L.A. and Erica Reid Talk Michael Jackson and Family Life with Matt Lauer
Epic Records chairman and CEO, L.A. Reid, recently scored big with Xscape, a posthumous Michael Jackson album comprising eight previously unreleased songs from the King of Pop. Its lead single, “Love Never Felt So Good” featuring Justin Timberlake, has topped charts throughout the world—and it is Michael Jackson’s first Top 10 hit in the US since 2001.
The success of such a massive undertaking is exhilarating for L.A., who is now spending the summer season at his house in Sagaponack with his family. He and his wife, Erica, cherish their time here (“It’s a quick and easy paradise just a two-hour drive from Manhattan,” Erica says), as it gives them time to reconnect with each other and their two children, Arianna, 13, and Addison, 11. For the Reids, family bonds and thoughtful parenting are essential. Erica wrote about her full-time dedication to her kids in her 2012 book The Thriving Child and credits the lifestyle in the Hamptons for helping to achieve a positive environment for her kids.
Today show host Matt Lauer, a close friend of the Reids, spoke with the couple to find out more about how they balance a demanding schedule with the necessities of good, old-fashioned family time.
Matt Lauer: L.A., let’s talk about Xscape and how that album came to be. What was the idea behind it?
L.A. Reid: It was my being at Epic Records and trying to find something magnificent to work on. Epic is a label we literally started almost from scratch, so we were trying to find something big. I spoke to John Branca, who runs the Michael Jackson estate, and asked him to let me into the archives to see what we could find. We found about 20 songs and picked 10 of them to work on, and it’s worked out really well. Then I brought in Justin Timberlake to feature on the first single, “Love Never Felt So Good.” Justin was my ambassador, which has led to worldwide sales of more than 2.5 million copies.
ML: Were you surprised by what was in that archive or were you expecting a gold mine?
LAR: I didn’t really know what to expect—I went into it open-minded. But I was surprised by how much was there because I knew Michael, and he didn’t record a lot of music that he didn’t release. Some artists record endlessly; Michael recorded purposefully to release music, so I was surprised to find as much. And recently I found more, like some Michael Jackson-Queen music that’s pretty unbelievable.
ML: Erica, are you the type who likes it if L.A. brings some of his work home? Does he bring a CD home and say, “You gotta hear this?”
Erica Reid: I get to hear it first. I love to listen to what he is working on and be a part of it that way. It’s fascinating and, more than anything, it’s fun. It’s great music for the home.
ML: L.A., I’ve watched some of these meetings where guys like you get around the table and play music and everybody decides if there is the potential for a hit. Does Erica have the “hit ear”?
LAR: No, but she has a good “hit eye.” When I was going through cover comps for Xscape, I would bring the artwork home. I had no idea the one that ended up being the cover was as good as it was, but when I showed it to Erica, she said, “This is the one!”—and it ended up being the one. So she actually did participate in arguably the most important part of the project because it was the visual that got everyone’s attention. She was very helpful.
ML: “Love Never Felt So Good” is a hit around the world. Could it have been a hit before, years ago?
LAR: Oh yes, it would have been a much bigger hit. I don’t know that it would have measured up to Michael Jackson’s Thriller, but it was an outtake from Off The Wall so it could well have worked on that album.
ML: What is the follow-up single?
LAR: A song called “A Place With No Name” that was originally recorded by the group America and that Michael redid. We’re hoping to release it on August 11.
Read more at http://hamptons-magazine.com/personalities/articles/la-reid-and-wife-erica-talk-family-epic-records-and-work-with-today-show-host-matt-lauer#ErH15D2CoXd1hXEy.99
Michael Jackson's Xscape
A Place with no name, revealed as next single
A creative re-imagining of America's 1972 classic, "A Horse With No Name," Jackson's adapted "A Place With No Name" tells a story about a man whose car breaks down in the desert and is led by a mysterious woman to an utopian city where "no one is in fear" and "no people have pain." Jackson originally worked on and recorded the song with Elliott Straite (better known as New Jack Swing producer Dr. Freeze) at Record Plant Recording Studios in 1998. Freeze described the song, with its vivid imagery and lush harmonies, as "a kind of escape, a song where you just close your eyes to find yourself instantly transported into a wonderful world." In a statement, America band members Dewey Bunnell and Gerry Beckley said of Jackson’s adaptation: "We’re honored that Michael Jackson chose to record it and we're impressed with the quality of the track...Michael Jackson really did it justice...It's really poignant."