This year's SESAC Pop Music Awards are scheduled to take place April 13 in New York City, and the music rights organization is building up to its 2017 edition with a blast from the bop gun: George Clinton, the legendary frontman of Parliament, Funkadelic and Parliament-Funkadelic (of course), will receive the SESAC Legacy Award. Clinton joins the likes of Dee Snider of Twisted Sister and Paul Shaffer, most famously associated with David Letterman's Late Show Band throughout the television host's run at CBS, who have been previous honorees.
Clinton, at this point in his career, hardly requires introduction. As the mastermind behind P-Funk in the 1960s and 1970s, his sister groups and their respective approaches to their art forms -- Funkadelic leaning more towards psychedelic soul and gritty guitar-driven funk; Parliament taking a more bombastic approach led by keys, synths and horns, with plenty of overlap between the two in content and personnel -- helped both define the funk genre and re-define its parameters along the way.
P-Funk's offshoots and Clinton's own solo material through the 1980s and 1990s saw the collective collaborating with icons like Prince, Sly Stone, and Public Enemy and Ice Cube, which paved the way for Clinton's later collaborations with Dr. Dre, Snoop Dogg, OutKast and more in the hip-hop era.
"It's still early for me, I'm still doing it," Clinton told Billboard about receiving the award. "I'm on the road now with my grandkids now, but receiving this honor makes it feel like a brand-new day for all of us."
In his later career, while still touring rigorously, Clinton also became an outspoken advocate for creators' rights, particularly in the realm of copyright reform and royalty collection. Combined with his innovative approach to making music, Clinton seems to be on solid ground when speaking about how he feels about the legacy of his music: "I hope I contributed the fight for the right of musicians to create something new. That's what I wanted to leave my kids and future generations."
"When thinking of personalities that have shaped the sound of music around the globe, George Clinton is high on the list," SESAC Holdings' chairman/CEO John Josephson said in a statement provided to Billboard.
Throughout his decades in the music business, however, perhaps the most impressive thing that George Clinton has added into the musical realm has been his constant and ceaseless determination to spread the gospel of the funk -- not just the music, but the feeling and lifestyle it evokes -- to as many people as possible around the globe.
"You couldn't tell me any different," he said, emphasizing how the art form has changed and adapted as new musical forms like hip-hop have risen to the forefront. "Seeing the response of fans coming through Motown and Beatlemania, I made up my mind that is what I was going to do with funk, or whatever we called it back then. When I saw how much rock 'n roll changed from the '50s to what it is now, I knew that's what we had to do with funk. That's why people both young and old enjoy it nowadays."