— Lee Anne Callahan-Longo, General Manager, Parkwood Entertainment
“I grew up in Dedham, Massachusetts, a suburb of Boston, with an Italian mother, and Irish father—raised very ethnically Italian. Food was everything. I wasn’t necessarily the musical kid, but there was always music in the house. I’m a big fan of singer-song writers like Carol King, James Taylor, Carly Simon. They were all gods and goddesses in Massachusetts. And then bands like Jethro Tull and Led Zeppelin and the Beatles. Funny thing is, I loved Def Leppard, but I’ve always been the biggest fan of Barbara Streisand. Having older siblings gave me a broad musical taste. I was always fascinated by the radio. I remember being really young, and I had a transistor radio that you’d bring to the beach and when they did promotions and the DJs would talk, I always thought how somewhere there were people doing this. Afterwards, when I went to college, I started at internship at WBCN, a big rock station.
"There’s nothing traditional about this company. We certainly don’t work set hours. We don’t subscribe to a lot of planning. And I think sometimes that’s what makes it special. I make a joke around here that we’re not for everyone, just the sexy people. Because if you aren’t here for the passion and the ride, then you’d be miserable. I’ve known Beyoncé for 10-plus years. I met her when I worked at Columbia Records. I’d see her was when I was working on things like the VMAs. She’s such a visual artist. Always has been. Long before she decided this was the way she wanted to present her record. To know her for that long, and to watch her grow—I mean that in ever facet of the word, as a person and as an artist—has been amazing. She doesn’t just talk the talk, she walks the walk. She is a glowing example of being proud of yourself, being confident, working hard, setting your sights on something and going for it. Sometimes it may not work out, but there is probably a reason that happened too. What do you do with that? Whatever corrects itself was meant to be, and is also probably more impactful in your life. She’s very aware that people look at her and make judgments, but she chose to stretch her artistic reach in this album.
"It’s breaking the barrier between expectation and expression, and just being free as an artist. She made a record and sincerely said, 'I can’t be concerned with how it will or won’t do. What I want to do is make my best art.' We’re in an industry where you’re supposed to experiment and supposed to have fun and not be afraid. I think that was the best part of this album. It was super brave. We all just believed. I think that’s what makes it as great as it had been.”
Photograph by Ricardo Nelson