*Music Executive Dina Andrews appears in the Netflix documentary “The Black Godfather” and was recently awarded an Honorary Doctorate in Theology.
Imagine a 19 year-old Dina Andrews, a junior in college in 1978, when her aunt hooks her up with a job as a “Girl Friday” (executive secretary) for label owner Dick Griffin.
Griffin, a Navy Vet and booking agent for Soul Train Awards, launched his SOLAR Records label a year before in 1977 with the group Shalamar (“Second Time Around”). The Black Godfather was Clarence Avant, who managed the career of Sarah Vaughan and launched the first black-owned radio station Inglewood, CA in 1973.
“I didn’t know what a Girl Friday was,” Dina pointed out. “I dialed his number and he answered. He said meet me at the studio with your resume. I was his first employee. I set at the front desk for six months. The company was moving fast. Every record went platinum or gold.”
While at SOLAR Records, she left the front desk after six months and started working as A&R and in publishing. She assisted in the careers of such acts as The Whispers, Lakeside, Dynasty, Midnight Star The Deele (LA Reid and Babyface), Klymaxx and of course Shalamar. She became the one to go to for music industry connections and her ear for talent resulted in her career moving as fast as SOLAR Records.
“They taught me everything,” Dina said about her experiences with Dick Griffin at SOLAR Records. “The first five years of my career were with him. I became the go-to-girl in Hollywood. I worked hard and took care of everybody. I was responsible for production and A&R.”
Andrews went on to manage acts such as singers, songwriters and producers Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis. She talked about their early struggles when they didn’t have a car or a place to stay. That was when she got a call for the production duo to write a song for new artist Sheryl Lynn (“Your Love Deserves an Encore”). This is also when she met The Black Godfather.
“Tina Stephens was Clarence’s assistant. She called and said Clarence needs some producers to produce the S.O.S. Band,” Dina pointed out. “That’s when I first met Clarence. I had to put together a demo tape. There were no managers – I was one of the first. He said, ‘I’ll give you a shot.’”
Clarence Avant started using her producers and songwriters for his Avant/Tabu Records label, launched in 1975, on the works of Cherrell and Alexander O’Neal. Clarence’s first label was Sussex Records launched in 1969 and closed in 1975. He made almost a ½ million negotiating a deal to sell Stax Records to Gulf-Western for a friend in 1968. Clarence purchased KTYM-FM radio in 1973 for over $300,000, which he renamed KAGB-FM. Because of miss-management from an investor the station fell into bankruptcy in 1975. He went into film production in 1973 with Paramount Pictures (The Color Purple) and in 2016 received a Hollywood Walk of Fame star on Hollywood Blvd, next to Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis.
“I got a call in 1992 from Pebbles (TLC) one day,” Dina recalls. “She said, ‘I got this girl group and it’s taking off. I need a GM (general manager). I was home doing my thing with Atlantic Starr, The Mack Band and Paul Jackson, Jr. I did all the deals for songwriters and producers.”
She goes on to talk about her ground-breaking music deals, “The first hit for Miki Howard, under Sylvia Rhone, those were my producers. TLC called me because I worked with LA Reid and Babyface. I started working in Gospel in 1994 with “Still I Rise” for Yolanda Adams.”
In Gospel, Andrews represented Virtue, Marvin Sapp, Trin-I-Tee 5:7 and Hezekiah Walker. She eventually went back to school and received her Bachelors in Business – Organizational Leadership in 2011 and received her Honorary Doctorate in Theology from New Dimension Bible University in 2019. Today Dina works in the political arena for the Los Angeles City Council serving Baldwin Hills and Park Mesa Heights districts. She also still has her management company Dina Andrews Management (DAM. www.DinaRuthAndrews.com
SYNDICATED COLUMN: Eunice Moseley, has an estimated weekly readership of over ¼ million with The Pulse of Entertainment. She is also a Public Relations Strategist and Business Management Consultant at Freelance Associates, and is Promotions Director (at-large) for The Baltimore Times. www.ThePulseofEntertainment.com. EVENT: Eunice is founder of the annual “Uplifting Minds II” Entertainment Conference (ULMII), into its 20th year. Next event dates include Los Angeles Saturday, November 9, 2019 at the Los Angeles Convention Center (511) and Baltimore Saturday April 18, 2020, held in partnership with Security Square Mall and The Baltimore Times. The free conference offers an Entertainment Business Panel and a Talent Showcase and Competition (vocal, songwriting, dance and acting) with over $15,000 valued in prizes/product/services to selected artists. Log onto www.UpliftingMinds2.com for more information or to participate as a panelist or talent call 562-424-3836.