the hollywood reporter

The Hollywood Reporter

08.19.03: Underdogs ink with J Records

By Tamara Conniff

NEW YORK--Producing-songwriting duo Harvey Mason Jr. and Damon Thomas, aka the Underdogs, have signed a two-year joint-venture deal with clive Davis' J Records.  Under the terms of the deal, Mason and Thomas will sign and develop acts for their Underdog Entertainment.  Additionally, they will continue to produce artists on J Records as well as other labels.  J Records will handle all marketing, promotion, sales and distribution responsibilities for the new label. 

Mason said there are plans for a cross-country open audition, a la "American Idol," to sign talent to Underdog Entertainment.

We're doing auditions in six cities over the next seven months, "Mason said.  "We're starting in Los Angeles.  It's going to be a nationally advertised open audition.  we're going to go on a complete talent hunt.  and we're trying to see other markets--not just LA and New York.  we're going to go to some of the smaller cities like
Dallas and San antonio."  the cross-country effort will be documented.

Underdog Entertainment will sign acts of all styles, Mason said, though the initial talent is likely to be in the R&B and Urban vein.

"We're looking to develop just really star artists," Mason said.  "We've done everything for Clive from straight R&B records to more pop and edgy rock records.  We can go in a couple of different places."

The idea to form the joint venture came out of Mason and Thomas' work with numerous J Record artists.

"We just really established a good working relationship with Clive," Mason said.  "He understood the way we like to create and make records, and we really understood what he does to make successful artists.  ...Clive has really put his trust in us to go for it.

The Underdogs have collaborated with such acts as Justin Timberlake, Tyrese, Toni Braxton, Mariah Carey, Pink, B2K, Brandy, Jennifer Lopez, Luther Vandross and Brian McKnight.  the duo is working with "American Idol" winner Ruben Studdard, Craig David, Heather Headley, Babyface, Dream and Joe.