Broadway veteran fearlessly takes on the music industry’s mega-exploiters

A. Peter Bailey

Band A. Peter Bailey

Let’s start by introducing Chapman Roberts. In a biographical sketch distributed at a Carnegie Hall celebration of African-American cultural heritage, he is described as a “singer-actor-composer-vocal/choral arranger-bandleader-music supervisor-concert producer “.

He is also a four-time Grammy Award winner and has been successful in show business for over 50 years. During this time, his vocal arrangements received acclaim in hit Broadway and West End shows which were estimated to be the recipients of at least 50 Tony and Olivier Award nominations. Productions arranged by Chapman Roberts have been nominated or won every musical theater award available worldwide. Chapman Roberts shows include Smokey Joe’s Cafe, Five Guys Named Moe, Blues in the Night, Eubie, Bubbling Brown Sugar and Your Arms Too Short to Box with God. Roberts is currently embroiled in a major showdown with the music industry’s “Big Boys” who for decades financially exploited the talent of black artists like him and their families. Roberts states that “the story of black musicians is that far too often they died broke.

It is generally assumed that their fate is the result of poor lifestyle habits and a lack of business acumen. It’s not always the case. The heirs of singer/songwriter Johnnie Taylor have been battling the world’s biggest music publishing house, SONY/ATV, for 21 years. Years of such caustic legal wrangling are a favorite delaying tactic of billion-dollar corporations whose pockets run much deeper than those of their beleaguered victims whom they have robbed and drained of their resources and legacies.

My case is the most recent and has yet to be revealed as THE BIGGEST CASE OF COPYRIGHT INFRINGEMENT AND PREMEDIATED FRAUD ON BROADWAY. I hope that my citing some cases as a framework for my current situation will also serve to shed light on the systemic pattern of generational wealth and intellectual property theft of some of the world’s most prominent black artists and their families in the skilled hands of the music and theater industry. producers and publishers.

It reminds us of the phenomenon of cultural appropriation in deliberately unexposed cases of copyright and copyright infringement, ranging from the iconic Bert Williams (1898), Isaac Hayes, Sam and Dave, Billy Strayhorn, Bill Withers, Tracy Chapman, The Isley Brothers, Little Richard, Michael Jackson, JC Johnson, Duke Ellington, to the infamous multi-million dollar cases of Marvin Gaye, Martha and The Vandellas, Chuck Berry, Howlin’ Wolf, Muddy Waters, Prince and many other Rhythm and Blues artists such as Ruth Brown, Bo Diddley and Buddy Guy.

Denying black musicians their copyrights has a history emerging from slavery Finds black artists paid lower royalty rates on four labels BMG’s review found four of its acquisitions paid black artists below the level of non-black artists on these respective labels.

So who are these dreaded “Big Boys” involved in this current, heretofore obscured showdown between “David and Goliath”? Among the well-armed gangs of super-powered exploiters who seek to crush Chapman Roberts are:

(1) the American multinational technology company called “one of the most influential economic and cultural forces in the world” and one of the most valuable brands in the world.

(2) The world’s leading independent developer, acquisition and management of recorded music,

(3) the world’s largest Broadway theatrical and film music publishing and licensing agent, and

(4) the world’s leading multi-billion dollar music publishing company, namely: (Broadway Royalty) Rodgers & Hammerstein Holding., Rodgers & Hammerstein Organization, Concord Theatrical Corp., Mike Stoller, the estate of Jerome Leiber a /k/a the Jerome L. Leiber 1997 Family Trust, Leiber & Stoller Productions, Inc., Broadway Asia, Inc., SONY/ATV Music Publishing, HBO and “The Colossal”, Amazon by Jeff Bezos.

According to Chapman Roberts, “Collectively, these scammers have knowingly, willfully, repeatedly and deliberately deprived me of rightful compensation for the substantial royalties owed and name credit for contributions to hundreds of unauthorized theatrical productions and dozens of thousands of video, film, television, and Internet streaming uses worldwide for over 2 decades.

Chapman Roberts is bringing these actions for gross breach of contract seeking compensatory relief from the myriad damages imposed on him to expose the pattern of grossly illegal acts by Broadway and the music industry. against him and others who have been maliciously robbed, defrauded of inherited wealth, stripped of their family’s identity as valuable artistic contributors to cultural society, and decried as fraudsters, troublemakers, and mere crooks seeking money because they dare to defy the odds and risk severe and relentless reprisals against them and their heirs for seeking full and undiscounted reward from what Roberts calls “nothing less than a cabal legally protected from thieves, unjustly enriched, parasitic, privileged, talentless, inherently empowered, socially and politically protected, artistically deprived, avowed, musically illiterate, cunning, personalized gangsters thinly disguised as managers, agents, promoters, producers and editors as if e These are a variety of culturally significant endangered species”.

In a stunning most recent development, a collective appeal by pompously confident music moguls to have Roberts’ precedent-setting case against them thrown out has been firmly dismissed by the New York State Supreme Court. As a result, fierce guilt infighting has erupted between the defendants themselves and some highly successful Broadway producers who initially participated in and largely benefited from a host of larceny offenses with arrogant impunity are suddenly skirmishing to alert their legal teams to reinforce their strategies. in preparation for the havoc of the inevitable embarrassing subpoenas, mob-style betrayals, pointing fingers and contentious backstabbings, expertly arranged, orchestrated and made public by the very gifted Chapman Roberts.

You see, what the ‘Big Boys’ didn’t realize when they took on Chapman Roberts is that he’s much more aware of what’s going on under the tables and backstage on Broadway and music industries than their usual targets. He is a highly experienced and resilient black artist with a superbly forward-thinking blend of talent, intelligence, keen vision, self-confidence, perseverance, common sense and daring.

This is very evident in every show he has been on, including the historic Black Stars of the Great White Way, which he directed, directed, arranged and co-produced with Norm Lewis. Co-hosts of the inspiring, educational, exciting and entertaining celebration at Carnegie Hall were Cicely Tyson, Phylicia Rashad, and Chita Rivera and Ben Vereen. Another giant of black culture, the late Ernie McClintock, said that “serious black artists aim to stimulate an awareness of the black experience and to express it through theater that illuminates that experience”. Maestro Chapman Roberts is a master at doing just that.

James C. Tibbs