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"Raize, who juggled his schedule to record the album during 'Lion King,' describes the music as 'very pop with an R&B flavor. I'll be promoting the album, but I haven't made plans for a tour yet.' "
Billboard feature about Deston Entertainment


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Billboard Tribute: Deston Entertainment
by Terry Barnes
November 27, 1999

Celebrating its first anniversary as part of the Universal Music family, Deston Entertainment has already contributed a gold-certified debut album, a top-40 single and new product ready to hit the street after the New Year. It even feels like a "real" record company.

"We're a full-service label, with promotion, marketing, distribution and financial backing from Universal," says Winston Simone, Desmond Child's longtime manager and partner in Deston. "But really we're a specialty label, and our specialty is what Desmond does best: pop music."

The Deston story goes back to 1980, when Child and Simone first crossed paths. "We owe it all to [former Eagle] Randy Meisner," Simone recalls. "We were part of the crowd that came to see [Meisner] at the Bottom Line, but he got mad and walked offstage. So we ended up at a bar around the corner, where Desmond's publisher introduced me to him. I was a [Desmond Child And] Rouge fan, and Desmond was very much a recording artist then."

A year earlier, Desmond had joined the ranks of hit songwriters by giving Kiss its best-selling single, "I Was Made For Lovin' You." It was an experience that was changing his focus. He was finding the process of creating music even more electrifying than performing it. And the idea of creating music for a stable of hand-picked talent was positively seductive. In 1992, Deston Entertainment was formed as an artist-management company.

After five years of "what-iffing," Desmond and Winston were ready to transform it into a record label. In 1997, Child approached Universal Music Group chairman/CEO Doug Morris, who handed him a trial by fire. Could he tailor something to Billie Myers, a recent British discovery signed to Universal?

The result was a gold-certified success. The songs Child produced and co-wrote for Myers included the single, "Kiss The Rain," her top-30 hit which launched an album, "Growing Pains," that has sold over 500,000 units.

Doug Morris wanted more. "I decided I wanted to get this guy exclusively," he told Billboard. With Morris' blessings, Child set up shop in Miami. "Location doesn't matter," said Morris. "It's all about where he feels most comfortable." But, as business head of the company, Simone couldn't afford to be cut off from the main arteries of the music community; he decided to keep the company's headquarters in New York City.

With a core staff of a dozen, Deston relies on Universal to kick in enough money to sign artists and cover operating expenses. Universal also handles the marketing, although Child inspects every nook and cranny of the process.

"Besides being the best A&R person I've ever met, Desmond is also the best art director I know," says Simone. "He enjoys everything in the whole process. We speak to each other no less than four times a day, seven days a week. Every morning, I get to hear what was recorded the night before. He'll sing it to me over the phone. I'm fortunate to spend a lot of time with very creative people who are kind enough not to roll their eyes when I make suggestions."

Child feels that Deston's emphasis on making music will attract talent. "The appeal of our label to an artist is that [Simone and I] come from an artist and management background," he explains, "so we have this sensitivity to an artist's needs."

After the New Year, Deston will release the debut CD of Jason Raize, who plays the title role in the Broadway production of "The Lion King." Raize, who juggled his schedule to record the album during "Lion King," describes the music as "very pop with an R&B flavor. I'll be promoting the album, but I haven't made plans for a tour yet."

Another first-quarter release is Gyan, a female Australian singer/ songwriter who caught Child's attention on the strength of a song title: "Love Is An Army."

Will Child be writing and producing for other Universal family acts? "I'd love to-I hope they ask me," he answers with gusto. He recently served as executive producer for an Interscope project by Valeria, which is set for release after the first of the year and will bear the Deston label imprint.

How far past pop music will Child stretch the Deston roster? "We're never going to do rap or grunge," says Simone. "We like pop music and songs with melodies. And that will be our role at Universal: developing artists with hit singles."

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