Jacqueline Avant, Philanthropist and Wife of Music Producer Clarence Avant, Is Fatally Shot
Ms. Avant, 81, was found with a gunshot wound after the police received a report of a shooting at her home in Beverly Hills early Wednesday, the police said.,
Jacqueline Avant, a philanthropist and the wife of Clarence Avant, an influential music producer and executive, was fatally shot at the couple’s home in Beverly Hills, Calif., on Wednesday morning, according to the police.
Ms. Avant, 81, was found with a gunshot wound after the police received a report of a shooting at the home at 2:23 a.m., Chief Mark Stainbrook of the Beverly Hills Police Department said at a news conference on Wednesday afternoon.
The suspect or suspects were no longer on the scene when the police arrived, Chief Stainbrook said.
Chief Stainbrook said that the police would not speculate on whether Ms. Avant had been shot during an attempted robbery, and he declined to describe the shooting as part of a home invasion. He urged anyone with information about the crime to contact the police.
“Obviously, someone went into the home,” Chief Stainbrook said. “We just don’t know what the purpose was or what the motive was behind it.”
Chief Stainbrook said that a security guard was at the home during the shooting, but would not comment on whether Mr. Avant was there. “I don’t think it’s a random attack, but I can’t speculate on that right now,” he said.
A former model active in the arts and philanthropy, Ms. Avant was married for more than 50 years to Mr. Avant, a highly regarded music producer who advised Presidents Bill Clinton and Barack Obama and was known as “the Godfather of Black Music.”
In the 1960s, Ms. Avant was a model for Ebony Fashion Fair, a traveling fashion show that hired Black models wearing clothes made by Black designers.
It was around that time that she began dating Mr. Avant, who kept trying to impress her by showing off how much money he had made, according to the Netflix documentary “The Black Godfather,” which was about Mr. Avant.
“He’d always have a car pick me up and I thought: ‘Who is this guy?'” Ms. Avant said. “One day, I guess, he was really trying to win me over and, for some reason, he mentioned how much he had paid the Internal Revenue Service.”
In the documentary, actors and producers who knew the couple marveled at the longevity of the couple’s marriage and their fierce loyalty to each other.
“They look so amazing,” the actor Jamie Foxx said. “They still look like they’ve got wedding cake on their feet, like they just walked off a soul wedding cake.”
Chief Stainbrook described the shooting as a “difficult day for our city” and said that the Avant family’s “contributions to the world of entertainment and to better communities across Los Angeles are unmatched.”
Reading a statement from the family, he said: “Jacqueline was an amazing woman, wife, mother, philanthropist and a 55-year resident of Beverly Hills who has made an immeasurable positive contribution and impact on the arts community. She will be missed by her family, friends and all of the people she has helped throughout her amazing life.”
Mr. Avant started Sussex Records in 1969 and signed Bill Withers, releasing some of his best-known songs, including “Ain’t No Sunshine,” “Use Me” and “Lean on Me.” In 1971, he started Avant Garde Broadcasting, one of the first Black-owned radio stations in the country, according to the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. Mr. Avant was inducted into the hall in May.
Over the years, Mr. Avant also worked with Jimmy Jam, Terry Lewis and Babyface. He helped promote Michael Jackson’s “Bad” world tour in 1987, and was chairman of the board of Motown Records, according to the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame.
The couple’s daughter, Nicole A. Avant, was a producer of “The Black Godfather,” which featured testimonials from Mr. Obama and Mr. Clinton, as well Vice President Kamala Harris, who was then a presidential candidate. Nicole Avant is married to Ted Sarandos, a co-chief executive of Netflix, and is a former U.S. ambassador to the Bahamas.
On Wednesday, Mr. Clinton paid tribute to Ms. Avant.
“Jackie Avant was a wonderful woman, a great partner to Clarence and mother to Alex and Nicole, an active citizen & a dear friend to Hillary and me for 30 years,” Mr. Clinton wrote on Twitter. “She inspired admiration, respect & affection in everyone who knew her. We are heartbroken. She will be deeply missed.”