My Rhythm and My Blues: Mark Cheatham of Creative Artists Agency

Mark Cheatham is an agent at Creative Artists Agency, and although you may not know his name, he's responsible for some of your favorite artists getting signed. From a 15-year-old Usher to P!nk and Cardi B, the man has major cred in the pop world - and culture at large. In this newest episode of My Rhythm and my Blues, we learn about Mark's journey as an agent, what he knows about paying it forward and what he hopes his legacy will be. Take a look:
My Rhythm and My Blues: Mark Cheatham


Hi I'm Mark Cheatham, I'm an agent at Creative Artists Agency, I've been a talent agent for the last 30 years. And a lot of times we're at these agencies they try to label you the "Urban" person, and that really is not what I am. I'm music agent, I like music, I love music, and I represent talent. I've signed over my career, some of the biggest pop stars of today. Everyone from Lady Gaga, to P!nk, 98 Degrees, Jessica Simpson and Justin Bieber. And when you think of Cardi B or you think a Lil Baby, I mean, they're in the culture, they're in not only the Urban culture, they're in culture period. I find that kind of a great part of my career to be able to stretch out and represent all types of talent, not just what they wanna call "Urban Talent."

Growing up in Queens:

Growing up as a Black man, Black music had a major impact on my life and I could hear songs today and know exactly what was going on in my life at the time. I grew up in Queens, New York and it was a very diverse community. I grew up around all different types of folks, Black, White, Asian, Spanish, Puerto Rican. I used to hang around with a lot of the older cats from hearing them playing, Ohio Players or Kool & The Gang or Earth, Wind & Fire songs. I used to sing "Reasons" like, there's never gonna be a bigger song than "Reasons" that song is just amazing. And then when hip hop came around that kinda helped shape the way I felt about music in what really peaked my interest on getting into the music business.

Signing his first acts:

I started at a company called Associated Booking Corporation owned by a gentleman named Oscar Cohen. I got my start in the mail room there making $200 a week. My first act that I ever signed was Brandy from there I got SWV, and from there after SWV I think Usher was the one I had landed.
When he was 15 years old, I wound up representing Usher. I flew down to Atlanta and met with Ms. Pat, Usher's mother, took him out to eat. He wanted to order a lobster because he had never had a lobster before, he ordered the biggest lobster you ever saw in your life. It was probably four or five pounds and I always teased him, that he's always had big dreams and big ideas. He always thought big. Usher was a major, major, major part of my success, and I'm still friends with him til this day.

Empowering each other:

I was in the Navy. When I was in the Navy I met a guy named Charlie Murphy. Charlie Murphy was a dear close friend of mine and I miss him dearly. We were in bootcamp together and Charlie Murphy says to me, one day my brother's gonna be really famous. Fast forward, Eddie was a client of the agency and Charlie invited me to come to LA to see to the premiere of Nutty Professor. We're on the lot of Universal, after the movie premiere, there's a big party and I'm standing next to Eddie. And at that time there was a gentleman named Jim Wiatt who was the president of ICM where I was working as a junior agent, Eddie comes over, over to standing with us and Eddie puts his hand on Jim Wiatt's shoulder and says, "Mark Cheatham is my man, you guys taking care of him?" The next day my salary doubled, I was able to go into rooms with some of the biggest celebrities in the business. We have the power to empower each other. I think in this climate we're in, the social change going on, it's very important for Black talent who have the power to pass it forward or pass it down, to embrace and empower young Black executives whether it's an agent, a lawyer or management.

His legacy:

And what I want my legacy to be, is somebody that has been honest, humble and been able to impact people and help people grow. So my daughter is part of my legacy, my son is part of my legacy and the people I touch. I feel that by bringing people together, building teams and allowing the younger people to grow as well makes me stronger as an agent.
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Last updated: 18 Apr 2021, 13:30 Etc/UTC