Reservoir buys 1,000 classic soul songs in latest acquisition move

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New York-based independent Reservoir has acquired the rights to over 1,000 historic soul songs – many of them sampled by multi-platinum modern hip-hop stars.

The deal includes the catalogues of Willie Mitchell, Leon Ware, Norman Harris, and The Commodores’ Walter Orange and Thomas McClary.

It’s latest acquisition in a busy summer for fast-expanding Reservoir.

In May, it acquired a stake in both London-based Big Life’s publishing and management companies.

And in June, Reservoir purchased the publishing catalogue of Century Media in Germany – adding 9,000 songs to its roster, and taking its total repertoire above 100,000 copyrights.

Speaking about today’s deal, Reservoir SVP of A&R and Catalog Development Faith Newman said: “The opportunity to build upon the legacies of genre defining music is rare and thrilling.

“When I connected with Willie Mitchell’s son, Boo, and Norman Harris’ son, Dorian, as well as with representatives for Leon, Thomas, and Walter, I let them know that it is important to Reservoir to ensure that historic catalogs continue to inspire new generations.

“As a Philadelphia native, soul music runs through my veins and I am very passionate about seeking out the gems in this often-underappreciated genre of music.”

“As a Philadelphia native, soul music runs through my veins and I am very passionate about seeking out the gems in this often-underappreciated genre of music.”

Faith Newman, Reservoir

In addition to producing hits such as Green’s “Let’s Stay Together” and “I’m Still In Love With You,” Willie Mitchell wrote and produced for Memphis mainstays Solomon Burke, Ann Peebles, and Syl Johnson, among others.

Seeking the famous Memphis sound, artists including Keith Richards, Rod Stewart, and Tom Jones traveled from all over the world to collaborate and record with Mitchell at his famous Royal Studios.

A renowned soul and R&B writer-producer, Leon Ware’s long list of credits as a songwriter and producer include Marvin Gaye’s acclaimed album, I Want You, Michael Jackson’s “I Wanna Be Where You Are,” The Isley Brothers’ “Got To Have You Back,” Minnie Ripperton’s “Inside My Love,” Quincy Jones’ “If I Ever Leave This Heaven,” and Maxwell’s “Sumthin’ Sumthin’.”

Ware’s songs have also been widely sampled in hip-hop, with artists like Jay-Z, Ice Cube, Tupac, and A Tribe Called Quest, among those that have utilized his works.

Meanwhile, Philly soul pioneer Norman Harris’s works have been sampled by the likes of 50 Cent, The Game, Whitney Houston, Jeezy, R. Kelly, Nas, Lauryn Hill, and Mary J. Blige.

“Our licensing teams in Los Angeles, New York, and London will pursue new opportunities for syncs, samples, and lyric reproductions, so that these works will continue to live on for years to come.”

Faith Newman, Reservoir

Thomas McClary co-founded The Commodores after meeting Lionel Richie at college in 1968, and a year later, Walter Orange joined as the band’s drummer.

The Commodores became one of the biggest music groups in the world earning nine Grammy Award nominations, and picking up the award for best R&B Vocal Performance for their single “Nightshift” in 1986.

As part of The Commodores, McClary and Orange co-wrote songs that contributed to six No.11 albums on Billboard’s R&B charts, plus the release of songs including “Brick House,” which also featured lead vocals by Orange.

Newman added: “Our licensing teams in Los Angeles, New York, and London will pursue new opportunities for syncs, samples, and lyric reproductions, so that these works will continue to live on for years to come.

“Reservoir has already licensed The Commodores’ ‘Nightshift’ in a major ad campaign for African telecommunications company MTN and watching new audiences discover this music is amazing.”Music Business Worldwide

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  • Tony Riley

    It’s Richie, you idiots.