Whisperers in the king’s ear

2010-10-29 15:50

James Samuel Harris III and Terry Steven Lewis. These two men have had a profound effect on the international (read: American R&B) music industry for going on three decades now.

Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis.

As a teenager in the 1980s, I came across these two names and have spent two decades following their exploits from a distance, fascinated and humbled. Not many know who they are. When we buy music, our purchasing decision is influenced primarily by who is in the forefront, the artist, the voice.

I learned early in life that there was much to be gained from reading the credits.

I loved reading the “thank yous” because it showed who the artist worked with, who inspired them and so forth. Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis have produced music for a plethora of artists and, as a production team, they are third on the list of the most number 1s ever.

Artists they have worked with include: Janet Jackson, Yolanda Adams, Alexander O’Neal, Jessica Simpson, Sting, Usher, Mary J Blige, Mariah Carey, Chante Moore, SOS Band, Toni Braxton, Ledisi, Boyz II Men, TLC and Rod Stewart.

We have a warped view of how the world works, especially when it comes to entertainment.

The artist we see out front, in the limelight, is often accomplished and worthy of the adoration we drown them in but, most of the time, there are others in the background, sitting behind closed doors, who work tirelessly and creatively to ensure that the “star” always shines.

We seem to have an unhealthy attraction to the spotlight.

The final destination has become the need to be seen and acknowledged, and be considered better than others because of whatever semblance of fame we may have.

And so we look at others in the spotlight and pick those we aspire to be like.

Somehow, all we see is the polished end product and believe that is what this life is all about.

I have always looked to those who hold the true power; those who do not need the constant public validation to believe themselves successful.

For example, while Jay-Z is cool, powerful and extremely rich, I want to meet Steve Stoute, the man who helped create Brand ­­Jay-Z.

I want to meet the people behind the throne. Those who whisper in the king’s ear.

And I want to be like them.

I want to leave the kind of legacy that Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis have.

A lifetime of melodies tied to memories.

» ?Baffoe is the editor of Destiny Man

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