Publicity Veteran Kenneth Reynolds Dies

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Steven Williams
Kenneth Reynolds (center), Epic Records president Sylvia Rhone and Pat Shields, partner in the marketing firm Black Dot LLC.

A memorial celebration is being planned for longtime publicist Kenneth Reynolds. Reynolds, who collaborated with a who’s who in music, including Whitney Houston, Labelle, Gladys Knight, Herbie Hancock, The Jacksons, Taj Mahal and Kool & the Gang, died April 18 at his home in Los Angeles. He reportedly succumbed to complications stemming from a chronic kidney condition.

Brenda Andrews, formerly senior VP/GM of music publisher Rondor Music International, tells Billboard, “Ken was a giant in the business and we all loved him. It’s the end of an era.”

Reynolds, a native of Chicago, began working in the entertainment industry in his late teens as a page for the Merv Griffin Show in New York City. A later stint as global road manager for female trio Labelle (Patti LaBelle, Sarah Dash and Nona Hendryx) opened the door to publicity and marketing posts with the Arista, PolyGram and CBS labels. While handling publicity for Arista in the mid-'80s, Reynolds created the initial PR/marketing plan that helped launch Whitney Houston’s career.

After relocating to Los Angeles, Reynolds launched his own PR/marketing firm Public Relations+ in 1993. While continuing to work with music artists, Reynolds extended his reach into television and film with a clientele that included actresses Jackee Harry (227 and Sister, Sister) and Anna Maria Horsford (Amen, The Wayans Bros.). He also developed media strategies for various organizations such as the Thurgood Marshall Scholarship Fund, the Black Entertainment & Sports Lawyers Association, the 28th annual NAACP Image Awards and the United Negro College Fund.

In addition to reuniting with Labelle in 2008 as an executive producer on the group’s first new album (Back to Now) in 32 years, Reynolds most recently appeared in the 2017 documentary Whitney: Can I Be Me. An avid traveler, Reynolds was a raconteur whose popular soirees at his home frequently transformed into impromptu jam sessions featuring guests such as Grammy winner Natalie Cole, Loretta Devine (Grey’s Anatomy, Broadway’s Dreamgirls) and Cheryl Lynn (“Got to Be Real”).

Reynolds’ survivors include his sister Sean Reynolds. Details regarding a memorial celebration will be announced in the near future.


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