“In 1966, my partners Sandy and Kelli Ross, my wife Sheilah, and I were guests of one of our clients, Quincy Jones at an NAACP dinner for Lena Horne. The singer/ actress was being honored for the break through she made in music and film. She was the first “colored” actress who became a sex symbol around the world, featured in “Cabin In The Sky”, “Panama Hattie”, “Til The Clouds Roll By”, and “Stormy Weather.”

Her musical segments in mainstream (white) films were shot so they could be easily removed when they were shown in the “segregated south”. They also could use these clips to play among selected “shorts” to accompany feature films in the more “liberal north”.

Although I was honored to meet Lena Horne, I wasn’t as excited I as let’s say meeting Diana Ross, or a Dusty Springfield, since I considered her more of my mother’s generation than mine. As the lights dimmed a short film ran that had me mesmerized, not only was she beautiful and talented, she was a tireless champion of Civil Rights.

According to Wikipedia, “During World War II, when entertaining the troops for the USO, she refused to perform “for segregated audiences or for groups in which German POWs were seated in front of African American servicemen”, [7] according to her Kennedy Center biography. Since the US Army refused to allow integrated audiences, she wound up putting on a show for a mixed audience of black US soldiers and white German POWs. She was at an NAACP rally with Medgar Evers in Jackson, Mississippi the weekend before Evers was assassinated. She also met President John F. Kennedy at the White House two days before he was assassinated. She was at the March on Washington with Martin Luther King.”

After the film, Ms. Horne walked to the podium through thunderous applause and a standing ovation! Talk about humility, she said a few thank yous and sat back down. You could almost hear a unanimous whisper saying how good she looked at 50 years old!

I smiled and thought how fortunate I was to be here at this special occasion and witness  something I’d remember for the rest of my life!


Respectfully, Artie Wayne

Copyright 2010 by Artie Wayne https://artiewayne.wordpress.com/about-artie-wayne/

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May 1, 2010

“In 1966, Sandy and Kelli Ross had just moved to New York from Chicago. Sandy was the in-house lawyer for Mercury/ Smash/ Phillips Records and Kelli was the daughter of Irving Green who owned those labels, .

At the time Sandy and Kelli administered the publishing companies of Quincy Jones, Lesley Gore, The Cowsills, Janis Ian, and Bobby Scott, and I was working for Scepter Records.

When the owner of Scepter, Florence Greenberg, sold her publishing company, without warning or severance pay,  Ed Silvers, Nick Ashford, Valerie Simpson, Joshie Armstead, and I were unceremoniously let go.

My wife Sheilah, who worked as a secretary at Mercury, and I had become good friends with Sandy and Kelli, who offered me a partnership in their company which I happily took.

Songwriter/ producer Artie Kornfeld, “The Father of Woodstock”, remembers. “My wife Linda and I were also friends with Sandy and Kelli, as well as being close to one of the groups Alouette represented, the Cowsills.”

When Artie made a deal to produce the Cowsills for M-G-M, the group asked for their publishing back, which Kelli gave them without batting an eye. I freaked out and tried to explain that you can’t just give the publishing back to someone when you’ve been working with them all these years, hoping their copyrights would become valuable…but Kelli always put friendship above business.

When Artie and the group hit #1 with their first single “The Rain, The Park, and Other Things”, they recorded one of our copyrights, “Ask The Children” (Wonderling, Budnik, Goldfluss), which helped to ease my pain…a little.

Lesley Gore (“It’s My Party”, “You Don’t Own Me”) recalls, “Mercury Records at the time seemed more like a mom and pop business than a flourishing record company.  I came to know Irving Green, the president of Mercury.  What a wonderful man.  His daughter, Kelli, and son-in-law, Sandy, were also in the music business and ran my publishing company.

Irving and his family became part of the extended Gore family.  We all celebrated the progress of a new single as well as birthdays, anniversaries and graduations.”

Everyone loved Kelli and anytime you’d walk into our offices you find Janis Ian or Michael Gore playing a new song, or Quincy Jones and Bobby Scott just hanging out.

When the urge hit me to become a recording artist again, Kelli supported me 100% and got us a label deal with the legendary Morris Levy, with Ron Haffkine (Dr. Hook, Shel Silverstein) producing me under the name
”Shadow” Mann, and my protégé Sissy Spacek, whose name I changed to Rainbo.

Producer Ron Haffkine adds, “I recall Kelli as a warm, sweet, smiling young woman who was helpful to me at the beginning of my career. Kelli’s office, at Alouette, would overflow with writers, singers, producers, and a lot of noise. I and my friend Shel Silverstein (lucky for me) would drift from time to time between the offices of my friend Joel Diamond (also lucky for me ) who ran MRC Music and Kelli. Some wonderful stories are waiting to be told about events that transpired in both the offices by the many talented and often broke hopefuls who were allowed to spend many days and often nights in those offices thanks to the indulgence of Kelli Ross and Joel Diamond which I’m sure was not always easy.”

During the next few years Alouette represented Artie Resnick and Joey Levine (“Chewy, Chewy”, “Yummy, Yummy, Yummy”), Motherlode (“When I Die”), as well as producers Ron Haffkine, and Bo Gentry.

Sunny Monday remembers when she was cutting her first single with Ron Haffkine for Decca. “I was still a teenager when I met Kelli. She made me feel comfortable, a little bit groovy, and right at home. I came from the Mid-West and all of a sudden I was a New Yorker hangin’ with the people who were “making it happen”.

Although she wasn’t a singer/ songwriter, or producer Kelli Ross had a musical sense second to none. I remember I was backstage at the bitter end one night and I heard this guy named Jerry Jeff Walker play a song he wrote, “Mr. Bojangles”. It was one of those times that I knew it was a smash halfway through and told him I’d like to publish his song. My heart sank when he told me his producer Dan Elliot made a deal for his whole songwriting catalog that afternoon…then I was elated when I found out he had made the deal with my partner Kelli!

A few months later Dan Elliot came to his friend Kelli and asked for the publishing back, so he could make a recording deal for Jerry Jeff Walker with Atlantic Records, which demanded half of the publishing. I went f#@kin’ ballistic when Kelli gave it to him…I tried to reason with her, but she always put friendship above business.

Producer/ engineer Brooks Arthur fondly remembers,“My wife Marilyn, our children, Jill and Jacqueline, were invited to Sandy and Kelli’s Amaganset summer home. We swam, BBQ’d and purchased and boiled fresh lobsters on the beach. We talked music but the emphasis was on family! Then Kelli, Marilyn and Carol Geld created a BIG & LITTLE DAY in Central Park. All our musician friends, their wives and kids … The women & the men prepared and brought food and blankets, stretched out on the sheep meadow for the time of our lives. Talked music, shared studio & songwriting stories but put the emphasis on friendships and families. Wonderful days!”

A year later I got divorced and also said goodbye to Sandy, Kelli and New York, When I moved to California to join Warner Brothers Music. Sandy made me give up my interest in Alouette productions and our co-owned company Tattersall music which published all of my songs.

The next time I saw Kelli was after she divorced Sandy and was running the international division RCA publishing. She gave me a $10,000 advance for the sub-publishing of my new catalog in Australia, where I was enjoying a top ten record, “From The Inside”, by Marcia Hines. I didn’t see Kelli again until bout seven years ago when she was selling real estate in Palm Springs California.

I figured I had nothing to lose so I asked her for my publishing back, which she gave me without blinking an eye… because Kelli always put friendship above business.

I wish everyone a friend like Kelli Ross.

Copyright 2010 by Artie Wayne https://artiewayne.wordpress.com/about-artie-wayne/

picture at top of Kelli Ross and Artie Wayne by Popsie

Special thanks to Lesley Gore, Artie Kornfeld, Ron Haffkine, Sunny Monday, and Brooks Arthur for helping to put this article together.

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