Priscilla Clarke Q&A: A Strong-Willed Woman

Kyra Williams, GRAMMY Camp LA 2015

On Thursday June 25, 2015, Priscilla Clarke, the President and CEO of Clarke & Associates LLC, took time out of her busy schedule to talk with GRAMMY Camp students in the Carson Center about branding. Her marketing based company has assisted many well-known clients in the entertainment industry such as Beyonce, Chris Tucker and Chuck Brown. After Clarke engaged with all 72 students of the camp, I was able to introduce myself to Clarke and interview her about nonprofit organizations, Barbara Streisand and her views on inappropriate song lyrics.

Can you touch on how long you’ve been involved with nonprofit organizations and what made you get started with that?

It was about 20 years ago. Actually, my first real client was a nonprofit organization. That was because over the years I’d done a lot of community service. It’s always been really important to me our company was designed around that on purpose, so that we could give back and have purpose in some of the work that we were doing.

What else in your life makes you feel like you have a purpose?

Doing things where we can see the difference it’s making. Things like helping a child that’s in poverty or needs medical care, or whether it’s something like the Trayvon Martin case, where we’re helping to bring resolution to injustice. Also, helping bills pass through the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation. Some of the work that they do with students and different things are to push the agendas to help people. It just really depends. We do a lot of work raising scholarship money for kids to make sure that they have opportunities.

How would a teen be able to get involved with your organization and apply for those scholarships. How do you reach that audience?

It’s usually through the organizations we work with. We have one, the US Dream Academy. They work primarily with children of incarcerated parents to make sure that they understand that they still have an opportunity to dream and to not go in the same direction or follow the path of their parents. You know, they give them opportunities to live a better life. It just depends. We work with a lot of great organizations that offer those opportunities. So, we help to promote them, brand them and get the word out.

Would you say those organizations are geared towards African-Americans or anyone who wants to apply?

Anyone but it depends on what the cause is. Some are African-American based. Some are mainstream based. Some are women based. It just really depends. We did a great campaign with Barbara Streisand and her team with the “Women’s Heart Alliance.” Barbara Streisand has this initiative where she’s very passionate about trying to help the statistics of women with heart disease. She spent a lot of money and time with one of our partners Ron Perlman to try to get as much advocacy and awareness about this disease that’s killing women. So, it’s things like that, that even though you have an icon here, Barbara Streisand, she’s still doing amazing work and really trying to give back to make a difference. Those are the kinds of things that we like to align with that helps us.

I heard you say earlier that you felt really strongly about some specific song lyrics. What are some things that you would want to change about what’s happening in the industry?

I think one of my passions is young people and children and I see so many of them disadvantaged and how easily they can be influenced. I see a lot of times that artists don’t proclaim to be role models but they are role models because that’s who the children look up to. So, there’s a certain level of responsibility that you should naturally have when you know that everything that you do influences these children. I feel like there’s freedom of expression. I get that and I don’t have a problem with that, but when it starts influencing and damaging children, then I have a problem with it. I’m not endorsing censorship by any means but I think that just like they have R rating for movies, X rating for movies, and PG-13, I think there should be some level of sensitivity when it comes to music being played where any child could hear it. It’s not a choice when a parent has a radio on. That’s all.

So when branding an artist, is that something that you make sure that an artist is aware of, and what else would you be sure to stress when branding them?

When branding them, they should stay out of trouble, refrain from making bad decisions on certain things, and they should be conscious of what they do, when they do it, and who they do it with. When you make a choice on what you want to be and promote that, understand that there’s a certain level of responsibility and commitment. Sometimes sacrifices come with that. At the end of the day, you can choose whoever you want to be. You could be the naked singer for all I care, or you could be the dirty mouth singer, but just remember in whatever you chose, certain consequences will come with that. You have to do whatever it takes and you have to put in the work to be the brand that you want to be. So, hard work is critical no matter who you want to be or what you want to be.

In the Spotlight

Lauren Padilla

GRAMMY Camp St. Paul 2014


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