Foreign Exchange: U.K.’s Iman Osman Goes Hollywood

Q. Dixon performing for Andre Harrell

My girl Iman is in the U.S. on her first trip from the U.K. and had the opportunity to sing for music mogul Andre Harrell.

A little bit about Andre, he’s founder of the now defunct record label, Uptown Records. Harrell also served as president/CEO of Motown Records. He was also the first half of the hip hop duo Dr. Jeckyll & Mr. Hyde. In 1983, Harrell met Russell Simmons, the founder of Rush Communications. He came to work for Rush and within his two years became vice-president and general manager. After a few years working at Rush, Harrell left Rush Management and founded Uptown Records, where he was responsible for discovering and hiring Sean “P-Diddy” Combs. In 1988, Mary J. Blige recorded an impromptu cover of Anita Baker’s “Caught Up In the Rapture” at a recording booth in a local mall. Her mother’s boyfriend at the time later played the cassette for Jeff Redd, a recording artist and A&R runner for Uptown Records. Redd then sent it to Andre Harrell. Harrell met with Blige and, in 1989, she was signed to the label; becoming the company’s youngest and first female artist.

I first became hip to Iman a couple of years ago when I got my hands on an advanced copy of Gilles Peterson’s “Brownswood Bubblers” compilation. Her track on the compilation “Who Was I Trying to Fool” quickly became one of my favorite tunes.

Back then she was 23 and living in London. The daughter of a Sudanese father and Yemini mother, Iman started trying to break into the music business at sixteen.

Through Yam Who? (Amp Fiddler, Official Remixes for Jill Scott, John Legend, Joss Stone, and Pharrell Williams), who played her demo album for the legendary Gilles Peterson, she ended up on the “Brownswood Bubblers” compilation.

She’s written songs for Incognito, Galliano, Shep Soloman and an Italian artist named Kelly. Her performances include opening for Omar and the London Jazz Festival’s Ladies Unplugged alongside Shola Ama and Keisha White.

Iman draws musical inspiration from Nas, Prince, Just Jack, Kate Nash, Wiley and in her words, “strong independent females like Jill Scott, Indie.Arie, and Lauryn Hill.”

Anyways, a new reality series featuring Andre Harrell (directed by my boy Gregory) scouting for new and upcoming talent in Los Angeles is in the works and along with Iman, my girls Q. Dixon and Jamila sung for him Friday in Hollywood.

Very cool.

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w/Iman in Hollywood

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Iman and Q

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Andre Harrell and Iman

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Q. Dixon and Jamila with U.K. singer Iman in Hollywood

The Court of Public Opinion