I Have Had the Distinct Honour and Pleasure To Collaborate With Some of the Best In Gospel Music and It’s Surreal Sometimes
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Phil Thornton is the Senior Vice President and General Manager at RCA Inspiration at Sony Music. Known as a music executive who has been in the business for the past 27 years. Completing his first internship at 12 years old the music mogul who has worked with some of the biggest names in the music industry took the time to share how he became who he is today.
To keep up with the latest happening in Phil’s world follow him on his personal Instagram here
2BReal: Hi Phil! So, let’s start with the most recent accolade you received at the Stellar Awards. Congratulations! How did it feel to be inducted into the Stellar Honours Hall of Fame?
PT: I am extremely honoured and humbled to receive such a momentous honour. I have been fortunate to accomplish a lot in music, television and film during my 39 years on earth.
2BReal: Your work within the industry with artists has impacted millions of people around the world. What keeps you humble knowing that you are one of the influencing pioneers of Gospel music?
PT: I always remember it’s not about me, it’s about GOD. I’m eternally grateful that He chose me to be a vessel on earth. I have had the distinct honour and pleasure to collaborate with some of the best in Gospel Music and it’s surreal sometimes.
2BReal: We recently saw you on the Fix Mt Life two-part episode with Leandria Johnson. It was clear that it was more than music and business in you being there. Why did you decide this was the right platform and the right time to share her story with the world?
PT: I have known Le’Andria since 2010 when she won the Sunday Best (BET) competition. I was aware of some of her challenges and witnessed some of the public meltdowns on social media. But in 2016 when I started at working at the label I had a front-row seat of her alcohol addiction and saw how it was impacting her music ministry. We attempted to intervene in the past, but we were unsuccessful.
I care a lot for Le’Andria and my artists on the roster. I want the artists to be successful and profitable for the label, but also want to see them healthy: spiritually, mentally and physically. Unfortunately, Le’Andria wasn’t healthy and needed help. I thought Iyanla Vanzant and her team would be a great resource to help Le’Andria on her road to sobriety and healthy mind.
It was important to show this story to the world because we don’t address some of these issues in the church. Many people are dealing with various forms of addiction and need help but afraid to ask.
My goal with showcasing Le’Andria’s journey was to:
1) Get Le’Andria the help she needed
2) Educate people about alcoholism and that it is an addiction and disease
3) Encourage people that are dealing with similar addictions or know someone dealing with an addiction to get the necessary help.
I’m proud to say this was an amazing experience for Le’Andria and she is now over 5 months sober. She completed inpatient rehab and a series of AA meetings. The future looks very bright for Le’Andria Johnson. I’m extremely grateful to Donald Lawrence for introducing me to Iyanla Vanzant and her team.
2BReal: Over the years, within your line of business making tough decisions comes with the job. How do you deal with the impact of your choices on a personal level?
PT: It’s sometimes tough making tough decisions re personnel or the artist roster. But I constantly remind myself the decisions are what is best for the business, never personal on my end. I pray daily and talk to God when making my decisions.
2BReal: What was it that inspired you to get into the music industry?
PT: I always loved music since I was a child. I always appreciated the creative side but was infatuated with the business side as well. Early on, I wanted to know about the record labels releasing my favourite music, the people behind the scenes, etc. Growing up and seeing executives of colour like Berry Gordy, Jheryl Busby, Sylvia Rhone, Sharon Heyward, Kevin Liles, and Sean Combs really inspired me to want to be in the music industry.
2BReal: Did you face any challenges as you grew in your career and how did handling them make you the man you are today?
PT: We all face challenges on our journey of life and I’m no exception. I continue to operate with integrity and seek guidance from Him.
2BReal: How has the evolution of RCA Inspiration artists, music and company beliefs and values transformed you as an executive over the years?
PT: This chapter at RCA Inspiration has taught me a lot. I have learned a lot from our roster and staff. Honestly, it has made me a better executive. I have learned to work with a wider spectrum of talent and has definitely expanded my reach.
2BReal: What have been some of your most memorable moments that have been achieved throughout your career to date?
PT: I have so many… During my eOne Music tenure, I was very instrumental in the careers of Jonathan McReynolds, Erica Campbell, Todd Dulaney and the legendary Shirley Caesar.
Also, I had the honour of working with Michelle Williams, Kelly Rowland and Beyoncé for the “Say Yes” single/video launch.
Executive Producing Tamela and David Mann’s unscripted television series for three seasons and winning an NAACP Image award for my contribution.
At RCA Inspiration I have the pleasure of working with some of the BEST in Gospel Music: Kirk Franklin, Marvin Sapp, Donnie McClurkin, Donald Lawrence, Hezekiah Walker, Travis Greene, Le’Andria Johnson, etc.
Koryn Hawthorne was my first signing at RCA Inspiration. Watching her career and ministry soar continues to be a highlight.
Last year, partnering with Snoop Dogg on the release of “Bible Of Love” was definitely highlight.
Last, I would have to say being inducted into the Stellar Awards Hall of Fame was a career highlight. I received so much love from the community and beyond for that achievement.
2BReal: What advice would you give to those who are looking to get into the same line of work you are in. What do they need in order to serve and survive within the music industry?
1) Keep GOD first.
2) Do your research about the area of business you want to explore (read books, trade publications, etc).
3) Network within the industry. Meet people and build genuine relationships.
4) Integrity and loyalty are very important traits.
2BReal: How has social media impacted your brand online?
PT: More people know what I do and who I am because of social media. I love sharing some of journey and experiences via social media.
2BReal: Who has been your biggest inspiration throughout your journey and why?
PT: Sean Combs aka P-Diddy. He started as an intern like me. I admire his vision, creativity, and ability to impact the culture. Puff has been in the business 25 years + and still remains relevant. He is a believer, father, and mogul. That’s why I laugh when people have called me the “Diddy of Gospel”, those are big shoes to fill in general.
2BReal: As a man of God, what is your favourite scripture that gives you comfort, confidence and composure? PT: Romans 8:28 “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.”