Kenny Ortiz

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Kenny Ortiz
Birth name Kenneth Ortiz
Born November 10
Origin New York, NY,
United States
Occupation(s) Record executive, producer, songwriter, A&R
Years active 1989 -present
Labels RCA Records, Arista Records, Columbia Records, Epic Records (current)

Kenneth "Kenny O" Ortiz (born November 10) is an American record executive, songwriter, record producer, and is currently the CEO of World Trade Entertainment. Widely known as the driving force behind SWV,[1] because he signed the group, picked their hits, got heavily involved in their creative process for original songs, remixes, mixes, collaborations, and last but not least established their vibe and brand. Ortiz is also known for discovering Pharrell Williams and Chad Hugo also known as the Neptunes, whom Ortiz signed to EMI to their first production and writing deal. Ortiz would A&R the unreleased compilation album which featured Charlie Wilson and Joe StoneStreet (the first member of Blackstreet) which subsequently led to Kelis's signing and recording. It was Kenny Ortiz's idea to make Pharrell and Chad to change their production name to the Neptunes (the name they went by as a group, which was later changed to N.E.R.D).

Ortiz's A&R and promotion skills have been instrumental in bringing numerous music figures across multiple genres to multi-platinum sales, including but not limited to SWV, Anita Baker, Keith Sweat, Neptunes, BeBe Winans, CeCe Winans, Ryan Toby, Mantronix, Simply Red, The Cure, Ten Thousand Maniacs, Tracy Chapman, Martha Wash, and MC Hammer.

Ortiz is responsible for helping acts to get signed by major labels. Artists that benefited from Kenny’s musical ear include: Jazmine Sullivan (whom Ortiz discovered on Showtime of The Apollo, brought her into the studio for the first time, and then introduced to her to her mentor Missy Elliott who would eventually produce her #1 singles nearly a decade later), Brian McKnight (whom Ortiz discovered utilizing his vocals for demos and eventually brought him in front of labels who signed him), "Joe" (also demo vocalist for Ortiz and was first to use him as a producer and writer as well as introduced him to the history of the r&b world, and nurtured his craft. Ortiz introduced him to Pharrell Williams).[2] Ortiz also helped in the development of acts like: Shaffer Smith (whom Ortiz A&R'd as a Senior Vice President at Columbia Records before his career was reborn under his new name Ne-Yo), Amerie (A&R’d her platinum album), Ryan Toby (helped him land his position in the movie Sister Act 2), Johnta Austin (discovered him, signed him to RCA Records and put him together with Pharrell Williams and introduced him to Troy Taylor who took him under his wing and then molded him into a very successful songwriter, and last but not least, the Wu-Tang Clan received their first R&B record from Ortiz, who handpicked them to remix "Anything" by SWV which catapulted them from underground to household name.

Kenny Ortiz A&R'd for huge executives and moguls like: Quincy Jones, LA Reid, Pharrell Williams (StarTrak Entertainment), Skip Miller, Bruce Lundvall (of Blue Note Records), Tom Whalley.

Media[edit]

Television: SWV Reunited: Season 2 (filmed Apr 10, 2014 - releasing Fall 2014) VH1's: Dreamgirls: The Making and Breaking of Girl Groups (2006)

Articles: Rolling Stone magazine: FEB 20, 2014 http://www.rollingstone.com/music/news/the-wtf-comeback-of-swv-20140220)

Books: "How They Made It: True Stories of How Music’s Biggest Stars Went From Start To Stardom" by Dan Kimpel (2006 Hal Leonard).

  • Ortiz is mentioned in the story of Brian McKnight.

References[edit]