Grammy Award winning music producer, recording artist, philanthropist, civic activist and actor David Banner will speak on August 25 during Welcome Week at the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff. The free, public event will begin at 6:00 p.m. in the H.O. Clemmons arena of the Kenneth L. Johnson, Sr. HPER Complex.
Banner — born as Lavell Crump in Jackson, Mississippi — recently appeared in Lee Daniel’s “The Butler” and in Tim Story’s movie “Ride Along”. Banner also is founder of A Banner Vision, a multimedia company that specializes in providing emotionally engaging music for iconic commercials, video games and films. A Banner Vision has produced a body of work that Banner’s primary audience and fan base may not know much about, including ads for brands like Pepsi, Gatorade, Paramount Pictures (Footloose film), Marvel, Capcom, Mercedes Benz and mass-market retailer Kmart, among others.
Such mega success did not come without challenges. At one point along the way, Banner was living in his rundown van and struggling to build his career. He’d constructed a studio inside the van and had all his worldly possessions with him. One day a group of teenagers stole the van when Banner stopped through Birmingham on his way to Mississippi from Atlanta – taking everything away from him.
Banner did not give up. Digging deep and relying on faith and lessons from his parents, he kept moving toward with his dream in spite of the setback. When he found his van abandoned by the thieves, the master CDs he was working on were still inside. Three months later, on another trip to Birmingham to sell his material, he caught the attention of Universal label executive Steve Rifkind and was signed to a multi-million dollar five-album deal.
Banner was raised by parents who instilled in him the importance of getting an education and applying his talents to do something of substance in the world. Banner attended his mother’s alma mater, Southern University (Baton Rouge), graduating with a degree in business; and went on to graduate school at the University of Maryland on a full scholarship before leaving to pursue his musical career.
“Before he died, my father told me that I taught him more about chasing your dreams than anyone he’d ever met in his life,” Banner said.
Banner has exceeded his parents’ expectations. Highly successful in his field, he created a foundation, Heal the Hood, Inc., to provide relief and recovery assistance to lower income people of the Gulf Region affected by natural disasters. He deeply believes in the philosophy of giving back, especially once someone is in a position to be generous.
Heal the Hood also supports youth development and recreation programs in Mississippi. The foundation raised $500,000 for Katrina survivors in Mississippi and Alabama; and 2014 was its eighth year of distributing clothing, toys, and other necessities to Jackson, Mississippi families during the holidays.
Banner finds reward in encouraging young people to gain knowledge, and he leverages his affluence and influence to help make the world a better place. He has been a prominent and passionate voice in the face of social injustice.
For more information about the event, contact the Office of Student Involvement and Leadership at (870) 575-7060.