records turned Prince down. Bell released “The Most Beautiful Girl in the World” and gave Prince his biggest-selling single ever.
Mr. Bell was inducted into the Arkansas Black Hall of Fame in 2002, received the Arthur A. Fletcher Lifetime Achievement Award from the National Black Chamber of Commerce in 2008, and received honorary doctorate degrees from Philander Smith College in 1972 and 2011.
On February 13, 2015, Mr. Bell was inducted into the prestigious Arkansas Business Hall of Fame, an award also bestowed on Sam M. Walton (founder of Walmart), Don J. Tyson, (Tyson Foods, Inc.), Jackson T. Stephens (Chairman of Stephens, Inc.), J.B. Hunt & his wife Johnelle, (J.B. Hunt Transport Services), and ‘Jerry’ Jones (president and general manager of the Dallas Cowboys Football Club, Inc.). Through this honor, Mr. Bell joins an exceptional list of inductees who have been recognized to be among the best in Arkansas business for their outstanding achievements and their impact on the future business leaders in Arkansas and around the world.
On September 29, 2015, Mr. Bell was honored with an induction into the Arkansas Entertainers Hall of Fame which showcases the careers of The Natural State’s sons and daughters who have made their marks on the entertainment world. Mr. Bell is again in the company of greats. Here are a few of those that were honored in the first induction ceremony held in 1996 – Glen Campbell, Johnny Cash, Al Green, Art Porter, Sr.
Freshly returned from multiple national recognitions at the 2018 Kennedy Center ACTF, Austin Dean Ashford, having recently appeared at Theatresquared in All The Way, The Champion,and T2’s Arkansas Schools Tour with his one-person play, (I)sland T(rap), which was also featured at the 2017 Arkansas New Play Festival. In 2018, he received the Harold and Mimi Steinberg National Student Playwriting Award, the Hip-Hop Theatre Creator Award, and earned a certificate for Distinguished Achievement by the Lorraine Hansberry Playwriting Award for (I)sland T(rap). In addition, (I)sland T(rap) won Outstanding Solo Performance and Best of Festival at the 2018 San Diego International Fringe Festival. Austin also recently featured his new play and one person show “Black Book” at the 2018 Arkansas New Play Festival. He has earned 21 national titles in Forensics in such events as dramatic interpretation, poetry interpretation, prose interpretation, and impromptu speaking. He holds the three-year running title ‘Most Valuable Performer’ from the Denzel Washington/Melvin B. Tolson Forensics Society. He was also the winner of HBO’s Brave New Voices—Individual World Poetry Slam. Originally from Union City, Ca., he holds a BA from Wiley College in Marshall, TX and is an MFA candidate in playwriting and acting at the University of Arkansas.
Austin is already a ROCKSTAR! He will be a rockstar that many will know his work!
Find him, Follow him!