R&B Blues At MCA

When the record release dates for artists in the black music division at MCA Records got pushed back from late 1994 to the first quarter of 1995, industry tongues began to wag over the future of Ernie Singleton, president of the division.

Sources at the label said his MCA contract will not be renewed and that Singleton is currently negotiating to join another label. Singleton did not return calls seeking comment.

While MCA was known for its strong R& B division, the bloom is off the rose; the only acts making huge chart impacts are those from imprint deals MCA has made with indie labels.

MCA has scored with its pacts with Andre Harrell’s Uptown Records and Louil Silas’ Silas Records label, but its own signings have fallen far short of expectations.

MCA also recently dropped from its roster Big Daddy Kane and Malcolm Riley, the latter a relatively good seller despite not having the benefit of a hit single.

The label is currently in search of a West Coast R&B publicist.

Although Singleton’s division oversees releases from Bell Biv Devoe, Bobby Brown, Gladys Knight and Patti LaBelle, MCA proper spent most of 1994 as an also-ran to the artists in the Uptown Records fold, such as Mary J. Blige and Jodeci.

And although MCA’s country division continues to scorch the earth, MCA also is likely to have an identity crisis on the pop side for the first months of 1995.

Despite winning a multilabel bidding war for the debut from the Nixons, the label’s firstquarter slate includes a dubious debut from porn star-turned-actress-turned-singer Traci Lords, with the final MCA album from Elton John and a Glenn Frey reissue disc also on the boards.

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