Left to right: Barry Weiss, Ne-Yo and Ethiopia Habtemariam
Singer/songwriter Ne-Yo is moving from Def Jam to Motown Records, the company told Billboard.biz exclusively today. In addition, the Grammy Award-winning artist will bring his Compound Entertainment imprint to the venerable label and take on a creative role at Motown as senior VP of A&R.
In that role, Ne-Yo will serve as a producer and mentor to the label's artists and also discover and sign new talent. Ne-Yo, who co-stars in the current George Lucas-produced film "Red Tails" about the Tuskegee Airmen fighter pilots, will appear on the upcoming season of NBC-TV's " The Voice" as a mentor for Cee Lo Green's team. Ne-Yo will mark his debut as a Motown artist with his fifth studio album, slated for this summer.
"His track record of success at Def Jam will always be a benchmark," says Universal Republic and Island Def Jam Motown chairman/CEO Barry Weiss in a statement announcing the news. "But this move to Motown will provide new and inspiring challenges for Ne-Yo as both an artist and a key member of the new senior management team that is taking form at the label in 2012."
Ne-Yo's move to Motown marks the latest step in the revitalization of the Universal Music Group division. Ethiopia Habtemariam was appointed senior VP of Motown, formerly headed by president Sylvia Rhone, last September. She concurrently serves as executive VP/head of urban music for Universal Music Publishing Group.
"We are committed to discovering, developing and nurturing R&B/soul superstars here at Motown," says Habetemariam in the co-announcement with Weiss. "In Ne-Yo we have both a global superstar and arguably one of the best songwriters in music. His presence on the executive team only strengthens our commitment to be the very best in R&B."
Ne-Yo added, "I'm honored that I¹ve been given such a prestigious title and trusted with such responsibility; terrified because I know that playing this role in the fashion of one of my career role models, Mr. Smokey Robinson -- these are big shoes to fill. But trust, I can handle it."
Coming off a No. 1 Hot 100 hit last year as a featured guest on Pitbull's "Give Me Everything" (also featuring Afrojack and Nayer), Ne-Yo released four albums during his Def Jam tenure. With cumulative U.S. sales of 4.3 million, according to Nielsen SoundScan, the four include: 2010's "Libra Scale," 2008's "Year of the Gentleman," 2007's "Because of You" and 2006's "In My Own Words." The two latter albums were both No. 1 debuts on the Billboard 200 and Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums. His hit singles includes "Miss Independent" -- which netted Ne-Yo Grammy Awards for Best R&B Song and Best Male R&B Vocal Performance - "Closer" and "Mad."