Heads Up International

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Heads Up International
Parent company Concord Music Group
Founded 1990
Founder Dave Love
Distributor(s) Telarc International Corp. (In the US), Universal Music Group
Genre Jazz, African music
Country of origin US
Official website headsup.com

Heads Up International is an independent jazz and contemporary instrumental label located in Cleveland, Ohio.

Founded in 1990 by Dave Love, Heads Up International has gained international recognition for its contribution to the world of contemporary instrumental music. In that time, Heads Up artists and releases have consistently landed on Billboard's Contemporary Jazz, Traditional Jazz and World Music charts, and have garnered numerous industry awards, including Billboard's Contemporary Latin Jazz Album of the Year (Roberto Perera’s Dreams & Desires), the AFIM's Independent Contemporary Jazz Album of the Year (Pieces of a Dreams’ Love’s Silhouette), a Grammy nomination in 2004 (Yellowjackets' Time Squared), a Grammy Award for Best Traditional World Music Album in 2005 (Ladysmith Black Mambazo’s Raise Your Spirit Higher), a Grammy nomination for Best Surround Sound Award in the first ever surround sound category at the Grammys (Ladysmith Black Mambazo’s Raise Your Spirit Higher), ten additional Grammy nominations for such groups as Spyro Gyra, Mike Stern, and others, JazzWeek's Radio Programmers Album Of The Year Award for two consecutive years (Jaco Pastorius Big Band's Word of Mouth Revisited and The Word Is Out!), and Gibson Guitar's Best Female Jazz Guitarist (Joyce Cooling). In addition to the awards and accolades, Heads Up artists have regularly captured the #1 slot in national radio airplay.

Heads Up International has also been a forerunner in innovative recording technology. For more than 12 years, the label has offered enhanced CDs with videos, artist bios and other bonus material. Heads Up was also among the first to release in the Super Audio CD 5.1 Surround Sound (SACD) format and the first to incorporate enhanced CD technology with SACDs. In 1996, Love made the commitment to release selected titles as Enhanced CDs. “We were the first contemporary jazz label to fully commit to this new format,” he says. “Along with artist profiles and music videos, we introduced a new dimension in marketing by providing the user with additional music videos, sound bytes and biographies of our artists as an added value. In 2001, the company began releasing recordings in the SACD 5.1 Surround Sound Audio format,” states Love.

Dave Love, the president of Heads Up, attributes the label's success to its roster of fine artists.

"With signings over the years of such artists as Yellowjackets, Najee, Spyro Gyra, Pieces of a Dream, Hiroshima, Ladysmith Black Mambazo, Andy Narell, Stanley Clarke, Marion Meadows, Jaco Pastorius Big Band and Walter Beasley, I feel that the label is developing its own sound – that of a unique mix of contemporary music," says Love. "The crossover potential and international appeal of this repertoire has aided us in garnering worldwide success."

The label takes its name from the jazz group that Love – a trumpet player since elementary school – formed while attending North Texas State University on a jazz studies, arranging, and composition scholarship. After college, Love became musical director for Dr. Donald Byrd. Later, he recorded an album with his band and soprano saxophonist Dave Liebman. While shopping the release to record labels, Love took a position as the National Director of Sales & Marketing for Oxymoron P&D, Inc., whose principals convinced him to start his own label with the release. Using Oxymoron for distribution, Love began Heads Up International, Ltd., out of Seattle, Washington, in 1990. The labels' maiden voyage was the Liebman recording, The Energy of the Chance.

In 2000, Heads Up International merged with Telarc International Corporation. This strategic alliance has helped Heads Up to further its distribution worldwide and tap into the financial resources necessary to take the label to a higher level of strength and visibility within the industry and in the consumer market. In 2005 the two entities were acquired by the Concord Music Group.

The Heads Up Africa series, a critically acclaimed collection that spotlights some of southern Africa's finest vocalists and instrumentalists, was launched to mark the tenth anniversary of the end of apartheid. Artists such as Ladysmith Black Mambazo, Miriam Makeba, Oliver Mtukudzi, Hugh Masekela and other top talent from this musically and culturally rich part of the world have graced numerous recordings for the company.

In 2007, Heads Up was honored to release the final recordings of two jazz giants who have since passed on, Michael Brecker (Pilgrimage) and Joe Zawinul (Brown Street).

Heads Up kicks off its 18th year with label debut recordings by Victor Wooten, Esperanza Spalding, Take 6, George Duke and Taj Mahal.

"Music will always be an integral part of mankind's emotions," says Love, "and it is most rewarding to feel we are making music history today."

Heads Up International also has its own customised content channel on Audiotube.

Musicians[edit]

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