Don Mizell - Music Industry Legend & Guru
Don Mizell was awarded a Bachelor of Arts degree from Swarthmore College and a JD from Harvard Law School. Mr. Mizell has been active in the music and entertainment industry for two decades. A few of Mr. Mizell's accomplishments include:
- Development of the successful marketing strategy for creation of the Martin Luther King, Jr. national holiday;
- Author of Stevie Wonder's speech launching the Martin Luther King, Jr. national holiday;
- The first NAACP Image Award for Broadcasting (1981);
- Served as Interim Head of Business Development/Consumer Products Division of the Walt Disney Company, responsible for marketing the Little Mermaid music products line;
- Wrote and narrated a documentary film entitled "Ghana, Land of the Gold Coast," a MonuMint Films Production;
- Produced and directed a documentary, "Black Across the Tracks: Old Black Fort Lauderdale," Broward County Florida Library, African American Research Library, Oral History Preservation Project, 2002.
Mr. Mizell has lectured at various colleges, including the University of California at Berkeley, University of Rhode Island, Wellesley College, and Rutgers University. He is the father of two daughters. In 2005 an album that Mr. Mizell participated in producing, "Genius Loves Company", won the Grammy for Best Album of the Year (2004).
Remembering Dr. Donald Byrd
By Don Mizell & Primus Robinson
BRE Magazine, 2013
The nature of “genius” is hard to pin down or be definitively described. The best approach to its perception may be in paraphrasing Justice Potter Stewart: “I can’t define it, but I know it when I see it.” Or hear it. With music, the aura of the artist genius is best reflected in the study of their production, the subtle vagaries of intent, and the difficulty of comprehending their full personality, which is often full of contradictory complexity. Some notable examples are Picasso’s great depictions of women juxtaposed against his notorious insensitivity to the ladies in his life; Einstein’s genius allowed the pursuit of atomic weapons but he thereafter regretted his contribution to their development; Charlie Parker’s soaring genius of improvisation resembles the chase of an elusive dragon, a beast that eventually chased him to his own grave. Yes, genius is complicated and full of enigmatic contradiction.
So it was with Donaldson Toussaint L’Ouverture Byrd II, a paradigm of such genius, if ever there was one. Donald was a superlative trumpet player and a savvy record producer, a keen discoverer and developer of new jazz musical talent, a master educator and erudite cultural historian, a pioneer in the advancement of musician’s rights and their financial security, a connoisseur and early collector of great, fine African American visual artworks, and a sharp, even ruthless, businessman as well. A helluva cat all the way around, and a ‘real mutha fa ya,’
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