What do artists Jay-Z, Rihanna, Drake, Usher, and Beyoncé all have in common? If you said they are all mega-star, chart-topping, world-renowned recording and performing artists, you'd be right. But each also shares another commonality -- that of working under the tutelage of music publishing executive Big Jon Platt. While Platt is currently the CEO of the Warner/Chappell music publishing company, he had humble beginnings growing up in Denver's Montbello neighborhood, a community with which he still maintains ties through his philanthropy.
Born in Philadelphia, Platt moved to Denver with his mother and siblings, settling in the far northeast neighborhood of Montbello when he was in fifth grade. He attended Montbello High School where he developed friendships with individuals who were into music. While working at an athletic apparel store in neighboring Aurora, he met a friend who taught him how to DJ. He became so adept that he built enough of a following to found his own events, which became profitable.
Success in DJ'ing eventually stirred aspirations of becoming a manager, and Platt relocated to Los Angeles where he was introduced to Madukey Productions by a friend. He then moved to EMI where, as the creative manager, he acquired the publishing rights to TLC's single "Waterfalls," one of the biggest crossover hits of the mid-'90s. He also successfully recruited Jay-Z to EMI after the release of his classic debut album Reasonable Doubt.
In the midst of his burgeoning success in the LA music landscape, he never forgot the community where he grew up. "[Montbello] is the foundation for what I became today," Platt states. He knew he wanted to do something to help the kids in the community and began by sending money to the high school for Christmas and Thanksgiving initiatives. He also paid for proms and neighbors' funerals.
His generosity grew into an established scholarship for students graduating from Montbello High School. His wife, Angie, found The Denver Foundation to administer the scholarship.
At first, their interest was in helping kids with dreams in music. It then expanded to other students. "It is a small way to help. I was them," Platt says.
"I am blessed to be where I am now, and want to show them what's possible."
Platt hopes that he is, in some way, "helping to develop the next breed of executives."
While Montbello High School no longer exists, the music mogul still invests in the Montbello youth and will offer three scholarships to seniors who graduate from Denver Center for International Studies at Montbello or Noel Community Arts School.
Platt supports many other causes, most anonymously, but one issue that is very close to his heart is juvenile diabetes. His six-year-old son suffers from type 1 diabetes and one of the greatest gifts he'd love to give is a cure and some comfort along the way.
Scholarships help both donors and students to impact the community and The Denver Foundation awards more than $3 million per year in scholarships to deserving students through a wide range of scholarship opportunities.
Students: The best way to learn about eligibility, requirements, and application deadlines for each scholarship is to visit www.denverfoundation.org/scholarships.
Donors, volunteers, and Partners: for more information about creating a scholarship fund, contributing to a scholarship fund, or getting more involved, visit denverfoundation.org/scholarships.
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