It’s hard to believe we’ve reached the last show in Pier Entertainment’s The Soundcheck Series! It’s been one awesome experience after the next and with Lydia René, as well as surprise guests, heating up the stage, tonight will be no different! As usual, we’re bringing you a Behind the Music interview with Lydia and her mentor, Thornell Jones.
Check it out below and then get your tickets here if you haven’t already. See you tonight, loves!
Thornell Jones, Jr. has been a leader in Entertainment Marketing for over 20 years overseeing marketing and promotion budgets in excess of $20 million annually. He launched his career in Marketing with several labels beginning at Mercury, then Giant, Motown, A&M, MJJ Music and Hidden Beach where he generated nearly $60 Million in revenues launching the company along with developing the careers of Kindred the Family Soul, Mike Phillips, BeBe Winans, and Jill Scott. A 15 year voting member of the Recording Academy, he holds 13 Grammy certificates for his marketing with Jill Scott, Ann Nesby, Calvin Richardson, Anthony David, India.Arie, Vikter Duplaix, and most recently, Angie Fisher.
1) How did you first meet Lydia René and what was your first impression?
I had the pleasure of meeting Lydia when she attended the Hidden Beach Intern Alumni Conference in August of 2014. She was the guest of Brian Vickers – one of Hidden Beach’s more passionate Intern Alumni. Right away, I knew she was new but fearless. I was impressed by her desire to get involved and to learn how things work in the business.
2) What makes Lydia different in today’s music market?
One thing that clearly stands out from the pack is that in soul and R&B music there are few female artists that actually sing and play piano. Of course there’s Alicia Keys and even Avery Sunshine (who I love), but unlike Alicia’s music Lydia’s arrangements are piano-based, and as a result harken back to an earlier era of music where piano driven song craft ruled. I think of Carole King, Burt Bacharach and Brenda Russell.
3) What is your most memorable Lydia René moment?
I had the pleasure of sitting up front at her first performance at Skinnys in NoHo when she was performing for the LAMN JAM competition. I was really blown away by her soulful performance – here was this black woman with this phenomenal mane of hair, banging on the piano all the while wailing away layered and nuanced lyrics about relationships. When she won that round of competition, I knew that everyone else saw what I saw – a real artist in bloom.
4) In a perfect world, where should Lydia be in 5 years?
In a perfect world – I think Lydia would be a pop star with chart-topping hits. She is fresh and different enough like Janelle Monae – that mainstream audiences will embrace her. I think the industry will be surprised because it won’t likely happen through traditional R&B channels. They will come around though, because like the early days of Jill Scott – she’s someone who everyone will want to claim as their own personal find.
Born and raised in Mount Holly, New Jersey, Lydia René is a classically-trained pianist and accomplished musician. Her sound is best described as “indie, vibrant soul”. With influences ranging from Jill Scott and Phyllis Hyman to James Taylor and Carole King, Lydia’s blended sound will take audiences to a higher musical plateau. Lydia has shared the stage with many award-winning artists such as Eric Roberson and Wayna. Lydia now resides in Los Angeles, CA where she recently finished her debut studio album "Vintage Heart". She teamed up with GRAMMY Award-nominated producer Jameel Roberts (Usher, J. Cole, Nicki MInaj) as well as producer / musician Harry Wilson (John Legend, Kindred The Family Soul) and Rick Carlos (Nelly, J-Lo) to create a sound all her own. She's the proud winner of the 2014 LAMN JAM competition (previously won by Aloe Blacc). Lydia recently performed at the Taste Of Soul Family Festival (which draws a crowd of over 250,000) along with other performers such as Tyrese, Syleena Johnson, Tank, and Raheem Devaughn. Most recently, Lydia René's rendition of "I Put a Spell on You" appeared in the official movie trailer for feature film The Perfect Guy.
1) What makes a great artist mentor?
I think what makes a great artist mentor is someone who is familiar with your specific goals and aspirations and strongly believes in your talent. Also a good mentor can help you make positive adjustments to your career path that might help you achieve your goals more effectively. It’s always great to have an opinion and advice from someone who is successfully doing what you are trying to do.
2) What is the best advice your mentor(s) has given you?
I have many people that I look to as mentors not just one person. There’s a lot of great advice I’ve received over the years. One of the best pieces of advice was someone who encouraged me to follow my dreams and move to Los Angeles, CA. I had been contemplating it for a few years and their advice to me was I needed to create my own opportunities and not wait on anyone to create them for me. A lot of times you have to change your atmosphere and do something different to get different results.
Being an indie artist can be very challenging, because you essentially have to take care of every aspect of business yourself, even if you have a great team behind you. It’s often hard to get the same exposure as a major label artist and sometimes we can feel slighted and overlooked. One of my mentors told me to never play the victim because EVERY artist feels like this at some point in their career. So now I just appreciate the great opportunities that come and the opportunities that don’t, I realize weren’t for me in the first place.
2) What is the greatest success your mentor(s) has helped you achieve?
The greatest success my mentors have helped me to achieve is my debut studio album “Vintage Heart”. There was a time when the project was taking a long time and was almost completely stalled for 2 years. Through much encouragement and advice I just kept working on one song at a time until I had a full body of work that I was proud of. It’s no easy task to complete a full studio album with minimal help…
4) In what area(s) has your mentor helped you grow the most?
My mentors have helped me grow the most in my live performance. Although I’m very comfortable with performing live, because of that I had become complacent. Now through practice and guidance I make an effort to connect fully with my audience and engage more than ever before and it has made a HUGE difference. I now practice every aspect of my show in great detail, especially when it comes to connecting to my original material while I’m performing it.
5) What advice would you give to an artist seeking career guidance?
I would say seek out more than just one person to help give guidance and advice. Also find someone who is a fan of yours and wants to see you do well. That person also shouldn’t be afraid to tell you the good and bad things to help you improve and achieve your career goals. They should genuinely care about you and the things you want to accomplish. Also work on yourself as much as possible so that a potential mentor can be excited to work with you. You have to have a clear vision for yourself in place before you seek help from others.
About The Soundcheck Series: This event is an unforgettable concert experience and one-of-a-kind industry event presented by Pier Entertainment. The series highlights eight dynamic artists over eight weeks, and showcases a multi-genre collection of young, buzzworthy acts. Each exciting installment features prominent music professionals, ranging from label execs to songwriters and media personalities, all of whom have etched their marks on Philadelphia’s brilliant music legacy. Hosted at one of Philadelphia’s newest concert venues—Pub Webb Live—the intimate music event provides a unique opportunity for media, fans and insiders to discover the area’s best talent in an electrifying atmosphere charged by great energy, professional production and state-of-the-art sound.