If you caught yesterday’s page-one story about Gene Shelton, you know about his background as a music-industry executive who rose from Motown publicist to VP of media relations at Warner Records. While researching this post, I also learned that Gene once toiled as Michael Jackson’s press agent and that he worked closely with Curtis Mayfield, Barry White, Ray Charles and others. He’s not one to boast, so who knew?
I hope ABJ and photographer Paul Tople won’t mind that I’m borrowing this portrait to promote their good work — and Gene’s.
ABJ writer Kim Hone-McMahan contacted Gene to tap his knowledge of Diana Ross and the Supremes and the story many believe was mirrored in the film Dreamgirls. Not, so, Gene tells us. A good film, but pure fiction. But he did share some stories about working with the Supremes, and a bit about his jet-setting life in the music biz.
What the ABJ piece wasn’t able to relate is the story of Gene’s life after music — and his many contributions to Kent State.
While his new role offers no limos and penthouse suites, the energy that fueled Gene’s success in music hasn’t waned a bit. In addition to his duties as an instructor — teaching Media Power & Culture and a course in music promotion, among others — Gene serves the diversity adviser in the School of Journalism and faculty adviser to NABJ. In his role as diversity adviser, he works to recruit and retain students of color, targeting kids as early as Grade 9 through the Dow Jones Minority Workshop.
If you’re a Kent State booster, or if you just love stories about great people doing great work, click a few of the links below and get to know Gene Shelton.
Needless to say, we’re proud to call him colleague and friend.