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Fawn Weaver: A Woman's Self-Made Journey from Motown to Small Town

Our American Stories / Lee Habeeb
The Truth Network Radio
January 30, 2023 3:01 am

Fawn Weaver: A Woman's Self-Made Journey from Motown to Small Town

Our American Stories / Lee Habeeb

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January 30, 2023 3:01 am

On this episode of Our American Stories, Fawn Weaver grew up the daughter of Motown Record royalty, Frank Wilson, but her parentage is only the beginning. From growing up, moving out young, and starting several business, she's learned lessons about equality, fitting in, fear, and much more.

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It's Dramos. You may know me from the recap on LATV. Now I've got my own podcast, Life as a Gringo, coming to you every Tuesday and Thursday. We'll be talking real and unapologetic about all things life, Latin culture and everything in between from someone who's never quite fit in.

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For cleaning tips and exclusive offers, visit Bona.com slash BonaClean. This is Lee Habib and this is Our American Stories. And we tell stories about everything here on this show, from the arts to sports and from business to history and everything in between, including your stories. Send them to OurAmericanStories.com.

That's OurAmericanStories.com. Your stories are some of our favorites. And today Robbie brings us the story of Fawn Weaver.

Here's Fawn to tell us her story. My father was one of the original Motown hitmakers. There were always Motown folks in the house. Everywhere you would turn, there were gold and platinum records and a billboard that now just tracks the top, you know, 100 or top 200 hits. They used to track producers in the nation and who had the most hits. And I remember looking at one of the placards one day and going, hey, my dad was the number two producer in the nation. But the irony is, is that even though we always had these people around, we were not a part of it. The year that I was born, 1976, my father decided not to sign another contract with Berry Gordy's and Motown.

And not, not for any reason that you might hear out there in regard to Berry's contracts and 360 deals and all the rest of that stuff. My father was one of a very few number of those in the very, very beginning that may always maintained his masters. It truly was just, he felt as though he had been called to ministry and away from the music business. So if you can imagine that the year that I was born, my mother and father had this massive home on the top of the Hill and Hollywood Hills and all the celebrities would come to their home.

He'd throw these huge parties and all the rest of that. And then he decides, I am going to not sign another contract. I've been called by God. God will make a way for everything. Well, meanwhile, he doesn't have money coming in. So you have two people who decided, all right, God called us. We're going to leave all the money that we have been making, but we still have all these bills. We still have this lifestyle. We still have these fancy cars. And so they, it was an interesting time because if you could imagine the amount of stress that they were then under, because you've got all these bills, you have all these people that are looking at you as being this wealthy family.

But meanwhile, you don't really have gas for your car. And they had this store at the bottom of the Hill called, I think it was called the country Mart. They had a grocery tab there where they would get all their groceries and, you know, put it in the book and then they would pay at the end of the month and keep going.

And, and so they did that for several months after this transition. And, and finally the store owner said to my dad one day, Hey Frank, I've noticed you've not paid your bill in a while. And so my parents had to figure out, all right, we, we, we feel like we've been called by God to minister to the people that are in the industry where we used to be, but we don't have the money to pay for basic necessities. And this was the life I was born into. And so they sold their home in Hollywood Hills.

They moved to Pasadena. And so we grew up in this beautiful home where people thought we had all this money, but then we didn't really have furniture and we didn't have sort of basic stuff. And, uh, I remember learning for the first time that we actually technically on paper had money because we were, we would go to school every day. We have like these terrible lunches with, you know, nothing good. And I wanted to get food like all the other kids. And they had like these lunch cards where they got all of the best foods every day. And so I went back to my mom and I said, Hey, you know, the kids, they get these great lunches. We have these terrible lunches. If we don't have money, can I just get those lunches? And my mom said, we can't because we make too much money for those. And it was like, what are you talking about?

We don't have any money. So that, that was my, uh, that was my upbringing of absolute confusion. Really. I look back at that and it formed every aspect of how I live, of how I do business, of my marriage, of every part of it, because I require equality from every person, no matter your background, no matter your race, no matter how much money you came from or have, everybody is equal. And that is how I treat everyone.

There is no delineation for me. And I think the more I live, the more I realized that that's a gift because a lot of people count themselves out, meaning they will not go for the job or they won't start the business or they won't bet on themselves because they have these fears that I simply do not have. It was an odd situation to be in where people on the outside are looking at us and are like, yeah, those Wilson's have a lot of money, but inside we're doing flips and cartwheels in this massive size living room because there's really nothing in it but a piano and a, you know, in a plug in TV. It's funny because I am, I am utterly unimpressed with people in general, including myself. And I think that's because of the way that I grew up. Like I don't, I have been in the room with sitting presidents of the United States and I call them by their first name and, uh, my husband, he said, babe, you're supposed to call them president so-and-so, but I'm not wired that way because I grew up with uncle Stevie and uncle Smokey. I did not, I didn't grow up in such a way where I saw people at on levels. Everybody to me was equal. And my father had this amazing gift of treating the president the same exact way as he treated a janitor. And so I have taken that with me. And so I don't show any more respect for a person that is at the top than I do.

That's at the bottom, which very much so confuses people at the top. I think I'm sure it does. And you're listening to Pawn Weaver, her dad, Frank Wilson, impresario at Motown records, and just suddenly drops the hammer and says, we're living for God and so much for the material world.

We'll figure it all out. But it gave her a tremendous sense that she had nothing to fear. And my goodness, it's the greatest gift you can give a kid is to take away irrational fear. It's a disease, actually fear.

It can paralyze all of us. And what a gift a dad could give a daughter to treat presidents and janitors the same. More of this remarkable voice, Pawn Weaver's story on Our American Story. Folks, if you love the great American stories we tell and love America like we do, we're asking you to become a part of the Our American Stories family. If you agree that America is a good and great country, please make a donation. A monthly gift of $17.76 is fast becoming a favorite option for supporters. Go to our American stories.com now and go to the Donate button and help us keep the great American stories coming.

That's our American stories.com. There's a recipe for getting your car running just right. And whatever you're cooking up in the garage, you'll find what you need at eBay motors.com. They have over 122 million car parts and accessories in stock, all at the right prices. And that can help you turn your ride into something really tasty.

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All that available at MeaningfulBeauty.com. And we're back with our American stories and with the story of Fawn Weaver. Her father had left the music industry after having a successful producing career at Motown Records so that he and his wife could go into ministry. Fawn was thrown into the confusion because her family appeared to have money, but of course really didn't.

However, the lessons she learned, particularly about equality, they stick with her to this day. We return to Fawn to hear about what it's like to be the kid of a minister. I teased my parents, my father when he was alive, but I'd still tease my mother that their pastor's guinea pigs.

And so pretty much because they came from being in the entertainment industry with wild parties and sex and drugs and rock and roll and all the rest of that stuff and then you come into this Southern Baptist type of situation, like out of all of the denominations to choose, they chose Southern Baptist. I absolutely would not listen to anybody. Unless you could actually make the argument to me as to why what you are saying is correct or why what you are saying I should do, I would not do it. And so I had authoritative parents who said, well, you should do it because I said to do it.

Yeah, so that's not going to work for me. I'm going to need you to tell me the thinking behind why you're telling me to do what you're doing. So needless to say, I bumped heads with my parents more than a little bit and it really came to a head when I was 15 years old and I left home. And I left home and I moved in with some folks that were in the projects, an area in Watts called Jordan Downs.

So they're sort of two projects, main projects. One was home of the Grape Street Crips, which is where I was. And then across the way was Nickerson Gardens, home of the Bounty Hunter Bloods. And so I, at 15 years old, move into this environment, not really knowing anything about it, only knowing that these kids at high school, they had parents that let them do whatever they wanted. And I wanted freedom. I wanted to make my own decision. So I move into the hood and realize very quickly, number one, the hood has a lot of cockroaches.

I had never seen those before. But the second thing was I realized very quickly how I did not fit in and I did not fit in for a couple of reasons. One of which, my grandmother is from Germany. My grandfather was fighting in World War II and he was stationed in Germany. My grandmother is a blonde hair, blue eye woman growing up under Hitler's regime who does not see things the way that Hitler saw them, obviously, because she fell in love with my grandfather. She couldn't speak English.

He couldn't speak German. And the entire time they were alive, neither one of them could explain how in the world they got together when neither one spoke the other's language. And so they got married. They had my mother and my mother's very fair skin as a result of that relationship. So then I am not fair skinned, but I've got bright green eyes and light colored hair. And so when I moved into Jordan Downs, I didn't realize I look different. But I was at a concert in the projects one day and literally the guy from stage, he's rapping and I'm enjoying and he looks me dead in the eyes with all these people around and he says, we have a half breed in the house.

I didn't even know what a half breed was. And I'm looking around and everyone's looking at me. And it was a very pivotal moment for me because I realized, okay, I don't fit in. And I did not realize I didn't fit in.

So I'm in an environment where I'm surrounded by African Americans, but realized they didn't see me as fully African American. And that was an interesting lesson. So I go from there and I go and I stay with another person who I had met through school, similar situation.

And then she had a abusive boyfriend who came over with a knife one day, so that didn't work out. And so I moved at the age of 17, almost about to be 18, and to a home called Children of the Night. But I didn't fit in there either because Children of the Night is specifically a homeless shelter for people who were prostitutes and people have been trafficked and things of that nature. And so I'm in this environment because it's the only place that had a bed for me. And rather than go back home, where I would, you know, go toe to toe with my parents, I really wanted to set out on a life of my own.

So I made that decision. But Children of the Night, when you turn 18, you must move. And so as soon as I turned 18, I moved to a place called Covenant House, which is an amazing organization for kids who are 18 and older who find themselves homeless for whatever reason, there's no judgment. So we're all in this, this location, Covenant House. And they had a program where it's set up where you go out every day and you look for a job. And you come back and if you get a job, they hold your money for you basically in a savings account to allow you to save for your own place, which I absolutely loved. There were two things that I discovered while being at Covenant House.

Number one, the current theme of I didn't fit in and I did not seem to be the same as the people around me. And I learned that on my first day of being there, we all had to go out and look for jobs. And so we all went out, we looked for jobs, we came back and we sat around this sort of campfire. And this, I mean, this isn't a small organization. This is over a hundred kids that are, or, you know, 18 to I'd say early twenties.

We're all sitting around at least a hundred of us. And everyone is talking about their challenges of getting a job that day and how they weren't able to get a job that day. And I literally sat silent. And the reason I sat silent as I went out to get a job and I came back with four. And the second thing that I discovered is in my relationship with money, I didn't care about it other than to have the ability to have, to be able to be free and to have my own place and things of that nature. So I saved up money very quickly and was able to move out because every day I went to multiple jobs and I saved my money and I went out, I was able to get my own place and to begin living my own life. But that was my road through my teenage years, through my teenage years. And then I started my own company. After saving money and working multiple jobs, rather than going and working for someone else, I realized, hmm, so far I've not been like everyone else. I've been a leader in every single situation I've been in since I was a kid.

I think this is the way I'm wired. And so I started a PR and special events firm. And not surprising because of the circles that I was in that when I did special events, there was usually some type of celebrity involved in it. And so in that regard, I definitely had a headstart in that I also, my office was actually my father's office in Pasadena. He wasn't using it and it was just sort of a vacant office. I said, hey, I'm going to start a business. You're not using this office.

Can I take it over for my own company? And so that is what I did. And that's how I began. I was quite young and like most young people, you don't know what you're doing. And so you're going to fail a few times before you actually get it right. In that instance, I hired, I think, I think I had 10 people working for me before I was like 20.

It was just absolutely absurd. And so I've, I've done, I've learned how to do things better to say the least. Leaving home so early and having to really fend for myself, it gave me a, I think it underscored the confidence that I already had. And I don't think that that would have happened if I had gone the normal route of staying at home until I was 18 or 17 and going to college and four years in college and going that path.

I don't think that the way that I look at life, my optimism in looking at everything and saying, no matter how difficult things are, they can absolutely get better and they will get better. And I know this cause I've been there. And so having that background, I think allows me to be, my husband refers to me or when he's describing to me to other people, he'll, he'll refer to me as unflappable. And I think that that comes from that upbringing and everything that I saw once I left home. And you've been listening to Fawn Weaver and unflappable indeed. My goodness to leave home at that age and to experience what she experienced and to do it well, just to do it.

When we come back more on this remarkable story, Fawn Weaver's story here on Our American Story. Here's a recipe for getting your car running just right. And whatever you're cooking up in the garage, you'll find what you need at eBay motors.com. They have over 122 million car parts and accessories in stock, all at the right prices. And that can help you turn your ride into something really tasty.

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In New York, call 877-8HOPE-NY or text HOPE-NY 467369. Now I'd like to introduce you to Meaningful Beauty, the famed skincare brand created by iconic supermodel Cindy Crawford. It's her secret to absolutely gorgeous skin. Meaningful Beauty makes powerful and effective skincare simple, and it's loved by millions of women. It's formulated for all ages and all skin tones and types, and it's designed to work as a complete skincare system, leaving your skin feeling soft, smooth and nourished. I recommend starting with Cindy's Full Regiment, which contains all five of her best-selling products, including the amazing Youth Activating Melon Serum. This next generation serum has the power of melon leaf stem cell technology.

It's melon leaf stem cells encapsulated for freshness and released onto the skin to support a visible reduction in the appearance of wrinkles. With thousands of glowing five-star reviews, why not give it a try? Subscribe today and you can get the amazing Meaningful Beauty system for just $49.95.

That includes our introductory five-piece system, free gifts, free shipping and a 60-day money-back guarantee. All that available at MeaningfulBeauty.com. And we're back with the conclusion of Fawn Weaver's story here on Our American Stories. She was born to Motown royalty, but left home at an early age, realized she was different, and not just different, but like didn't fit in anywhere. By the age of 20, having forged an identity of her own, she decided to own her own company, and that's so impressive, meeting payroll at the age of 20, and has been an investor and business owner ever since.

Here she is to tell us about her career. I think that failure is an incredible teacher. Now, don't get me wrong, I think success is a better teacher.

However, I do believe that there are certain lessons that those who fail early on, on my phone, the very first picture that is on there, if you open up my album, says fail harder. And I have this true belief that if you wake up every single day and you give every day your all, and you are not afraid to fail, what you're able to achieve is remarkable. And I wake up and folks will look at the way that I do things and think that I am fearless, which is not true.

That's not accurate. I am not fearless. I simply do not allow fear to dictate what I do and do not do. Every morning when I wake up, I am very clear about why I am here. And to have that purpose driven life is one of the greatest gifts I think any of us are given if we really lean into that. So for me, I would say the failure of my first company, the failure of my second company, the failure of my third company. And I never stopped trying until I found the space that worked for me. The irony of it all is every single thing that I did that I failed in is what I am using now. It is what has allowed for my company now and the way that I do things for us to grow so quickly for for us to be the fastest growing independent American whiskey brand in US history does not just happen. That is literally everything that I learned from every failure is now working all together to create success.

And I think that that's the way that it works. The PR and special events business. Well, the beauty is, is that every every business, every brand that I've ever invested in, that I've ever run strategy for, I use PR as the number one way to talk about the brand.

I will not sell something I do not absolutely believe in. And so the ability to share the story behind a brand is something that I honed back then. And it is something that I rely on now.

My second company was called City of David, and it was a Christian clothing company. And it was really me putting my heart on on my where it was one of those things where I had an idea. And it was a great idea. But I did not put together a plan to roll it out. I put together a plan to basically do the product line. But I didn't put together the plan to roll it out. And it's very similar to my PR and special events firm is I knew how to do it. I knew what I was doing, but I didn't put together a plan to actually succeed and to know what could the overhead be that I could afford versus taking on 10 employees right out the gate. And so with each of these things, it's not that the idea would not have been a successful idea. It's that I did not take the time to put together all of the pieces that would have been required to succeed. My third was an investment in a fine dining restaurant.

Everything was clicking on all cylinders on that particular one. But what I discovered on that one, and on another investment that I have made, is you can't really invest in a product or a type or you have to invest in the person. And if the person if that founder that you're investing in is not 100% ready, then the business will fail.

And after years of backing other people, it was time for a change whether Fawn wanted it or not. On a vacation that was meant to be a step away from work, Fawn came across the story of Nathan Nearest Green, the former slave who was the first black master distiller in the US, and the first master distiller of his close friend, a man named Jack Daniels. And since discovering Uncle Nearest's story, she's begun a book, secured movie rights, started the fastest growing and most awarded new American whiskey brand in United States history, and much more. But I have always intentionally had my name in the background. Not in the background, like non-existent.

And the one thing that the Uncle Nearest team, they laugh at, it's a constant conversation, is me trying to get to the background again. This is a brand that when I founded it, the second person I hired was a spokesperson. I was never, ever, ever wanting to be in the forefront.

When we send out the press releases, no one would speak to the spokesperson. Everyone wanted to talk to the founder. So it thrust me into a space that I never really wanted to be in, and I actually still don't want to be in it. One of the things that I discovered early on in this process, because initially I had put so much weight to the book and the movie and thinking that's the way it needed to be told, that was what was important. And then I went with Nearest's family to go see Hidden Figures. It was absolutely phenomenal.

We sat there, we cried, we laughed, we cheered, we jeered, we did all of that. And then when we left out, we were in the lobby of the theater. And I remember telling Nearest's descendants, I said, this is how the movie has to be.

And so we leave and we're so excited. And I actually secured the same agency who repped both the book for Hidden Figures and put together the deal for the film. However, a couple months after, I remember trying to remember the name of the people that Octavia Spencer, Taraji P. Henson, and Janelle Monae played. Those were the three stars. And I absolutely could not remember the name of the people who they were playing. So you have an entire film that swept the world. And everybody was learning about these three women.

And it was just an incredible film. And yet I couldn't name any of the people who the stars played. The challenge with entertainment at this time in this day and age is it's replaced very easily. So what is the story of today, a couple years from now, nobody's gonna remember who that person was.

It's going to be replaced with other entertainment. And what we realized is the reason why Jack Daniel, Jim Beam, Johnny Walker, the reason why we're still talking about all of those guys is we're still drinking from bottles with their names on it. That's where we shifted and we began to pivot from the book and the movie having as great of a significance. We're still going to do it, but it is obviously this has kind of taken a little bit of attention. But what we realized very early on is the legacy of nearest green would not live in a book or a movie. It will be there, but that's not where we'll live when we're looking at people still knowing and talking about him and his legacy 200 years from now.

The only way it could happen is if his bottle is sitting right next to Jim Johnny and Jack. And you've been listening to Fawn Weaver's story. What a remarkable voice. What a distinctive journey, not fitting in, cutting out on her own, failing, learning from that failure and applying it all to a big move in her life from the Hollywood Hills of Los Angeles to a place called Lynchburg, Tennessee, where she started a whiskey company and my goodness, uncle nearest premium whiskey.

Fawn Weaver's story, a remarkable story, an American dream lived beautifully here on Our American Stories. Do you have $50,000 or more saved for retirement? Do you want to protect yourself from rising inflation and dollar decline? Investing in precious metals today with Goldco could be the right move for you. Our friends at Goldco have placed more than $1 billion in gold and silver for thousands of Americas, and they're ready to help you.

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Whisper: medium.en / 2023-01-30 04:39:39 / 2023-01-30 04:52:46 / 13

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