Despite his record-breaking success in music for 60 years, Quincy Jones says his proudest achievement is his seven children and six grandchildren.
Jones talked about his life and music career during an hourlong on-stage conversation with Ludacris Friday night as part of the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers' annual "I Create Music" expo at the Hollywood Renaissance Hotel.
The 77-year-old composer and producer says it's been "a blessing" to have worked with "every major artist of the 20th century," including Frank Sinatra, Aretha Franklin and Michael Jackson, but his No. 1 job is "being a good parent."
"The other things, you know, that's a gift from God and I cherish it," he said. "I don't take it for granted."
He called his children and grandchildren "the pride of my life now." Seeing them successful is "my Nobel Prize," Jones said.
Ludacris asked Jones about everything from music to marriage to money. Jones said that music saved him from a "gangster" lifestyle in his native Chicago. He learned all the brass instruments with the aim of mastering the trumpet.
"As soon as I started playing, I started hearing other instruments in my head," he said.
Then he started traveling as a musician, composer and arranger. Jones told the crowd of more than 2,500 to travel the world and "get a big dream, so if you get halfway there, you're still OK."
He advised aspiring musicians to understand the science of music and to have "humility with your creativity and grace with your success."
"It's really important because it's really not you," Jones said. "You're a terminal for a higher power."
The legendary musician and producer attributed his success to maintaining an open mind.
"I never turn my curiosity off," he said.
Jones, who has been nominated for a record 79 Grammy Awards, said his favorite musical memory was recording a song with Franklin in 1971.
"It was a moment when God was in the studio and ... it was magic," he said.
Jones' next musical goal is to master song writing. But the future of music, he said, will sound a lot like the music people have loved for millennia.
"You have to have melody, rhythm and harmony to make a complete music," he said. "The melody, that's the power. That's the voice from God. Melody gets you straight in the heart."
The ASCAP Expo, which began Thursday and continues through Sunday, features workshops, exhibitions and conversations with hitmakers like Jones, Justin Timberlake, John Mayer and Bill Withers.