For the outside world, Midem is most often associated with the global pop business. So it’s nice to see that this year’s personality of the year is Claude Nobs, founder and director of the Montreux Jazz festival in Switzerland.
Nobs began his career as an accountant for the Montreux Office de Tourisme where he also worked on promoting tourism for the town. In the ‘60s, during a trip to New York, he met Nesuhi Ertegun, who was the President of Atlantic Records at that time. Ertegun introduced him to the singer Roberta Flack, whom he immediately invited to perform at the Rose d’Or in Montreux.
Having successfully persuaded Aretha Franklin to sing for the first time in Europe, Claude Nobs founded the Montreux Jazz Festival in 1967. The initial three-day event was an overnight hit and quickly became the international meeting place for jazz-lovers from around the world. It now welcomes some 250,000 people per year – an outstanding figure. The next event will be in July 2007. Details on the Montreux Jazz site.
Not everything at Montreux is strictly jazz – by a long shot. But it does nonetheless remain the pre-eminent world jazz event. Nobs will receive the award at a special invitation-only event.