The music industry is mourning the loss of a legend today.
Last night (May 8), while spinning on Instagram Live, DJ D-Nice revealed the shocking news that music veteran and Uptown Records founder Andre Harrell had passed away at age 59.
The cause of death is unknown at this time.
During Harrell’s storied career he was one of the chief architects of a new wave of R&B music laced with hip hop flavor and swagger, called New Jack Swing. Founding Uptown Records in 1986, the music icon worked with Guy and producer-performer Teddy Riley, Al B. Sure, Jodeci, Heavy D and the Boyz and Father MC. Harrell also signed a then teenage Mary J. Blige. But perhaps his most notable achievement was his eye for talent when he hired an enterprising young intern, Sean “Puffy” Combs who he quickly promoted to an A&R role at the company. This role led Diddy to discover and sign the Notorious B.I.G.
Harrell, a native New Yorker, began his career as a rapper in the duo, Dr. Jeckyll and Mr. Hyde. He later went on to work at Def Jam Records and quickly rose in the ranks to become a vice president and later GM of the iconic label.
After Uptown Records was acquired by MCA, Harrell expanded his impact on the culture by developing the movie and soundtrack for the cult classic, “Strictly Business,” starring a young Halle Berry. In 1995, he went on to run Motown Records as president and CEO.
“My goal is to bring real Black America — just as it is, not watered down — to people everywhere through music, through films, through everything we do,” Harrell told NY Times in 1992. BET joins the music world in celebrating the life of a legend.