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Herb Middleton, born in the Bronx borough of New York City, New York is a multi-platinum American record producer, composer, musician, business owner and CEO.[1] He is also known as Herb “Staff” Middleton, Herb H. Middleton or simply as Staff.[2]

Currently residing in Delaware, Middleton is the co-owner and CEO of the production company, NuVybe. Middleton’s career has focused on the genres of soul, R&B and hip-hop music.[3]

Over the past twenty years, Middleton has shaped the sound of artists such as Nas, Faith Evans, Usher, Mary J. Blige, Al Green, Will Smith, Bobby Brown and scores of other chart-topping musicians.[4] Middleton has been twice-nominated for Grammys for his role as producer. Once for best R&B album, Mary J. Blige’s, “My Life,” and for Best Contemporary Soul Gospel album, Anne Nesby’s “Make me Better.” He is also known for producing the late Teddy Pendergrass’ last song, "I Am Who I Am," a project recorded by I am Film Works in 2009.[5]

Middleton has been featured by Black Entertainment Television (BET) for influencing the career of Mary J. Blige, co-producing “You Gotta Believe,” and “I Never Wanna Live Without You,” with Sean “Diddy” Combs and Chucky Thompson on her breakthrough album, "My Life." He has also collaborated with Total, SWV and Kenny Lattimore, as a “behind the-scenes R&B songwriter and producer.”[6]

Early History[edit]

Middleton’s musicality started early on, when he began playing the drums at age eight. In an interview by Rago Magazine, he recounted his childhood with an, “older brother [who] was always playing different styles of music in our room when I was a kid, and I couldn’t help but fall in love with it.” Encouraged by his older brother, he quickly learned the bass guitar. His music teacher remembers Middleton took only a few months to learn what “took most bass players a year to learn.” At thirteen, he became the church drummer and moved on to become congregation’s organist. By the time he was sixteen, he was able to play the drums, bass and keyboard well.

Stepping away from playing instruments to writing songs, Middleton apprenticed under Loris Holland to learn the art of composition before pursuing a career on his own.[7] [8]

Career[edit]

In April 1992 Middleton initiated his first production company, Big Herb’s Music, which closed September 2011. With the launch of his company, Middleton released “Telling Me Stories” by Big Bub on East West Records.

Discovered by Teddy Riley early on, the Grammy-Award winning songwriter commissioned Middleton to write for platinum artist, Bobby Brown. Middleton wrote the music for Brown’s “Remixes N the Key of B,” released in 1993, and 2009, “Gold.” The following year he collaborated with Faith Evans to compose “Smile Again” for Usher, a recording in which he also plays the keyboard. That same year he composed, “My Life,” for Mary J. Blige and helped produce her single, “My Life II... The Journey Continues (Act 1),” his first production credit for a major label artist. Shorty thereafter, Middleton contributed to the sound of female trio, Total.[9] The band’s 1994 hit single, “Can’t you See, feat. Biggie Smalls,” is attributed to Middleton’s influence. Known for developing close relationships with other artists, Middleton once described Biggie Smalls as, “a little reserved. He was quiet and focused at the same time.”[10][11]

Middleton later composed, produced and played instrumentals for Will Smith’s 2003 album “Born to Reign.” In the same year, he reprised the role for Al Green’s “20th Century Masters - the Millenium Collection: The Best of Al Green, The Love Songs Collection.” [12] Middleton described Green as the most inspiring artist he has ever worked with, after composing and producing music for the collection.

Middleton has been recognized for his extensive work as the producer of Nas’ album, “Street's Disciple.” Moreover, he accompanied Nas as bassist and drummer on this album’s song, “Me & You (Dedicated to Destiny).”[13]

In 2011, Middleton was featured for his work producing the Sounds of Blackness’ self-titled album, and recognized for his “updated production arrangement” to Gloria Ry’aan’s R&B single, “Inside my Love,” a cover of the original version by Minnie Riperton.[14] [15] [16]

Middleton’s company, NuVybe, signed Deanna Ransom, releasing the song “Never Say Never... Again” in 2012. Middleton acted as executive producer and audio engineer for the song, on which he also provides bass, vocals, mastering and mixing.[17] Around this time, he also assisted the production of friend and Grammy-nominated Ann Nesby’s album, “The Lula Lee Project,” arranging music with an “edgy, urban sound.”[18]

NuVybe[edit]

Middleton is the CEO and co-owner of NuVybe Records, along with his songwriter wife, Janelle Middleton. NuVybe was founded in 2002 as an independent production and record label, which features artists from the United States, United Kingdom and Canada. The company currently has a staff of eight managing two offices. The vision of the company is, “a new way of doing music and a new way of doing music.” Their records are currently published by Broadcast Music Inc. (BMI).[19] [20]

Personal Life[edit]

He has referred to biggest achievement as, “making a decision to no longer allow the music game’s evils to influence my creative contribution to music.”[21] He has also been described as a “devoted husband, father and new grandfather.”

Middleton has distinguished his current home of Delaware as, “a good place to live” and “a great place to discover talent.” [22] A practicing Christian, he is active in his local community, and was part of a three judge panel for Delaware’s 11th annual ‘Mind ur Business’ Music Conference. [23] [24]

Controversy[edit]

Middleton has made some controversial comments regarding his perception of the “pop” industry as “watered down,” and referred some hip-hop artists as “selling their souls.” He has also made subtle negative references to the Grammys, remarking, “if artists will work to become pioneers, we can raise the standard of music to where it used be and we'll have different faces at the Grammys.”

Middleton has often mentioned a distaste for the modern commercialization of the music industry, and suggested it get back to its original roots. In one interview he observed, “If you take the soul out of R&B and Soul Music, it's like a fast food meal… it tastes good but its not good for you!”[25] [26]

Discography[edit]

Year Album Artist Credit
2012 Never Say Never...Again Deanna Ransom Bass, Engineer, Executive Producer, Mastering, Mixing, Producer, Vocals (Background)
2011 The Sounds of Blackness Sounds of Blackness Producer
2009 Gold Bobby Brown Composer
2009 The Lula Lee Project Ann Nesby Drum Programming, Engineer, Keyboards, Mixing, Producer
2008 Raheem DeVaugn Example Bass, Guitar (Bass), Main Personnel
2006 20th Century Masters - The Millennium Collection: The Best of Al Green Al Green Composer, Producer
2004 Never Say Never Deanna Ranson Composer, Drums, Keyboards, Main Personnel, Multi Instruments, Producer
2004 Nobody But Jesus... Melba More Audio Production, Composer, Instrumentation, Producer, Programming
2004 Street's Disciple Nas Bass, Keyboards, Producer
2003 Make Me Better Ann Nesby Composer
2003 Platinum & Gold Collection SWV Composer, Producer
2003 The Love Songs Collection Al Green Composer
2002 Born to Reign Will Smith Composer, Producer
2002 Put it on Paper Ann Nesby Composer, Producer
2001 Ballads Mary J. Blige Composer, Keyboards, Producer
1999 Greatest Hits [RCA] SWV Composer, Producer
1998 From the Soul of Man Kenny Lattimore Composer
1996 Total Total Keyboards
1995 Faith Faith Evans Composer, Producer
1993 Remixes N the Key of B Bobby Brown Composer
1992 Bobby Bobby Brown Composer
1992 My Life II...The Journey Continues (Act 1)[Single] Mary J. Blige Composer
  1. ^ "Teddy Prendergass: The Herb Middleton Project". I am Film Works. Retrieved 16 January 2013. 
  2. ^ "Herb Middleton". Discogs. Retrieved 16 January 2013. 
  3. ^ "HERB MIDDLETON from New York, USA". Rago Magazine. Retrieved 16 January 2013.  |first1= missing |last1= in Authors list (help)
  4. ^ "The E-Artist - Multiplatinum Producer Herb Middleton Gives Factors to Success". River Sity Alliance. 04/11. Retrieved 16 January 2013.  Check date values in: |date=, |year= / |date= mismatch (help)
  5. ^ "Teddy Prendergass: The Herb Middleton Project". I am Film Works. Retrieved 16 January 2013. 
  6. ^ "Mary J. Blige's My Life: Where Are They Now?". BET Interactive, LLC. Retrieved 16 January 2013. 
  7. ^ "Who is Herb Middleton". ND Jamz Radio, Inc. Retrieved 16 January 2013. 
  8. ^ "Herb Middleton from New York, USA". Rago Magazine. 30. Retrieved 16 January 2013.  Unknown parameter |month= ignored (help); |first1= missing |last1= in Authors list (help); Check date values in: |date=, |year= / |date= mismatch (help)
  9. ^ "Herb Middleton: Credits". Rovi Corp. Retrieved 16 January 2013. 
  10. ^ "Herb Middleton from New York, USA". Rago Magazine. 30. Retrieved 16 January 2013.  Unknown parameter |month= ignored (help); |first1= missing |last1= in Authors list (help); Check date values in: |date=, |year= / |date= mismatch (help)
  11. ^ "Who is Herb Middleton". ND Jamz Radio, Inc. Retrieved 16 January 2013. 
  12. ^ "Herb Middleton: Credits". Rovi Corp. Retrieved 16 January 2013. 
  13. ^ "Street's Disciple - Nas". Rovi Corporation. 2004. Retrieved 16 January 2013. 
  14. ^ "Herb Middleton: Credits". Rovi Corp. Retrieved 16 January 2013. 
  15. ^ Marvin Elijah (28). "Gloria Ry-ann- Inside My Love". Steady-Rock. Retrieved 16 January 2013.  Unknown parameter |month= ignored (help); Check date values in: |date=, |year= / |date= mismatch (help)
  16. ^ "Gloria Ry'Ann - Inside My Love". Grown Folks Music. Retrieved 17 January 2013. 
  17. ^ "Herb Middleton: Credits". Rovi Corp. Retrieved 16 January 2013. 
  18. ^ "Da Gospel Truth Interviews Ann Nesby". Da Gospel Truth. 16. Retrieved 16 January 2013.  Unknown parameter |month= ignored (help); |first1= missing |last1= in Authors list (help); Check date values in: |date=, |year= / |date= mismatch (help)
  19. ^ "About Us". NuVybe Records. Retrieved 17 January 2013. 
  20. ^ "The E-Artist - Multiplatinum Producer Herb Middleton Gives Factors to Success". River Sity Alliance. 04/11. Retrieved 16 January 2013.  Check date values in: |date=, |year= / |date= mismatch (help)
  21. ^ "Herb Middleton from New York, USA". Rago Magazine. 30. Retrieved 16 January 2013.  Unknown parameter |month= ignored (help); |first1= missing |last1= in Authors list (help); Check date values in: |date=, |year= / |date= mismatch (help)
  22. ^ "Who is Herb Middleton". ND Jamz Radio, Inc. Retrieved 16 January 2013. 
  23. ^ [www.delawareblack.com/de-spotlight/78-people/204-winners-announced-for-delawares-mind-ur-business-music-conference.html "Winners Announced for Delaware's Mind Ur Business Music Conference"] Check |url= value (help). Delaware Black. Retrieved 17 January 2013. 
  24. ^ "Da Gospel Truth Interviews Ann Nesby". Da Gospel Truth. 16. Retrieved 16 January 2013.  Unknown parameter |month= ignored (help); |first1= missing |last1= in Authors list (help); Check date values in: |date=, |year= / |date= mismatch (help)
  25. ^ "The U-Turn Project". SL Lifestyle: 18–19. 2010.  Unknown parameter |month= ignored (help)
  26. ^ "Herb Middleton from New York, USA". Rago Magazine. 30. Retrieved 16 January 2013.  Unknown parameter |month= ignored (help); |first1= missing |last1= in Authors list (help); Check date values in: |date=, |year= / |date= mismatch (help)