About Hi Records
Adalah Bennett Shaw
The legendary Hi Records label has an interesting and productive history that can actually be divided into three chapters: Hit Instrumentals (1957-1969), Soul Sounds (1970-1979), and the Current Classic Releases. For the history of Hi Records through 1977 go HERE. For discographies of HI Records artists go HERE. For the story of how Hi Records` classic master recordings were saved and the person responsible for re-activating Hi Records read below:
Shaw gained her knowledge of the record industry and business savvy from her father, the late Al Bennett (a.k.a. Alvin and the Chipmunks). Shaw began working for her father when she was just 15 years old and living in Los Angeles.
In 1977, Cream Records purchased Hi and Stax Records, two Memphis-based rhythm-and-blues power houses. In 1979, Bennett sold the Hi and Stax publishing companies and the Stax master recordings, but he retained the Hi masters. Within months of that sale, Bennett coaxed Shaw into leaving the music business to take over the crucial job of managing Benwood, his 4,800-acre farm in Arkansas.
In March 1989, Bennett passed away. While settling Bennett`s estate, Shaw discovered that during her ten-year absence from Cream Records, the Hi master recordings had been sitting in California doing virtually nothing, She also learned the Hi masters were under various liens, including a U.S. Copyright lien, the most difficult type to remove.
Shaw decided what she truly wanted to do was reactive the legendary Hi Records and share the phenomenal Hi master recordings with a new generation of music lovers. Selling and borrowing on her resources, Shaw paid off all past due liens as the first step in her carefully crafted business plan to re-establish the label.
Next, Shaw filed a lawsuit against Motown Records for licensing infractions and failure to properly exploit the Hi Records` catalogue in the Eighties as it had been hired to do. The lawsuit was eventually settled in Cream/Hi`s favor. With the label`s legal problems behind her, Shaw licensed the Hi catalogue to CEMA Special Marketing, now EMI/Capitol Special Markets, for the United States and Canada. She already had intact a license with Demon Records, now Crimson Productions. That license, however, covered only the United Kingdom; so Shaw expanded it to include all of Europe.
Unlike many record company presidents, Shaw focused on establishing good rapport with the artists represented on her Hi masters. This effort involved revising old artist contracts to include provisions for past royalties and royalty payments for formats for today and the future. Besides believing it was the right thing to do, Shaw wanted the Hi Records` artists to be a continuing part of the label`s future.
Aggressive repackaging and promotional efforts to market the sounds of Hi`s legendary artists and producers, most noticeably Al Green, Ann Peebles, and Willie Mitchell, have been tremendously successful, netting the resources for engaging in the riskier business of developing and marketing new product. With the release of Taylor and Martinez, its first new album in twenty years, HI Records is once again an active record label and the only legendary Memphis label currently releasing new product.