Don Was upped at Blue Note Records

Promoted to president from chief creative officer

Don Was has been promoted to president at EMI Music’s Blue Note Records. The Grammy-winning producer joined the venerable jazz and pop label as chief creative officer in August (Daily Variety, Aug. 10).

Elevation lifts Was into the ranks of top producers holding label reins; he joins an elite group that includes Verve Music Group chairman David Foster and Columbia Records co-president Rick Rubin.

Move was announced internally in January. EMI Music North America COO Colin Finkelstein and Capitol and Virgin label group prexy Dan McCarroll said in a joint memo to staffers that Was’ “commitment and passion for Blue Note and its artists – current and future – is inspiring, and as a result we have asked him to take full leadership of the label.”

Was will continue to report to McCarroll.

Ian Ralfini, previously Blue Note-Manhattan Records prexy, remains at the company as GM of EMI adult contemporary music, reporting to Finkelstein and focusing on the label’s global music rights deals for adult music. Manhattan is currently enjoying success with its act Celtic Woman, whose new album “Believe” entered the U.S. album chart at No. 13 this week.

Concurrently, former EMI Group senior vp of strategy and research Hank Forsyth moves to the newly created position of senior vp-GM for Blue Note, charged with managing day-to-day operations of the label.

Was (né Don Fagenson) received a Grammy as producer of the year in 1995. He helmed Bonnie Raitt’s multiple Grammy winner “Nick of Time” (1989) and has served as the Rolling Stones’ producer since “Voodoo Lounge” (1994). He co-founded the Detroit group Was (Not Was) with David Weiss (aka David Was) in 1979.

It remains to be seen if Was will continue to do outside projects with his promotion at Blue Note. He is currently wrapping production on a new album by singer-guitarist John Mayer, who is signed to Columbia.

Blue Note’s next major release is a new album by Grammy-winninng singer-songwriter Norah Jones, “Little Broken Hearts.” The Danger Mouse-produced set will arrive this spring. Label’s pop roster includes Jones’ country side project the Little Willies, Amos Lee, Priscilla Ahn and Jeff Bridges.

The label – founded as a jazz imprint in 1939 by Francis Wolff and Alfred Lion – remains active on the jazz front, and will release hip-hop-friendly keyboardist Robert Glasper’s “Black Radio” on Feb. 28.

According to one source, Was is contemplating renewed expansion of Blue Note’s jazz roster, and could re-sign saxophonist Wayne Shorter and trumpeter-screen composer Terence Blanchard to the label.

More Music

  • Beyonce-HOMECOMING-Netflix

    Beyoncé, Sara Bareilles Vie for First Emmys as Ramin Djawadi Looks to Reclaim Throne

    Beyoncé and Sara Bareilles could add Emmy trophies to their awards shelves this year, having been nominated in key music categories Tuesday by the Television Academy. Beyoncé’s “Homecoming” special on Netflix was nominated in six categories, and four of those include a nod for the pop superstar herself. Only one of those is in a [...]

  • LiveXLive Names AOL and MTV Vet

    LiveXLive Names AOL and MTV Vet Dermot McCormack President

    Live entertainment digital media company LiveXLive Media today announced that AOL and MTV veteran Dermot McCormack has been named president of the company. According to the announcement, McCormack will lead the business and creative operations of LiveXLive, effective immediately. McCormack previously served as AOL’s Global President of Video and Studios, where he oversaw the video [...]

  • Harry Styles to Play Prince Eric

    Harry Styles in Talks to Play Prince Eric in Disney's 'Little Mermaid'

    Harry Styles is going under the sea. The former One Direction frontman is in early negotiations to play Prince Eric in Disney’s live-action adaptation of “The Little Mermaid.” Halle Bailey will portray the Ariel, a mermaid princess who dreams of being a human, while Melissa McCarthy is playing her evil aunt Ursula. “The Little Mermaid” [...]

  • R Kelly Sexual Assult Accusations Mugshot

    R. Kelly Ordered Held Without Bail

    R. Kelly has been ordered held without bond at a hearing Tuesday in federal court in Chicago, according to the Chicago Sun Times. The singer entered a not-guilty plea. The hearing, which follows the singer being hit Friday with a total of 18 counts of serious sexual misconduct and other charges in Chicago and New York, [...]

  • Sir Elton John, David Furnish. Sir

    New Elton John AIDS Foundation Gala to be Held in the South of France

    Elton John and David Furnish are launching a new gala for the Elton John AIDS Foundation. The two will host the inaugural A Midsummer Party benefit on July 24 in the south of France at the Johnny Pigozzi’s private estate, Villa Dorane, in Cap d’Antibes. A cocktail reception will be followed by dinner, a live [...]

  • Emmy Queen Bey? Beyonce's 'Homecoming' Lands

    Beyoncé's 'Homecoming' Documentary Lands Six Emmy Nominations

    It’s going to be a busy awards season for Beyonce. She could be up for Grammys or Oscars in the next six months, but she’s already made a splash with the fresh crop of Emmy nominations. Her documentary/concert movie “Homecoming: A Film by Beyoncé” has been nominated for six Emmys, and a win in most [...]

  • Jon Sidel

    Jon Sidel Joins Position Music as A&R Director

    Jon Sidel, the veteran music executive and self-described “rock and roll jack of all trades,” has joined Position Music as A&R director. In his new role, Sidel has been tasked with helping expand the roster, bringing his taste-maker savvy to the Los Angeles-based indie label and publisher. Over a career that spans more than 25 [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content