Music & I
A brief bio
Early Music & Radio
My earliest memories of music include my mom singing in the choir, my dad playing Oscar Brown Jr.’s “A Dime Away From A Hotdog” for me on vinyl and my cousin Douglas and I putting on concerts for my family. Notably, Douglas and I debuted our original song “Just Say No,” at the ages of six and seven, live on mainstream radio.
Warner Bros. Records
I was selected to attend Youth Entertainment Summer (Y.E.S.) To Jobs while attending Hume Fogg Academic (HFA) in Nashville, Tennessee, in 1993, making me (and my classmate Ernest) the youngest employees of Warner Bros. Records, on the world famous Music Row (Nashville, TN). I was mentored by some of the industry’s elite executives and I learned many important lessons that I still use today. My main assignments were to study Soundscan and help initiate the marketing process.
Owen Bradley statue on Music Row (pictured)
Recording On Music Row
I later met Gerald, an audio engineer responsible for mixing some of Nashville’s classic Hip Hop albums, while participating in a Summer program for future executives. Gerald and I created a bond over our passion for music, which led to my first professional recordings on Music Row at 16th Avenue Studios (Studio B), when I was 18 years old. Gerald and I developed a lasting friendship that has been solidified through many recordings since.
My First Deal
A guest speaker in one of my business classes recommended that I meet his colleague, William, during my first year of college. William and I later became associates, after I completed a school project at his firm. I proposed that we go into business together and brand an entertainment entity, upon discovering our mutual appreciation for music. The entertainment powerhouse I envisioned required an investment of $52 Million that William was willing to help generate, facilitating my first deal.
The cover of the Development Project Business Plan for Ambush Records (pictured)
I later continued the idea that I presented to William and branded Ambush Empire. The brand launched a line of apparel and also sponsored my first audio release, completely in-house, SeQuel – Experiences, a LP length, cassette compilation featuring local artists. Several of those artists have continued music careers and attest to this project being their first opportunity to record professionally. SeQuel – Experiences also yielded my first credits for producing, recording, mixing, writing and distribution. The album also featured my mother, who while signed to Radio Corporation of America (RCA), had a top ten hit in the 1960s, under the name Brenda Hall, titled “Soldier Baby Of Mine.”
A copy of the cassette cover for SeQuel - Experiences (pictured)
I met Eron at the University of Arkansas, in Pine Bluff (UAPB) and we continued Black Ring, a society of emcees that I started towards the end of high school. The two of us started a musical movement on campus that has significantly evolved over the years into an audio-production facility. Eron and I also went on to establish Chemistry Class, my first production label.
The Elect & EMI
I partnered with fellow HFA graduate and friend, Rick, to establish The Elect, a Gospel Hip-Hop group, while back in Tennessee. The Elect performed at several reputable venues, creating such a buzz that we were offered a record deal from Electric and Musical Industries, Ltd. (EMI). We were excited about the opportunity, however we chose different paths. One thing that came out of our movement is an entertainment promotions company that continues to bring quality artists to Nashville today.
I met Greg, through my cousin Douglas, and started GP, a Hip-Hop duo and later added Black Ring member, Gary, shortly after The Elect. The three of us recorded more than five albums of material, with Greg and I recording twice as much outside of the trio. We released four volumes of our GP brand LPs, and performed several times at key locations and events. Greg and I also organized and promoted The DJ Element at Fisk University, a party that showcased several popular DJs and featured various genres of music. Also, we were regulars on WFSK (Fisk University’s radio station). We both later went into sales and between the two of us, thousands of CDs were distributed in the Southeast region and beyond. I also received my first mastering credit during this time.
Panama City Producer
I moved to Panama City, Florida, looking for a change of environment, where in months, I went from not knowing anyone to being a heavily sought after producer and mastering engineer for the area. Recording artist, Cory Pinez, a Panama City native, recalls that he heard about me from three sources, before we met, as I pitched a beat CD to him, promoting my brand. I later increased my market to spread throughout the state of Florida.
I created the reference for the strings on Kanye West’s “Flashing Lights” while making instrumentals to pitch in Chicago. I took a Teena Marie sample that Eron selected and made the track in less than 15 minutes. The two of us met Che (Rhymefest), Kanye’s long time friend, while eating at Giordano’s, a popular pizzeria. Che revealed that he had just returned from Miami, FL looking for audio production. Subsequently, Eron and I gave Che our newly created beat CD and exchanged contact information. The following day Che informed us that none of our instrumentals matched the concept for his album. However, he stated that Kanye really liked the beat using the Teena Marie sample, which in turn was the inspiration for the strings on Kanye’s hit single.
I left Florida for New York, where I quickly met Bricks, a recording artist being courted by several record labels at the time. Bricks introduced me to the music scene and I was soon working with some of New York’s finest engineers and producers, from Manhattan to Long Island. I made my living in New York selling production, which helped me to establish some great relationships that I still have today.
Trifecta Entertainment Group
I met Greg and Lu Swif, while relocating to enroll in an audio school in Winter Park, Florida. Greg was a marketing and sales representative and Lu was an emcee. The three of us started Trifecta Entertainment Group (TEG), with me as the record producer, Lu as the recording artist and Greg as the head of administration and sales. We had several unique ideas and strategies, which led to a successful street campaign for the brand. TEG later transitioned into music distribution throughout the world.
Lu Swif’s “Get It All The Time” Mini-Posters (pictured)
I returned to Tennessee to establish Troubled Music, a brand of music that was lyrically conscious but edgy and raw, production wise, off the cusp of selling music in Florida. The Troubled Music Project (TMP) was the first release, and it featured a host of successful artists and musicians. The socially aware project sold well in the Tennessee circuit and eventually spread to Georgia. I received several emails and calls inquiring about the artists featured on the CD and songs from the album were frequently requested and played on the radio.
The Troubled Music Project CDs (pictured)
I decided to attend a school for digital audio production, after a fruitful selling season for TMP. I produced, engineered and mastered several projects before, but I decided further training was necessary. I met fellow student, DG, in one of my classes and the two of us started The HavKnots a.k.a. The Havnautics. In a year’s time, we produced and recorded over four albums of material. We continued the conscious style of music, associated with TMP, but added live instrumentation to smooth out the originally raw sound.
Music Row Pro
I began working with celebrity clients, in addition to several labels and local artists, shortly after audio school started. I was brought back to Music Row, to Sony Records’ original recording studio, by the need of a larger space to record a small choir. I teamed up with Joe and Richard, fellow record producers, whom I met through my friend Gerald, while producing and recording in Universal Music Group's studio. Being on Music Row, along with my reputation, attracted clients regularly. Word of mouth spread and soon I was working with artists from all over the United Sates.
A thank you note from Eric Nolan of The O'Jays (pictured)
I continued The Havnautics’ style of recording, but broadened my sound even more to help accommodate artists abroad who were in search of my production. Also, one artist that I worked with regularly was relocating overseas and we wanted our music to translate seamlessly. My effort at an acceptable fusion of sounds resulted in Stoney McCane – Conflict Resolution, a World Music LP consisting of live instrumentation, programmed patterns and light lyrics.
First Major Release Credit
I was asked to mix and master my first major release for Phase One Music (NY), distributed by Sony/Relativity Entertainment Distribution (RED), after mixing Conflict Resolution. The project showcased 15 Country stars and was my first attempt at mastering Country music. The LP was distributed in more than 26 countries and in all major outlets.
Katie Knight holding a CD that I mixed and mastered (pictured)
I went to school for music business, after receiving my first mastering credit with a major label. I desired to learn more about our industry, regarding my first release with Sony/RED. I began facilitating distribution deals to RED, during the first week of classes, which allowed me to provide talent to labels and I continue to do so today.
Stoney McCane, Inc.
I've had the honor of serving some of the industry’s top stars since being a facilitator. I've also worked with new artists, who are sure to impact the music industry in a big way. I started Stoney McCane, Inc. (SMI), a music industry services firm, in 2013 and shortly afterwards signed my first artist, Dannica Lowery. Additionally, SMI organized and booked Dannica’s first nationwide tour to promote her LP, Mind Games. SMI also facilitated Dannica's first record deal and sub-label deal.
Dannica Lowery (pictured)
Live @ Old Navy
SMI had the honor of facilitating a 3-day live music event for Old Navy in Brentwood, TN (November 15 - 17, 2013). The event showcased over twenty acts from across the United States and Canada, including SMI signees Palmer Reed and Eric Nolan (of The O’Jays). The event also was a corporate first for Old Navy and Guitar Center, the company that sponsored the music equipment. The 3-day event increased the hosting store’s sales by 12% and foot traffic by 20%. Remarkably, the Brentwood, TN Old Navy was the only store in their market to report positive sales the week following the special occasion.
Music Row's Help Desk
Shortly after Live @ Old Navy, SMI launched Music Row's Help Desk, a guaranteed development program designed to organize artists and labels to retain traction for monetization. The Help Desk was a tiered service to meet each participant at their specific level of need, while helping them accomplish select goals to attain a higher level of understanding and awareness about the music business. After successfully helping several artists and labels through Music Row's Help Desk, I retired from Music Row in 2015.
After retirement, I relocated to Hawai'i, where it wasn't long before I was back helping artists. I realized I retired from Music Row and not the music business, because my purpose is to help artists. After helping one artist beyond his expectations, he advised me to start teaching others from my years of experience and LearnMBE was established. LearnMBE was originally a 20-week course instructing artists on the necessary steps to monetize their music more effectively.
LearnMBE has evolved into a mastermind collective where I am able to impart my knowledge into creatives to help them advance in today's music industry. I am always seeking new ways and opportunities to utilize and strengthen my talents. Furthermore, I know that the years of experience and sweat equity I possess can act as catalysts for anyone's success in music. Schedule a call with me below to learn more about how I assists creatives.