Success Story - Sep 14, 2001
Olivia - Top 20 US DebutWhen Clive Davis, one of the major figures in the recording industry, heard Olivia sing for the first time he exclaimed “It’s the second coming of Whitney.” Whitney Houston that is, arguably the biggest R&B diva of our time. The recipient of such a considerable compliment is Olivia, a 20 year old from Queens, NYC who’s hit single “Bizounce” has established her as a powerful R&B/rap debutante.
Born in America of Caribbean descent, Olivia Longe has been expressing herself through song since age 5. Taking piano, guitar and singing lessons, Olivia steadily developed her musical repertoire into the impressive vocal range that she displays today. Add to that a skill at penning lyrics acquired from writing poetry since adolescent years and a predisposition to the rhythmic speech known as rap, and you’ve got a provocative sound that has got people talking.
Olivia first started turning heads at church, where as a young girl she sang to the delight of anybody lucky enough to be in the house. Her vocal training continued with the tutoring of several vocal coaches in the NYC area. At age 15 she was already recording demos with the help of her cousin Paul Johnson, no stranger to the business, who was recording various rap acts at the now defunct recording studio Funky Slice in Brooklyn. Olivia would often accompany Paul to the studio and sing the background vocals, the hooks, the chorus and anything else she could add her voice to. She quickly impressed most people in and around the studio and pretty soon those with an eye for talent and potential were approaching her with offers to manage and/or produce her. Paul picked up on all the attention and decided to manage her himself. Signing her to his own management company, Wildwolf Entertainment in 1999, Paul brought Olivia to studios around the city where she was exposed to various people in the business. Olivia’s introduction also included a performance at a Sony showcase in Manhattan. Little by little Olivia was getting noticed and not just by anybody but by the right people who could contribute to making her a star. She got offers from top-name producers such as Deric Angeletti, DJ Clue and Josh Thompson, who ended up being her Producer.
Together they began working on several demo tracks at Joshua Thompson’s house in New Jersey. With five or six solid songs they approached the major labels including RCA and Universal, both of whom expressed heavy interest. Through his fraternity contacts, Paul got Olivia in to see Anthony Morgan, a VP at RCA and later to meet another fraternity friend, Ken Massenburg, President of Motown Records. From there they visited one of Joshua’s contacts at Arista. The first meeting with Arista, during which Olivia was presented to the VP of A&R Keith Naftaly and Senior Director of A&R Peter Edge, left the two execs awestruck and immediately insisting that Arista Founder and President Clive Davis meet her. It was at the second meeting, after hearing “Bizounce,” “It’s On Again,” and “When Two Souls Touch” that Clive proclaimed her on par with the ubiquitous Whitney.
At the time, Clive Davis was in the process of leaving Arista and launching a new label, J. Records. Soon after the label was established, Olivia – signed in August of 2000, became “the first lady of J.” Now on board, the rest of Olivia’s album was recorded under the A&R guidance of Ron Gillyard, the Senior VP of Urban Music. The majority of the songs for the album were already in existence and it only took some fine-tuning to make them ready for release. Olivia ended up writing 60% of the album, including the lyrics of the debut single “Bizounce,” along with some minor input from co-writer Quincy Patrick. The music and production on “Bizounce” was done by Josh Thompson and his colleague David ‘Pick’ Conley. Josh Thompson, Warren Wilson, Rufus Blaq and Jimmy Cozier, all of whom Paul had recruited to work with Olivia, composed the rest of the album. Upon hearing “Bizounce,” Clive Davis enthusiastically selected it as the debut song, and the rest is history…
Released in February 2001, “Bizounce” rapidly climbed into the Top 20 in the Billboard Hot 100 singles chart. The album “Olivia” was released in April.
Olivia is currently being published by her own publishing company O Lovely Music which is affiliated with Josh Thompson’s Tallest Tree production company.
Paul Johnson currently also represents artists Mocha and Redbone.
The people mentioned in the article can be found in the HitTracker.
Written by Paulina Bozek. Research by Stefan Sörin and Kimbel Bouwman.
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