World renowned jazz legend, musician and artist, Bob James, will speak at a “fireside chat” hosted by Northwood University’s Alden B. Dow Center for Creativity & Enterprise (ABDCCE) on Thursday March 27 at 6 p.m. James will perform and also reflect on the role of entrepreneurship in his career as a recording artist and entertainer. The free public event will be held in the Griswold Lecture Hall located on Northwood’s Midland campus at 4000 Whiting Drive, Midland, Michigan 48640 and kicks off James joining Northwood University’s ABDCCE as its inaugural Creative Entrepreneur-in-Residence this spring. “Bob will share the most important business learnings of his career and discuss the business concepts and challenges that must be mastered to succeed in addition to reflecting upon his years as an entertainer,” stated Northwood University executive vice president, Dr. Kristin Stehouwer. “These insights are invaluable to our students and support Northwood’s entrepreneurial philosophy.”
The Entrepreneur-in-Residence program connects successful business leaders with Northwood University students who are also aspiring entrepreneurs in a unique and industry-driven learning environment. According to the Center’s director, Georgia Abbott, James’ involvement in the program highlights the universal nature of entrepreneurship and a key facet of Northwood University’s educational philosophy and specialty degree programs.
“Music is as much a business as it is an act of the imagination. At Northwood, we teach our students how innovation and artistry come together to create commercial opportunity,” stated Abbott. “Bob’s experiences mastering both his craft and the business of being a performing artist are a topic seldom discussed in the field. His presntation will be beneficial for all Northwood’s students – and most especially those in our Entertainment, Sport & Promotion Management (ESPM) program.”
As part of James’s Creative Entrepreneur-in-Residence role, a team of Northwood University’s MBA students will work with him to test and develop market strategies for a new alcohol-based beverage product. The students’ efforts comprise their Field Work Consulting commitment for the MBA program and includes conducting focus groups and test marketing as well as creating a go-to-market strategy for the new product. The new product is inspired by James’ love of Japan, echoing the adoration demonstrated in his documentaries and art about the country. A tasting event will be held April 9 in partnership with the H Hotel in Midland.
Best known for “Angela,” the 1978 instrumental theme from the sitcom “Taxi,” James was discovered by Quincy Jones at the Notre Dame Jazz Festival in 1963. Over the course of five decades, he has recorded 58 albums, collected numerous awards and played or worked with some of the most recognized musicians including Grover Washington, Jr., Paul Simon, Neil Diamond, Maynard Ferguson, Kenny Loggins and Phil Collins. In 1990, he reunited with lifetime friend and drummer Harvey Mason, and was joined by guitarist Lee Ritenour—later succeeded by Chuck Loeb—and bassist Nathan East to create the jazz band Fourplay. Recognized as one of the progenitors of smooth jazz, his compositions have been sampled often in hip hop music. More recently, James developed the album “Jazz for Japan” as part of the country’s recovery efforts following the devastating natural disasters of 2011.