*Since its world debut in 2000, Hidden Beach Recordings, a wholly independent record label based in Beverly Hills, California, has established itself as one of the industry’s most innovative recording entities.
Under the leadership of its founder and president, Steve McKeever, the label has set high standards for releasing and branding quality music and positive messages, while guiding the dreams and visions of new and established artists signed to the label.
McKeever is proud of his company’s first recording project which in 2000 introduced Jill Scott to the world. The album was entitled, “Who is Jill Scott? – Words and Sounds Vol. 1.” At the time Scott was a relatively unknown songwriter and singer. Yet, standing on Hidden Beach’s promotional and marketing platforms, she garnered a Grammy nomination and other industry honors, inclusive of being nominated “Best New Artist.”
Other past/current Hidden Beach artists are: Mike Phillips, Angie Fisher, “Natural 7” Al B. Sure, Brenda Russell, “Kindred The Family Soul,” Tony Rich and more. Politically speaking, the company has released recording projects on Dr. Cornel West, as well as the official soundtrack, “Yes We Can: Voices of a Grassroots Movement,” which musically chronicles President Barack Obama’s historic road to the White House.
Hidden Beach is also known for its bold, pioneering trademark of fusing music from such genres as hip hop and jazz, which have been released under the auspices of “Hidden Beach Presents: Unwrapped.”
Not a company to sit back and bask in the sunshine of success, because new horizons continue to hover over this creative entity. With that in mind, Steve McKeever met up with with Lee Bailey of EURweb.com (home of the Electronic Urban Report/EUR) at 17 Hertz Studio in North Hollywood to discuss some exciting changes taking place at Hidden Beach Recordings.
Lee Bailey/EUR – Mr. Steve McKeever, how are things going?
Steve McKeever-Hidden Beach – Things are going very well Lee.
LB/EUR – Well, I’m here today because you are going to inform me of a name change, which is…?
SM-HB – Hidden Beach Recordings is now Hidden Beach Experiences, which is the corporate umbrella that will be providing multi-tiered platforms of entertainment that include live music events, theatrical partnerships and music-related film productions.
LB/EUR – So what does that mean? Are you no longer a record label?
SM – HB – We are not simply a record label as formed 15 years ago. Ironically, we have always been Hidden Beach Experiences as far as our approach. From our launch party 15 years ago, it was an experience that people have not forgotten about. Even now, people tell me about it in vivid details and how it was a very unique experience. It was more indelible because they saw Jill Scott there at that party, Mike Philips, and other celebrities like Michael Jordan. So with the flux that the industry is going through right now, it has opened up new opportunities and experiences that I’ve been waiting on for a while.
LB/EUR – What types of projects can we expect from Hidden Beach Experiences?
SM – HB – We’ve been woodshedding the “Luther Vandross: The Power of Love Experience,” which is one of the things that we’ve been working on for over two years.
LB/EUR – Will Luther be the first project?
SM – HB – That was always the plan. However, there were some recent developments from an “experience” that we are developing that may leapfrog the Luther experience.
LB/EUR – What’s that?
SM – HB – It’s the “Unwrapped Experiences.”
LB/EUR – What are the “Unwrapped Experiences?”
SM – HB – The” Unwrapped Experiences” are seven, soon to be eight volumes of some things that we’ve trademarked with respect to music and performances. The seven albums are called, Hidden Beach Presents Unwrapped.” The collection of records is where we’ve taken major No.1 iconic hip hop records – current, old school rap and hip hop – and put together teams of phenomenal jazz musicians to explore hip hop, like great musicians would do.
It’s no different than if you got in a time machine and got Dizzy Gillespie and John Coltrane and Miles Davis who were playing pop songs of their day. Coltrane was playing “My Favorite Things” and Miles was playing “My Funny Valentine.”
I noticed that there was a real turning up of the nose of hip hop from older audiences who didn’t understand the music, and there were kids who were not exposed to jazz or to live music performances. So we’re working on Unwrapped Live! experiences.
LB/EUR – When will the public get to see Unwrapped Live! experiences?
SM-HB – The first show that we are looking at is in March, 2016. The goal is to put an “Unwrapped” band together with some phenomenal artists, led by our own Mike Phillips. It will be a complete live music touring experience. The first year will be shows. But we already have a date in 2017 for an “Unwrapped Festival” which will be an entire experience and will be everything that happens to someone when he or she walks on the premises, such as the types of wine that’s there, or the types of foods that are there, and more… We want to create the ideal environment for people to appreciate the total Unwrapped Live! experience in the best way.
LB/EUR – OK. Tell me more about the “Luther Vandross: The Power of Love Experience.”
SM –HB – The Luther project is something that we’ve partnered with Marcus Miller, who was one of Luther’s best friends, writers, and close musical collaborators, all the way up until Luther’s sad and untimely passing. We’ve struck a very unique arrangement with Luther’s estate to celebrate and elevate Luther, the perfectionist.
This thing, however, has developed very organically because when we started, it was just going to be a Luther concert, with some great singers, telling some great stories about Luther based on their musical relationships with him. But as we got into it, his story was so interesting, so fascinating, with so much of it unknown because he was a private guy that we decided it had to be an experience worthy of the greatness that Luther represented.
LB/EUR – When do you anticipate that the public will see the Luther experience?
SM –HB – We have offers for as early as Valentine’s Day 2016. We are also looking at spring time, which may be more realistic as to how things are playing out.
LB/EUR – Are you speaking about just having the experience at a specific location only?
SM- HB – No…this is a tour. The offer we have now is for a 20-city tour. Also, just by word of mouth alone – because we have not sent out press releases saying that we are going to do this – we already have inquiries from the United Kingdom and Australia where Luther was a significant artist.
LB – EUR – So could “Luther Vandross: The Power of Love Experience” become a Broadway production?
SM – HB – I’m not saying that we are going to do a Broadway play, but a lot of those elements will be in the ‘Luther Experience’ because of the use of a script, visuals, and scores. Right now, we expect that the show, which we think will be about two hours, could play in one town for more than one night, much like a Broadway touring play.
LB/EUR – What can people expect to see and hear?
SM – HB – People who love Luther Vandross and his music and songs will see and hear a great show, performed by some exceptional singers and musicians. It’s also going to be a great introduction to audiences that were not around when Luther was around; therefore, did not know his music like some others would. For the entire audience, there will be all of the elements that one would expects to see and hear and experience at a major stage production.
LB/EUR – It sounds very exciting!
SM – HB – It really is exciting, and it has been a labor of love for all of us who are involved with this experience, which is just the first of a series of experiences that we will be putting our name and our brand and our mark of quality on.
For more information about Hidden Beach Experiences’ artists and current/future projects, log on to www.hiddenbeach.com.
EUR Exclusive Bonus Coverage
In a separate on-camera interview, Steve McKeever speaks passionately and in detail with Lee Bailey about the Hidden Beach/”Luther Vandross: The Power of Love Experience”:
Video editing/styling by LaCora Stephens: [email protected]