Former longtime Elektra Records chief Sylvia Rhone has been named president of Motown Records and exec VP of Universal Records.
Rhone will have direct responsibility for the Motown label, the roster of which includes Stevie Wonder, Erykah Badu, Michael McDonald, Brian McKnight and India.Arie. As exec VP of Universal Records, she will be involved in a number of musical projects.
Rhone’s “enthusiasm for discovering a diversity of artists and her unique vision regarding the complexity of new platforms and formats that drive our industry make her a natural to lead Motown’s evolution into the future,” said Mel Lewinter, chairman of Universal Motown Records Group.
Rhone was the first African American and first woman to become chairman of a major label when she was appointed chairman-CEO of Elektra in 1994, guiding the consolidation of four labels into the Elektra Entertainment Group. Under her leadership, Elektra mostly recently had success with Missy Elliott, Metallica, Jet and Jason Mraz.
She began her career with Buddha Records in 1974 and then moved to Atlantic Records. In 1986, she was appointed VP-general manager of Atlantic’s black music operation. In 1988 she was promoted to senior VP of Atlantic Records.
In 1990, Rhone became the first black woman to head a major record company when she was named CEO-president of Atlantic’s new East West Records. At EastWest she was directly responsible for the careers of En Vogue, Gerald Levert, Pantera and Simply Red, among others.