Published on February 15th, 2021 | by MuzikScribe


Lydia Harris: “And Still I Rise…”

First things first, congratulations on the pardon and subsequent release of your ex-husband and former business partner Michael “Harry O” Harris! That said, have the two of you spoken since he paroled?

Yes. Michael and I hold no ill will towards each other, and we have a child together so, of course, we communicated.

For those who don’t already know, you were a recording artist prior to becoming an executive, correct?

Yes. Initially, I was at the label as an artist, and I started seeing all of the talent there and saw what it could be with the right backing.

So, tell me your whole inception into music — When did you first become interested? And, how did it all begin for the Lady Boss?

Music has always been a part of my soul. I’ve always loved singing, and knew I wanted to be in the entertainment industry. I feel music is one of the purest forms of expression there is. I love being around the creation of music, and being a part of putting something together that is special and touches people.

Now you’re a native of where exactly? And growing up there, who all did / do you consider to be your strongest influences?

I’m a Texas Girl! Growing up there, my mother, father and grandfather were my backbone. My love runs deep for my parents. The guidance and the upbringing was strict and firm. They did a beautiful job raising my brother and I.

How then would you classify the style of music that you created and performed?

I would call my style a mixture of soul, with a southern heart, wrapped up in some pain, a whole lot of strength, and experience.

So how exactly did the whole transition from artist to exec come about? What prompted this career making decision?

The transition from artist to exec came when I saw an opportunity to be a larger part of something I knew could be groundbreaking. The talent and hunger at the label at that time was like nothing I’ve ever seen before. Everybody was fired up, and ready to create music. We were a family, and we were ready to make our mark. I had a personal goal as a woman. I wanted to set a new standard for females in a truly male dominated industry. I knew as an executive over an organization with the potential Death Row Records had, I could be in a position not only to be a leader in the music industry, but beyond just music. I became a visionary that saw past being an artist, and started envisioning myself as a global trendsetter for women in any male dominated industry. I wanted to know the business side of the music industry. As a woman, I needed to understand the fine print on contracts and understand some entertainment law. I decided to be on the making decisions and having a seat at the head of the table end of things, negotiating, financing, and making sound decisions because that’s what I’m good at. I was not only going to help create a Hip-Hop label, but I saw the heart of gangster rap, and I knew what it could do globally. I saw the movement starting to happen with females in Hip-Hop. People like Queen Latifah, MC Lyte, Missy Elliott, YoYo and Lady of Rage, they were setting trends and making boss moves. These women were bossing up in front of the mic, I was bossing up in the boardroom. I was ready for women to come together and make our footprint in the industry…unfortunately, my vision was derailed temporarily, but now I’m back.

You and your then husband Harry O went on to become cofounders, along with Suge Knight, of the infamous Death Row Records — How did this meeting of the minds come to fruition?

As I said earlier, the decision to create a record label was two-fold. First we created the parent company Godfather Entertainment, which had two independent labels up under it. One was an R&B label called Lifestyle Records, which I released my music under. The other label, of course, was Death Row Records.

Did you have a day-to-day role or any hands on input or experience when it came to the label?

I was the Operations Manager, and my day-to-day duties were to make sure things ran smoothly. I oversaw the various departments, and met with the department heads to make sure we were functioning as a major player in the industry, not a mom and pop operation.

You later went on to release your own autobiography, “Married to the Game,” which many people believe that Lee Daniels basically created the character of Cookie Lyons based upon your whole persona — What are your thoughts and feelings on this subject?

I would say that there are some similiarities. Lee Daniels is one of my favorite producers. I wish he would have asked me to play the role of Cookie; I’m just joking! Taraji P. Henson brought Cookie to life, and made her one of the most memorable characters in television history. People say they definitely see the similarities in the characters, so, yes, Mr. Daniels might have had Michael and I in mind, “I can not say.” It is a thoughtful gesture, “My name is Lady Boss.” I would love to be in the continuation of Cookie. Taraji played the heck out of that part, and she was wonderful.

Matter of fact, the entire premise of Empire could’ve been ripped right outta the pages of Tha Row’s storied history…

I can not comment on that statement for legal reasons. Empire, first I may say was a work of art. Again, respect for Lee Daniels. Death Row, like any other record company, had a history, and, yes, every company goes through changes, but few have the kind of drama associated with Death Row Records. We were a reality show before there was reality TV. I think Lee did a great job. I just wish I could have had a starring role. I have heard many opinions about the setup of the series. I was a faithful watcher like everyone else. Lee Daniels has a great mind.

Eventually you settled out of court with Suge, am I accurate in saying this?

I won my lawsuit (of) 107 million dollars, but have yet to receive my settlement.

More recently, I believe back in November, you partnered with Judge Greg Mathis and Mathis Productions to create content for television — What all can you tell me about this semi-new business venture…

All I can say is stay tuned! We are going to drop some bombs on you, and you will see everything from an entirely different angle. If you know Judge Mathis, you know what I mean. We are creating something special.

I’ve been told you’re currently working on a biographical series based on your own personal life, a documentary on Death Row Records, and show called Uncuffed Underground

I have a new creative team, and we are developing several new projects. It includes a film offering, television series, reality show, a book that is a trilogy – it is going to have people going nuts it’s so good! – and I’m managing recording artists, so there is new music coming from Lydia Harris Entertainment. I grabbed one of my ride or dies from the Death Row Record days, record promoter Kevin Black, and we are working on new projects.

Longevity what do you attribute yours to?

God first, and believing in his word and promise. Praying works, and I am a living testimony. Ambition. Determination. Goal Driven. Tenacity. Never giving up. Continuing to prosper, no matter who may try to knock you down along the way.  Staying vigilant, being a power player, but staying humble and allowing God to lead me. He’s never failed me, and he never will. I realized a long time ago, people can’t decide my success or failure. If I put it all in God’s hands, he will give me my just due. There’s nothing too large for God, and anything he has for me I will get it. Can’t NO ONE take away what God has for ME!

Do you have any other outside / additional aspirations, maybe even completely away from entertainment?

I’ve been told my cooking skills are superb! Actually, I’m a trained chef with a catering company, and a food truck. I used to own a restaurant as well, so I guess my next move is Lydia’s Southern Kitchen Cook Book. I’m working on opening another restaurant as well.

What has been your greatest career achievement(s), at least thus far anyway?

My literacy project is my passion, to help others unlock painful doors. I want everyone to experience the freedom of literacy. I’m also involved with projects that address the problem of mass incarceration, and parenting while incarcerated.

What is an average day like for you?

I consult with clients who are starting new businesses. I help them work on their business plans, structure, financing and help them develop their bottom line. I also stay busy cooking, and making new recipes for my cookbook.

What advice would you have for someone wanting to follow in your footsteps? 

Read as many books as you can, learn about the industry, and invest in yourself . Keep a level head, and learn to trust your instincts; that inner voice inside of you. You don’t have to make the same mistakes you see others make, learn from their mistakes and create a better path for yourself. Most importantly, pray; build your spiritual life. Have faith in God, and allow him to lead you. Let your inner voice guide you.

And, lastly what is next for you Ma’am?

The universe will always be my goal, and if I fall short I will take the STARS!

Is there anything left out or just plain forgotten to mention?

No matter what people may say or feel about Death Row Records, we changed the game! We made an impact on Hip Hop music that can never be erased. We gave the world Dr. Dre, Snoop Dogg, and some of Tupac’s greatest music. In fact, we gave the world The Chronic, one of the greatest albums in history. I know that Michael Harris and I were a part of creating history.

Any closing thoughts for our readers?

I’m here to set the record straight about a lot of misconceptions. My goal is not to steal the limelight from anyone else, but to take back what I worked hard to help create. Women of color are often underestimated, and we rarely get recognized for our contributions, but this is a new era and a new time. So I say to those who counted me out, NEVER count out the underdog, because as the great Maya Angelou said, “And Still I Rise.”

Connect w/Lydia Harris Online: 


IG: @thelydiaharris

FB: @@lydia harris

Twitter: @iambosslady213

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