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Andre Harrell named Motown chief

LOS ANGELES, Oct. 2 -- After seven years at the helm of Motown Records, Jheryl Busby has stepped down as president of the famous record label to be succeeded by former MCA record executive Andre Harrell, Motown announced Monday. Harrell, 35, who was responsible for launching the successful singing careers of such multi-platinum R&B performers as Jodeci and Mary J. Blige for MCA-owned Uptown Records, was brought on the Motown team to sign new acts and recapture the kind of success they had in the '60s. 'I greatly appreciate MCA's cooperation in allowing me to fulfill a lifetime dream of running Motown,' Harrell said in a prepared statement. 'It's difficult to leave Uptown, (but) I am excited about the prospects of my new position at Motown.' Founded 26 years ago in Detroit by former songwriter Berry Gordy, the Motown label produced more than 100 top 10 hits from 1961 to 1971, signing such artists as the Jackson Five, Marvin Gaye, the Temptations, Stevie Wonder and Diana Ross and the Supremes. Gordy sold Motown in 1988 to Boston Ventures and MCA for a mere $61 million, and was sold again in 1993 to Polygram Records for $300 million. Motown's back catalog of over 30,000 master album recordings alone generated over $100 million in 1994. Motown holds only a 2 percent share of the domestic market against competitors such as Death Row, Bad Boy and Uptown Entertainment through such contemporary acts as Boyz II Men and rapper/actress Queen Latifah.

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Ironically, when Busby was president of the black music division at MCA records, he gave Harrell his first chance at the music industry when he hired him as a record producer. 'With great pride, I pass the realm to Andre Harrell,' Busby said. 'Nine short years ago, I gave him his first opportunity with Uptown Records. Andre has all the skills, instinct and creativity to guide Motown into Chapter 3.'

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