Andre Harrell Tribute Uplifting

By Rogan Smith |
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BET’s tribute to late Uptown Records founder, Andre Harrell had me in all of my feelings tonight.

Harrell died in early May from a heart attack. He was 59.

I have never met Harrell, but his artistry and spirit had a profound effect on me, not to mention the music industry.

I remember hearing his name frequently in the early 90s. Many times it was tied to his mentee, Sean “Puffy” Combs. But, he seemed like the urban godfather that young and upcoming artists turned to for real sound advice.

Even before I knew what Harrell looked like, I felt like I knew him. One of the things that I knew is that he personified Black Excellence and always seemed so positive.

For those of you who don’t know, this is the man who is responsible for not only giving Puffy a chance, but bringing forth artists such as Heavy D, JoDeCi, Guy, Al B. Sure and Mary J. Blige, the Queen of Hip Hop Soul.

Photo/ Singer Mary J. Blige and Andre Harrell.
Singer Mary J. Blige and Andre Harrell.

His input led to some of today’s most incredible hits and classics that we rock out to today.

Tonight’s tribute to Harrell was a real tearjerker. It didn’t mean to be, but it was hard not to tear up watching some of the world’s top black celebrities discuss this fallen legend.

From Mariah Carey to Naomi Campbell to Jamie Foxx and Kenneth “Babyface” Edmonds, they each shared their personal accounts of their time with Harrell. They painted him as a listener, a friend, a mentor, a father/brother/uncle.

Everyonespoke about his smile and how he was always laughing. Honestly, that sounds pretty accurate. Every time I saw images of Harrell, he was always in his signature rimmed glasses and sporting the biggest smile you could ever see.

Babyface sang a special song that he created for Harrell. It was so beautiful that I got emotional listening.

It was incredible to watch everyone speak so highly of Harrell. Listening to everyone really made me wish I had met him.

Puff Daddy aka Sean "P. Diddy" Combs and Andre Harrell.
Puff Daddy aka Sean “P. Diddy” Combs and Andre Harrell.

One of the most telling things about Harrell’s personality came when on one of the celebrities interviewed said how he would guide careers and give people opportunities, something that is so rare in the entertainment industry, especially the music business.

Watching tonight’s tribute also caused me to reflect on my on mortality and how I would like to be remembered by my friends, family and colleagues.

Learning of Harrell’s many accomplishments also makes me want to reach for the stars and give other people opportunities that they ordinarily wouldn’t have. He seemed to do that so selflessly and the music community and the world at large is better off for it.

BET did an amazing tribute. I hope I can purchase this special in the future. It’s definitely one that I would love to rewatch.

I am praying for Harrell’s family, especially his 25-year-old son, Gianni Harrell, who executive produced tonight’s tribute. and gave the eulogy at his father’s funeral on Saturday.


This Bahamian Gyal

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