Devyne Stephens: Building Talent (Akon’s Business Partner)

Devyne Stephens has the physique of an Atlanta Falcon football player but the only thing he shares with professional football players is his appetite to win. The Atlanta native began his path leading to a music industry executive while being the first artist signed to L.A. Reid and Babyface’s LaFace Records as a member of rap group Devyne and 90 Miles an Hour. The group disbanded but Reid offered Stephens a position as the choreographer and image expert for artists like singer turned TLC creator Pebbles, Toni Braxton, Pink, TLC, Usher and Boyz II Men. Fast forward ten years later, Stephens’ multi-faceted Upfront Megatainment is one of the leaders in the industry working with top acts including Akon, Lady Gaga, T-Pain.

The grind to the top was not an overnight success for Stephens. Before Akon garnered international success, he hustled for several years to break Akon’s career changing single “Locked Up.”

Rather than building inorganic artists or groups using reality television or talent search contest, Stephens is focused on developing artist in his boot camp which provides “media training, vocal training, physical fitness, stage performance, choreography.

As far as his background in dance, Stephens says it was a “passion…obviously something from my soul,” but helping artists build well-round foundation and life long career similar to Berry Gordon is the direction he bestows on his clients.

“When you speak of Berry Gordy in turns of my background, my background is artist development; Motown built some of the legendary artist today… That is what Upfront Mega entertainment is about; artist development,” Stephens tells Singersroom.

In his development with Akon, Stephens used these same Berry Gordy individuality type tactics to take his client to the top.

“Akon is not making street records in terms of rob and stealing,” Stephens says. “He may still give it to you from the point of view of him seeing someone get robbed but not like some artists who are stuck on one point in their lifeline.”

Stephens’ approach to cultivating an artist is simple; he pulls from the artist their rare character traits and stories. That winning combination has a way to connect with fans and soon to be fans with a message that somebody similar to them has experience the same laughter, pain, joy or sadness they have. Only that bond is simultaneously created with millions of fans! —— By: Interview By Adeniyi Omisore


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