My Uncle, Esmond Edwards 1927-2007
The family of Esmond Edwards sadly announces his passing away on Saturday, January 20, 2007 in Santa Barbara, California. Esmond was born on October 29, 1927 to Lucille and Moses Edwards in Nassau Bahamas while his father completed a work assignment there. His parents, natives of Kingston, Jamaica returned to Kingston with Esmond and his older brother, Noel, where they resided until eventually leaving their sons in the care of their maternal grandmother while they immigrated to New York City to prepare a new home for their sons. After the untimely death of his brother, Esmond joined his parents in New York City where they lived in Harlem and Washington Heights for many years.
Esmond was educated in New York City Schools including Frederick Douglas (J.H.S.139), the prestigious Stuyvesant High School and City College. He studied Radiography at the Jersey City Medical Center and while working there pursued an avid interest in photography and music. Using his years of piano lessons as a background, he began creating jazz compositions in his teen years and ultimately combined his creativity in music and photography in to a very prolific and successful career.
Esmond worked in various venues of the Jazz and Blues arena beginning at Prestige Records in 1957 and moved up to the position of Producer before going on to head the Verve label for MGM in 1967. He became the vice-president of Artist and Repertory for Chess Records in 1970. One of the first African-American executives in the recording industry, Edwards was awarded several gold & platinum records with many outstanding artists in the Jazz and Blues world including Miles Davis, George Benson, John Coltrane, Chuck Berry, Etta James, Ramsey Lewis, B.B. King, and a host of others. He photographed many of these artists for the album jackets of numerous recordings. Edwards received a Grammy nomination for the cast album of the Tony award winning Broadway musical, Your Arms Too Short to Box with God and received many other industry awards.
Even after relocating to Chicago and California, Esmond remained a New Yorker at heart and throughout the years he closely followed the activities of the New York Yankees and the New York Knicks. Edwards is survived by his wife, Yvonne; son, Evan; step-daughter Nadra; sister, Lois; and nieces, Sylvia and Susan. He will be deeply missed.
A Memorial Service will be held on February 10, 2007 from 2-4pm at the Neighborhood Unitarian Universalist Church, 301 N. Orange Grove Blvd., Pasadena, CA.