Jeff Redd didn't achieve the pop success of contemporaries like Guy or fellow Mount Vernon native Al B. Sure!, but he put his mark on the new jack swing era and was a major behind-the-scenes figure afterward.
As a teenager, Redd performed in a group called the Sophisticated Gents. In 1988, as a solo artist, he was signed to André Harrell's Uptown label, home to Heavy D & the Boyz, another Mount Vernon act. Before the deal went into full effect, Redd remained employed on the General Motors assembly line in nearby Tarrytown, where he was handed a cassette recording of a teenaged singer covering Anita Baker's "Caught Up in the Rapture." Redd took the tape to Harrell, who subsequently added that singer, Mary J. Blige, to the Uptown roster. Blige performed with Redd in support of his A Quiet Storm, an impressive debut that featured a pair of Top 20 R&B hits: a version of Fatback's boogie classic "I Found Lovin'" and an original ballad, "Love High," written by Timmy Allen. The album stalled at number 40 on the R&B chart. The following year, Uptown released the soundtrack for the romantic comedy Strictly Business, highlighted by Redd's "You Called and Told Me" -- one of the great songs, productions, and performances of its time, even though it peaked at only 63 on the R&B chart.
Frustrated with Uptown's lack of promotional support, Redd moved to EMI America. It wasn't until 1994 that he was able to issue his second album, Down Low. Recalled the week of release, few knew about it. The scarce copies that did reach the public became highly coveted. Redd had enough and moved into the less visible side of the industry, where he worked in artist management and A&R and also held an executive position with MCA (Uptown's parent label). He was a major factor in the success of K-Ci & JoJo and executive produced Regina Belle's Grammy-nominated Believe in Me. Later on, he started the Sol Real label and got back into performing and recording. The Japanese P-Vine label reissued Down Low in 2015. ~ Andy Kellman