As part of her role as this year’s honoree for the City of Hope “Spirit of Life” initiative, Sylvia Rhone was feted Friday morning at a lovely (although windy) breakfast gathering on the roof of Sony Music’s headquarters in New York. The initiative raises money for the City of Hope cancer treatment and research center in Los Angeles.
The event was loaded with Sony and other music industry heavyweights, including Sony Music CEO Rob Stringer, veteran exec Doug Morris and his 12 Tone colleagues Steve Bartels and Mel Lewinter, Arista Records chief David Massey, Sony execs Kevin Kelleher and Julie Swidler, Sony ATV Music Publishing boss (and last year’s City of Hope honoree) Jon Platt, Universal Music Publishing President and City of Hope exec Evan Lamberg, and several members of Rhone’s team at Epic. (Pictured above: Rhone with Stringer, left, and Morris.)
In a brief speech, Rhone spoke of the honor of being the first black women in the role, and also its responsibility, as the music, film and entertainment group has raised some $124 million for the organization. She nodded to her former boss, Doug Morris, who has more money than any of the previous honorees, which include Quincy Jones, Clive Davis, Coran Capshaw, Irving and Shelli Azoff, Lucian Grainge, Rob Light and Mo Ostin.
“Doug is the big winner of [donations] of all honorees, so it is a little pressure,” she laughed. “Okay guys, don’t get too excited, because the women are in the house right now!”
More seriously, she spoke of a former employee named Karen Mason who contacted her, saying sadly she has stage-4 breast cancer. Rhone sprung into action, and within days Mason was receiving treatment.
There will be similar events in the coming days in Atlanta and Los Angeles, and the City of Hope gala takes place in October in L.A.
Named chairman/CEO of Epic earlier this year, in the 1990s, Rhone became the first African American woman to serve as chairman of a record company, holding that title at Elektra for a decade before she moved on to positions at Universal Records and Universal Motown. She began her career at Buddah Records in 1974.
=On April 5, Rhone received an honorary doctorate from the Berklee College of Music, in recognition of a career that still has her as the only female music executive to reach the status of label head multiple times.