An Evening with Quincy Jones

An Evening with Quincy Jones premiered January 2008.

This hour long one-on-one interview program provides a rare look into the life of music mogul Quincy Jones. Taped in Washington, D.C. as a PBS special in front of a live audience for The HistoryMakers, the nation’s largest African American video oral history archive, Quincy Jones is interviewed by noted TV journalist, moderator, and managing editor of “Washington Week,” Gwen Ifill. This special program includes live musical performances by Lesley Gore, BeBe Winans, James Ingram, Bobby McFerrin and Herbie Hancock.

An impresario in the broadest and most creative sense of the word, Quincy Jones’ career has encompassed the roles of composer, record producer, artist, film producer, arranger, conductor, instrumentalist, TV producer, record company executive, magazine founder and multi-media entrepreneur. As a master inventor of musical hybrids, he has been involved with pop, soul, hip-hop, jazz, classical, African, and Brazilian, traversing virtually every medium, including records, live performance, movies and television.

Quincy Jones and Gwen Ifill Quincy Jones and Gwen Ifill discuss Quincy’s childhood in Chicago.
Celebrating more than 50 years performing and being involved in music, Quincy’s creative magic has spanned over six decades, beginning with the music of the post swing era and continuing through today’s high-technology, international multi-media hybrids.

In the mid-50’s, he was the first popular conductor-arranger to record with a Fender bass. His theme from the TV series Ironside was the first synthesizer-based pop theme song.

As the first black composer to be embraced by the Hollywood establishment in the 60s, he helped refresh movie music with badly needed infusions of jazz and soul. In 1963, he started work on the music for Sidney Lumet’s The Pawnbroker—the first of his 33 major motion picture scores. In 1985, he co-produced Steven Spielberg’s adaptation of Alice Walker’s The Color Purple, which won eleven Oscar nominations, introduced Whoopi Goldberg and Oprah Winfrey to film audiences, and marked Quincy’s debut as a film producer. In 1991 Quincy helped launch NBC’s hit series The Fresh Prince of Bel Air, for which he acted as executive producer.

Quincy Jones and Eddie LevertQuincy Jones and Eddie Levert perform "I’ll Be Good to You.
His landmark 1989 album, Back On The Block—named “Album of the Year” at the 1990 Grammy Awards—brought such legends as Dizzy Gillespie, Ella Fitzgerald, Sarah Vaughan and Miles Davis together with Ice T, Big Daddy Kane and Melle Mel to create the first fusion of the be bop and hip hop musical traditions. His 1993 recording of the critically acclaimed Miles and Quincy Live At Montreux featured Quincy conducting Miles Davis’ live performance of the historic Gil Evans arrangement from the Miles Ahead, Porgy and Bess and Sketches of Spain sessions, and garnered a Grammy Award for Best Large Jazz Ensemble Performance.

As producer and conductor of the historic “We Are The World” recording (the best-selling single of all time) and Michael Jackson’s multi-platinum solo albums Off The Wall, Bad and Thriller (the best selling album of all time with over 46 million copies sold), Quincy Jones stands as one the most successful and admired creative artist/executives in the entertainment world.

Quincy Jones’ musical touch has left a footprint on the scene of American Culture and An Evening with Quincy Jones celebrates his life and career.

For more Gwen Ifill, visit her blog at

An Evening with Quincy Jones was produced by Julieanna Richardson.

For biographical information, images and video clips of individuals interviewed for The HistoryMakers archive, visit


Funded by:

XM radio
J.E. Robert Companies

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