Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Lord T to the Rescue for Memphis Music Foundation?

Posted By on Wed, May 7, 2008 at 4:00 AM

Cameron Mann has been the studio manager at Young Avenue Sound recording studio in Cooper-Young for the past few years, though most Memphians may know him better as his alter-ego Lord T. -- the white-wigged half of the comedic rap duo Lord T. & Eloise. This week, Mann, no longer on staff at Young Avenue Sound, adds a new title to his music resume: He's been hired as the Director of Music Industry Programs for the Memphis Music Foundation, working under foundation president Dean Deyo.

Mann, who says he accepted the job last week and started yesterday, will oversee the opening of the foundation's Memphis Music Resource Center, which is housed within the foundation's South Main offices and is slated to open May 30th.

The resource center is meant to be an educational and support mechanism open to the entirety of the Memphis music community.

"What Memphis really lacks is a music-business infrastructure," Mann says, citing that the city's music scene has long been "DIY" (do it yourself) oriented and asserting that the resource center will be a way for the foundation to help local musicians help themselves.

"What we hope to create is a place where anyone can come in," Mann says.

The resource center will have 10 to 12 computers loaded with software to help bands work on many aspects of their career, from researching music-biz topics to designing show posters and CD covers. The center will also have an audio-visual room with a Pro Tools rig (purchased under the leadership of former commission and later foundation head Rey Flemings) that will be used to conduct recording workshops lead by local engineers.

"We're consultants, essentially, and we want to be able to assist [local musicians] in all areas of their work," Mann says.

Mann says he began phasing himself out of the Young Avenue Sound operation a few months ago (the studio is owned by Mann's father, Don Mann) and was looking for another avenue to work within the local music scene. When he saw the foundation job listing posted in March, "it spoke to me on a personal level," he says.

"I've been waiting for one of the [local music] organizations to do something like this that's tangible and real," Mann says. "I think it's been disappointing to the arts community that [these organizations] haven’t been able to do something tangible."

Mann is an executive committee member of the Memphis-based chapter of the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences and also serves on the Memphis and Shelby County Music Commission, the governmental organization that the privately funded Memphis Music Foundation spun off from. Mann's hire is the first of what could be a series of support-staff hires for the foundation, with a marketing position, a multimedia specialist, and a business coordinator potentially to follow.

Don't expect Mann's new gig to halt the momentum of his musical alter ego though. Mann reports that Lord T. and Eloise are putting the finishing touches on a sophomore album that features cameos from local rap stars such as Eightball, Al Kapone, and Nakia Shine. Mann hopes to have the album ready for release by mid-to-late June.

-- Chris Herrington

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