The Creative Community for Peace (CCFP) honored Warner Records CEO/co-chairman Aaron Bay-Schuck, Caroline Music/CMG president Jacqueline Saturn, Q&A and Atom Factory founder Troy Carter; Latin music manager Walter Kolm and singer-songwriter Ziggy Marley at its second annual Ambassadors of Peace gala on Thursday (Sept. 26).
The organization, founded by EA music executive Steve Schnur and veteran industry publishing exec David Renzer in 2012, works to promote music and the arts as a means to peace, to support artists and to counter the BDS boycott of Israel.
More than 400 entertainment industry execs attended the gala, held at the Los Angeles home of entertainment attorney and CCFP Advisory Board member Gary Stiffelman.
“CCFP is about the power of music and art and culture to bridge bridges of peace,” said Renzer in his opening remarks. “We believe in co-existence…We support the power of music to bring people together.”
The first award of the evening was presented to Carter by his Q&A partners, Suzy Ryoo and J. Erving. Carter recalled his first visit to Israel when former client Lady Gaga played Tel Aviv and the misperceptions he brought with him. “I had a bias. You see on the news, you think it’s going to be war torn, dangerous. We took the Navy Seals with us, we went over with all this security, and when we landed it was better then Miami Beach,” he said with a laugh. “We were swimming in the Mediterranean, floating in the Dead Sea, I [bought] fake Gucci on the street where Jesus walked.”
Like most of the honorees, he made a call for the industry to help break down barriers. “We’re lucky to get up every day and work on art that heals people,” he said. “Music is the one thing that brings people together and we have to continue to champion that.”
Israeli-American billionaire businessman Haim Saban introduced the next honoree, but before bringing Saturn to stage, he matched the $400,000 Renzer had announced the evening had raised, bringing the total to more than $800,000. “We should make an effort to educate people who are against going to Israel, we should learn how to educate Roger Waters, “ he said, name checking the rocker who has been extremely vocal in his opposition to Israel and refuses to play there. “Help them see the light. If we fail, we fail, [but] the misinformation is the fuel that pushes BDS forward.” BDS stands for the Boycott, Divestment,Sanctions Movement, which protests Israel’s treatment of Palestinians through several actions including demanding western artists boycott performing in the country.
Saturn, the first female honored by the organization, noted she has visited Israel annually for the past 17 years and has found “there’s no better place to witness unity than Jerusalem,” she said. “Artists should always have the opportunity to connect with their [audiences] anywhere in the world…music has the ability to pierce through cultural barriers.”
Saban then introduced Kolm, noting he has taken many of his artists to play in Israel to build a bridge between Latin music and the country. Kolm talked about starting an indie hard rock label when he was 17. “My days of being a metal head are behind me, but something I believe then and now: music belongs everywhere. It’s important for us to defend art in all its shapes and forms. Music should remain independent of other issues.”
Bay-Schuck, who brought his mother with him to the event, humorously detailed his first visit to Israel when he was 12, which wasn’t an undiluted success. “My palette was limited. If it wasn’t pizza or a cheeseburger, I wasn’t eating it,” he said. “My family picked Passover to go. Imagine my surprise when I’m told there was no break for 1000 miles.” On a more serious note, he said early in his career, he worked in the international department at Interscope and he saw how the Black Eyed Peas’ “Where Is The Love” “hit every corner of the the world. It was clear music had more than enough power to change the world.”
He went on to praise CCFP. “This organization is not political. It understands that music is a force for change and that artists should not be threatened or silenced whether they choose to perform…When an artist chooses not to perform in Isreal—or anywhere in the world for that matter—we all suffer.”
Marley, whom Schnur introduced as a “Rasta man and a real mensch,” was presented with CCFP’s inaugural special artist’s award for peace. He was able to address the issue from a performer’s perspective. “I’ve been going to Israel since I was a teenager…Israel was a storybook place for us. We felt a connection to it through our father, through our beliefs,” he said. “I’ve been going back ever since. We don’t play in Israel for political reason, we play for the people [to] spread our message of justice, love and peace for all people… Going to Israel for me is no problem because we go for the people, not the politics.”
Among the industry executives supporting the CCFP were Warner Records’ Tom Corson, Chris Atlas, Lenny Waronker and Eesean Bolden, Atlantic’s Kevin Weaver, RCA’s Joe Riccitelli, Epic’s Melissa Victor and Darren Baber, attorneys Eric Greenspan and Aaron Rosenberg, Primary Wave’s Larry Mestel and Justin Shukat , Universal Music Publishing Group’s Evan Lamberg, Pulse Music Group’s Josh Abraham and songwriters Justin Tranter and Diane Warren.
The evening concluded with performances by Donna Missile and JoJo, who brought out PJ Morton to perform their R&B hit, “Say So.”