A mega-successful music biz mogul, songwriter and producer responsible for guiding the careers of such superstars as Kanye West, Whitney Houston and Mariah Carey, L.A. Reid is putting his expertise to use joining Simon Cowell, Paula Abdul and Nicole Scherzinger at the judges’ table on the highly anticipated music competition series The X Factor, in which four categories of singers will vie for a $5 million prize.
“The X Factor is an amazing platform to discover talent,” says Reid, explaining why he took the job. “We’re seeing more talent in a day than I could see perhaps in a year in my job as a record executive. The talent level is unbelievable. We are finding artists, contestants that we really believe to be true stars of tomorrow.”
So far, the show, in which the judges will also mentor contestants once the field is narrowed down, “has been a wonderful experience” for Reid. “Mentoring comes naturally to me. That’s what I do,” he says. He doesn’t favor contestants in any particular genre. “I’ve done records in country, rock, pop, R&B, hip hop, dance, all different kinds of music,” he underscores. “I just love talent that gives me chill bumps.”
While he isn’t specifically seeking to mentor Black singers on the show Reid says, “I would like to think that I’ve dedicated my life to helping young talent generally and as a result of that so many Black talented artists have had my door opened to them. As for a responsibility to Black talent, I’ve certainly taken it by the horns. There’s Usher, TLC, the Dream, Ne-Yo, Rihanna,” he points out.
But of all his considerable achievements, Reid is most proud of his children, who range in age from eight to 33, all of whom excel in the arts. “My son does animation, my daughter does photography, another son writes songs and acts,” he says. “They’re all into music.”
The X Factor premieres September 21 on Fox.
(Photo: Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images)