The Urban Buzz sends heartfelt condolences to the family and friends of long time music industry executive Ornetta Barber. Ornetta had been battling health challenges for quite some time and passed over the weekend in Los Angeles. Ornetta was a lovely person and she will be deeply missed.  Our sincere condolences to her husband Bobby. May she Rest In Peace & Paradise.

Ornetta Barber, the first African-American female marketing executive at Warner Elektra Atlantic Corp (WEA), died of metastatic cancer on April 3, 2020 in Los Angeles.  She was 71.

Originally from St Louis, she moved to Los Angeles and attended California State College.  She applied for a job as a Warner Communications management trainee and was one of 9 chosen from 1000 applicants.  After the trainee program, she joined Elektra as chart and store report coordinator and moved up to Senior Director of National Marketing Research.

After 7 years at Elektra, she was named Director of Black Music Marketing at WEA, the first female executive in that position and rose through the ranks to Senior Vice-President, Black Music Marketing.  She implemented marketing campaigns and assisted the creative departments at the labels in developing merchandising materials and promotional ideas for their artists. She and her marketing team, dubbed “The Gladiators”, worked with 7 WEA branch offices and received numerous awards for their creativity.

After leaving WEA, she consulted for various companies and recently hosted her popular online radio show, “SoulTracks Of Our Lives”.  Ornetta is credited with paving the way for more women of color holding executive positions in sales and marketing in the music industry.  She beat cancer in 2012 but it returned in 2016 very aggressively.  She became as fierce a warrior for her health as she was for Black music, women’s rights, social justice and the artists she loved.
Ornetta is survived by her husband, Bobby Wilkerson, a producer and musical director in Los Angeles, her aunt Nona Carroll, uncle Harry Lindeman, numerous nieces, nephews and godchildren and countless friends.   A memorial service will be scheduled at a later date.

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