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Tina Davis (US)

Speaker (EMPIRE)

An accomplished record label executive, artist manager and entrepreneur, Tina Davis’ almost 30 years of experience have earned her an impressive and lasting legacy in the music industry. With over a decade of service at Def Jam under her belt, Davis carved out her own lane with her innate gift of finding, developing and breaking top level hip-hop and R&B talent. Currently, she is the President of Phase Too, Inc., a full-service management company known for discovering, developing and launching the career of Grammy Award-winning singer, songwriter and producer, Chris Brown. In 2023, Davis continues to excel in artist discovery, utilizing her seasoned skill set as the SVP of A&R and recently ascending to the position of President at EMPIRE.

Love of music came naturally for the Northern California native. Growing up, Davis watched her father gig in their garage with his own band. Bitten by the music bug, she went on to study classical piano for eight years and staged mini-concerts during elementary school recess, influenced by such acts as Natalie Cole and LTD. At just 13 years old, Davis developed an infatuation with the 1985 film, Krush Groove, which was based on the origin story of Def Jam Recordings and co-founder Russell Simmons. The movie solidified Davis’ love affair with rap music and she set her young heart on one day working for the label – a prophecy that would soon come true.

In 1994 – after a stint at Grambling State University – Davis landed her first role in the industry as an executive assistant at Chrysalis Music Publishing. It was there that she started the Black music division alongside her then boss. During this time, Davis worked with an impressive client roster including OutKast and Macy Gray, and co-created the popular R&B Live event at BB King’s club, showcasing such fledgling L.A.-bred acts as Brandy and Montell Jordan. After just one year at Chrysalis, Davis’ lifelong dream became a reality when she was recruited to become an A&R administrator at Def Jams’ West Coast office.

It wasn’t long before Davis proved her talents. While reviewing and logging various tapes, she discovered one that gave Def Jam one of its first No. 1 R&B hits, “This is How We Do It.” Within a year, she was promoted to head of Def Jam West and charged with fortifying the label’s Westside rap connections. Before long, she was promoted yet again and moved to New York as the label’s VP – and later SVP – of A&R. Over the next 10 years, Davis oversaw the careers of such newcomers and veterans as Jordan, DMX, Method Man, Red Man and LL Cool J. She handled A&R for various hit soundtracks, including “Rush Hour,” “Rush Hour II,” “The Nutty Professor I,” “The Nutty Professor II,” “Belly” and “How to Be a Player.” She also contributed to the label’s successful R&B imprint, Def Soul, signing eventual multiple Grammy-winning singer/songwriter, Ne-Yo.

Davis left Def Jam after 11 years of stellar service and an impeccable track record. Before parting ways with the label, she discovered a young artist who would soon become one of the world’s biggest musical acts: Chris Brown. Though he was just 13 years old at the time, Davis’ astute eye and unmatched instincts told her that Brown would be a superstar in his own right, akin to musical giant, Michael Jackson. As a woman executive in a male-dominated industry, Davis faced skepticism from peers who didn’t see her vision. Not to be deterred, she doubled down and followed her gut. That innate sense propelled Davis into the management arena, and after leaving Def Jam in 2004, she signed young Brown at Jive Records and established her management company, Phase Too, with Brown as her first client. Since her launch, Davis has gone on to work with a plethora of groundbreaking artists, including singer/songwriter, Sevyn Streeter.

Named for her bold new voyage into management and entrepreneurship, Phase Too Inc. represented a new chapter in Davis’ life. Armed with more than a decade’s worth of experience, she leveraged her expertise as well as a slew of crucial relationships to continue her work as an independent business owner. Today, Davis attributes much of her growth to the advice and advocacy of mentors including Lyor Cohen, Chris Lighty, Russell Simmons and Ernie Singleton. Now paying it forward, Davis serves as a dedicated mentor to young women aspiring or just starting out in the music industry. She counts giving back through mentorship and teaching as among her proudest accomplishments to date.

In 2018, Davis brought her talents to EMPIRE, inspired by a conversation with founder, Ghazi Shami. Davis found herself re-inspired by the company’s fresh approach to tech and the music world, as well as its passionate advocacy for artists in everything from obtaining masters rights to advice. In EMPIRE, Davis has found a new home in the industry where she can continue to lead with talent, skill, creativity and compassion.

When she is not working, Davis spends her time bonding with family. She is also a proud philanthropist and longtime contributor to Best Buddies, a non-profit organization dedicated to supporting individuals with Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities (IDDs). Inspired by a sister with Down Syndrome, Davis keeps the cause close to her heart and has contributed her time and energy over the last 15 years to uplifting the IDD community.

As for what’s next, Davis plans to expand her creative endeavors to the world of philanthropy, television, writing, speaking engagements and teaching.

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