together an eclectic group of performers, including crooner Brenda Russell; jazz saxophonist Mike Phillips, Darius Rucker of Hootie & The Blowfish fame; and the dynamic Jill Scott, whose debut CD has gone double platinum. Along with his ability to attract standout artists, McKeever has also structured a strategic alliance with Sony Music Entertainment/Epic Records as its worldwide distributor.
Career track: After graduating from Harvard Law School in 1985, McKeever practiced entertainment law. In 1991 he joined Motown as senior vice president of A&R, working for Clarence Avant who was then the chairman of Motown, and who is considered “The Godfather” by many in the music industry. By 1994 McKeever launched Mojazz, a label that represented Motown’s first foray into jazz, signing talent such as pianist Eric Reed and guitarist Norman Brown, and re-issuing classics from such notables as The Crusaders, Ahmad Jamal, and Billy Eckstine.
FRANK MERCADO VALDES
Title: Chairman & CEO, The Heritage Networks
Education: University of Miami
Why He’s Powerful: Mercado Valdes has built a television syndication empire. The chairman and CEO of The Heritage Networks, the largest black-owned marketing, sales, and distribution company in broadcast television, presides over a company that ranks No. 90 on the BE INDUSTRIAL/SERVICE 100 list with gross sales of $30.5 million. He developed a bevy of broadcast offerings: a monthly movie package of black-oriented movies; marketing and distributing reruns of Cosby, Moesha, and The Steve Harvey Show; as well as original programming such as ‘N Gear, a half hour show devoted to urban fashion; Weekend Vibe, a televised counterpart to Vibe magazine; Source: All Access, a hip-hop showcase developed in partnership with The Source Entertainment; and Livin’ Large, a younger, trendier version of Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous. Heritage currently produces and distributes It’s Showtime at The Apollo.
Career Track: In 1984 Mercado Valdes created the Miss Collegiate African American Pageant. By 1990 he had become one of the youngest African American executive producers of a national television program when he put his pageant on the air.
Big Break: Mercado Valdes, a former Golden Gloves boxing champion, served as the point man for black media during the 1988 Bush/Quayle presidential campaign.
Title: President, HBO Home Video
Education: B.A., Harvard University; M.B.A., Harvard Business School
Why He’s Powerful: He manages HBO’s DVD and videocassette marketing division, which distributes The Sopranos and Sex in the City. In 1995 the company, under McGee’s direction, was one of the first in the industry to use the Internet to market its releases.
Career Track: McGee began his tenure with HBO in 1979 as manager of film acquisitions. He worked briefly in the company’s sister division, Time-Life Television, and served as manager of HBO’s family programming department and director of HBO Enterprises.
Big Break: Got a job as a reporter for Newsweek magazine.
PERCY “MASTER P” MILLER
Title: CEO, New No Limit Enterprises
Why He’s Powerful: Miller has developed New No Limit Enterprises into an entertainment fiefdom generating sales through music, film, television projects, and apparel. Rap music is the crux of his business: Miller’s company has