Ad Age is marking Black History Month 2023 with our third-annual Honoring Creative Excellence package. (Read the introduction here.) Today, our guest editor Billy Porter turns the spotlight to Vivian Scott Chew, founding partner of event production/management company Chew Entertainment and founder of marketing firm TimeZone International. (Visit our package hub each weekday for a new essay from another notable Black creative.)
“Vivian is inspirational and transformational,” says Porter. “She is on a mission to release the healing properties of music to make lives better—individually and collectively. She is a force of nature.”
Here, Chew shares her thoughts about the power of music—and the inspiration for the “Night of Inspiration” concert series at Carnegie Hall.
I was raised in the Black Baptist church where music was an important part of our Sunday service. It was there that I discovered my love for music. It touched my soul in a way that no other medium did. I knew very early in life that music was a part of my DNA. I literally could not live without it.
Music, mentorship and some magic are constants in my career trajectory. I have been very fortunate in having several mentors who nurtured me along my journey as I held positions in various areas of the music industry—publishing, record labels, artist management and even international marketing. But it wasn’t until I entered the live music event and production arena that I had my magical “aha moment.”
There I was, standing in the wings of the Apollo Theater watching a concert that my husband, Ray Chew, then Apollo’s music director, was producing together with the late, great Jessye Norman. The show ended with a powerful rendition of a song that has always brought me to tears, “Total Praise,” written by Maestro Richard Smallwood. As I looked into the audience, I saw a beautiful mosaic of people representing every demographic of New York City’s population. In them, I saw the physical manifestation of the truest, deepest emotions that music evokes within us. And in that moment, it became crystal clear: This was my calling—to offer this gift to the world.