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Bajan buzz

December 13, 2008

rshWITH SHEER God-given talent, local artistes Rihanna, Shontelle and Hal Linton are helping to build an American music label “empire” and enhance the international music industry in a major way.

This is the word from producer, writer and label owner Evan Rogers, who admitted that while he had paved the way for the three young stars, they were in turn making his label, Syndicated Rhythm Production (SRP) Records, a major force in the industry.

An example of the prestige which the three Barbadians have brought to SRP has been a recently inked deal via SRP involving the 24-year-old Linton, who was personally signed by Universal Motown chief executive officer Sylvia Rhone.

“SRP has done previous joint ventures with Island Def Jam but this is a fully funded label deal,” Rogers explained in a telephone interview from New York. “And Hal is the first signing to that label.

“We’re incredibly excited. Getting our label partnered with Universal Motown is the fruit of having built Rihanna into one of the top artists in the world. We (SRP) are now being seen as label executives as opposed to just writers/producers,” Rogers and SRP co-founder Carl Sturken said.

“We can’t tell you how happy we are to be able to bring this talent from Barbados to the attention of the elite,” they added.

Both were gung-ho about the most recent signee, Linton. “Hal has such a buzz up here it’s amazing! And he’s so different from Rihanna and Shontelle! He’s being seen here as a true soul singer and writer. And when we tell the executives he’s also from Barbados, they can’t believe that even more talent is coming from there. We’re doing great things. We’re building the empire,” Rogers added jokingly.

Turning his attention to the 23-year-old Shontelle Layne, whose debut T-Shirt – her first Top 40 hit on the Billboard Hot 100 – led to an endorsement deal with the Hanes brand, Rogers said it was clear her profile was growing, as exemplified in her performance in the national Thanksgiving Day Parade featured on NBC.

“Only major people get to do that,” was how he put it.

He also informed that she had recorded a duet with Senegalese-American artist Akon, and it will be the theme song to the movie Confessions Of A Shopaholic, set to hit screens in February.

Shontelle, who is jointly managed by SRP, Barbadian Sonia Mullins and Rebel One, will also perform in the Bahamas next month at a Michael Jordan-hosted Hanes event, and will do a 15-city tour of the United States sponsored by Hanes before heading to Europe on a promotional tour.

Meanwhile, the Los Angeles-based Rihanna – whom Rogers met while on his annual holiday here four years ago – will meet with “Uncle Evan” and producer L. A. Reid this weekend to discuss her next album – the fourth – due for release in the late summer 2009.

“She did big Southeast Asia, Australia and New Zealand tours recently, and just finished an endorsement with Gucci,” Rogers said, beaming with joy at her recent three Grammy nominations.

“She is between getting her album started and her movie career. We’ll focus on a major movie between albums ,” he added.

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