A world without music is far too hard to imagine. Imagine going through life with no melodies to snap your fingers to, no rhymes to memorize and recite throughout the years, and no special ballads to celebrate the good times. Music is without a doubt as important as the air we breathe. The artists who we love and adore, the producers who work to bring the magic to life, and those who discover some of the greatest superstars of our time.
Bryant Reid, a native of Cincinnati Ohio has always had a love for music and his 20+ year background as an entertainment industry executive proves just how deep that love really is. Bryant has held the positions of Senior Vice President of Artist and Repertoire at both LaFace Records and Atlantic Records and was the mastermind behind discovering Grammy award-winning superstar Usher as well as assembling the team of writers and producers to create mega-star Toni Braxton’s multi-platinum selling debut album. Reid has worked with Atlanta-based Grammy award-winning trio TLC, the best-selling American girl group in music history, selling over 65 Million albums worldwide as well as working with the Grammy award-winning rap duo Outkast, ranked No. 7 by Rolling Stone on its list of the 20 Greatest Duos of All Time. Wearing many hats as a television producer, fashion designer, consultant, businessman, and philanthropist, Reid founded The Reid Foundation for Lupus in 2018 and continues his legacy of hit-making with his launch of the HitLanta brand which started with a modern collection of high-quality, men’s and women’s casual sportswear.
An outstanding career for a truly creative and inspiring genius. The ability to make hits is a gift and Bryant Reid shows us just how gifted he truly is.
Born and raised in Cincinnati Ohio, you were in the top 10% of your graduating class, a member of the National Honor Society, and voted the most outstanding male senior. What was your driving force to aim high and achieve your goals and did you always know you would one day work in the entertainment industry?
My mother was my driving force. She was the most loving, supportive mother a child could have. She just had this unique skill at making me feel that I could excel. She always supported my extracurricular activities which included academics, music, sports, and fashion. She fully supported me when I chose to take the college English 101 course during the summer of my junior year in high school. I passed the course. The camaraderie with my classmates was certainly a factor too.
I've always loved music. When I was a child, I wanted to be like Michael Jackson, but I was not a naturally gifted singer. While playing percussion in my High School marching band I became a serious consumer of music, purchasing every genre and spending countless hours during the summers making compilation music cassettes. Later, I promoted music parties. One of the biggest was an after-concert party I threw for Bobby Brown during his "Don't Be Cruel" album tour and it was a huge success. I had the bug. Eventually, my brother, L.A. asked me to come work with him as an A&R executive at LaFace Records.
The taste and feel for music is a very personal experience. With time comes change and music is no exception. Is there anything within the music world of today that you feel is missing certain elements from back in the day?
I believe the true traditional sense of A & R (Artist & Repertoire) no longer exists. Finding superstar talent and timeless songs is no longer the prime focus of the A&R person. Also, one of the biggest and most fundamental shifts is how the consumer is getting the music now--streaming songs as opposed to purchasing the full length. I still love music though.
You have been in the entertainment industry for over 20 years and have worn many hats during your very impressive career. Senior Vice President of A&R at LaFace Records, and Atlantic Records. Television producer, fashion designer, consultant, businessman, and philanthropist. How do you remain motivated in an ever-changing industry?
I take a non-monolithic approach to my work and I always try to evolve and look for what I can do next. Being a student of the business, staying abreast of the trends, and leaning into creativity and innovation are key for me. I recently created an animated character and released a song and music video to support it. The song streamed very well and the video was mentioned in some mainstream outlets, including Rolling Stone. In 2002, I created a reality-based music show in Atlanta by casting both signed and unsigned music artists along with an A-list band, dancers, and a celebrity host. My show on the Turner South network had elements of “Soul Train,” “American Bandstand” and “American Idol.” It was one of the highest-rated, original series on the network and was before the wave of reality-based programming in Atlanta.
If you know victory, you’ve certainly met defeat. Remain fearless and competitive. I love your quote and positive energy. Has there ever been a time when it was a challenge to remain fearless?
Thank you. Of course, when you're a child and get caught being bad, that look of doom you get from your parents will strike fear in you. LOL
People are often reluctant to discuss topics they are afraid to ask about or know too little of. Lupus currently affects more than 1.5 million Americans and research and funding are crucial in the fight to find a cure. After being diagnosed with Lupus in 2007, how did your personal journey set the wheels in motion for what would become The Reid Foundation for Lupus in 2018?
After my diagnosis, I knew that I had to try to do something to help change the lives of people living with lupus. Lupus affects mostly people of color and has not always received the attention it deserves. Our priorities will specifically involve patient care, research, awareness, and fundraising. Starting thereidfoundationforlupus.org has been both gratifying and enlightening. While we are still in the early stages of staffing and planning our agenda for 2023 and beyond, we have already assembled a great group of smart professionals who serve on our board of directors and that share the same core values and vision that align with the foundation's mission. We have some exciting fundraising plans and we will do the work.
What was it like working with your brother LA Reid?
It was great working with my Brother, what an exciting time, and in music. Those were some fond memories that I'll always cherish. We were clicking on all cylinders. Like Sly and The Family Stone's song, "It's a family Affair."
I feel as though life comes with your very own theme music. If you had to choose a song or soundtrack to describe your musical journey what would that be?
Songs in the Key of Life!
It is often said that finding amazing talent is like finding a needle in a haystack. You discovered Grammy Award-winning superstar Usher at a talent show. You assembled the team of writers and producers to create megastar Toni Braxton’s multi-platinum debut album. You introduced Jermaine Dupre and Vincent Herbert to the LaFace family and it doesn’t stop there. You have worked with some of the biggest names in the industry. How do you know when you have found the next superstar? Is there an immediate and undeniable connection?
I handled the overall A&R responsibilities at LaFace, which included recording and/or remixes for TLC, OutKast, Toni Braxton, and the entire roster. I brought in the deal that resulted in Donell Jones being signed. And when I discovered a young Jermaine Dupri, I hired him to remix songs for Damian Dame and TLC before his success with Kriss Kross. I hired the person that found Pink. I found Usher at a talent show at Center Stage in Atlanta. Usher stood out, he reminded me of a younger version of Michael Jackson and Bobby Brown. You just know when you're witnessing something truly special. The eyes and the ears don't lie, lies come from the mouth. I knew what I saw and heard was the truth!
When you are not finding the next superstar or having conversations with hit-making producers how do you unwind and enjoy your quiet time?
I like listening to music, watching sports, traveling and reading. I also take great enjoyment in having an occasional cigar or two.
The launch of HitLanta. Tell us about your collection of men’s and women’s sportswear and the meaning behind this catchy name.
I've had the benefit of spending many important years in the city of Atlanta, having moved there in 1989 when LaFace Records was founded and being a part of the label’s deep and transformative impact. I know that LaFace helped shift the musical and entertainment landscape in Atlanta, the artist had an impact both nationally and globally. The brand is paying homage to the city and the company. My vision for HITLANTA is built on all of my experience. Atlanta has become the city where most of the hit music, television, and films are made, thus HITLANTA™. We've already gone to market with high-quality branded apparel, which includes beautiful sweaters in 8 vibrant colors, t-shirts, and caps, with more to come. We plan to scale the brand to include movies, television, music, and more, so stay tuned! And we're about the full legacy of Atlanta. We plan to donate a portion of every purchase made at hitlanta.com to an organization that furthers one of three causes-health, education, and civil rights. So, please feel free to shop and be a part of what will become a one-of-a-kind recognizable brand.
What’s next for Bryant Reid?
Hmmm. Wisdom and maturation have taught me to keep my cards close to the chest. (smile)
How can your followers and fans learn more about The Reid Foundation and follow and support you?
You can visit the thereidfoundationforlupus.org
Follow Bryant Reid
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"This is how you do it; you sit down at the keyboard and you put one word after another until it's done. It's that easy, and that hard." -Neil Gaiman