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Karla Gordy Bristol Shares the Secret to Building a Legacy Through Helping Others
By Betti Halsell, Contributing Writer
Published September 9, 2021

August 3, 2021, Karla Gordy Bristol receiving a Certificate of Appointment from the Beverly Hills City Council (Virtual meeting, Courtesy of Karla Gordy)

Newly Approved Commissioner of Arts and Culture for the City of Beverly Hills provides blueprints to following one’s passion by being of service to others.

The last name Gordy holds the essence of greatness and innovation. It’s tied to the esteemed recording label and American sound of Motown Records. Karla Gordy Bristol, a woman of immense power and humility, has carried the family torch and added her flair to what can be accomplished in a lifetime.

Gordy Bristol symbolically holds the signets of both her parents, wearing both last names with pride. As a Black woman of great influence, Gordy Bristol shared her legacy with the Los Angeles Sentinels she begins a new frontier as one of the Commissioners of Arts and Culture for the City of Beverly Hills.

Gordy Bristol is part of a household name that shaped a genre of American music. Her mother, Iris Gordy, was a former vice president of the legendary record label company, Motown. She led the creative department, but Ms. Gordy is also a noted songwriter, producer, and music executive. Under the watchful eye of Iris Gordy, stars began to sparkle, such as Debarge, Teena Marie, and Rick James. Without the influence of Gordy Bristol’s mother, the world of music would be a different place.

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Read Related: Berry Gordy Square Unveiled with Motown Family, Friends, and Fans

Johnny Bristol is Gordy Bristol’s father; a music pioneer in sound and lyrics. His work crossed the bounds of time, adding his energy to some of the greatest American hits such as, “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough,” (Marvin Gaye and Tammi Terrell, 1967). Bristol’s musical gifts have reached global success.

Karla Gordy Bristol (Photo credit: Bob Delgadillo)

Gordy Bristol recalls studying her environment very young. “Both my parents came from a successful music background—one being a music executive and working around her own family that created something pretty amazing and then my dad being a musician, writer, and producer, he was on a different level of creativity.” Gordy Bristol shared the enthusiasm and fascination that surrounded her upbringing.

Gordy Bristol stated, “What I saw from them–and what I got from them was just to tap into your inner joy, tap into your inner excitement, and go after it. It’s all possible.”  Gordy Bristol emphasized the impact her mother had as she searched for the words to describe women and their power. Watching her mother be a powerhouse, Gordy Bristol said, “I didn’t feel that being a woman—prevented me from doing anything. Again, it was that natural seed that was soaking up into me–because I saw it.”

Read Related: Motown Founder Berry Gordy tapped for Kennedy Award

 As she developed, Gordy Bristol made note of the blueprints laid out by her parents; she witnessed the fulfillment of following one’s passion and the joy of building up the collective community. Her family built their foundation of success in breeding achievement in other people willing to do the work. Her parents left solid footnotes in the history of American music.

The newly sworn-in Commissioner of Arts and Culture relished in the memories of women at the helm of many executive meetings at Motown. “They were all very powerful,” Gordy Bristol said. Honing into the ability to empower other women, Gordy Bristol said, “Talk to your elders as mentors, listen to what they’re saying because they’ve been where you are. And I promise you it will help you get where you want to go and be patient.”

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Gordy acknowledged the social imbalance one faces as a Black woman in America; however, she shared the main ingredient of the antidote: never giving up.

With her parents teaching by example, Gordy Bristol was equipped to create her ideal way of living. To name a few of the hats she wears, Gordy Bristol has contributed her wealth of knowledge as a television show host, real estate agent, producer, event planner, and project consultant. Some of her current titles include vice president and producer of Friends of Fuller B. Gordy, tv host for Beverly Hills Television, realtor for Nelson Shelton & Associates, and CEO BUSHKA & MOKIA Music.

July 15, 2021, Karla Gordy Bristol at “Takeaway” sculpture by Tom Friedman in Beverly Hills   (Courtesy of Karla Gordy Bristol)

 

“Just do it, and do it well,” Gordy Bristol stated, as she reflected on her multi-faceted career path in the arts, which included dance and choreography. Sharing one of her benchmarks stemmed from iconic producer and dancing legend, Debbie Allen. Gordy Bristol shares the same passion for productivity and community building as Ms. Allen.

 

Read Related:  Multi-Talented Sensation Debbie Allen joins the list of Kennedy Center Honorees

Gordy Bristol currently has her hand in media entertainment, massive event production, and managing her real estate operations. “I try to keep my hands in projects that I think would impact the lives of others positively, that would create a nice legacy for many to see and enjoy …”

As of July 2020, Gordy Bristol has welcomed the opportunity to serve Los Angeles as Commissioner of Arts and Culture for the city of Beverly Hills, she has pulled every lever of her talents and resources to provide the very best creative experience for Angelenos. Gordy Bristol elaborated on her new joy in contributing to city projects.

Gordy is now exercising her passion as the Commissioner of Arts and Culture for Beverly Hills, in the sanction formally known as the Fine Art Commission. The vision behind this branch is “to promote and champion the cultural image of the city of Beverly Hills, reflecting a diversity of artists, works of art, and cultural events to enhance the everyday experiences of its citizens and visitors, and to assure its accessibility to everyone.”

Humility anchors Gordy Bristol’s work, she sees her contribution as a seed for the progression of man and womankind. As someone who has seen dreams come to reality, Gordy Bristol offered her wisdom to those who seek the same destiny, “Continue to be yourself. Don’t lose yourself in all the madness around you, because the madness will continue to follow you, so always keep your values, your beliefs, your truth, and goodness in everything you do.” Through her family’s legacy, Gordy Bristol found the building blocks to achieving success while building a stronger sense of community.

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