Alumnus and 2016 Clark Atlanta University (CAU) Doctor of Human Letters honoris causa degree recipient Hamilton F. Bohannon crafted a marvelous career beginning with his days as a student at Clark College. Now, his journey has evolved into a most impressive drive. With the May 9 vote of his hometown's City Council, that path now includes a thoroughfare named in his honor. Newnan, Ga.'s, former Peachtree St., a fixture in the neighborhood of his youth, Aug. 1 became Hamilton Bohannon Drive.
The former music and secondary education major, who once turned down an Indiana University scholarship to give back to the community by teaching public school in nearby LaGrange, left his post only to begin his amazing musical journey as a drummer in Stevie Wonder's band. Soon thereafter, he was tapped to serve as band director for Motown Records, working with artists including: Smokey Robinson, The Four Tops, Martha Reeves and the Vandellas, and Gladys Knight and the Pips, as well as Diana Ross and the Supremes. Bohannon built the musical platform that elevated the entire roster of Motown artists in live concert.
In addition to his success as a solo artist, Bohannon also is revered for his in-studio genius as producer. He has graced Billboard's "Top 100 R&B" charts 41 times. His music remains timeless, having been featured in major motion pictures, including "Swordfish" and "Daddy's Little Girls." His work has been sampled by more than 200 artists, including Jay Z, Mary J. Blige, Snoop Dogg and Justin Timberlake.
Always a shrewd businessman, Bohannon is the sole owner of his music. By establishing Ponteverda Music Publishing, Bohannon Phase II Records, HNA Records and Bohannon Productions, he owns more than one thousand master recordings and songs. His autobiographical audiobook, Bohannon Speaks From the Beginning, also can be found in every Atlanta Public School library.
In recent comments to Newnan Times-Herald Reporter Clay Neely, Bohannon said the gesture shows "love and hope" and "won't ever be forgotten." He added, "the street where I was born, that same dirt street where my parents worked so hard for us—its incredible. It's a very sacred thing."
CAU President Ronald Johnson says, "Hamilton Bohannon's success exemplifies the long-held capacity of this great institution to inspire young scholars of great talent, intellect and creativity. The support of alumni of this caliber fortifies our capacity to create a global pipeline for talent, intellect, creativity and entrepreneurship, well into the future."
Donna L. Brock, Public Relations, Clark Atlanta University
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