By Gary Johnson – Publisher (Black Men In America.com)
Gary Johnson had an impromptu conversation with Mr. Chauncey Dunham, the CEO of A Dante Production. Let’s get right to it.
BMIA.com: In a very short period, your company has become the premiere musical concert company in North Central, Florida. How does that make you feel?
CEO: Well, the company has been blessed with the title of being the premiere musical concert company in North Central Florida. It really took many people to make this happen. Let’s start with promotions and venues. JAW Promotions make the decisions as to what venue is going to be used and the time frame for the concert. Ladero Design Works, then develops the marketing plan which includes designing the flyers and developing the social media time frames. Once this is done the Dante team develops the theme of the show and picks the musicians.
BMIA.com: How many musicians and bands do you have or manage?
CEO: A Dante Production currently has 4 bands and a host of singers. However, many people assist with what goes on behind the scenes and on the drawing board. A very good friend of Dante, Donna Gray-Banks came up with the phrase,” you have to pivot,” and that is now almost a daily thing. When COVID hit we all were in limbo. Should we stop or pivot? We decided to pivot, hence was the development of Pay 2 View (P2V), which was embedded on the website, www.adanteproduction.com. Then another new idea came about–a YouTube Channel, called “Dante’s Den.” The purpose of the channel was both to interview the artist and people working behind the scenes. Time has been against us as it relates to frequency, however, that will change soon.
BMIA.com: While we’re on the topic of production, do you outsource your sound and video needs? Or is that in-house?
CEO: Dante has a sound crew, and a video crew. Sometimes Dante has almost two dozen moving parts involved to deliver a concert. From the initial idea on the drawing board to concert day. It takes months, and in some cases a year of advanced planning to deliver a show. Sometimes I go into isolation to vision a new concept. That includes details such as lighting, weather conditions, which band is the right fit for a specific genre of music and the visuals associated with video. On top of that, I must factor in the financials. These productions aren’t FREE. The result is that good music produces a kind of pleasure which human nature cannot do without, therefore it’s important to take the time to be thorough.
BMIA.com: How do you find your talent?
CEO: I’m always looking for talent. All of us are. It’s a collective effort on the part of the team. New artists often approach me. The artist is hoping for that one “Yes,” to counter all of the previous “No’s.” The reality is that sometimes “No,” must be said. “No” doesn’t always mean that the person is not good or doesn’t have talent. “No” may mean, the timing for what you bring is not optimal or the chemistry is not right for the overall group or production. Never let a few “No’s” stop you from competing and striving to live your dream.
BMIA.com: How much do you know about your audiences?
CEO: We know a lot, but we can know a lot more and we’re learning more by way of analytics which we can get from our website. We watch the online concert viewers and much to our surprise, we have followers in New Zealand, Australia, Japan, and London. Good music and performances have a universal language.
BMIA.com: What keeps you up at night?
CEO: That’s a very interesting question. Music is the wine that fills the cup of silence. Many people live for today and others live for the next days, months and years. Music produces a kind of pleasure which human nature cannot do without, so the pleasure of developing a successful concert is what tells us that humans is greater than we realize. Some people have lives; some people have music. A few years ago, I was new to this area. I moved from the Washington, DC area to Florida, which provided life to a small city that had very little life. As boredom set in, I fell back to my roots which was music and art. Music expresses that which cannot be said and on which it is impossible to be silent. That was a long way of saying, music keeps me up at night.
I want to personally thank everyone associated with A Dante Production. Much thanks go to the bands, Dante’s Pride, Dante’s Dream, Groov, and Chris Clarke and friends. We can never say enough about the singers, Lois Clarke Williams, Daphne Cooper, Scherezada Morales, Flo Logan, Diana Lewis, and the violin of Jaquay Pearce.
BMIA.com: Is there anything question that I haven’t asked you that I should have asked?
CEO: I don’t think so. Thanks, Gary, for this interview and allowing me to express myself.
Gary’s After Interview Reflections: The most important part of the interview for me was the CEO’s answers to the final question: “What keeps you up at night?” He reflected that music gives a soul to the universe, wings to the mind, flight to the imagination, and life to everything. That was a very “1970’s-like” reflective kind of answer.
Here are my other key take-aways:
- The CEO strongly believes that change is needed (thanks in part to James Womack). A Dante Production as a company is not content to just sit back and rest on previous success.
- This business is hard only because changes are being made daily and people have a hard time with change. The word “pivot” is now a part of our normal vocabulary, and it may be happening too fast for the masses. A year and a half after the beginning of the pandemic, we are once again seeing surges in COVID-related cases, largely due to the highly contagious Delta variant. This increases our need for relaxation to stimulate the brain, again our music can come into our lives. The CEO believes that music brings us pleasure and releases our suffering. It can calm us down and pump us up. Music helps us manage pain, run faster, sleep better and be more productive.