A Mighty Man of Vision and Faith!
Publisher, The Positive Community
I was about 28 years old when I met Paul Trautman. I was a salesman at NY radio station WLIB and I was arranging a concert at the Beacon Theater in NYC for a client featuring popular Nigerian recording artist Sonny Okossuns and the Ossidi Band. Paul eventually became the artist’s manager, booking agent and, promoter.
Paul Trautman, a man of vision, believed in the healing power of music and song. Paul believed that the emerging urban contemporary music arts of Africa—Afrobeat—could enrich the American cultural scene . . . and he was right! Music critics from the NY Times, Daily News, the Village Voice and across the country raved at this new wave of African artists. The bands performed at packed venues from Boston to Vancouver! I was always impressed by Paul’s passion for excellence and his sincerity.
I will never forget the image of Paul working out of his home office in Manhattan, phones constantly ringing. Rolling his daughter Elizabeth around in her stroller, holding his son, David in his arms as he balanced the phone between his ear and shoulder while taking notes. I will always remember at times of crucial decision, the constant refrain from the artists, band members, and promoters, booking agents, road managers, record executives, journalists, concert hall operators and club owners: “Where’s Paul Trautman?” And he never failed to deliver on his promises, always with the right answers or the solution!
Paul was a study in leadership, courage and resolve. He approached these projects as one called to do a mighty work! Paul was an idealist, not a blind optimist. He faced the facts and inherent uncertainties of his mission. He never showed anxiety or fear. He was a man committed to a vision of progress and positive change*; a man amongst men!
The crowning achievement of this chapter of our adventure together was in 1989. Paul and I produced and promoted, in association with WLIB/WBLS, for the first time ever, Africa’s # 1 artist; the legendary music giant, Fela Kuti, at the World Famous Apollo Theater in Harlem. It was a tribute to (then incarcerated) James Brown. On that night, we had two sold-out performances. To this day it remains that artist’s best concert appearance ever in the USA!
In the year 2000, I moved on from radio advertising sales and management to publish a faith-based lifestyle magazine with my long-time friend and business partner, Jean Nash Wells, The Positive Community. In the intervening years Paul and I, for the most part, lost contact with one another, except through our mutual friend, concert promoter and club owner, Raymond “Ju Ju” Paris.
In 2012 Paul and I began a new adventure together: theology, religion and spirituality! At that time Marcia Brown, Esq. and I were board co-chairs at Newark School of Theology. One day I walked into the office and there was Paul Trautman meeting with the school’s founder and president Rev. Douglas Bendall, PhD. Paul was there to study quantum physics and Old Testament. He eventually became a trustee. What a joyful reunion of friends! It had been nearly 20 years since we’d seen each other. The last time we did business together was in NYC, and now we were in Newark, in service to God and man! There had been no unfinished business between us; no resentments or regrets throughout those years together or apart. Was this a chance meeting or Providence? Only God knows!
Years earlier, Paul became a minister of the Gospel at Third Presbyterian Church in Newark. “Elder Trautman” was a popular preacher in his district rising to the position of Moderator of the Newark Presbyter. Rev. Dr. Cornell Edmonds of the Church of the Covenant in NYC described Paul as one who spoke “Truth to Power!”
He was also very active in the City of Newark’s Interfaith Clergy Alliance under the leadership of Rev. Louise Rountree. Paul even fasted and worshiped during Ramadan season with the Muslim community. I last saw Paul in hospice on a Saturday. He was being cared for by his first wife, Mary Mohler, the mother of his three children and his second wife, Nigerian-born Gospel artist, Floxy Bee. He looked so at peace as the two women took turns feeding and attending to him. My friend passed away that following Tuesday, April 26. He was 74 (almost 10 years my senior).
And that sums up my experience with Paul Trautman, a friend to man; a son of God—an extraordinary man of wisdom and faith!
*Positive Change is a community-building ideal of universal appeal; Positive Change speaks to the soul; to all that is good and great in each of us! Positive Change is a spirit of progress, health, prosperity; loving and selfless service; peace and goodwill! Indeed, Positive Change is the business about the future—The destiny of the people!