Word recording artist Jaci Velasquez is launching her own record label, Apostrophe Records, Billboard.biz has learned. She is currently negotiating a distribution deal for the new venture.

Word recording artist Jaci Velasquez is launching her own record label, Apostrophe Records, Billboard.biz has learned. She is currently negotiating a distribution deal for the new venture.

Singer/songwriter Michael Cook is the first signing to Apostrophe. His debut CD is slated for release this fall and will be produced by former Petra member Pete Orta.

Velasquez will serve as CEO of the label and has tapped family and music-industry associates for key roles. Her mother, Diana Stancil, will be Apostrophe's CFO, and Velasquez's brother, Dion Lopez, will be VP of A&R. Velasquez says marketing, publicity and radio promotion will initially be outsourced, with former Word executive Linda Klosterman handling marketing.

A multiple Gospel Music Assn. Dove award winner, Velasquez signed with Word Records at 15 and became one of the Christian industry's top female vocalists. The 24-year-old has also achieved success in the Latin community through Sony Discos, and starred last year in the film "Chasing Papi." Velasquez is currently negotiating a new Latin music deal. She will remain with Word Records for her Christian music career.