Andre Harrell named president & CEO of Motown Records.
Harrell will report to Levy in his role as CEO of PolyGram U.S.
Harrell succeeds Jheryl Busby, former president and chief executive officer of Motown since 1988. Clarence Avant will continue in his invaluable role as chairman of Motown.
In his new post, Harrell, 35, will over see all aspects of Motown's music operations, including A&R and creative artist development, sales and promotion, marketing, and publishing for the company's Motown, MoJazz, Tabu, Mad Sounds, and Biv Ten labels. Harrell will also be in command of Motown's other business interests including television, film and video production, animation and multimedia.
Levy said, "Andre is a very talented and driven executive whose hands are on the pulse of today's African American artistry. He has all the skills and intellect to lead Motown into the next millennium. I'm sure that under Andre's leadership, Motown's music will cross all borders around the globe, just as it has over the past 30 years. I'd like to thank Jheryl Busby for his many contributions to the label. He's a wonderful human being and I'll look forward to working with him on a variety of projects in the future."
"Andre by far is one of the most exciting young executives in the music business. The proof was his ability to make Uptown Entertainment a factor in the music industry, with the successes of Soul for Real, Teddy Riley, Jodeci, Heavy D., Mary J. Blige, Guy and Al B. Sure!, and up and coming producers and executives like Sean "Puffy" Combs of Bad Boy Entertainment and Poke of TrakMasterz Productions, Inc. Andre has been chosen to guide the most important African-American company, which has a worldwide reputation for music that reaches the universe, into the future. There is no doubt in my mind that his success story will continue at Motown into the 21st century. I'm sure Jheryl's next venture will be extremely successful and I hope that our paths cross again soon," said Avant.
Said Jheryl Busby, "One of the most rewarding aspects of my career has been my ability to identify and develop talented individuals whose careers have blossomed in the music industry. With great pride, I pass the realm to Andre Harrell. Nine short years ago, I gave him his first opportunity with Uptown Records. Andre has all the skills, instinct and creativity to guide Motown into Chapter 3. I offer him my continued support and help."
Said Harrell, "Motown is the most famous music company of all time and I am honored to be a part of the music industry's rare cultural treasure and of the Motown legacy that Berry Gordy, Jr. established. I look forward to continuing in the Motown style of developing entertainment that captures a contemporary urban lifestyle, to re-establishing some of the great Motown traditions like soul music and black glamour and to further defining Motown as one of the premier entertainment companies of the '90's. I greatly appreciate MCA's cooperation in allowing me to fulfill a lifetime dream of running Motown. While it's difficult to leave Uptown, I am excited about the prospects of my new position at Motown and I leave knowing Uptown is in excellent hands at MCA."
Prior to joining Motown, Harrell served as president and chief executive officer of New York City based Uptown Entertainment, a company he founded in 1986. Over the past 10 years, he has established himself as one of the most successful African American businessmen in the entertainment industry with an unparalleled ability to find and develop new musical talent and nurture young African American music executives of tomorrow.
Harrell is well known for his ability to spot new musical trends. He is largely responsible for introducing the "new jack swing" sound of the late '80's and early '90's, a style of music combining hip-hop with rhythm and blues, as well as the current hybrid of soul music called "hip-hop soul," which employs elements of traditional R&B and the harder beats that drive rap music. Harrell launched the careers of multi-platinum, trendsetting artists such as Al B. Sure!, Heavy D. & the Boyz, Guy, Jodeci, Mary J. Blige and Soul for Real. He has also nurtured rising young production talent like Teddy Riley, Al B. Sure!, Sean "Puffy" Combs, Eddie F., Poke of TrakMasterz Productions, Inc. and Heavy D. To date, Uptown Entertainment boasts sales of over a half-dozen multi-platinum albums, numerous gold records, and a worldwide total sales figure of over 13 million records.
Citing Harrell's vision, MCA, in 1992, signed him to an all encompassing multimedia deal to find, sign and develop black talent for recording, motion pictures and television projects. On the motion picture side, Harrell served as producer and music supervisor for "Strictly Business," a movie that helped launch the career of Halle Berry ("Bommerang," "The Flintstones").
Harrell is also responsible for creating the critically acclaimed "New York Undercover" television series. Serving as co-executive producer, the hour-long weekly drama series, airing on the FOX network, is about a pair of ethnic undercover cops, played by Malik Yoba and Michael De Lorenzo.
A Bronx, New York native, Harrell began his career in the entertainment industry as an artist, at the age of 15. In 1977, he partnered with a high school friend, Alonzo Brown, to form the successful rap duo, Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. The twosome made their mark with such hits as "Genius Rap," "Fast Life," and "AM/FM," and shared the stage with Kurtis Blow, the Sugarhill Gang, Kool Moe Dee and Bobby Womack.
Despite his success as a rapper, Harrell continued to pursue his education and majored in communications and business management at Lehman College. He dropped out after three years to take a full-time job selling airtime on WINS radio in New York City, but continued to rap on weekends. In 1983, Harrell joined Russell Simmons' Rush Communications as vice president and general manager. During his two years at Rush, Harrell played an integral role in launching the careers of RUN-DMC, LL Cool J and Whoodini. In 1986, MCA Records offered Harrell his own record label and Uptown was born.
Much of Harrell's success in discovering and cultivating new talent is a result of his never losing sights of his inner city roots. Throughout his career, he has continued to actively foster the careers of young, aspiring music executives, many of whom are at the top of the R&B and hip-hop field. Sean "Puffy" Combs, CEO and President of Bad Boy Entertainment, Eddie F., VP of A&R at LaFace Records, and Heavy D., A&R for Uptown Records all cite Harrell as their mentor.
Harrell, seen in his community as a social leader, is passionately involved in political and charitable causes. He spearheaded, along with Jodeci and LifeBeat: The Music Industry Fights AIDS, a PSA AIDS awareness campaign called UrbanAid For LifeBeat, targeting the young, hip-hop community and culminating in a marathon concert at Madison Square Garden on Oct. 5th, featuring a line-up of today's hottest R&B and hip-hop artists. Not since the '60's has an event of this magnitude been seen, bringing together African American artists for one urgent cause.
Motown was founded in Detroit in 1959 by the legendary record producer, Berry Gordy, Jr. Throughout the '60's, '70's and '80's, Motown helped create recording create recording stars such as Miracles, The Commodores, The Four Tops, The Jackson Five, Lionel Richie, Smokey Robinson, Diana Ross, The Supremes, The Temptations and Steve Wonder. Their works are included in Motown's unique back catalog of over 30,000 master album recordings.
Today its roster boasts over 30 artists, including Diana Ross, Stevie Wonder, The Temptations, as well as successful newer acts, such as Boyz II Men, Johnny Gill, Shanice, Zhane and Queen Latifah. Boyz II Men's second album was sold over 10 million copies worldwide.
PolyGram acquired Motown in Aug. 1993 from Boston Ventures, which purchased the company from Berry Gordy, Jr. in July 1988. At the time of the PolyGram purchase, Gordy was named Chairman Emeritus of Motown in honor of the incomparable musical legacy he left at Motown.
PolyGram, the global music and film group, is one of the largest record companies in the world. Its famous popular and classical record labels include A&M, Decca, Def Jam, Deutsche Grammophon, Island, London, Mercury, Motown, Phillips Classics, Polydor and Verve. Polygram is quoted on the Amsterdam and New York Stock exchanges (ticker symbol:PLG).
CONTACT: PolyGram Holding, Inc.
Dawn Bridges, Vice President, Corporate Communications
Kelly Haley, Vice President, Publicity & Media Relations
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|Date:||Oct 2, 1995|
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