In a year where history was made, good and bad, several women stepped their game up and upgraded from signee to owner. From the studio to the fashion house, several leading ladies, including India.Aire, will remember 2008 as a banner year professionally. Here are a few women who proved that the phrase ‘Ladies First’ can and did extend to the boardroom. 1. India.Arie: SoulBird On The Move Grammy Award-winning R&B singer/songwriter India.Arie made moves both in the boardroom and in the studio this year. Launching a surprising label with Universal Republic titled SoulBird, Arie broke ground with Anthony David, her long time friend and first artist. In less than eight months David earned a Grammy nomination for âWords,â his first single. In addition to Davidâs nomination Arie is planning to make 2009 a big year with the release of the highly anticipated follow up to 2006s Testimony: Vol. 1 – Life & Relationship. Arie spent much of 2008 in the studio putting the effort, which includes a collaboration with Musiq Soulchild on âChocolate High,â together. Arie is expected to attend the Grammy Awards in February, just in time for the release of Testimony- Vol. 2: Love & Politics, with Anthony David as the duo shares the Best R&B Performance By A Duo or Group with Vocals nomination for âWordsâ. 2. Fergie – âWorkinâ On Her Businessâ First she told us about working on her fitness, now Fergieâs working on her business. The former âGlamorousâ singer took on the shoe industry this summer by signing an exclusive distribution deal with BrownShoe. Focusing on comfort and confidence Fergie said âI have always loved fashion because itâs a great way to express your mood.â âFergie-Fergâ joins Carlos Santana, who also has a line with BrownShoe. For those of you ready to rock âGlamourousâ shoes Fergieâs double line âFergie/Fergaliciousâ hits stores early 2009 ! 3. âNot The Only Oneâ – Usherâs Mom Launches A Label With Two R&B Acts Known for taking her son to Grammy-winning heights, especially after the now Diamond-certified album Confessions stormed onto shelves in 2004, Jonetta Patton took the phrase âpower playâ to a new level with âJpat Recordsâ in 2008. Proving that moms know best, Patton signed R&B group Kwiet Storm and R&B singer Dante to her roster which also includes Usherâs younger brother James Lackey (Lloydâs âGet It Shawtyâ) thereby expanding her business prospects âpost-Usherâ —- in case you missed it, Usher handed his mother walking papers in 2006 just before exchanging vows with Tameka Foster. Pattonâs Jpat Records premiered Kwiet Storm and Dante at the 30th Annual Bauder College Student Fashion Show in Atlanta, GA on May 16th. Both acts are currently at work on debut albums.