The Record Producer
Gordon Perry is a professional in one of the most competitive businesses in the world: the music industry. But at Goodnight Audio recording studio, housed in a renovated North Dallas Baptist church west of Stemmons Freeway, he’s looking for more competition.
Perry, who has arranged and produced music for pop star Stevie Nicks, is currently promoting the talents of singer/actress Lisa Hartman and two rock bands, Automatic (from Houston) and Big Deal (from Austin). At 37, Perry is determined to “dig in” and wait until the big-name record labels in Los Angeles and New York recognize the talent in Dallas. (Perry’s wife Linda, toured with Stevie Nicks on her 1981 tour).
“They should have been here a long time ago.” says Perry of record label executives. “There’s always been so much talent springing out of here. That’s the reason I’ve dug in. There’s more talent around here and around the state than in a lot of other places.”
Perry says he’s tired of seeing some of the best talent leave for the East or West coasts for better opportunities. In addition to the exodus of recording artists, says Perry, “the people who do what I do have had to leave during the past six or seven years because they couldn’t stimulate enough business.” But things are looking up, and Perry says he’s encouraged by his growing list of clients. Now, he says, he has a tough time deciding who he has time to work with.
“I choose the ones who strike my particular taste,” he says. “The important thing is that the producer has to be excited about what he’s involved in rather than just thinking that a particular type of music is commercially viable. My interests are what I call ’contemporary pop.’ Some people would call it ’techno-pop,’ but it has a rhythm-and-blues influence. That’s because I was born and raised in Texas, and everybody in Texas has a little R&B in them.”
Although Perry’s true passion is spending time in the recording studio, he hasn’t limited his business interests. He’s also a partner in the on-again/ off-again Starck Club, an adviser on the board of Mistral and part-owner of an Alabama hotel. Perry’s West Coast connection is a partnership in Goodnight’s sister studio, Goodnight L.A., with independent record producer Keith Olsen. (Olsen has produced works by Rick Springfield, Pat Benatar, Foreigner and Fleetwood Mac.)
But despite the attraction of Los Angeles, Perry is determined to stay in Dallas. “I’m just going to follow my path, which is to find and develop local and regional talent and get the major record labels to recognize that talent. And, of course, to make them let us make the record right here.”
Alice Reynolds-Tatum is a refreshing face on the Dallas scene. For someone so young (at 26), she has already developed an uncanny ability to see the big picture.
As a descendant of one of the state’s oldest ranch families, her interests are finely tuned to the issues of the environment, banking and politics. And when she talks about those interests, she talks about their impact on Texas and the nation, not just on Dallas.
Reynolds-Tatum, an Austin native, arrived in Dallas 18 months ago. She’s married to real estate investor and DART Board member, John Tatum. She says she hasn’t yet been accepted in “Dallas society” because she wasn’t born here. “I think people in Dallas are more responsive to people who are rooted to Dallas in some way. But the state itself has a lot to offer to the nation. I think we need to quit comparing Texas cities to other Texas cities and start comparing our cities to other cities in the world.”
Reynolds-Tatum thrives on diversity. She’s currently director of the Texas office of Earth-watch, a volunteer research-expedition organization and foundation. She’s studied black bears in the Blue Ridge Mountains and peregrine falcons on the islands off the coast of Maine. And, in June, she and John are planning to study architecture along river canals in China. She likens her involvement in Earthwatch to the role of an ambassador, and says that through “meeting people from all parts of the world, you sense that Dallas is only one piece in a very large puzzle.”
Reynolds-Tatum, who worked as a commercial and industrial loan officer for Citicorp U.S.A. Inc. in Houston for two years, is on the board of directors of Charter Bank-Houston and is a member of both the Cornell University Advisory Council and the Texas Family Farm and Ranch Advisory Committee. She’s also worked on the campaign to elect Ann Richards for state treasurer and the campaign to elect Jim Hightower as state agricultural commissioner.
Reynolds-Tatum believes that Richards is a role model for all young women who are striving to succeed in their respective professions. And she’s particularly interested in Hightower, she says, because of his concern for water-resource issues.
Tatum says her goals are to become more involved with the financial economy of the state. She’d also like to own a bank or savings and loan association instead of sitting on the board of someone else’s. And last but not least, she’d like to be involved in real estate development-but only developments that are sensitive to landscape design.
If she accomplishes those plans, don’t expect her to stop there. “I don’t look at the things behind me,” she says. “I just keep looking ahead.”
There aren’t too many times in your life when you meet people who are so strong-willed and determined to succeed that they scoff at obstacles most people could never overcome.
Theresa Lang, 30, is like that. Four years ago, she decided she wanted to go into business for herself and started Serv-All, a cleaning business for all situations. For nearly a year, the former registered nurse worked out of the trunk of her car. Her first big job was cleaning up after the construction crews of the Faulkner condominiums. Next she landed the clean-up job at the newly completed Aerobics Center in North Dallas. She worked for three days around the clock to finish the job before the center’s grand opening. On the fourth day, she fell asleep in her car and crashed. She nearly died from the injuries. Despite having several stitches in her head, she attended the opening of the center, and Dr. Kenneth H. Cooper thanked her in front of the audience for her work. “I cried,” she recalls. Then Lang, who is also an epileptic, had a nervous breakdown.
All the grief is behind her now. The money is rolling in on every kind of job, from sandblasting pools and waxing floors at multimillion-dollar mansions to cleaning windows and vacuuming some of the finest office buildings. And if she doesn’t know how to do a particular cleaning job, she researches it. Lang is most proud of the time she cleaned actor Larry Hagman’s temporary Dallas home and the time she cooked and chauffered for singer Connie Francis.
Lang says that her company is different from other cleaning companies because she goes on every job and works along with the assistants she hires. “I go with them because I like doing the work,” she says with a drawl.
Her cleaning uniform includes a sweatshirt that reads: “Let’s talk dirt,” and the spotless white van she drives has a license plate that spells, “I KLEAN.” A couple of newspapers around the country have picked up on her story, and that publicity has caused Lang’s phone to ring for more than just cleaning jobs. Some people want her to give business seminars, and a New York publisher wants her to write a book.
“I’d love to do something like that. I think it would be fascinating. There are so many people who want to go into business for themselves and they think it takes money. That’s not true. It takes hard work and if you want to do it, you can,” she says, holding out hands that are dry and scarred.
These days, Lang will still work around the clock for a client if it’s an emergency. This summer, for instance, she helped the Olympic torch relay committee. It seemed that the runners were coming through town, and the emergency vehicle that traveled with the runners needed cleaning. “I worked until 3 a.m. and I was proud to do it.”