Alison's creativity is evident in the music videos, commercials and short dramas which she has directed. In her recent award-winning documentary, "Raisin' Kane: a Rapumentary", Duke shows us the young Black male as an enterprising entrepreneur. She has been knocking down barriers in the last few years. Her stance on forging ahead is the best way for her to contribute to the Black community where film is concerned. Fear of failure doesn't cripple or prevent her from doing what she knows must be done in order to help open doors for other filmmakers of colour. Alison has directed an upcoming rites of passage documentary for ProMedia/CBC and for the Life Network. She is currently segment producer for SexTV.
Marketing Manager, Universal/Island/Def Jam
For over five years, Sharon Douce has played a very prominent role in the advertising and nationwide promotion of many of North America's hottest urban titles. After cutting her teeth with Attic Music Group in the mid-nineties, Sharon went on to establish Canada's first national street team for Polygram Music, a dynamic unit who's primary purpose was to get the word out about upcoming releases. Such innovation has allowed her to move quickly up the marketing ladder, landing in her current position as a Marketing Manager for Universal's Island, Def Jam, and Motown labels. Her responsibilities there include the creation and implementation of national marketing plans for top selling artists like Jay-Z, Nelly, Ludacris and Ja Rule.
Urban Marketing & Promotions Manager, Universal Music Canada
Kevin Barton and his 13 member urban group has evolved from a street team at Universal Music Canada, into a bonafide Urban Marketing & Promotions Department. President Randy Lennox Barton recently made this change official. The Urban and Promotions Department include a team that includes positions within national radio, retail and promotion. Lennox calls urban music today's most important genre and says that Universal's market share has grown from 30% to 52% of the Canadian business in the last few years. Dennis Garces (now at Sony) and Barton were instrumental in signing Baby Blue Soundcrew -- Canada's urban music ambassadors -- to Universal.
As president on R.E.M.G., a concert production and management group founded in 1995, Jonathan Ramos has promoted over 150 shows, featuring such artists as Maxwell, Alicia Keys, A Tribe Called Quest, Public Enemy, and R. Kelly. But while this achievement could very well stand on it's own merit, it borrows significant support from R.E.M.G.'s unwavering commitment to home grown talent, a mandate stipulation that has ensured Canadian artists like Saukrates, Kardinal, Jacksoul, and K-os, a spot on any bill when at all permitted. In the past, Ramos was instrumental in increasing the overall exposure of urban music, offering performance opportunities to artists at a time when access to television and radio was minimal at best. Since then, he has gone on to organize dozens of showcases with concert giant, House Of Blues, and the annual NXWE festival, before recently signing a co-production deal Clearchannel Entertainment, the largest concert company in the world.
Created in 1995, PhemPhat has operated with a clear mandate of providing Canadian women opportunities for development and promotion within the ever-expanding field of Urban Entertainment, not simply as artists, but also as managers, label owners, promoters, the list goes on. During this period, PhemPhat has created a number of entertainment opportunities through a series of shows called "Honey Jams" (hosted by Mz Michie Mee), to showcase the talents of local performers, DJs, poets and artists. Former alumni of these legendary events include Nelly Furtado and Jully Black. In 1996, PhemPhat branched out in an educational direction with the launch of their annual urban music seminar, designed to instruct women on career choices within the urban music industry. Not to limit themselves simply to the field of entertainment, PhemPhat has also tried to affect their community through the donation of event proceeds to organizations like Big Sisters of Toronto, the Black Coalition for AIDS Prevention, and The Immigrant Woman's Job Placement Center.
Manager, International Artist Development for BMG Music Canada
Few people throughout the years have had as big a hand in shaping the face of Canadian urban music as Ivan Berry. As a key figure in the music industry since 1983, Berry, through his BeatFactory music company (co-founded by Rupert Gayle), has overseen the careers and international successes of artists such as Dream Warriors, Michie Mee @ L.A. Luv, Devon, HDV and, more recently, Mathematik, Madlocks, and Glenn Lewis. He is also the man behind both the RapEssentials and GrooveEssentials compilations.
To his credit, Berry was the first to sign a Canadian rap artist to an international recording contract, and his Beat Factory record label was the first (through EMI Music Canada) to gain national distribution by one of the five major international record companies. While he continues to manage Canadian acts, Berry spends a portion of his time instructing an International Marketing course at the Harris institute, as well as taking on the position of Head of International for BMG Music Canada
BMG Marketing Manager
Nicole is one of the first black women employed in an urban marketing role at a major label in Canada. Her duties include overseeing radio, television and print marketing of some of urban music's hottest international stars. This busy woman also finds time to teach aspiring music industry students at one of Toronto's private colleges.
Capitol Hill Entertainment
Chase has blazed trails in Canada with his independent label which began in the early 90s. Capitol Hill has represented an impressive roster of Canadian hip hop stars including Saukrates, Kardinal Offishall, Jully Black and Tara Chase at one point. Chase now represents Saukrates and Jully Black -- both of whom have major label deals. Saukrates signed to Def Jam in February 2000 and it is said that Jully Black just signed to MCA. He (Chase) has shown a shrewed understanding of the music business -- all of his artists got publishing deals even before they got record deals. He also broke new ground in the early 90s selling 20,000 copies of Saukrates' EP "Brickhouse" without any major label support and was the first independent label to sign a Canadain rap artist with a U.S. major label when Saukrates signed to Warner Music back in the day.
Sol Guy continues to blaze a path as one of the sharpest minds working behind the scenes, as a manager to some of Canada's best known urban stars. They include the Rascalz, Kardinal Offishall and K-os. Previously, Sol Guy made a name for himself as the affable and very successful urban music marketing manager for BMG Music Canada where he led very successful efforts increasing market share for BMG in the mid-90s. Sol also consulted with several companies in the United States and Canada, including Bad Boy Entertainment. He also organized Northern X-posure, an annual urban music conference in Toronto that lasted for several years. His management crew at Figure IV includes the very capable Mr. Morgan and Dugai Barrington among others. Mr. Morgan is noted for being one of the first Canadians to promote Canadian hip hop artists in NYC. Known as the "Toronto Guy," he provided an important link for them to be heard on college radio south of the border.
Tony "Master T" Young
Former MuchMusic VJ/Producer
Tony Young, known to so many across the nation as Master T, got his foot in the door at MuchMusic some 17 years ago, as a receptionist and videotape operator. Who could have known that he would go on to be the face of urban music television, beaming black music into the homes of millions of impressionable viewers. As one of the most visible promoters of black urban culture, and through his role as Producer of Da Mix and Rap City, Young has had a hand in shaping the images and representations of the culture that were presented to us on a daily basis. He extended his reach even further with the implementation of two complimentary programs: In Da Round, which allowed an audience of community members to participate in a panel discussion of topics of the day, and Chillin' With, which offered fans a chance to sit in on live artist interviews and performances. Young, also worked diligently to move reggae music to the fore, serving as the most prominent on-air forum for top-name reggae artists to demonstrate their craft. Though he recently left Much in pursuit of other creative opportunities, T will always be recognized as an innovator and mentor to many people within the music industry.
It's difficult to place a title on someone like Mansa, as she has seemingly covered every aspect of the music industry, in some capacity. From her early days at Abstract magazine, Mansa has gone on to hold many influential positions, including doing publicity for both BeatFactory and Warner/Chapell Music, and working as General Manager for Capitol Hill Entertainment, home of Jully Black and Saukrates. In 1997, she became the first woman of colour to earn the position of A&R Representative at a major publishing company in Canada (Warner/Chapell Music Canada), before moving on to her current consulting position at Warner Records L.A. Even with this workload, she still manages the time to run her own publicity company, Illusion Enterprises, where her clients include artists and record labels like Kardinal Ofishall, Jully Black, BMG Music and Virgin Music. As a side project, Mansa also acts as Marketing Representative for Offshoot Communications, where she is responsible for the national marketing and placement of such clothing lines as Triple 5 Soul, 025, and Davoucci.