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Issue Date: August 2005 Issue

Beachwood's Big Bands

Kimberly Dick

You wouldn't think the world beat of Ladysmith Black Mambazo, the classical sounds of David Russell and the jazz vocals of Nancy Wilson have much in common. But the three artists share two interesting traits: They all won Grammys in 2005 and they're on the same record label — Cleveland's Telarc International and Heads Up Records.

An industrial park in Beachwood is an unlikely place to find this little piece of the entertainment industry. But far from its coastal competition, Telarc/Heads Up International is thriving.

Founded in 1977 by classically trained musicians Jack Renner and Robert Woods, Telarc became the first in the country to record commercial classical music in a digital format. Telarc/Heads Up has proved to the industry that it can be successful in Cleveland by winning 49 Grammys since 1980. Nominated for 14 in 2005, Telarc/Heads Up took home seven, including best-engineered album.

Whenever it's Grammy time, local news teams are always amazed that Telarc is in Cleveland, says Elaine Martone, executive vice president of production and artist relations. It's been here from the beginning. Founded in Seattle, Heads Up merged with Telarc in 2000, allowing more distribution, freedom and funds. Telarc/Heads Up is really one label with two different imprints. Representing internationally recognized artists from all over the world, Heads Up focuses on contemporary instrumental music with a slight R&B slant. Telarc has a lot of classical and a high profile in the jazz and blues community.

But Telarc branched out to pop/rock music this year with releases from Alana Davis and Los Super Seven.

As the audience for some of the label's traditional sounds becomes older, Telarc/Heads Up is incorporating youthful elements into albums trying to reach younger crowds. "Nestor Torres, a jazz flautist, has a primary demographic of 25-54, and we experimented with mixing Latino and rap sounds with instrumental and vocals," says Dave Love, president of Heads Up.

"I am very fortunate to travel around the world," Love adds, "and I am proud to tell people that we're in Cleveland."

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