Stars Making a Social Impact: How Grammy winning producer Andreao Heard is uniting artists to help alleviate poverty
The things that drove me earlier in my career no longer do. I’m all about purpose and being a servant to God and the universe and help others reach their dreams in music. Money and success comes and goes but purpose will always be there to fulfill you. We just started a non profit, culturepushers.org that caters to underserved artists. I’ve also just produced the Artists United to End Poverty album with the United Way to end poverty in our city. 52 amazing unsigned artists and 52 songs of all genres. It’s the project I’ve been waiting for my entire career and didn’t even know it until it happened.
As a part of our series about stars who are making an important social impact, I had the distinct pleasure of interviewing Andreao “Fanatic” Heard. Andreao is a record producer from Greensboro, North Carolina who has produced some of the biggest recording artists in popular music. He produced “Crush on You” for Lil’ Kim and “‘Yall Know’” for Will Smith’s ten million seller “Big Willie Style.” Discovered by Vincent Herbert, Fanatic moved to New York City, where he connected with P. Diddy and became a part of his “Hitmen” production team and produced records for the Notorious B.I.G. and Ma$e. He then produced the song “Heaven Can Wait” for one of the the greatest recording artist of all time, Michael Jackson. Next, he received recognition from the Grammy association for his participation as a producer on Beyoncé’s 2003 GRAMMY Award-winning album “Dangerously In Love,”. Fanatic also contributed as a producer on Anthony Hamilton’s 2013 Grammy nominated album “Back To Love”.
Thank you so much for joining us Andreao! Can you share with us the “backstory” that led you to this career path?
Discovered Hip Hop in the 8th grade and I learned how to program drum machines. That’s when I started producing and didn’t even know it was called that or that I had been doing that the whole time.
Can you share the funniest or most interesting story that occurred to you in the course of your career? What was the lesson or takeaway that you took out of that story?
I was producing an artist and he said to me “Y’all are trying to make me sound like Michael Jackson. I’m not him. If you want the song to sound like MJ you should go and give the record to him.” He was just kidding but the lightbulb went off in my head at that point. I was like he’s right. So I played six degrees of separation and I got the record to Michael Jackson. 3 weeks later I was in Miami standing in front of Michael Jackson having a conversation with him. I learned to stick to your vision for a song no matter what and no one on this planet is untouchable if you use the of concept of six degrees of separation.
What would you advise to a young person who wants to emulate your success?
Don’t! Everyone has their own career path. I can only suggest to study all genres of music and every iconic artist that you know did a fusion in their music so it was accessible to a mass audience.
Is there a person that made a profound impact on your life? Can you share a story?
Notorious B.I.G.. Working with him on the Lil’ Kim album ready showed me how to lead and get people to see something that they couldn’t see in themselves. He had a lot of vision and he knew the formula in how to make hit records.
How are you using your success to bring goodness to the world? Can you share with us the meaningful or exciting causes you are working on right now?
Yes. The things that drove me earlier in my career no longer do. I’m all about purpose and being a servant to God and the universe and help others reach their dreams in music. Money and success comes and goes but purpose will always be there to fulfill you. We just started a non profit culturepushers.org that caters to underserved artists. I’ve also just produced the Artists United to End Poverty album with the United Way to end poverty in our city. 52 amazing unsigned artists and 52 songs of all genres. It's the project I’ve been waiting for my entire career and didn’t even know it until it happened.
Can you share with us the story behind why you chose to take up this particular cause?
Because so many artists are impoverished and don’t even realize it. So many of them give up on their dreams because they can’t figure out how to achieve a sustainable career in music. Not to mention that poverty affects us all directly and indirectly. Plus it can happen to anyone. We are all one moment from falling into that situation. It has no color, age limit, no demographic.
Can you share with us a story about a person who was impacted by your cause?
An artist told me once he had done a bunch of shows this past year. So I asked him was he now in a different space financially than he was before he started? He said no and at that moment he began to think about how to readjust his thinking. My job is to create the spark. Giving them the perspective on that 6 month window of elevating in every aspect of your life because it all affects the creative process and the music.
Are there three things that individuals, society or the government can do to support you in this effort?
Yes! Sponsor and support those that show promise. For government don’t be afraid to adjust to a new creative way to provide funding. For individuals don’t exploit the artists. Their contribution and gift is invaluable.
What are your “5 things I wish someone told me when I first started” and why. Please share a story or an example for each.
Nothing! Learning experiences are so important along this journey. You have to fall down to get it right next time. It’s a priceless education. You are going to make a million mistakes but you’re also gonna get some things right. You will develop your instincts through error. Your wisdom will show up at the exact time that it’s suppose to.
Only thing I will say is once you take the check you have a commitment. A publisher caught me on a Friday with an offer when I needed money. At the time I need finances to release a indi project. I took the check and all the promises that the publisher had made were in vain. I was stuck in the deal with no assistance. Don't ever do anything in this business for money because once the advance is gone you are still stuck in the deal with someone that just wants to exploit you.
You are a person of enormous influence. If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. :-)
That movement was started when I set up culture-ushers.org We cater to underserved artists. We help them with legal advice, mentorship, marketing, publishing, partnering with corporate sponsors, licensing, live events and really just navigating through every aspect of the music business. Where I live there are a large amount of amazing artists that just need assistance in figuring out this ever changing business. We want to be of service to them.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you explain how that was relevant in your life?
If you don’t know who you are, people are quick to tell you.
People have always tried to define me as a producer and that’s usually by the last record I produced but if you really know me I am a music person that can produce all genres of music. When I create, that is a moment in time. When I go back in the studio weeks later I am in a totally different space so you are not gonna get the same type of record I did weeks ago. Don't ever let them try to define you.
We are blessed that some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Politics, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this if we tag them :-)
Brian Grazer. Not only am I student of music but also film and TV. I truly believe I can make a film or television show that encompasses music and social issues that we have dealt with for years. I believe I can create something that will attract large amounts of people to tune in and take in my unique perspective. Brian Grazer has been creating iconic moments in film and TV and I think he will really get what I’m pitching.