For more than 30 years, Craig Gaff has worked in entertainment.
Craig’s family molded him to be a performer. With dancing, music, voice lessons, Craig making his first stage appearance at the age of eight, with this Craig knows what a performance feels like from both sides of the stage. His family has spanned five generations in the entertainment industry and Craig brings almost a century’s worth of his family’s knowledge and experience to everything he does.
It began with his maternal grandmother, Billie Campbell who was a dancer in New York in the heyday of the Harlem showrooms. She danced at clubs such as “The Cotton Club” and “Immermans Inn”, toured with such productions such as “The "Ziegfeld Follies” and the 1932 “Ziegfeld” production of “Showboat” (Being handpicked by Florenz Ziegfeld), and was in movies such as “Rufus Jones For President”. She was even in the show “Conies Hot Chocolates”, in which Louis Armstrong changed the world of Jazz music one night by “scatting” for the first time to the song “Ain’t Misbehaving” when he forgot the words to the second verse. And his grandfather Wardell “Preacher” Jones, a well known trumpet player who gained his nickname by inventing a style of playing that made his horn “talk” (the technique known as “preaching”). He also performed with artists such as W C Handy, Louis Armstrong, Count Basie , and Duke Ellington to name a few. The next generation included his aunt Billie who was one of the top models of her day as well as having had dance lessons from people as Bill "Bojangles" Robinson. Her image is still being used to this day by companies such as WGN in Chicago. And her first husband Ewart Abner who as president of Chicago based "Vee Jay" records in the 1950's gave The Beatles their first recording contract. After leaving Vee Jay, Abner went to work as president of "Motown" records in the late 1950's. At Motown he helped shape the music that we listen to everyday. In '77 Mr. Abner left Motown to peruse a career in artist management. His client Stevie Wonder... The next generation included their daughter who appeared as "Miss Nitchka". She toured the world with acts as Lionel Hampton and appeared in television shows such as "Room 222" and "The Name of The Game", as well as being a much sought after model. Today she has retired after running the dance school "Studio One" in Burlington, Wisconsin.
Even Craig's father Cal Gaff a well known Los Angeles radio personality and "beat" poet in the 50's, was featured in not one but two articles in "Playboy Magazine" on the L.A. "beat" scene.
Together they set the standard of excellence for the family to always do your best, and to always be above reproach. Down through the years members of Craig’s family have always worked in the industry. From dancers, musicians, models, and actors to artist managers, record label executives, and video production. If there is a job in entertainment, someone in Craig’s family has done it. In the latter years of high school, Craig began to turn his attention away from being in the limelight, towards being behind the scenes. Craig set out to learn the ins and outs of this aspect of the industry from family and friends at the top of their fields. They instilled the pursuit of excellence, while always remaining humble
Setting lighting as his choice, Craig began to develop his skills in the club scene working with touring club bands. Moving from there he started to work with lighting companies such as T.M.R. who provided lighting systems for acts such as the Dan Reed Network, Mother Love Bone, Quiet Riot, and the Guess Who. At this time Craig also obtained the position as “Master Electrician” for some of the top rated clubs in the Seattle area that were the breeding grounds for bands such as Alice In Chains, Nirvana, and Pearl Jam. He then went on to program for lighting designers that are considered the best in the field. From his interaction with these LD’s Craig decided that he wanted to work directly with the artists themselves, to help them develop the show that they want to see.