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Rhone, Sylvia

Sylvia Rhone

Record company executive

For the Record

Sources

Sylvia Rhone has chartered a groundbreaking career in the American recording industry. In 1988, she became the first black woman to serve as vice-president of a major record companyAtlantic Recordsand three years later was named co-president and chief executive officer of her own Atlantic label, EastWest Records America. In 1994, she took on the additional responsibility of chairing another Warner Brothers division, Elektra Music. Though she began her career in banking and finance, Rhone has displayed a knack for discovering and developing new music talent as well as salvaging financially struggling record divisions.

The chart-topping acts brought by Rhone to Atlantica company that made a major turnaround in the late 1980sinclude LeVert, Miki Howard, Gerald Albright, and En Vogue. Rhones promotion to senior vice-president prompted the following words of praise from Atlantic Chair Ahmet Ertegun, as quoted by Laura B. Randolph in Ebony: Under her expert guidance [Atlantics] commitment to Black music has seen a revitalization marked by innovation, imagination and freshness.

Born in Philadelphia and raised in New York Citys Harlem, Rhone received a degree in economics from the prestigious Wharton School of Finance and Commerce at the University of Pennsylvania. After graduating in 1974, she went to work for a major bank in New York City, but after a year decided the atmosphere was too constraining. I wore pants to work and all eyebrows turned up, she told Randolph. No one actually said anything but they made it clear that what Id done was unacceptable. Rhone scrapped her plans for a financial career, took a major pay cut, and started work as a secretary for Buddah Recordsat nearly the bottom rung of the music industry ladder. For Rhone, however, the position represented a great opportunity. I knew I was taking a risk, she told Black Enterprise, but from the moment I sat in my new chair, I knew I was cut out for this business.

Rhone displayed a deftness for work in the recording industry and quickly ran up an impressive resume of promotional work. Shortly after coming on board at Buddah, she was promoted to the position of promotions coordinator and soon thereafter accepted the challenge of heading up national promotions for an independent start-up label. Suddenly I was responsible for getting my music exposed nationwide, she told Randolph. I had to jump in the deep water and sink or swim. Her success in the venture, as well as the promotional work she did for several other independent labels, gained her a reputation as a discoverer and shaper of black music talent.

For the Record

Born Sylvia M. Rhone, March 11, 1952, in Philadelphia, PA; daughter of James and Marie (Christmas) Rhone; divorced; children: Quinn (daughter). Education: University of Pennsylvania, Wharton School of Business and Commerce, M.A., 1974.

Bankers Trust, international lending, New York City, 1974; Buddah Records, New York City, began as administrative assistant, became promotions coordinator; directed promotional work for several record labels; worked at Atlantic Records, New York City, beginning in 1985, began as director of national black music promotion, became vice-president and general manager of Black Music Operations, named senior vice-president of the company, 1988, appointed chair and CEO of EastWest Records America, 1991; member of board of directors of Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, Phoenix House Foundation, Rock n Roll Hall of Fame, and R&B Foundation.

Selected awards: Vice President of the Year, R&B Report; Joel Weber Award for Excellence in Music and Business, 1993; Sony Music Excellence Award, 1993.

Addresses: Home 21 South End Ave., New York, NY 10280. Office EastWest Records America, 75 Rockefeller Plaza, New York, NY 10019.

Rhone accepted a number of positions in record promotions from the mid-1970s into the 1980s. In 1985 she was hired as director of national black music promotion at struggling Atlantic Records, which in its heyday represented such acts as Aretha Franklin and Otis Redding. Under Rhones guidance, the black music roster at Atlantic expanded to include such Number One acts as LeVert, Miki Howard, and Gerald Albright. Her work in reaping financial gains for that label resulted in another promotion in 1988this time to senior vice-president of the entire Atlantic Records companymaking her the only black woman to hold as high a position within a major American record company. Chuck Philips in the Los Angeles Times declared of Rhone, She got results. Her company has been on a multimillion-dollar hot streak since the day she took over.

Rhones success at Atlantic continued. In late 1991, Atlantic formed a new label, Atco/EastWest, to encompass a broader range of musical artists. Atlantic later dropped Atco, and Rhone was named chair and chief executive officer of her own label, EastWest Records America, which features both black and white acts varying in style from rock and pop to R&B to rap. Supervising a staff of more than 40 people, Rhone assumed responsibility for overseeing all facets of the labels recruitment, marketing, and promotion of recording artists.

In an article in Black Enterprise, Rhone elaborated on her efforts to make a mark in the music industry, stating: Im really excited about this venture because my team will create a distinct personality for the label. Then, in July of 1994, Rhone also took on the responsibility of chairing another Warner division, Elektra Music, along with EastWest. Rhone commented in Billboard, Theyre two labels with very distinct personalities. I think they complement each other in their diversity.

Much has been written about the sexism and racism prevalent in the entertainment industry, but Rhone has been a vanguard in breaking down barriers. As she remarked in the Los Angeles Times, I think that thanks to my success and the success of others that, eventually, that sexist good ol boy school of thought will go the way of the dinosaur. Itll take us a few years to accomplish it, but hey, Im up for the fight. And so are a lot of other women. In addition, Rhone commented in Black Enterprise on the impact African-Americans are exerting on the U.S. recording industry: African-Americans can not only create music, but control it as well. The world is watching us.

Sources

Billboard, April 24, 1993; July 30, 1994.

Black Enterprise, August 1991; December 1991.

Ebony, November 1988; September 1992; March 1993.

Entertainment Weekly, December 6, 1991.

Hollywood Reporter, December 7, 1993.

Los Angeles Times, November 29, 1992; April 18, 1993.

Additional information for this profile was obtained from EastWest publicity materials, 1993.

Michael E. Mueller

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Rhone, Sylvia 1952–

Sylvia Rhone 1952

Record company executive

At a Glance

Sources

Sylvia Rhone has chartered a groundbreaking career in the American recording industry. In 1988, she became the first black woman to serve as vice-president of a major record companyAtlantic Recordsand three years later was named co-president and chief executive officer of her own Atlantic label, EastWest Records America. Though she began her career in banking and finance, Rhone has displayed a knack for discovering and developing new music talent, as well as salvaging financially struggling record divisions. The chart-topping acts brought by Rhone to Atlantica company that made a major turnaround in the late 1980sinclude LeVert, Miki Howard, Gerald Albright, and En Vogue. Rhones promotion to senior vice-president prompted the following words of praise from Atlantic chairman Ahmet Ertegun, as quoted by Laura B. Randolph in Ebony : Under her expert guidance [Atlantics] commitment to Black music has seen a revitalization marked by innovation, imagination and freshness.

Born in Philadelphia and raised in New York Citys Harlem, Rhone received a degree in economics from the prestigious Wharton School of Finance and Commerce at the University of Pennsylvania. After graduating in 1974, she went to work for a major bank in New York City, but after a year decided the atmosphere was too constraining. I wore pants to work and all eyebrows turned up, she told Randolph. No one actually said anything but they made it clear that what Id done was unacceptable. Rhone scrapped her plans for a financial career, took a major pay cut, and started work as a secretary for Buddah Recordsat nearly the bottom rung of the music industry ladder. For Rhone, however, the position represented a great opportunity. I knew I was taking a risk, she told Black Enterprise, but from the moment I sat in my new chair, I knew I was cut out for this business.

Rhone displayed a deftness for work in the recording industry and quickly ran up an impressive resume of promotional work. Shortly after coming on board at Buddah, she was promoted to the position of promotions coordinator, and soon thereafter accepted the challenge of heading up national promotions for an independent start-up label. Suddenly I was responsible for getting my music exposed nationwide, she told Randolph. I had to jump in the deep water and sink or swim. Her

At a Glance

Born Sylvia M. Rhone, March 11, 1952, in Philadelphia, PA; daughter of James and Marie (Christmas) Rhone; married. Education: University of Pennsylvania, Wharton School of Business and Commerce, M.A., 1974.

Worked for Bankers Trust, New York City, 1974; Buddah Records, New York City, started as administrative assistant, became promotions coordinator; directed promotional work for several record labels; Atlantic Records, New York City, 1985, began as director of national black music promotion, became vice-president and general manager of Black Music Operations, senior vice-president of the company, 1988, chair and CEO of EastWest Records America, 1991, chair and CEO of Atco-EastWest label, 1991.

Awards: Honoree at 15th annual Jack the Rapper convention, Atlanta, 1991.

Addresses: Home 21 South End Ave., New York, NY 10280. OfficeAtco-EastWest, 75 Rockefeller Plaza, New York, NY 10019.

success in the venture, as well as the promotional work she did for several other independent labels, gained her a reputation as a discoverer and shaper of black music talent. In the mid 1980s, she was hired as director of national black music promotion at struggling Atlantic Records, which in its heyday represented such acts as Aretha Franklin and Otis Redding. Under Rhones guidance, the black music roster at Atlantic expanded to include such number one acts as LeVert, Miki Howard, and Gerald Albright. Her success resulted in another promotion in 1988this time to senior vice-president of the entire Atlantic Records companymaking her the only black woman to hold as a high a position within a major American record company.

Rhones success with Atlantic has continued. In 1991, she was named co-president and chief executive officer of her own label within the company, EastWest Records America. Overseeing a staff of more than forty people, Rhone assumed responsibility for overseeing all facets of the labels recruitment, marketing, and promotion of recording artists. In an article in Black Enterprise, Rhone elaborated on her efforts to make a mark in the music industry, stating: Im really excited about this venture because my team will create a distinct personality for the label.

In late 1991, Atlantic formed a new label, Atco-EastWest, to encompass a broader range of musical artists. Rhone was named chair and chief executive officer of the label, which will feature several dozen actsboth black and whitevarying in style from rock and pop to rhythm and blues to rap. Commenting in general on the impact African-Americans are exerting on the U.S. recording industry, Rhone, as quoted by Christopher Vaughn in Black Enterprise, proclaimed: African-Americans can not only create music, but control it as well. The world is watching us.

Sources

Black Enterprise, August 1991; December 1991.

Ebony, November 1988.

Michael E. Mueller

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

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"Rhone, Sylvia 1952–." Contemporary Black Biography. . Encyclopedia.com. 23 Apr. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"Rhone, Sylvia 1952–." Contemporary Black Biography. . Encyclopedia.com. (April 23, 2017). http://www.encyclopedia.com/education/news-wires-white-papers-and-books/rhone-sylvia-1952

"Rhone, Sylvia 1952–." Contemporary Black Biography. . Retrieved April 23, 2017 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/education/news-wires-white-papers-and-books/rhone-sylvia-1952