To much surprise, La’ Porsha Renae did not win last night’s final American Idol season. But don’t fret. Look at the great singers who haven’t won, like Jennifer Hudson. La’Porsha has landed a record deal, that will no doubt propel her career.
La’Porsha Renae will be joining the Universal Music Group family, signing with 19/Big Machine/Motown Records, in partnership with Big Machine.
“Because of the overwhelming fan demand and success of the farewell season of American Idol, we have made the decision to sign both the winner, Trent Harmon, and runner-up, La’Porsha Renae, to exclusive recording agreements,” Big Machine Label Group founder and CEO Scott Borchetta tells Billboard. “I can’t think of a better way to bring this American institution to a close. Everyone at the Big Machine Label Group, the Universal Music Group and Motown Records are so thrilled with the outcome and can’t wait to get to work.”
Renae’s album will be overseen by Ethiopia Habtemariam, president of Motown and president of urban music/co-head of creative at Universal Music Publishing Group, who tells Billboard, “We are extremely excited to partner with Big Machine and 19 Entertainment on such an incredible talent as La’Porsha.”
In case you’re not familiar with the power of La’Porsha, check out her stirring performance of “No More Drama” on “Idol” below:
The scene backstage last November at the American Music Awards, that annual gathering of pop perennials and idiosyncratic arrivistes, was carnivalesque: Niall and Liam of One Direction toddled about trying to snap a picture with a selfie stick, while Zayn, their bandmate at the time, smoked coolly out of frame; Ne-Yo was there in a leopard-print blazer two sizes too small; Lil Wayne was wandering around, alone, wearing absurd shoes. In the middle of it all, Abel Tesfaye, better known as The Weeknd, remained calm, slow motion to everyone else’s warp speed.
Allergic to these sorts of scrums, he found his way to his trailer to hang with his friends, five or so fellow Canadians, all of them art-goth chic, wearing expensive sneakers and draped in luxurious, flowing black. Tesfaye, 25, was dressed down by comparison, in a black corduroy jacket and paint-splattered jeans (Versace, but still). He stands 5-foot-7, plus a few more inches with his hair, an elaborate tangle of dreadlocks that he has been growing out for years, more or less letting it go where it wants. It spills out at the sides of his head and shoots up over it, like a cresting wave. Casually, Tesfaye did some vocal warm-ups and sat indifferently as his underutilized makeup artist dabbed foundation under his eyes and balm on his lips.
He’d just had his first flash of true pop success: ‘‘Love Me Harder,’’ his duet with Ariana Grande, the childlike pop star with the grown-up voice, cracked the Top 10 of the Billboard Hot 100. He was scheduled to make a surprise cameo here at the end of a Grande medley. Until that song and, in a sense, that moment, Tesfaye had been a no-hit wonder: a cult act with millions of devotees and almost no mainstream profile.
When Tesfaye came out from the shadows midway through Grande’s performance, the crowd screamed. For two minutes, the singers traded vocal riffs and unflinching eye contact, Grande playing the naïf and Tesfaye the aggressor. The performance was quick and sweaty, and seconds after it was over, Tesfaye was already speeding for the exit, stopping only for a quick embrace from Kendall and Kylie Jenner. When he reached the parking lot, a yappy talent wrangler for an entertainment-news show sensed an opportunity and asked for an interview. Tesfaye gave him an amused half-smile and kept walking. ‘‘Hey!’’ the guy shouted in desperation, fumbling for a name before landing on the wrong one: ‘‘A$AP Rocky!’’ Tesfaye turned his head and said, ‘‘C’mon, man,’’ arching an eyebrow, then picked up the pace.
Even though he had just performed for an audience of millions, Tesfaye was still, to many of them, a total stranger. When he began releasing music in 2010 — murky Dalí-esque R.&B., sung in an astrally sweet voice, vivid with details of life at the sexual and pharmacological extremes — Tesfaye chose to be a cipher. The only photos of him in circulation were deliberately obscured; he didn’t do interviews. His reticence was an asset — fans devoured the music without being distracted by a personality. Their loyalty was to the songs and, in a way, to the idea of the Weeknd. He was happy to stay out of the way.
In a deal that reflects both the continuing initiative of the Miles Davis estate and the growing mini-major status of the Kobalt Music Group, the two parties recently struck a deal for the independent music publisher to administer the entire catalog of the late jazz icon. Kobalt’s global synch licensing and creative teams will take over worldwide administration of Davis’ music, previously overseen by the Universal Music Group, and aims to “develop new creative opportunities” as well as tap Davis’ works for use in films, television, advertising and other media. Kobalt’s clients include Paul McCartney, Dave Grohl, Thom Yorke and such jazz artists as Herbie Hancock, Chick Corea and Pat Metheny.
“As a jazz enthusiast and sax player myself, listening to his music has been a major part of my life,” said Willard Ahdritz, founder and CEO of Kobalt, in the statement. “So it’s especially meaningful to me and an honor for everyone at Kobalt to be working with the Miles Davis Estate and their great team including Erin Davis, Cheryl Davis, Vince Wilburn, Jr. and Darryl Porter.” For its part, Miles Davis Properties LLC called Kobalt a “forward-thinking” company that “puts the artists’ needs at the forefront.”
The Davis family has been quite busy as of late, overseeing several reissues the the jazz/fusion pioneer, including the upcoming Miles at the Fillmore – Miles Davis 1970: The Bootleg Series Vol. 3, being released March 25 via Columbia/Legacy; a lavish hardcover book of paintings by Davis called Miles Davis: The Collected Artwork published by Insight Editions; and a Davis biopic titled Kill the Trumpet Player directed, co-written by and starring Don Cheadle as the man with the horn that’s said to be scheduled for production in the coming year.
Jay-Z has released more No. 1 albums in his career than any other solo artist– eleven, to be exact. He hasn’t released a new record yet this year, but he’s been very active on the business front. Recent announcements include a publishing deal with Warner/Chappell, a summer tour with Justin Timberlake and the launch of Roc Nation Sports, with Robinson Cano as its first client.
Today, the hit parade continues. Universal Music Group announced a global partnership with Roc Nation, the label Jay-Z founded in 2008 as part of a $150 million deal with concert promoter Live Nation. The world’s largest record company lured the hip-hop mogul away from Sony Music, which had been distributing Roc Nation’s releases previously.
“This agreement presents a unique opportunity for Roc Nation’s artists—being able to continue to operate as an independent label with the strength, power and reach of the best major,” said Jay-Z in a statement. “I look forward to a long and prosperous collaboration with UMG.”
The Roots bandleader and music historian Questlove will be putting his extensive knowledge of music to use when he co-teaches a course called “Classic Albums” at New York University.
Ahmir “Questlove” Thompson is set to join forces with Universal Music Group’s Vice President of A&R Harry Weinger to teach the two-credit class at the prestigious Clive Davis Institute for Recorded Music at NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts. The course is to begin at the beginning of the spring semester. Some of the albums to be studied are Michael Jackson‘s Off The Wall, Beastie Boys‘ Paul’s Boutique, and Aretha Franklin‘s Lady Soul, according to The Hollywood Reporter.