Capitol gets back in black

Less than four years after Capitol Records shuttered its black music division, the label is poised to jumpstart the arm, thanks to a pair of artist signings.

The move, which stems from the recent successes at the label and changes at parent EMI Music, will return Capitol to full-service label status.

It also marks a change in vision for the label orchestrated by EMI Recorded Music CEO Ken Berry and label prexy/CEO Gary Gersh.

Sources said Capitol, whose lineage is steeped in the genre from the day the label was co-founded by Buddy DeSylva, will expand through acquisitions of potent labels in the genre and through key artist signings.

The label recently inked Fun Lovin’ Criminals and Blessid Union of Souls — the latter’s self-titled sophomore disc was released two months ago — to the new division.

Freed from EMI

The acts were among those put in play as a result of the closure of sister label EMI Records.

Capitol also is in talks to ink D’Angelo, whose single “Lady” has become a radio staple, to a recording pact.

Capitol jettisoned its black music division in 1993 as part of a cost-cutting move spearheaded by Charles Koppelman, then-chairman and CEO of EMI-Capitol Records Group, North America. Koppelman ankled his post May 30 as part of corporationwide reorganization.

The ranks of the arm’s sales, marketing and promotion departments were thinned and incorporated into the label’s overall structure.

Previously, Capitol’s black music arm boasted Hammer, Freddie Jackson and BeBe & CeCe Winans, among others.

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