Co-Founder, Roadies Of Color United International
Production and tour manager Bill Reeves was talking with stage manager Lance “K.C.” Jackson about Crewspace – the first large-scale industry-related social network platform – when they started clicking through the membership and realized very few minorities were represented, similar to the lack of diversity in trade publications. And so Reeves and Jackson decided to start their own social network in early 2009 called Roadies of Color United to give professionals in the live industry the chance to “unite, network, promote each other and collaborate in order to help promote a more diverse and inclusive industry.”
Before COVID-19 shut down the live industry, Roadies of Color celebrated its 10th anniversary in February by hosting its debut conference in Atlanta. The event featured roundtables, panel discussions and introduced Roadies of Color’s own award series, the Lennys, named after Lenny Guice, who was the original roadie for the Commodores.
Reeves has been in the music industry for 45 years, getting his start as an electrician working a few tours for a lighting company, then quickly landing a job as a lighting director/production manager for Teddy Pendergrass. He also worked for Luther Vandross for 14 years, did a handful of tours with Prince and worked with Anita Baker, Maxwell and D’Angelo. For the past 10 years he’s been a production and tour manager for Anthony Hamilton.
“I was very lucky early in my career to begin working with artists at an early stage in their development and be able to grow and develop my production chops as the artist grew in their fame and increased the complexity of their show over the years,” Reeves says when asked about the most impactful success in his career.
Up next for Roadies of Color United, Reeves says the organization is initiating two projects to address and encourage diversity in hiring practices in the touring industry: “One: compiling and vetting a database of qualified road technicians, engineers and designers of color to serve as a resource for the people who are hiring and staffing tours. Two: Initiating an outreach program to theatre departments at Historically Black Colleges and Universities, to help feed the pipeline of new, young talent entering the production field.”