While accepting the UBS & Billboard Trailblazer Award at Billboard’s Power 100 Event at Goya Studios in Hollywood on Wednesday night (Feb. 1), Harbourview Equity Partners founder/CEO Sherrese Clarke Soares struck a somber note during an otherwise celebratory evening.
“Harbourview has been a dream of mine for many years in the making, and I feel grateful that I’m able to do my life’s work,” said the executive, who has acquired nearly 40 catalogs since launching the company in October 2021. “However, at the same time I experience the joy of receiving the recognition, my heart is heavy. At first I could not really sort why, but as I prepared to board my flight to head out West, the words hit me, ‘I just want to get home.’”
Those words — spoken by Tyre Nichols, the Black man who died after being beaten by police officers following a traffic stop in Memphis on Jan. 10 — formed the crux of Clarke Soares’ brief speech, in which she also acknowledged other recent incidents of hatred, including mass shootings in California and the anti-Semitic vandalism of Jewish synagogues.
“Echoing in my head and in my heart, emotions ran deep as I thought of the last words of a young man 100 feet from his home, and I realized that over the last few weeks, as a country and as a community, we’ve beared witness to so much disregard and undervaluing of life,” Clarke Soares continued. “And so while I’m honored to stand before you today, I know our work at Harbourview will not be done until we use our power to trailblaze a path through music, storytelling and art that connects our collective humanity, humanizing each precious life, so that everyone makes it home to their families at night.”
Named one of Billboard‘s Change Agents in 2021 while serving in her previous role as founder/CEO of Tempo Music, Clarke Soares has consistently pointed to the importance of fostering diversity through her work — both in the staff she hires and the investments she makes. Before taking the stage, her efforts on that front were also highlighted by Wale Ogunleye, former football player and head of sports & entertainment at UBS, who presented Clarke Soares with the award while noting her “extremely diverse” team and “culturally…and musically diverse” portfolio of music catalogs.
Clarke Soares reiterated that overarching mission during her speech by invoking the phrase “Out of many, one people” — “a phrase we say at Harbourview, and we embody it if you look at our team,” she said. “And as a company, our trailblazing should not only be measured in the economic barriers that we break, but in the impact we have to be a place of hope without fear to tell stories that shape hearts and minds for love and humanity. And we ask all of you in this room, with all of your power, to join us in that journey.”
Clarke Soares was one of five individuals to accept awards at the high-powered event on Wednesday. Also honored were Noah Assad (executive of the year, presented by Bad Bunny); Avery and Monte Lipman, COO and CEO of Republic Records, respectively (label of the year, presented by Kim Petras); and HYBE chairman Bang Si-Hyuk (the Clive Davis visionary award, presented by Clive Davis and Scooter Braun).
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