Charles Whitfield is pictured to the left.
Charles Whitfield, Head of A&R – Hidden Beach Records joins Terrill J. Hanna for a brief chat about the industry, his roster of talent & the future of Hidden Beach Records!!Terrill: The Urban Music Scene.com welcomes Head of A/R of Hidden Beach Recordings Mr. Charles Whitfield. What’s happening brother?
Charles: What’s up Terrill, how you doing man?
Terrill: Oh, I’m doing it man. I’m just trying to push it all on man. How about you?
Charles: Everything is good man. Everything is good.
Terrill: Good man, hey I appreciate you spending some time with us today and definitely we know that you got some insights and some wisdom to share. Not just to the fans and consumers but also to an aspiring artist out there somewhere
Charles: No problem man..
Terrill: Hey Charles, what do you think is going on right now in the music industry?
Charles: Basically, right now, I think all the labels are trying to figure out what direction to go in for the future. I mean it’s no secret that sales are down. I’m literally looking at the charts as we speak. Since this is soundscan day, I think all the consumers, as record labels, is looking for new direction with all the major retailers pretty much. The real record stores such as the Tower, Warehouse, etc. As you see those guys dwindling, the major record stores are now Tower, WalMart, Best Buy and Circuit City, which actually puts a real record buying consumer in a tough position because it’s hard to go into, say, any type of those record stores or store and feel a record store experience.
Terrill: Right, with that said, do you think that the digital downloads is also causing a problem?
Charles: I don’t it’s so much of a problem. I think in some aspects it’s actually helping because what it does do is make it easier for people to actually just go purchase music. And right now, with the downsizing of a lot of record, brick-and-mortar retailer stores by being the downloads, I think it actually gives consumers an avenue to actually go purchase records and just because you know the real so call record stores in my opinion don’t exist anymore so fans who still like music to say hey I could just jump on iTunes or whatever service, whether it’s WalMart.com, Circuitcity.com or buy a project, I think at the end of the day they’re still being able to get what they need .
Terrill: That’s understood. With that said in the music industry there’s a wide perception that musical downloads will hurt the record label. Now, with what you just have stated, it’s not hurting any record labels, but more so it’s about promoting quality music, would you say?
Charles: Yes, I think it’s about quality music. I think at the end of the day you could look at downloads one of two ways I mean to me we choose to look at it as a positive because anytime it’s another avenue to get your music heard that’s a positive right now. I mean maybe three years ago, people were worried about downloads, but three years ago Tower Records was still in existence. Three years ago you could find Warehouse Music in existence. Three years ago it was just a lot more mom and pop record stores had a lot more presence than they have now. Three years ago, WalMart and Target weren’t the you know the big record store chains or things that they are today. They were just basic stores but their basic premise too is because of the pricing that they’ve established where you can go into a Target or WalMart and buy records for $9.00 that basically changed the whole landscape of the music business.
Terrill: Wouldn’t you say also the good distribution?
Charles: Oh yeah, no doubt, the same thing it’s just. With everything, anything with supply and demand where supply is less, man it’s going to make it hard to deal with demand readily. I’m looking at a contemporary jazz chart from today and Norman Brown’s record is #1 this week with 1800 records. You look at that three years ago and I guarantee you the #1 record was at least three or four thousand records.
Charles: And so to get into the top 10 on the jazz chart is Paul Brown selling 633 records. So I mean that kind of speaks for itself and I mean these numbers do not lie. Take it on the top 50 jazz chart – Rob White is at #50 with 130 records. So I think that kind of tells you the state of the business. It’s just where it is right now.
Terrill: Absolutely. You know I tell you what, Hidden Beach definitely has experienced some great success with some great artists of yours – Mike Phillips, Jill Scott, then of course your gospel division has taken off – BeBe Wi
Charles: Yes. We have a gospel division called “Still Waters” which is a subsidiary label of Hidden Beach, BeBe Winans was the first artist to be put out on the label. And we also have two new young ladies that are out right now, one being Onisha and another being Sunny Hawkins with both of those records that came out. Onisha came out in May, Sunny just came out a couple of weeks ago and both are outstanding projects and both of those are on the Still Waters label.
Terrill: Great! I noticed that Sunny Hawkins has a musical background…
Charles: Sunny Hawkins actually sang and actually wrote some stuff for, I believe, Patti LaBelle, to name a few other singers. She’s also the daughter-in-law of the the famous Walter and Tremaine Hawkins. Her husband, who actually produced all of the record with her, is an artist in his own right. His name is Jamie Hawkins. He actually had a deal out a few years ago but his record unfortunately never came out. He actually opened for Jill Scott when her record first came out, “Who is Jill Scott”. When she did the House of Blues Tour, Jamie actually opened some dates for her. And so he is an amazing talent but he’s actually Walter and Tremaine’s son. So those two pretty much wrote and produced everything that’s on her record.
Terrill: Perfect! We definitely featured both of those ladies on our gospel page here at the Urban Music Scene.com and we’re looking forward to covering another aspect or lets just say, R&B artist on your record label – Mr. Keith Young.
Charles: Yes, we have another artist who will be coming out sometime in the end of the his name is Keith Young he actually is Wayman Tisdale’s nephew. So Wayman is involved in the project but he also being from Dallas, sang a lot with Kirk Franklin and actually his record was actually slated to be another Still Waters release as well but midway through the recording process, he started actually recording a lot more secular stuff. So at the end of the day, his project ended up being a straight Hidden Beach release but it still does have some tinges of what you will find on a Still Waters release.
Terrill: Ok and it just a combination of Both Urban R&B and gospel right?
Charles: Yeah, it’s pretty much good music. If you see him in a live situation he kind of reminds me a lot of Lenny Kravitz, in a live situation. You know people have compared him to Lenny Kravitz, Al Green & D’Angelo. All of those influences you will hear on the record.
Terrill: Cool, cool and that’s slated to be released in July?
Charles: It’s slated to be released in July, it’s not a firm date, toward the end of July but we may actually be moving it to August. But definitely by the end of summer it will be out.
Terrill: Ok good man, we will look out for it hopefully we could cover and review it on the side. We look forward to doing that and of course you have some other new material coming out I understand.
Charles: Yeah, actually in addition to Keith Young, we also have a record by Cornell West, the noted educator his project will be out toward the end of summer. It’s a hodge podge of artists on there from Prince to Talib Kweli, Jill Scott, and Gerald Levert, Tavis Smiley is actually on there so that’s a pretty exciting release so we also have another studio record on Jill Scott that will be out in September. And we actually just finished shooting a video, two videos actually in L.A. and the first single on it is “Hate on Me”. The video should be out probably in a couple of weeks and so yes… there’s a bunch of really good music we have coming out of Hidden Beach within the next three or four months.
Terrill: What’s happening with Mike Phillips?
Charles: Mike is actually not to any of his fault, we haven’t been able to get back into the studio to record Mike’s third record due to the fact that he’s been blessed to be playing with Prince for pretty much the last eight or nine months he played with Prince out in Las Vegas. When prince did his show at the Rio, an amazing show I actually saw his show a couple of times and then Prince is playing in London for about a month and then he’s going to be playing here in L.A. at the Roosevelt Hotel for about a month and a half. So hopefully when he’s out here doing that we want to get his third record done. So we pretty much have a lot of the songs already ready, we just got to really get him in the studio and take time to record them. But, it’s hard to turn down playing with Prince so his record has kind of gotten put on hold so we’re looking to put it out first quarter in 2008 along with also our group Kindred who they’ll actually be releasing their third record as well. So we’re looking for both of those to be coming out right at the top of 2008.
Terrill: Right on man. And you know what, with the fact of Mike playing with Prince it just speaks very highly of the roster that you have with Hidden Beach records, man. I mean
Charles: Yes, we’ve been very blessed to hav
e some amazing artists not only in their own right, but also from Mike whose playing songs not only with Prince, he’s played with Stevie Wonder, he’s played with Frankie Beverly and Maze and I ‘kid’ him all the time. I said I think the only artist that you really need to get to play with is Michael Jackson. I think that would set it off!
Terrill: That would set it off!!
Charles: Yes, believe me! Before Mike finishes playing he will be playing with Michael Jackson.
Terrill: When he does that…..?,
Charles: Mike Phillips says, and so I say not only is it a testament to the solo recording or unwrapped series that we’ve done but I think it’s a testament that you know artist like a Prince, artist like Stevie Wonder, can you know Mike played here at a club in Hollywood about a month ago that a radio station KJLH sponsored and you know Stevie Wonder came in and sat in with Prince at the event.
Terrill: I was there!
Charles: We are at the event. So those are the kind of things…the kind of love that our artists genuinely get and it’s nothing where an artist like Stevie is forced to do anything. He does stuff because he likes it. To sit there and witness Stevie Wonder on stage with Mike. To witness Prince on stage with Mike.. it just shows the development and growth that Mike’s had as an artist.
Terrill: Right on man, and I ditto. You know I completely give major kudos to you man. You know the next question’s going to come at you, it’s coming strong brother you know – Unwrapped Volumes,4, excuse, me, Volumes 1 through 4 possible Volulme 5?
Charles: No more Unwraps.
Terrill: Unwrap is on the shelf?
Charles: Unwrap is on the shelf, I think we pretty much made a conscious decision not to in no where in the immediate future do another Unwrapped record mainly and we wanted to kind of end the series or kind of give fans the box set which was not just like Unwrapped Voulume 1, 2, 3, and 4. we totally changed the sequence, we added some bonus things to it. We wanted to make the box set an experience where even if you had volumes 1 through 4 which we know a lot of people do, we wanted to make it different. But my thing was I actually personally didn’t want to do a Volume 4. Other people here did which I think Volume 4 turned out to be a nice record but to me we started something and once you start something and once you start something, you know I can literally look at the street-wise people and several other people that kind of you know “copy catted” what we did and when you have success people will follow it and to me I think that format has been played. We covered it as good as it could be covered and I think to keep continually doing something and a lot times you walk away with stuff when you are successful with it. And I think to just continue to do that and not to say we wouldn’t come up with another series and it’s kind of like Unwrapped. Which we’ve tossed ideas around you know of different ways to do it but it’s about being creative and innovative and I think we came out with Unwrapped Volume 1 which to this day, I think is my favorite volume not to say the other ones aren’t good as well but I think just as we did volume 1, it caught so many people off guard because of what it was and hey a lot of people still are just now getting turned on to Unwrapped. And I think you know that’s the good thing about the box set that even people that do have 1, 2, 3, and 4 at one time if you just get the box set you can get turned on to the whole experience and you could just literally sit there and listen for four or five hours and be like wow I remember that song. I remember that song. But to me you know part of the thing of staying creative and staying in the forefront is knowing when to walk away from something. And to me that’s I think what we’ve tried to do with the Unwrapped where we didn’t continuously keep doing it where it got to be something that the fans were noticing the quality drop in our music and that’s one thing we never want to do.
Terrill: OK man. Again, that speaks on the testament of just your pure success – quality projects quality artists. I look forward to more release from Hidden Beach and have them all reviewed on the Hidden Beach, excuse me Urban Music Scene.com Charles and we’re running out of time my brother. I’m going to go ahead and split you and I got to get together and have lunch man.
Charles: Yes, we got to and ease up I don’t know when that’s going to be but hey that’s a good thing if I got time to say hey lets go do this man, stuff is going in a different direction so.
Terrill: If not lunch dinner whatever. More than likely I’ll probably see you at one of the performances.
Charles: For sure.
Terrill: you know either way we do it we do it we kick it. Man I really appreciate it and God bless you my brother.
Charles: Alright Big T, I’ll holl
er at you later man!
Terrill: you got it Dog take care