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Interview With Jazzy Jordan
Vice-Pres of Jive — and Focused on Verity

In the world of marketing, it is arguable that the objective is to push one's product hard, fast and furiously. So it would be surprising to some perhaps, that at Verity Jazzy JordanRecords, Jazzy Jordan treats his product —a vast-reaching Gospel roster— with a slight hand.

As VP of Black Music Marketing at Jive, the parent label of Verity, he handles the steadily-rising R&B star JOE, soundtracks like The Wood, and other special projects. With a new focus at the beginning of 2000, he has shifted a bit to focus the majority of his time with Verity, handling marketing, promotion and publicity of the label's artists —working closely with VP and General Manager, Tara Griggs-Magee. But Jordan's goal and dedication is to focus more on elevating ministries rather than shaping and crafting personalities and individual artists.

Coming to Jive from Polygram, where he had much success with artists like Salt & Pepa and PM Dawn, Jordan made the move some years ago mainly because of Zomba's new initiative, Verity Records.

“The intriguing part to me was they wanted me to get involved with their [then] new Gospel label. And at the time they only had [a couple of] artists — John P. Kee and Vanessa Bell Armstrong." But Jordan, undaunted, was inspired by the challenge. “I look at it like this. My life is not my own. I’ve always considered my life to by guided by God. So whatever it is I’m supposed to do, that is exactly what I will do. So when this opportunity was presented to me to work at Jive [and I was presented with the chance to work with] people that I knew John P. Kee and 
Vanessa Bell Armstrongand respected. And I knew they were very musical people, who love what they do. Then you add in the fact that I'd get to work with what I consider to be the best music. There is no better music than Gospel. There are no better singers; no better musicians. There is no better anything than Gospel music —no better message. I had to say yes."

Jive was among the first of mainstream labels to really wholeheartedly invest in the Gospel market. Jordan credits greatly the heads of the parent company for giving it a chance. “The powers that be, Barry Weiss the President, and Clive Calder, the CEO, are so aware of what’s going on. They are very aware of musical trends, and not just about making money. It’s also a passion - a love. They have a passion for many forms of music. [As evidence] when you look at Jive Records, it has been many things. At one point it had a jazz label. Jive and the Zomba Corporation and the people that head it up look at what the world needs. I consider myself to be very fortunate to be here because the people here understand and GET music. They’re music people. You can talk to them about music. If I bump into Mr. Calder, he can have a million things in his mind, but he can also understand the most minute detail of any music that we would have on our label, or any artist we hav e. It’s not [just] a business to him. it’s a passion. So in my Marketing or A&R meetings we can talk about it from soup to nuts, and when you mention an artists name, it’s not foreign to them. And it doesn’t matter if it’s pop music or Gospel music, or R&B or hip-hop. They know it all.”

Other Verity Faces

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Gain insight into Gospel A&R, as Verity's (former) manager of that Joseph Burneydepartment, Joseph Burney, explains what goes on with artist and repertoire on the Gospel side.

Stay tuned to GospelFlava.com, as Verity's Tara Griggs-MaGee offers her perspective of where her General Manager role fits into the picture. Coming soon!
At the time Jordan came on board, new Gospel legend Vanessa Bell Armstrong (see Gospel Legends series profile) was signed to Jive. From that beginning along with premier signee, John P. Kee, the powerhouse of Verity was built. Jordan explains the growth in simple terms, “It’s quite simple. Vision and God’s will. I believe this is all God’s will.” Within a short time, an impressive roster was built and through innovative strategy integrated with the depth of the artist's ministries, success was had. In tandem with Tara Griggs-Magee, gold record status for John P. Kee with Show Up! set the mark.

The acquisition of Benson Records gave Jordan an exciting palette to work with. “I went home for Christmas break that year and I got a call telling me that we have all these great artists on Verity. It was unbelievable.”

With artists like Hezekiah Walker, Commissioned, Fred Hammond and John P. Kee, who already have established ministries and followings, marketing strategies have to incorporate rather than mandate. This is just fine with Jordan —an asset even. "I don’t see [dealing with individual ministries] as conflict, because we never put our artists in a compromising position. We would never ask our artists to do something that differs from what their ministry actually is. We respect the ministry and the music. Our job is to create a bigger platform for the ministry."

Being a part of the Zomba family affords Verity some luxuries that will continually make them a forerunner in the use of technology and marketing. "Because I still attend all the marketing meetings at Jive, all the tricks of the trade of the secular world that apply to [the respective demographic of] Gospel are open to us. We are very fortunate to be involved with the Jive/Zomba Corporation because we have the benefit of [the same marketing resources] the Backstreet Boys have the benefit of. The biggest pop group in America today —we’ve got it. I think that we will be on the forefront and the cutting edge of everything that’s available. "

The bigger platform this affords them offers goodness to the world at large, "Our artists are not saying things that people don’t want to hear. Gospel artists are the greatest in the world because they are delivering the message that people need. People don’t always want to accept it; don’t always want to hear it, but they need it. When you watch award shows now, when the majority of the artists come up to accept their award, who do they thank? You WOW Gospel 2000 eventknow ‘First I want to give praise to...' so everybody knows. Every individual, when they get in trouble what do they do? Who do they call on?"

Of all of the mainstream-rooted Gospel labels, Verity arguably has the one of the most visible executive teams at Gospel industry events. Jordan, often among the faces at industry functions, shares why he's so regularly in the house, "The difference for me is that I have a passion for what I do, and this is all being directed by God. And I know one thing for sure, you can’t do anything unless you know what’s going on. You need to know. You need to be there. I’ve been in church all my life, so [none of this is] foreign to me.”

So Jordan, through his marketing efforts, hopes to help to keep Verity from joining the ranks of the great Gospel powerhouses of the past.

“The real purpose of selling records is to keep this going and make sure the label always has a place in the market. But the other part for me personally is to give the [artist's individual] ministry a greater audience. For example when Fred HammondFred Hammond's Pages of Life came out, 25,000 people went out and bought it. That means that 25,000 people plus their friends had a chance to be a witness to what Fred’s ministry is all about. To me that is incredible.”

“We’ve been able to do some fantastic things here, like the WOW Gospel project. We’ve been able to present many Gospel artists with their first-ever gold record because they were a part of this project. We’ve also been able to give a great deal of money to the Martin Luther King Foundation and the United Negro College Fund. If that doesn’t excite you or touch your heart…”

And it's the artists' ability to reach people and touch hearts that Jordan likes to keep in the forefront of his marketing strategies. Healthy marketing stats and numbers are great, and when in the right hands, are powerful tools to help win souls.

Jordan joins his hands with those of the ministries and artists he represents, and the numbers of souls keep climbing.

— interview by Melanie Clark

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