This Friday: Imhotep Gary Byrd, Broadcast Legend, Honored At Black Star Annual Dinner

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Imhotep Gary Byrd -- Award-Winning Radio Broadcaster, Poet & Songwriter, Executive Producer

First radio personality since his mentor, the great Hal Jackson, to broadcast from three different stations - WLIB, WBLS, and WBAI - in New York City, the nation’s number one radio market.

Imhotep Gary Byrd is the award-winning host, creator, and executive producer of The GBE, the longest running Black radio broadcast in the history of New York City.

His career as a multi-media radio personality, spoken word and recording artist, songwriter, and motivational speaker has always focused on “raising human consciousness through communications.”

Black Star Annual Awards: Please join us on December 18, 2015 at MIST Harlem at 46 W 116th St, New York, N.Y., 10026 from 6PM to 10PM when Gary Byrd joins Mayor David Dinkins, Rep. Charles Rangel, Rep. Yvette Clarke, the Central Park 5 and others as one of this year's Black Star News Annual Excellence Awards Dinner honoree.

In a career that spans over 40 years, Byrd, a highly respected modern day griot, is known for breaking barriers as he stays focused by “telling our story and lifting every voice.” For his life-long embrace of African culture, Nana Byrd has been enstooled as honorary chief in two villages in Ghana – positions he cherishes deeply.

As a message-in-the-music oriented songwriter and producer, Imhotep has been widely recognized and has received numerous awards and honors. Among them is the prestigious Hal Jackson Award from the International Association of African American Music. He has also been inducted into the National Black Sports and Entertainment Hall of Fame, along with the legendary Frankie “Hollywood” Crocker and Byrd’s brilliant musical collaborator, Stevie Wonder. Most recently, Imhotep was named as a Black Media Legend for McDonald’s Faces of Black History 2011 Tribute.

Background in Radio
Born in Buffalo, New York, Byrd was raised by his grandmother Loree Byrd. At an early age he demonstrated a keen interest and skill in public speaking and won numerous city-wide speaking championships.

As a child, his grandmother gave Byrd a number of gifts: a short wave radio, a record player, a tape recorder, a camera, a typewriter, and a portable television. Her support and this equipment would prepare Byrd to become the multi-media phenomenon that is his today.

Hank Cameron, a teacher and broadcaster in Buffalo, saw a young Byrd acting in a local play and gave Byrd his first break in radio. As a teenager in the 1960’s, Byrd worked at WUFO-AM, the city’s first Black-oriented radio station, home of radio legends Eddie Ojay, Frankie Crocker, and Gerry Bledsoe. From there he became the first African American to broadcast on a general market mainstream station WYSL AM/FM Radio.

In 1969, Byrd followed his mentors and went to the top Black radio station of the day: WWRL-AM in New York City. He became the youngest Black radio personality in history to work in New York City. It was there that he launched The GBE, The Gary Byrd Experience.

Byrd was invited to Inner City Broadcasting’s WLIB-AM by the late Chairman Emeritus Percy Sutton and legendary broadcaster and Vice Chairman of ICBC, the late Hal Jackson. 

From there he broadcasted live from the World Famous Apollo Theatre in Harlem and became even more respected in his field, nationally and internationally. It was there that Byrd instituted an endearing program innovation enjoyed by millions: the daily recital of the Nguzo Saba, the Seven Principles of Kwanzaa. At WLIB, Byrd transformed The GBE into The Global Black Experience. His popularity was growing steadily, as evidence in the 1992 birthday tribute to Imhotep at The Apollo. It was standing-room-only and Byrd cites this celebration as one of his most treasured career moments.

The Wonder-Byrd Connection
Imhotep and Stevie Wonder have collaborated on several songs that have stood the test of time. The Wonder-Byrd connection has produced five classic songs, including Village Ghetto Land from the multi-platinum album Songs In The Key Of Life (1976). Pop superstar George Michaels performed Village Ghetto Land at Nelson Mandela’s 70th Birthday Celebration, garnering a worldwide audience of over 600 million people in nearly 70 countries. At this event, Wonder also performed Dark n Lovely, an anti-apartheid theme song from the Characters CD, written by Wonder-Byrd. The duo also co-wrote Black Man, also from Songs In The Key of Life. At the 40th Annual NAACP Image Awards, this bi-centennial tribute song was performed by Stevie Wonder, with an added tribute to the newly elected President of the United States, Barack Obama. Michael Jackson said in Jet magazine: “Black Man is my favorite song.”

Songs In The Key of Life is named by Rolling Stone Magazine as one of the “500 Greatest Albums of All Time.” Byrd narrates the album’s DVD, which serves as content for VH1’s Classic Album programs.

Other Wonder-Byrd collaborations include Misrepresented People for the opening score on Spike Lee’s feature film Bamboozled --Byrd also appears as himself in the film, interviewing the star of the film, Damon Wayans-- and The Crown, a 10-minute spoken-word motivational rap classic celebrating African history and culture. The Crown, performed by Imhotep & The GBExperience, became a top five record on the pop charts in the UK and a smash hit throughout Europe in the 80’s. To date, The Crown is the only record ever released on Stevie’s record label, Motown-Wondirection Records.

Spoken Word and Recording Artist; Songwriter
Imhotep Gary Byrd has always been an innovator in the spoken word/rap genre. He has numerous recordings as a spoken word poet on Real Thing, RCA, and Motown Records. As a songwriter, Imhotep has over 30 published songs. His first recording was the classic Every Brother Ain’t A Brother, followed by his first album of spoken-word poetry Presenting The Gary Byrd Experience. Are You Really Ready For Black Power? was the back side of Every Brother and was released in the UK on a compilation called Stand Up & Be Counted featuring Nikki Giovanni and the legendary James Brown. The Godfather of Soul was a friend and fan of Imhotep and dedicated his song Mindpower to that “young man up in New York with the GBE.”

As a recording artist, Byrd also recorded Soul Travelin’ with producer and funk legend Jimmy Castor. Soul Travelin has been sampled by various including Jazzy B of Soul II Soul and Nas --see discography below. A strong advocate and supporter of the independent artist movement, Imhotep Gary Byrd produced his last CD Words Of Power From Planet Africa on his own label.

Beyond these shores, Byrd has enjoyed consistent success oversees. He hosted the American Chart Countdown Show on the BBC, which broadcast in New York and England over BBC Radio One. He also hosted Sweet Inspirations, a live weekly trans-Atlantic broadcast from New York to England. The gospel radio show spawned an album of the same name.

Currently On the Air
Imhotep Gary Byrd is the first radio personality since his mentor, the great Hal Jackson, to broadcast from three different stations - WLIB, WBLS, and WBAI - in New York City, the nation’s number one radio market.

On WBLS FM, Byrd hosts Express Yourself, a weekly call in show heard Sunday evenings on from 7-9:00 pm. Broadcast to millions of listeners in New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut, the show is simulcast over WLIB-AM WBLS-FM. The show also features an infotainment segment based on the popular Imhotep’s Guide To Black Events carried in the Amsterdam News, a historic Black weekly newspaper.

The Byrd Man, as he is affectionately called, also executive produces and hosts the Radio GBE: The Global Black Experience and The Global Beat Experience, a two hour message and music show, airing Fridays from 6:00-8:00pm on listener supported radio station WBAI Radio 99.5FM.

Today, Imhotep remains active with writing, publishing, and is currently planning the launch of an online GBE radio network under his company, Imhotep Gary Byrd Enterprises. Mr. Byrd is also a creative consultant and a life creativity coach. He is frequently called upon to serve as Master of Ceremonies, keynote Speaker, lecturer and Performance Poet.

 
Imhotep Gary Byrd: Discography

As Recording Artist
Albums
Presenting The Gary Byrd Experience          RCA Records
Words Of Power From Planet Africa             Worldwide GBE Records & Filmworks

Singles
Every Brother Ain’t A Brother                     Real Thing Records
Soul Travelin’                                            RCA Records
The Crown                                                Motown/Wondirection
Rap The World                                          RCA Records (UK)


As Songwriter
Song                                                        Artist/Album
Village Ghetto Land                                 co-writer with Stevie Wonder/Songs In The Key Of Life
Black Man                                               co-writer with Stevie Wonder/Songs In The Key Of Life
The Crown                                              co-writer with Stevie Wonder/12” Single
Dark n Lovely                                          co-writer with Stevie Wonder/Characters
Misrepresented People                            co-writer with Stevie Wonder/Bamboozled
Feelin’ Good                                           Kurtis Blow
I Cry                                                       Millie Jackson/Hurt So Good
Soul Travelin                                           Jimmy Castor
Ebony Princess                                        Jimmy Briscoe & the Little Beavers


Cover Versions
Song                                                   Artist
Every Brother Ain’t A Brother               Joe Thomas
Black Man                                           Najee
Village Ghetto Land                             Najee; Ali Campbell of UB40
The Crown                                          Aileen Barnes, Sony International (France)
Ghetto Village Land                             Warren G


Songs Sampled
Artist                                                  Song/Album
Nas                                                    Soul Travelin’ and Halftime/Illmatic
Soul II Soul                                         Soul Travelin’/Jazzy’s Groove
Soul II Soul                                         I Cry
50 Cent                                              I Cry/Killa Tape
Freeway                                              I Cry/Free At Last


Contact Imhotep Gary Byrd Enterprises at igbexp@gmail.com

For media interviews, contact AKILA WORKSONGS, Inc. at (718) 756.8501 or pr@akilaworksongs.com

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