Soraya Joy Burrell speaks about the music industry and more in this exclusive GotInterviews interview. Talk about interesting and important, that’s Soraya. I was so happy to interview Soraya and find out how she got her first job in the music industry, to learn about her supporting family, some memorable moments in the biz and her journey back to school. She also offers great advice for people wanting to enter the music industry. Check out this interview and share it with your friends and please leave a comment and tell Soraya your thoughts.
Soraya, your work history is very interesting. I’m sure you have lots of stories you could tell. But first, could you let our readers know what your career goals were while you were in high school?
I had a few career goals but the one I had to pursue was to become a professional dancer and choreographer. This goal did come to fruition but as I got older it changed to developing artists.
Were your parents big supporters of your career goals? If so, how did they show their support in a tangible way?
My parents were BIG supporters of all their children. I came from a musical family; both parents were singers, all my sisters sing and my two eldest sisters, Terry and Debye Burrell were professional entertainers and appeared in Broadway shows, televisions shows and commercials. My parents came to all performances and kept us spiritually grounded. I did have other goals aside from the music industry.
Were your friends and family surprised when you went into the music industry?
My family and friends were definitely not surprised that I went into the music industry. To be honest with you, to date, most of my friends from my childhood (when I would run into them) would always say, “I use to flip through the channels knowing that they would see me on some television show or awards show.”
You’ve worked in the music industry since soon after your high school graduation. How did you obtain your job at CBS Records?
After high school, I first worked full-time as a receptionist for an investment bankers firm and part-time weekends at Bloomingdale’s on Lexington Ave in New York City for about 2 years until I landed the job at CBS Records. I obtained my job at CBS Records by simply applying for the Receptionist position. And I am proud to say that I was the first receptionist the A&R Department at CBS Records, now Sony Music Entertainment.
Once you had your first taste of the music industry at CBS, did you set new goals to go further in the business side of the music industry?
I acquired the taste for the music industry before CBS Records. However, I did set further goals that I would have liked to pursue.
I’ve always been enthralled with work done in A&R departments, but what attracted you to that area? It seems like quite a few of your music industry positions were in A&R departments.
I was attracted to A&R (which stands for Artist and Repertoire, most people don’t know that by the way) because what better area of the Music Industry to pursue, than the department where it ALL BEGINS…
Can you tell us about some memorable experiences you had while working in the music industry? I’d really love to hear about your time at Tomato Records, but share anything you’d like.
I do have many memorable experiences while working in this industry but I would have to say that my most memorable experience would be listening to Maxwell’s first LP, “Urban Hang
Suite” track by track and vibin’ on marketing ideas with him. My time spent at Tomato Records was very interesting and I would have loved the challenge to follow through with Tomato Urban because I had so many great ideas and they owned the masters to some of the greatest Blues artists but the company folded after a few months.
Have you seen any other ill effects on the business side of the music industry due to this bad economy?
I would have to definitely say this bad economy has its effect on the business side of the music industry but the Music industry is also evolving and changing every day.
I see you’re going to the University of Phoenix now. What degree are you pursuing?
I’m pursuing an Associate’s degree in Arts and Health Care Administration which you can never go wrong in the Health Care field. Health Care is extremely important and we could all use a lesson in taking better care of yourselves as a hold but my roots will always be entertainment.
Has this been something you’ve been wanting to do for a while? It’s quite a change from the music industry.
I cannot say the Health field was something that I wanted to do for a while but after caring for my mother until she passed away in 2006, it meant something to obtain more knowledge. I took great care of my mom and it’s important to be there for your parents when they get old.
Can you give any advice to people wanting to go back to school after quite a few years away? Also, how has your University of Phoenix experience been so far?
I encourage everyone to go back to school at any age, if not to pursue a career goal simply for the knowledge. My experience with Phoenix has been a little challenging due to other responsibilities in my life.
What advice would you give those in high school or college who would like to follow in your footsteps and get a job on the business side of the music industry?
The most important advice I can give someone looking to pursue a career in the music industry is read, read and read some more to understand this business. There is this book called, “The Business of Music” a must read but there are so many resources now that wasn’t available back then.
Thanks Soraya for this interview. Hope we can keep in touch. I’d love to stay updated on your journey.