If you're unfamiliar with his name, you certainly know his work. Tributes are pouring in across social media for Andre Harrell. The Uptown Records founder is responsible for helping shape the sound of the ‘80s and ‘90s, along with discovering some of Pop music’s most prolific acts.
Harrell passed away on Thursday, May 8. The New York Times reports he had been grappling with heart problems for quite some time, citing heart failure as the cause of his death.
In a 1992 interview with the Los Angeles Times, Mr. Harrell laid out his objective for his newly minted label. “My goal is to bring real black America—just as it is, not watered down—to people everywhere through music, through films, through everything we do,” he said.
“I want to make Uptown a household word throughout the world. When you have something that is really great, it can appeal to all cultures, not just subcultures. Motown did that in the ‘60s and now Uptown is doing it in the ‘90s.”
While at the helm of Uptown Records, Harrell gave several artists like mogul Sean “Diddy” Combs, Mary J. Blige, Jodeci, Heavy D. Al B. Sure! and Teddy Riley their big breaks. He would also go on to produce television shows like “New York Undercover” and films including “Strictly Business” and “Honey.”
When Diddy launched his Revolt TV channel, Harrell would become the network’s Vice Chairman.
On Instagram, artist and producer Swizz Beatz wrote in part, “We miss you already King blessings to the entire Family of the GREAT Andre H the ICON.”
K-Ci Hailey, Jodeci’s crooning frontman wrote, “I am truly hurt and at a loss for words. He introduced me to a whole new culture, and gave me the opportunity of a lifetime. I will forever be grateful.”
BET initially confirmed the news of Harrell’s passing. In December, the network announced they would be releasing a miniseries based on Uptown Records in 2020, with Harrell serving as executive producer.
The Bronx native is survived by his son, Gianni Credel-Harrell, his brother, and his father.
Harell was 59 years old.