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Kathleen Bertrand

Jazz singer and nonprofit executive Kathleen Bertrand was born on October 17, 1951 in Atlanta, Georgia to Nan Jackson and William Jackson. Bertrand graduated from Henry W. Grady High School in 1969, and earned her B.S. degree in English from Spelman College in 1973.

From 1974 to 1978, Bertrand worked as Spelman College's director of alumni affairs. In 1983, Bertrand became a membership account executive for the Atlanta Convention & Visitors Bureau (ACVB), a private, non-profit organization. Later, she became the organization’s advertising and membership manager before becoming ACVB’s vice president of membership and community affairs in 1990. In this position, Bertrand launched a number of projects in Atlanta, including: Diversity in the Hospitality Industry Summit, the Hospitality Student Summit and ACVB’s Diversity Marketing Advisory Council. She also developed Atlanta Heritage, an annual visitor’s guide targeted at African American tourists. Bertrand became senior vice president of community and government affairs at ACVB; and in 2007, founded Hospitality Industry Professionals, a networking organization for those of diverse hospitality backgrounds.

An accomplished singer, Bertrand performed at the 1992, 1994 and 1996 Olympic Games. In 1999, she independently released her first jazz album, All of Me. Then, in 2002, she penned the national theme song, “What They See is What They’ll Be” for the 100 Black Men of America, Inc. That same year, Bertrand recorded her second album, No Regrets, which was released by Gold Circle Records, followed by her third album, Reasons for the Season. In 2006, she recorded her fourth album, New Standards. Then, in 2009, Bertrand co-founded the BronzeLens Film Festival of Atlanta. BronzeLens was a founding partner of Ava DuVernay’s African American Film Festival Releasing Movement. Bertrand released her fifth album, Katharsis, in 2011. Bertrand has opened for a number of performers, including: Tony Bennett, Ray Charles, Rachelle Ferrell and Roy Ayers. Additionally, she performed the National Anthem for several of Atlanta’s professional sports teams, as well as for former Presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush.

Bertrand served on the Grady Hospitality Academy Industry Advisory Board, the MACOC Education Committee, the Advisory Board for North Atlanta High School Hospitality Program, the Tourism and Hospitality Advisory Committee of Atlanta Technical College, the Black Women’s Film Network, and the Atlanta Community Food Bank. She was recognized as the Atlanta Business Chronicle’s Top Hospitality Industry Leader, one of Atlanta’s Top 100 Black Women of Influence by the Atlanta Business League, and as the Most Influential African Americans in the Meetings & Tourism Industry by Black Meetings & Tourism Magazine.

Bertrand and her husband, Andre Bertrand, have four children: Ikechi, Amichi, Chioma, and Chinela.

Kathleen Bertrand was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on October 3, 2016.

Accession Number

A2016.048

Sex

Female

Interview Date

10/3/2016

Last Name

Bertrand

Maker Category
Marital Status

Divorced

Middle Name

Jackson

Schools

Our Lady of Lourdes Catholic School

Henry W. Grady High School

Spelman College

First Name

Kathleen

Birth City, State, Country

Atlanta

HM ID

BER05

Favorite Season

Autumn

State

Georgia

Favorite Vacation Destination

Martha's Vineyard

Favorite Quote

Do Unto Others As You Would Have Others Do Unto You.$

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

Georgia

Birth Date

10/17/1951

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Atlanta

Country

United States

Favorite Food

Pizza

Short Description

Jazz singer and nonprofit executive Kathleen Bertrand (1952 - ) worked at the Atlanta Convention & Visitors Bureau for thirty-two years. She also released five jazz albums, and penned the national theme song for the 100 Black Men of America, Inc.

Employment

Atlanta Convention & Visitors Bureau

Various Jobs

Roy Ayers

Spelman College

Favorite Color

Purple

Timing Pairs
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DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Kathleen Bertrand's interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Kathleen Bertrand lists her favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Kathleen Bertrand describes her mother's family background, pt. 1

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Kathleen Bertrand describes her mother's family background, pt. 2

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Kathleen Bertrand talks about her mother's education

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Kathleen Bertrand describes her father's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Kathleen Bertrand talks about her father's career

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Kathleen Bertrand recalls her parents' brief separation

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Kathleen Bertrand lists her siblings

Tape: 1 Story: 10 - Kathleen Bertrand describes her parents' personalities and who she takes after

Tape: 1 Story: 11 - Kathleen Bertrand describes her earliest childhood memory

Tape: 1 Story: 12 - Kathleen Bertrand talks about her religious upbringing

Tape: 1 Story: 13 - Kathleen Bertrand recalls her early influences

Tape: 1 Story: 14 - Kathleen Bertrand remembers competing in the Superteen contest

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Kathleen Bertrand describes her music education at Our Lady of Lourdes Catholic School in Atlanta, Georgia

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Kathleen Bertrand recalls her experiences on public transit in Atlanta, Georgia, pt. 1

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Kathleen Bertrand recalls her experiences on public transit in Atlanta, Georgia, pt. 2

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Kathleen Bertrand describes her experiences of discrimination at Henry W. Grady High School in Atlanta, Georgia

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Kathleen Bertrand remembers her aspiration to attend college

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Kathleen Bertrand describes her college counselor at William H. Grady High School in Atlanta, Georgia

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Kathleen Bertrand talks about the impact of Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.'s assassination

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Kathleen Bertrand remembers winning the Superteen singing contest

Tape: 2 Story: 9 - Kathleen Bertrand remembers turning down a recording contract with Capital Records

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Kathleen Bertrand describes her early aspirations for her career

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Kathleen Bertrand recalls deejaying on WAUC Radio

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Kathleen Bertrand remembers recording commercial jingles

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Kathleen Bertrand remembers learning photography

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Kathleen Bertrand recalls being elected Miss Maroon and White at Spelman College

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Kathleen Bertrand talks about moving to Milwaukee, Wisconsin

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Kathleen Bertrand recalls her first winter in Milwaukee, Wisconsin

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Kathleen Bertrand remembers her roles at the alumnae office of Spelman College

Tape: 3 Story: 9 - Kathleen Bertrand describes the impact of Maynard Jackson's mayoralty on Atlanta, Georgia

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Kathleen Bertrand talks about the history of Atlanta, Georgia

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Kathleen Bertrand describes her work as the director of alumnae affairs at Spelman College

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Kathleen Bertrand talks about her marriage to Andre Bertrand

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Kathleen Bertrand remembers joining Roy Ayers' band

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Kathleen Bertrand remembers touring with Roy Ayers

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Kathleen Bertrand talks about her voice

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Kathleen Bertrand describes the meanings of her children's names

Tape: 4 Story: 8 - Kathleen Bertrand remembers her decision to leave Atlanta, Georgia

Tape: 4 Story: 9 - Kathleen Bertrand recalls living in the U.S. Virgin Islands

Tape: 4 Story: 10 - Kathleen Bertrand recalls joining the Atlanta Convention and Visitor's Bureau

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Kathleen Bertrand describes her first position at the Atlanta Convention and Visitors Bureau

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Kathleen Bertrand recalls her promotion to advertising manager at the Atlanta Convention and Visitors Bureau

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Kathleen Bertrand talks about the national perception of Atlanta, Georgia

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Kathleen Bertrand remembers the 1996 Summer Olympics in Atlanta, Georgia

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Kathleen Bertrand recalls organizing the Diversity in the Hospitality Industry Summit

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Kathleen Bertrand talks about her student outreach programs

Tape: 5 Story: 7 - Kathleen Bertrand recalls the creation of the Atlanta Heritage guide

Tape: 5 Story: 8 - Kathleen Bertrand remembers her performances for the Olympics, pt. 1

Tape: 5 Story: 9 - Kathleen Bertrand remembers her performances for the Olympics, pt. 2

Tape: 5 Story: 10 - Kathleen Bertrand recalls the Centennial Olympic Park bombing in Atlanta, Georgia

Tape: 6 Story: 1 - Kathleen Bertrand describes the highlights of the 1996 Summer Olympic Games in Atlanta, Georgia

Tape: 6 Story: 2 - Kathleen Bertrand talks about the Olympic facilities in Atlanta, Georgia

Tape: 6 Story: 3 - Kathleen Bertrand remembers releasing her first album, 'All of Me'

Tape: 6 Story: 4 - Kathleen Bertrand talks about her second album, 'No Regrets'

Tape: 6 Story: 5 - Kathleen Bertrand describes her Christmas album, 'Reasons for the Season'

Tape: 6 Story: 6 - Kathleen Bertrand talks about financing her records

Tape: 6 Story: 7 - Kathleen Bertrand recalls founding Hospitality Industry Professionals

Tape: 6 Story: 8 - Kathleen Bertrand remembers organizing the BronzeLens Film Festival

Tape: 6 Story: 9 - Kathleen Bertrand describes the changes to the BronzeLens Film Festival

Tape: 7 Story: 1 - Kathleen Bertrand describes the release of her fifth album, 'Katharsis'

Tape: 7 Story: 2 - Kathleen Bertrand talks about the inspiration for her song, 'Date Night'

Tape: 7 Story: 3 - Kathleen Bertrand recalls writing 'What They See Is What They'll Be'

Tape: 7 Story: 4 - Kathleen Bertrand remembers performing with Roy Ayers at the Atlanta Jazz Festival

Tape: 7 Story: 5 - Kathleen Bertrand reflects upon her career at the Atlanta Convention and Visitors Bureau

Tape: 7 Story: 6 - Kathleen Bertrand recalls performing in Four Women: A Tribute to Nina Simone

Tape: 7 Story: 7 - Kathleen Bertrand talks about her use of social media

Tape: 7 Story: 8 - Kathleen Bertrand describes her upcoming projects

Tape: 7 Story: 9 - Kathleen Bertrand talks about her family

Tape: 7 Story: 10 - Kathleen Bertrand describes her concerns for the African American community, pt. 1

Tape: 7 Story: 11 - Kathleen Bertrand describes her concerns for the African American community, pt. 2

Tape: 7 Story: 12 - Kathleen Bertrand reflects upon her legacy

DASession

1$1

DATape

4$5

DAStory

5$7

DATitle
Kathleen Bertrand remembers touring with Roy Ayers
Kathleen Bertrand recalls the creation of the Atlanta Heritage guide
Transcript
So you get married in 1980, and you're performing with [HistoryMaker] Roy Ayers sometimes, right? 'Cause your--$$So I performed with Roy before I got married.$$Yeah.$$So when I--$$So you (simultaneous)--$$(Simultaneous) That's why I said, when I came off the road I was no longer with Roy, when I came off the road. So that's why I was kind of opened to this new experience here of this guy from the islands and he's from, Andre's [Andre Bertrand] from St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands. Although, he was born in Savannah [Georgia] but grew up in St. Thomas. So I was off the road by then. But the road taught me a lot. I felt that I could handle it because I had done all of my traveling with Spelman [Spelman College, Atlanta, Georgia] so that part I had down, I had down better--it was one woman and thirteen guys between the crew and the band and every- and roadies and everything else. There were thirteen of them, of us that would travel. What I didn't have down was being able to take care of myself for long periods of time, so I was sick like the first month and a half, two months. I was literally performing with an inflamed throat or tonsillitis or whatever the case might be. And we had a break in April of that year and I went to Puerto Rico. Didn't know a soul, I just needed to be where there was sun, just needed to be where there was sun. And I went to Puerto Rico and came back, and I was well. Do you know, brand new me. And I felt good, it was like the first time I really felt like I was hearing myself at that time. And then Roy taught me something that I carried into my corporate life for many years, still do, that people pay to come and see a show and that's what they want to see. They don't want to know that you broke your heel, they don't want to know that your luggage didn't arrive on time, they don't want to know that your dress ripped. None of that's important because they came to see the show that they paid their money for, that you're supposed to give them. So what that meant was attitude, everything has to be on top for the show. And we got to that because one of the roadies hadn't taped down the cords from the mic back to the amplifiers, speakers. And, so I came on stage, you know, here is my big entrance and I tripped 'cause I tripped on the cord that wasn't taped down. And, so I was really ticked for the first, you know song or two. And he looked over and saw me and I wasn't smiling and, so we went into this one song, you know, he likes to hit on this cowbell (gesture), and he, you know, leaned over to me and said, "Can I talk to you for a minute?" And we turned our backs to the audience, but he's hitting on the cowbell and we're dancing. And he says, "What's wrong with you?" And I explained what was wrong with me. And he says, "Well, you know, nobody cares. I really don't, and you need to get it together so when you turn around, you need to be smiling," (singing), "because when you're smiling the whole world smiles with you." I promise you, this is the drum playing something totally different, but this is what he's singing. And, so by the time I turn around and life is grand and glorious again, you know. But I kept that lesson for a lifetime, you know. I used to tell my staffers, I said, "Nobody cares if the kid pooped on you before you got to work or you spilled milk in the car, whatever, somebody cut you off. Not my issue because when we have a meeting at nine [o'clock], however, and there's a client here, or a member company has come to visit us then we've got to be in the moment right that minute." And it was good training because many times when I was in my corporate job, I would have at that point dropped four kids off at one--for a year and a half at two different schools. And I've still got to be at an eight o'clock meeting where there's a room full of people waiting to see me because I'm the first speaker for my program. So I would literally walk in the front door, drop my briefcase behind the desk with the receptionist, deep breathe and then you go in and, what'd Bob Fosse say (snaps fingers), "Show time?" And that was it. And that was that--Roy's lesson that was still resonating. It's show time. People paid, or they're here for a (gesture) specific thing, you need to give it to 'em. They don't want stories about how your kid, you know, threw Fruit Loops all over the car and stuff like that. That's not part of the moment. So just that was my Roy Ayers lesson that I learned on the road, and it was a good one, it was a good one (simultaneous).$$(Simultaneous) Okay, I--$The Atlanta Heritage guide that you mentioned came out of a need to have a publication that talked about Atlanta [Georgia] as a destination for African Americans. There was so much history here, so much rich culture here, but it was not being covered in the general publications that promoted Atlanta. And, so it literally started as a typewritten sheet in my desk because the National Dental Association, the president of which was a friend of mine was in Atlanta one summer--I wanna say maybe '88 [1988], '89 [1989], and he came to me--or '90 [1990], and said, "Well, you know, do you have a, a--something that gives people an idea of what's in the African American community and restaurants and things like that?" And I said, "Well, I have this typewritten list that I've compiled myself." Because I kept a list of all of the black restaurants and shops and--just because people would ask that information and I wanted to have it. And I gave that to him, and he copied that for the National Dental Association that summer. And, so then I went to the CEO and I said, "This is embarrassing. Atlanta, Atlanta, home of Martin Luther King [Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.], Maynard Jackson, Andy Young [HistoryMaker Andrew Young], should never be a place that has a typewritten sheet that promotes its African American community."$$Yeah, now this is the point you got the--this major airport [Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport, Atlanta, Georgia], largest in the U.S. Dr. King, the Dr. King museum.$$The Center for (simultaneous)--$$(Simultaneous) The King Center [Martin Luther King Jr. Center for Nonviolent Social Change, Atlanta, Georgia].$$Center, King Center, um-hm.$$These are international attractions, people coming from all over the world.$$Exactly.$$When you go over there, you'll see all kinds of people there.$$Exactly, exactly.$$And they come here so I mean--$$Exactly.$$--so it makes sense.$$You would've agreed, huh?$$Yeah.$$Yes, yes, and, so, and he agreed. He understood, he got it. And, so the--remember I used to be advertising manager. (Cough) Excuse me. So we formed this partnership with the Atlanta Business Chronicle and out of that came a publishing company called Atcomm, A-T-C-O-M-M. And the Atlanta Heritage guide was published through Atcomm Publishing [Atlanta, Georgia], and we published for twenty-five years.