DeVyne Stephens began his career in the early 1990s with Devyne featuring 90 Miles an Hour. “I was one of the first artists L.A. [Reid] and Babyface signed to LaFace Records,” he says. But the group broke up before it could release an album. Undaunted, Stephens found his niche as a choreographer and imaging expert for LaFace Records. He worked with everyone from Pebbles, Toni Braxton and Pink to TLC, Usher and Boyz II Men. He says that people in Atlanta have their own individual style. “Being I’m a native from Atlanta, I cultivate that style and put it on different artists,” he says.
Stephens discovered Senegalese R&B singer Akon, who just moved to Atlanta from New Jersey. He signed Akon to his own UpFront Records and secured a distribution deal with SRC/Universal. “I always believed that Akon was special,” he says. Akon went on to sell over a million copies of his 2004 debut, Trouble, and score hit singles like “Locked Up” and “Lonely.”
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