Howard Hertz received a lifetime honor.
In 1970, when he was 20 years old, Howard Hertz traveled from Detroit to New York. He bought a one-way ticket on a charter flight to London, where he bought a motorcycle. For the next six months, he traveled across Europe, North Africa and Israel – always with a harmonica in his pocket. To this day, Hertz never leaves home without his harmonica. Whether it’s in his car, briefcase or backpack, he always has one with him because, as the famous musician and attorney says, “You never know.”
You never know when you’ll receive a Lifetime Achievement Award as a “Champion for Artistic Freedom” from the Cultural Council of Birmingham Bloomfield. On October 14, at the Birmingham Bloomfield Arts Center, Hertz received special awards for her decades of service to numerous nonprofits and underserved and up-and-coming musicians. Hertz has dedicated his life to providing reputable legal and management expertise to individuals and industrial organizations.
“Receiving an award from the community in which I have been in private practice since 1979 makes me feel appreciated for my hard work,” said attorney Hertz, head of Hertz Shrum’s entertainment and intellectual property practice groups in Bloomfield. Hills and Detroit.
“I hope it doesn’t mean I’m old,” Hertz laughed. “When you get a lifetime achievement award, you think it’s the end of your career, which it’s not. I’m more involved now than ever.”
So much so that Hertz, who has been a board member of the Sphinx organization for the past 10 years, missed the 25th anniversary concert and gala at New York’s Carnegie Hall because it fell on Oct. 13, the day before his Lifetime Achievement Award presentation in Birmingham.
An impressive client list
Hertz’s extensive celebrity client list includes writers, musicians and record labels such as Elmore Leonard, Marilyn Manson, George Clinton, Insane Clown Posse, The Bass Brothers, Thornetta Davis, Marcus Belgrave, Atlantic Records, The Romantics and Eminem (aka Marshall Mathers). . Hertz has been a board member of the Marshall Mathers Foundation for the past 20 years. A signed 8 Mile movie poster from Eminem in Hertz’s office reads “Thanks for keeping me out of jail.”
In the art world, Hertz is a major advocate for artists’ rights and has been recognized accordingly. In 2018, she received the Arts Advocacy Award presented by Wayne State University’s College of Fine, Performing and Communication Arts. On October 6, Hertz met with a member of the United States Congress to advocate for new music legislation.
“This is my fifth year leading the dialogue as a team captain for District Advocate Day,” said Hertz, who is an Advocacy Committee member for the National Association of Recording Arts and Sciences. “It’s very rewarding to help people in the music community, whether it’s nationally or reaching out to Detroit artists and connecting them with MusiCares for help. And for the past 10 years, I’ve been on the Grammy Advocacy Committee where we advocate for new laws in Washington that benefit artists and songwriters.”
A 20-time Grammy Award winner, Hertz is himself a Grammy Award winner for composing the music for three songs from Hamilton for “Best Musical Theater Album.”
As president of the Detroit Music Awards Foundation — which produces the Detroit Music Awards — for more than 20 years, there’s probably not a local musician Hertz hasn’t worked with, mentored or even jammed on stage with.
“Howard has a genuine and unconditional dedication to the arts in the metro area and to those who create them. Our arts community is better off for Howard’s involvement and contributions, there’s no question,” said Gary Graf, music journalist and co-founder of the Detroit Music Awards.
Hertz and Graff recently received an Emmy Award for being executive producers of the 30th anniversary Detroit Music Awards, virtually held last spring and available online at www.detroitmusicawards.net.
The pair also worked on Nosh Jane, an event at the Jewish Historical Society of Michigan. Held at Otas Supply in Ferndale in February 2019, Nosh Jane features a panel discussion of Jewish Detroiters influential in Detroit’s music history and a live performance with Jewish musicians including Hertz, Ethan Davidson, Billy Brandt, Mark Pasman, Tino Gross and others.
“It was really fun,” recalls Hertz, who also plays guitar. “When I was 6 years old, I heard Elvis sing ‘Hound Dog’ on the radio and I was hooked. I thought I sounded just like him. I pursed my lips like he did when I sang. When I was 14, I saw The Beatles on The Ed Sullivan Show. I was blown away. I went to a pawn shop and immediately bought my first guitar, which cost $25.”
Did Hertz bring his harmonica to the Birmingham Bloomfield Cultural Arts Awards on October 14? Yes, it was in his pocket.