HOUSTON, TX -- Mathew Knowles, the founder, President and CEO of Music World Entertainment (MWE), has been elected to the Board of Trustees of Fisk University. A 1974 graduate of the Historically Black College based in Nashville, Tennessee, Knowles also will serve on the Board of the General Alumni Association of Fisk University. The leader of one of the world's leading music and entertainment conglomerates, Knowles brings to the board his business and management expertise, a strong commitment to education and a great enthusiasm for his alma mater.
Under Knowles visionary leadership, Music World Entertainment has experienced tremendous growth and extraordinary success for nearly two decades. He is widely recognized in the entertainment industry for his innovative and successful approach to producing and distributing high quality entertainment and developing and promoting award-winning artists. The company has had an unprecedented impact on music and entertainment around the globe.
"Fisk is honored that its alumnus and international businessman Mathew Knowles will join our Board of Trustees," said Fisk President Hazel R. O'Leary. "His strategic skills and worldview compliment those of our concurrent Board Members as we prepare our students for leadership and engagement in the local and global communities."
Knowles welcomes the opportunity to lend his business acumen and leadership skills to provide policy guidance as part of the Board of Trustees. Knowles first honed those skills at Fisk while working toward both a Bachelor of Arts degree in Economics and a Bachelor of Science degree in Business Administration. "I am so honored to have the opportunity to give back to this university that played such an important role in my life," said Knowles. "Fisk offered me more than just a first class education. It reinforced the belief that if you maintain a commitment to excellence, work hard and never give up on your dreams; you can be and do anything that you want, no matter where you start out."
Knowles' commitment to encouraging and supporting the aspirations of young people came out of his own life experience. A self-described "small town country boy," Knowles grew up in Gadsden, Alabama during the 1950s, when the town was segregated. He credits his parents with instilling both drive and strong family-centered values within him. Through his parents, he also learned early lessons about the importance of education and the rewards of being willing to chart a new course for others to follow. His mother was a strong advocate of desegregation. As a result he was one of the first African Americans to attend Litchfield Junior High School, where he and the other black students were escorted by state troopers through throngs of angry protesters every day. He also was among the first African Americans to attend Gadsden High School and the University of Tennessee in Chattanooga. Although he faced many challenges in breaking the color barriers at these schools, those early experiences as a trailblazer would shape his approach to his career. He says that he learned that "inside adversity often lies opportunity" and that one should never give up on a dream. After graduating from college, he began a career as a sales and marketing representative for Xerox in Houston, Texas. He became the top sales executive worldwide before turning his attention to the music business, where he continues to encourage dreams and blaze new trails.
In 2008, Knowles was awarded the Doctor of Humane Letters during the University's commencement ceremony. At that time he recalled that at Fisk, he was encouraged not only to work hard, but also to think outside the box and to imagine a successful future in whatever field he chose to pursue. "I remember being at Fisk's radio station [WFSK 88.1 FM] with a fraternity brother, David Lombard, and all we did was dream," Knowles said, noting that their dreams were about taking the industry by storm by creating and managing girl groups. "David went on to put together a group called En Vogue and I put together a group called Destiny's Child, and it was because of a dream right here at Fisk University."
Lombard managed En Vogue, an award-winning female quartet which, according to Billboard magazine, was one of the most popular female groups of all time. Under Knowles leadership and management, Destiny's Child became a global phenomenon and the "most successful girl group" in the history of popular music. In the 1990s, Destiny's Child was named Billboard magazine's Female Group of the Decade. Knowles also successfully launched and managed the solo careers of the members of Destiny's Child: Michelle Williams, Kelly Rowland and Beyoncé, who was crowned Billboard's Top Female Artist of the Decade.
Knowles continues the tradition of both training students for careers and encouraging them to dream. He holds a professorship at Texas Southern University, where he teaches a course on the entertainment industry in the School of Communications. He also has been a popular guest lecturer at various colleges and universities throughout the country. In 2010, Knowles instituted a highly successful and competitive summer internship program for college students from around the country who are interested in working in the entertainment field. The twelve students who were selected for the program had a unique opportunity to gain hands on experience in various areas of music entertainment business, including marketing, new media, A&R, artist development, tour management and creative. They also met regularly with Knowles in sessions that were both instructional and inspirational. During this 10-week program at MWE headquarters in Houston, Texas, interns not only performed assigned tasks, but they also were challenged to think creatively and to offer ideas for their projects. A number of the students who had earned their degrees in May 2010 were hired by Music World Entertainment at the conclusion of the internship program.