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Alexander Smalls

Restaurateur and opera singer Alexander Smalls was born on February 7, 1952 in Spartanburg, South Carolina. He graduated from Spartanburg High School in 1970, and enrolled at Wofford College before transferring to the University of North Carolina School of the Arts, where he received his B.F.A. degree in opera in 1974. He then attended the Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania between 1974 and 1977.

Upon graduation, Smalls, a classically trained baritone, toured professionally as an opera singer. As a member of the Houston Grand Opera, he performed in the George Gershwin opera Porgy and Bess, which earned Grammy and Tony Awards in 1977. Smalls studied opera and culinary arts in Europe; upon returning to the United States in the late 1970s, he founded his own catering business, Small Miracle. In 1994, Smalls launched his first restaurant, Café Beulah, in New York City, specializing in Southern Revival cooking that combined Gullah and international cuisines. Then, in 1996, Smalls opened Sweet Ophelia's, a casual dining venue featuring late-night, live entertainment in New York City’s SoHo neighborhood. He went on to open The Shoebox Café, an upscale Southern bistro in New York City’s Grand Central Terminal; however, the restaurant closed in 2001 in the aftermath of 9/11. Smalls founded a second catering business, Smalls & Co., which served a celebrity clientele that included Denzel Washington, Spike Lee and Toni Morrison. In 2012, Smalls established Harlem Jazz Enterprises; and, in partnership with Richard Parsons, opened two restaurants in Harlem in 2013: Minton’s and The Cecil.

Smalls has appeared on television on NBC, CNN, ABC, CBS, and the Food Network, among others. He also served as a contributor to Food & Wine, The Washington Post, the New York Times, the New York Daily News, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution and Crain's New York Business. Smalls authored the memoir and cookbook Grace the Table: Stories and Recipes from My Southern Revival, which features a foreword from jazz musician Wynton Marsalis.

Smalls was the recipient of the Legacy Award given by Amsterdam News in 2014, and the C-Cap Honors Award given by C-Cap in 2015. He joined the board of the Harlem School of The Arts in 2014, and served as board chair of director of Opus 118 Music School from 2007 to 2009.

Alexander Smalls was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on September 20, 2016.

Accession Number

A2016.021

Sex

Male

Interview Date

9/20/2016

Last Name

Smalls

Maker Category
Middle Name

Bernard

Schools

Curtis Institute of Music

University of North Carolina School of the Arts

Wofford College

First Name

Alexander

Birth City, State, Country

Spartanburg

HM ID

SMA05

Favorite Season

Fall

State

South Carolina

Favorite Vacation Destination

Africa

Favorite Quote

And There You Have It.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

New York

Birth Date

2/7/1952

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

New York

Country

United States

Favorite Food

Peanut Butter and Jelly, Franks and Beans

Short Description

Restaurateur and opera singer Alexander Smalls (1952 - ), the father of Southern Revival Cooking, has opened five restaurants in New York City: Café Beulah, Sweet Ophelia's, The Shoebox Café, Minton’s and The Cecil. He wrote the cookbook Grace the Table: Stories and Recipes from My Southern Revival.

Employment

Harlem Jazz Enterprises LLC

Smalls & Company

Shoebox Cafe

Sweet Ophelia

Cafe Buelah

Favorite Color

Yellow

Vivian Scott Chew

Music executive Vivian Scott Chew was born in the Queens, New York neighborhood of Far Rockaway to Mamie Murphy and William Scott on May 14, 1958. She attended Georgetown University from 1976 to 1977. Chew then entered into the music business as an office assistant for entertainment attorney Louise West. Chewalso served as a personal assistant to singer, songwriter and producer Kashif, renowned for producing music for notable artists such as Whitney Houston and Evelyn “Champagne” King. From there, Chew was named president of the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers (ASCAP) in 1985, the first African American woman to head the organization. While at ASCAP she created the Rhythm & Soul Awards, an event that has been in existence for more than twenty years. She was then hired as the head of artists and repertoire (A&R) for Polygram Records in 1987, where she signed internationally acclaimed reggae band Third World. After two years with Polygram, Chew was named vice president of urban music for Sony/550 Records. She was then named vice president of artists and repertoire (A&R) for Epic Records from 1991 to 1997. While at Epic she signed reggae artist Shabba Ranks, a then unknown who rose to international superstardom under Chew. Ranks’ debut album for Epic became the first reggae album to top Billboard’s R&B chart and snagged him the Grammy Award for Best Reggae Album in 1991.

Chew went on to launch her own music company, TimeZone International, three years later. Through TimeZone Chew markets urban music acts to global audiences. Her clients have included notable R&B acts such as Jill Scott, Brain McKnight and India.Arie. Through Chew Entertainment, a company she co-owns with her husband, arranger, producer and musical director, Ray Chew, provides direction and musical support for new and emerging artists.

Vivian Scott Chew is also recognized for her advocacy of juvenile diabetes careand prevention. She serves on the board of directors for Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation of North Jersey and Rockland Counties. In 1993, she co-founded the Juvenile Diabetes Foundation Music Industry Dinner, which raised $2 million for research for a cure. Additionally, Chew serves on the Board of Directors for the Black Rock Coalition and is a former board member of the Winston Preparatory School in New York City. Chew is married and resides in Teaneck, New Jersey.

Vivian Chew was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on May 18, 2012.

Accession Number

A2012.117

Sex

Female

Interview Date

5/18/2012

Last Name

Chew

Maker Category
Marital Status

Married

Middle Name

Scott

Occupation
Schools

Georgetown University

Woodmere Academy

P.S. 197 The Ocean School

First Name

Vivian

Birth City, State, Country

New York

HM ID

CHE05

Favorite Season

Summer

State

New York

Favorite Vacation Destination

Jamaica

Favorite Quote

God Is Able.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

New York

Birth Date

5/14/1958

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

New York

Country

United States

Favorite Food

Pasta

Short Description

Music executive Vivian Scott Chew (1958 - ) is an industry fixture in the areas of artist development and international marketing and has the distinction of being the first African American female head of American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers (ASCAP).

Employment

TimeZone International

Epic/Sony Records

550 Music/Sony Music

Polygram Records

Favorite Color

Black

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DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Vivian Scott Chew's interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Vivian Scott Chew lists her favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Vivian Scott Chew talks about her maternal family history, pt.1

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Vivian Scott Chew talks about her maternal family history, pt.2

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Vivian Scott Chew recalls discovering the true identity of her biological father

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Vivian Scott Chew describes her biological father

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Vivian Scott Chew talks about her upper middle class upbringing in a lower middle class neighborhood

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Vivian Scott Chew describes her brother, Lawrence Murphy

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Vivian Scott Chew talks about her mother's affair with her biological father

Tape: 1 Story: 10 - Vivian Scott Chew talks about being the survivor of rape and incest

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Vivian Scott Chew describes her childhood in Far Rockaway, New York

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Vivian Scott Chew describes the sights, sounds, and smells of her childhood

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Vivian Scott Chew describes her love of sports as a child

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Vivian Scott Chew recalls her grade school years and her experience at Woodmere Academy in Woodmere, New York

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Vivian Scott Chew remembers her first day at Woodmere Academy in Woodmere, New York

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Vivian Scott Chew recalls her memory of the assassination of Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. in 1968

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Vivian Scott Chew describes her formative experiences at Woodmere Academy in Woodmere, New York

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Vivian Scott Chew describes her activities at First Baptist Church of Far Rockaway

Tape: 2 Story: 9 - Vivian Scott Chew describes meeting gospel stars and her church's gospel choir

Tape: 2 Story: 10 - Vivian Scott Chew talks about her extracurricular activities and academic performance at Woodmere Academy in Woodmere, New York

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Vivian Scott Chew describes her decision to attend Georgetown University in Washington, D.C.

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Vivian Scott Chew talks about her first marriage

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Vivian Scott Chew talks about being a young mother and her family's refusal to acknowledge that her brother was gay

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Vivian Scott Chew talks about the injury that ended her aspiring volleyball career

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Vivian Scott Chew talks about her physical similarities to her biological father

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Vivian Scott Chew talks about her divorce and her daughter's birth

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Vivian Scott Chew describes her first job in the music industry

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Vivian Scott Chew talks about working for producer Scott Sanders

Tape: 3 Story: 9 - Vivian Scott Chew describes working for Kashif

Tape: 3 Story: 10 - Vivian Scott Chew talks about working for ASCAP

Tape: 3 Story: 11 - Vivian Scott Chew talks about working at PolyGram Records as the director of the A&R Department

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Vivian Scott Chew talks about her relationship with the island of Jamaica

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Vivian Scott Chew recalls learning about the international music industry after recruiting Sa-Fire to PolyGram

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Vivian Scott Chew talks about her decision to join Epic Records and the ascent of black women in A&R during the 1990s

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Vivian Scott Chew describes her mentor at Epic Records, Hank Caldwell

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Vivian Scott Chew talks about her role in the rise and success of Shabba Ranks

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Vivian Scott Chew talks about the success of Shabba Ranks and Patra

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Vivian Scott Chew talks about the controversy surrounding Shabba Ranks' anti-gay sentiments

Tape: 4 Story: 8 - Vivian Scott Chew describes being forced to stay at Epic Records and signing George Clinton

Tape: 4 Story: 9 - Vivian Scott Chew talks about her marriage to HistoryMaker Ray Chew and the founding of her company, TimeZone International

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Vivian Scott Chew recalls the beginning of TimeZone International and the success of A+

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Vivian Scott Chew talks about Chew Entertainment and the mission of Power to Inspire

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Vivian Scott Chew talks about her clients and her work around the world

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Vivian Scott Chew shares her aspirations

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Vivian Scott Chew reflects upon what she would do differently

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Vivian Scott Chew describes her hopes for the African American community

Tape: 5 Story: 7 - Vivian Scott Chew reflects upon her legacy

Tape: 5 Story: 8 - Vivian Scott Chew talks about how she would like to be remembered

DASession

1$1

DATape

2$5

DAStory

3$2

DATitle
Vivian Scott Chew describes her love of sports as a child
Vivian Scott Chew talks about Chew Entertainment and the mission of Power to Inspire
Transcript
So now what did you like to do growing up besides--now you liked athletics you said, like handball?$$Uh-hum. Handball started at--but when I went to high school, because there were only fifty-eight kids in my class, you sort of got forced into doing everything and because I was really, really good at sports, I was the captain of the basketball team, the softball team. I actually was going to try out for the 1976 Olympics until I injured my knee and couldn't. I was everything my brother [Lawrence Murphy] wasn't and it wasn't until I was an adult that I realized that I was so competitive, sports-wise, 'cause I couldn't compete against him academically and there was always the underlining, "Why can't you be as smart as your brother?" thing. Why aren't you taking piano lessons? So I took piano lessons. I hated piano lessons. I went and broke my finger, literally, took a rock and broke it, my left hand, not my serving hand for volleyball, my left hand, so I couldn't play but I could still do this and do that. I could still shoot basketball.$$You actually consciously broke your finger?$$Oh, absolutely. I just did not want to play piano. So you couldn't play piano with one hand but I could do everything else with one hand. So that's how I got away with it. And lots of awards and accolades and all the things that my brother got in things that, my brother couldn't even jump rope, he had no desire to. He was very much about school. So when it went time for me to go to college, that was a big point when I didn't want to go.$And I think innately because I do love the live aspect of music more than anything, just watching my husband [Ray Chew, HM]being a musical director, it was like, you know, we can own that, we can produce these shows as well. So he and I formed a company, Chew Entertainment, which produces events from small string, you know, string quartets to huge, huge things. My husband was the musical director for the Neighborhood Ball which was the first gala that President Obama went to with his wife after, you know, with Beyonce singing and Ray did the national convention, the Democratic Convention and we've done Carnegie Hall and we've done--we did a tribute to George Clinton at the Apollo [Theater] and we've just had, we've done Carnegie Hall twice, actually, as producers. And I love that part of my life. My heart is in anything that involves the evolution of music in whatever form that is. And now for me, my newest thing is, we've started a foundation called Power to Inspire. I am clear that I am on the other side of the fence now in my career, and it's time for me to create some new shoulders for new blood to step on and stand on just like people like Louise West did for me. I was a young twenty-three, twenty-four year old girl with no direction and she gave me some and now it's my time to do that. So that's what Ray and I are doing together, it's called Power to Inspire. I'm excited.$$Okay, now, what does Power to Inspire do actually?$$Power to Inspire, we're just, we're just getting it together. We are, you know, getting our 501(c)(3) status and what we will be doing is mentoring children, Ray from a very creative standpoint and myself for kids who want to be in the business, and for me being in the business now, is absolutely being an entrepreneur. People can say what they want to say about hip hop. Let me tell you what I love about hip hop. Hip hop has spawned more black entrepreneurs than any other genre of music. Jay-Z, Puffy [Sean Combs], Russell [Simmons, HM], Cash Money, Master P, just amazing. Nobody even went to Atlanta [Georgia] before, now Atlanta's a hotbed for music and, and I mean, they've done it and they employ their own and it's, it's empires and it's gone from music to clothing to vodka to an arena. Jay-Z is building an arena in Brooklyn [New York City, New York]. How huge is that? So, I just think that we have the responsibility. Ray and I look back, music is no longer in the schools, it's not mandatory. Our program will go in schools and we'll be teaching children their craft as well as I will then be reaching to all of my colleagues, all the people who were in the graduating class before me, myself, right underneath me, to come help and mentor a new generation. That's what "Power to Inspire" will be doing.