Chris Anokute (Senior Vice-President of A&R, Island Def Jam) will join us for an intimate discussion about his experiences as an A&R executive in the music industry, and secrets he's picked up along the way.
Anokute's entry point into the music industry came when, at the age of 17, John Houston, father of Whitney, hired Anokute as an apprentice. Shortly after, Anokute started his own management company together with Stephen Chukumba, managing writers and producers in the New Jersey area. Acts they signed included J.U.S. and Alkatraz. At the same time he secured an internship in A&R administration at Def Jam Records, working under A&R executive Rob Mitchell. Once promoted to A&R assistant, he worked on projects including Sum 41, Ashanti, Foxy Brown and Jay Z's The Blueprint.
Anokute discovered the songwriter Alisha Brooks and introduced her to Vada Nobles. Nobles provided a selection of instrumentals to write to, and from one track Brooks created "Pon de Replay". Soon afterwards the song was recorded by the then-unknown Rihanna and helped land the 16-year-old a deal with Def Jam/Universal. Three months later, the song reached number 1 on the Billboard 200.
While at Virgin/Capitol, Anokute (alongside Jason Flom) signed Katy Perry and successfully A&R'd both of her albums.