If you only know him from his Good Morning America appearance from the #ForeverDuncan wedding, you only know part of Alfred Duncan’s story.
Founder of Black Men Ventures – an organization designed to create access to capital for Black male founders - Duncan is a playwright, a Grammy-nominated musician, and an entrepreneur.
His life has been marked by taking advantage of the big opportunities that came his way.
Before Duncan ever was nominated for a Grammy or did a 29-city tour with the popular reggae band SOJA, he was an 8-year-old infatuated with music. Duncan grew up in a home where the soulful sounds of Luther Vandross and others were always on the stereo, and it wasn’t long before he was singing while his cousin played the keyboard. “I used to like to sing, and my cousin would make me sing around my family,” Duncan said. “I just knew I had talent then.” That talent would first take Duncan around the Pennebrooke Terrace community performing singing telegrams as a kid, then to Bobby Jones Gospel on BET, on stage with Go-Go legends Northeast Groovers, and eventually to the Grammys with many stops in between. As part of the group Mambo Sauce – a play on words off of the popular, exclusive D.C-area condiment – he recorded songs Miracles and Welcome to D.C. “Miracles took off,” said Duncan, voted Most Talented at Forestville High School a few years after the singer Ginuwine won the same award. “It was incredible. It became the No. 1 song in the city, and it was on the Billboard charts. Welcome to D.C. was even bigger than Miracles, to the point where every team within Washington D.C. plays it at their games or uses it as a promotional tool.” Duncan toured the US with SOJA, and joined the group at the Grammys. Recently, he’s released a number of songs as a solo artist, including They Call Me Daddy, BLM Plaza and Forever Loving.
When Duncan proposed to his girlfriend – and then later executed a surprise wedding on the same day he proposed – the entire world took notice. The #ForeverDuncan hashtag was supposed to be something that Sherrell Duncan could access to see all the preparations friends had made for the surprise wedding. It ended capturing the hearts of a global audience. While traveling through Jamaica, Duncan was recognized as the man in the #ForeverDuncan video. Not once, but twice. “We went to LA and met with every network,” Duncan said. “We were on Good Morning America, Inside Edition, in Essence, MadameNoire, Ebony … We were in every publication, whether it was the internet or the physical magazine.”
Pursuing his musical gifts led to Duncan discovering his entrepreneurial spirit.
With few social gathering options for black students at college, Duncan and three Shenandoah University basketball teammates created JABB Productions. The teammates-turned-business partners organized campus parties, planning out every detail from the entertainment to the security and beverages. “I’ve always wanted to bring people together. It’s always been my thing,” Duncan said. “JABB let me know that there were business opportunities with that. I could bring people together to have a good time, and I could get paid for doing it. That’s what drove me.”
Even as he pursued music, he continued to find outlets for his entrepreneurial spirit.
Duncan and Black Girl Ventures founder Shelly Bell had worked on several business opportunities in the past. With Black Girls Ventures thriving under Bell’s leadership, she and Duncan started having conversations. Those talks would eventually lead to Duncan overseeing the development and implementation of multiple programs within Black Girl Ventures while also branching out to lead Black Men Ventures. The conversations started weeks after Duncan released a single entitled BLM Plaza, a song he created in response to the national news story surrounding George Floyd. The song focused on entrepreneurship and closing the racial wealth gap – actionable stops the community could take in solidarity once the George Floyd marches stopped. His roles with Black Girl Ventures and Black Men Ventures allow him to live out the BLM Plaza lyrics. “I want to show the black people that there are benefits in entrepreneurship,” Duncan said. “And in life in general, there’s benefits to leaning on your community.”