The music world is still mourning the unexpected passing of music executive and multi-hyphenate Andre Harrell. The Uptown Records founder and former president/CEO of Motown Records died on Thursday, May 7 at the age of 59.
In the outpouring of the tributes to this extraordinary man, many thanked him for discovering acts such as Jodeci, Heavy D, Puff Daddy/Diddy and Mary J. Blige. The latter two superstars commemorated Harrell for taking them under his wing to jumpstart their careers on social media.
“I honestly still can’t believe it,” wrote Diddy in an Instagram post accompanying a video of him thanking Harrell for “being a big brother.” (“Dre, I’m only standing up here because you gave me the chance,” he says in the video.)
“I’ve got to give myself the reality of this in doses, because I can’t even handle this,” his caption continues. “I hope to God that you are all blessed to have someone in your life that loves you and believes in you like this man believed in me.… I’m going to miss him so much. I can’t even imagine life without Dre. God bless @gianni (Harrell’s son), @onealmcknight (Harrell’s cousin) and the rest of the family. LOVE YOU FOREVER.”
Mary J. Blige also expressed her feelings over Harrell’s passing with a throwback interview of her and her mentor. In the clip, Harrell says that he watched Blige grow from “a young woman into a real lady…[from] the way she handles herself and the way she sings.”
“Thank you for helping me and loving me until the last days of your life,” she wrote. “Rest easy my musical father. I will continue to do my very best to make you proud and continue to find joy and inspiration in your life and legacy.”
Throughout their careers, Diddy and Mary J. Blige accumulated massive success. Blige released 12 studio albums, eight of which are certified platinum. She also garnered 9 Grammy Awards and two Academy Award nominations for both acting and performing an original song (“Mighty River” from Mudbound, and a Best Supporting Actress nomination for the same film). Diddy released four solo albums (two are platinum) and two collaborative albums. He also has three Grammy Awards and a host of successful business ventures, such as his clothing line Sean John and a deal with Ciroc vodka, which began in 2007.