“It took two years to write this book and one day for the moderator at the Grammy Museum to read it” LA Reid jokes as they open the interview discussion of his new book Sing to Me.
This book written by LA REID with Joel Selvin comes at a great time since my stretch goal is to read one book a week! Here are some pictures and takeaways from tonight’s talk.
Here are the highlights of tonight’s special talk:
- Meghan Trainor auditioned singing “All About that Bass” for Reid on her ukelele and he could feel God was in the room.
- There’s a process to recognizing that feeling of God being in the room. Reid admits between ages 12-22 years old our tastes develop. He uses the same heavenly feeling to recognize talent like M Train.
- As artists we can plan the song, our look and more but we can’t plan how music executives like Reid will feel. This is the magical unknown. This is where preparation meets opportunity.
- Reid got his first set of drums at the age of 15. He auditioned for his first gig and the managers stopped him mid playing and told him he had the gig. This was a turning point for him as a true professional musician.
Babyface joins the conversation to share their industry stories. Both charismatic storytellers.
- Dick Griffey a seasoned music producer advised, “It’s not the singing business or else you could go to any Baptist church, it’s the entertainment business.” He also encouraged him to move, “You can make more money by accident in LA than on purpose in Cincinatti.”
- Babyface appreciated the moment and passion of each song but never knew it was groundbreaking since they didn’t stop to celebrate while working.
- There was a shift however. Reid and Babyface grew to become high in demand. Clive Davis asked them to produce Whitney Houston. She came to Atlanta to record “I’m your baby tonight”.
- Whitney had an hour to record before the mall closed and she really wanted to go before close. The bridge of the song wasn’t even written yet. So she said let’s go, sang the song from top to bottom. Nailed it! Then Babyface wrote the bridge super fast so she could make it to the mall in time. Incredibly rare singer. She flew in and recorded the song so easily. That became Reid’s number 1 hot record. “Everything about Whitney was special” said Reid.
- With the song “Miracle,” Reid flew to NYC re-recorded Whitney’s vocal. Reid and Babyface received a three page letter from Clive Davis regarding adjusting the mix. Reid turned up the vocals and Clive approved it good to go. They learned how Whitney’s voice was to be treated with extra care. This was a new experience of vocal treatment in the mix for Reid and his team.
- TLC rnb group auditioned individually. The third girl didn’t make the cut. Coincidentally Babyface and Reid met Chili at a dance studio shortly after. Chili audition with Anita Baker “Sweet love” and they were locked in as TLC.
- The same month they signed Toni Braxton. Her tone of voice caught their ears. Babyface also loved the pain in her voice because it gave him more to work with for songwriting.
- Toni Braxton was initially asked to sing “Love Should’ve Brought You Home” for the Waiting to Exhale movie soundtrack with the song in the style of Anita Baker. Anita said the song was not for her. Ended up working out well for Toni. Babyface acknowledges that sometimes things don’t go as planned and end up working out even better as they are supposed to. This generated millions of sales for their music label.
- Reid thinks it’s great that indie artists have more platforms to distribute independently. At the same time at a major label there’s a team fighting for you even when you’re not hot at the moment. Doesn’t claim it’s better but definitely acknowledges the advantages. He did jokingly admit he has a bias since he owns a major label.
At the finale, Joel Selvin also contributed to writing the book. He’s a smart music critic and big fan of Sly and the Family Stone. So much appreciation and recognition of credit shared in gratitude tonight.