On July 7th, NBTA President and CEO Starr Jackson interviewed CEO, A&R, and talent manager Mrs. Kharmony Fortune on our IG Live! They talked about creative success, finding your passion, and A&R and the music and entertainment industry. The entirety of the interview is less than an hour, but it has golden tips for any creator who wants to take their art seriously. Kharmony runs a company which has won multiple Grammys for its work fostering young talent — her advice is well worth the watch time! If you want to read up on the highlights, we have you covered!
Kharmony grew up in New York City, mostly in the Bronx. Growing up, she knew so many people who worked in jobs they hated, people who were miserable with how their lives had turned out, people who felt stuck. She saw that and she knew she wanted to find a job she would love and succeed in. But, though she knew that the arts would be involved, she didn’t know that her passion would end up being A&R (Artist & Repertoire, also called Talent Agent) work.
She spent most of her childhood in some way involved with music, choir, and vocal performance. She studied vocal performance in high school, worked for a repertory company called CityKids, and then created a girl group. This was when she first really engaged with the business side of creativity, as she faced contracts, event planning, and managing. She discovered that this was her passion — helping young people get themselves and their artwork out in the world.
In her mission to help young artists connect with their audiences, Kharmony created her first company, Unlimited Possibilities Music & Talent Agency, in 2013. This LA-based agency has won multiple Grammys and an Image Award for its work mentoring and promoting young creatives, especially musicians, filmmakers, athletes, actors, and artists. Kharmony has also made two additional companies, Unlimited Possibilities Studios to help young filmmakers and Queer Unlimited Possibilities to help LGBTQIA+ creatives. In this time, she has also worked as a producer and director. Her goal, in all of this, is to mentor young people the way she wishes she’d been mentored. As she said, “I always try to be the person that I wish I had.”
Kharmony greatly values the importance of having a plan for the future, but advises young people to make that plan in terms of the life they want, not the job or goalposts they want. Imagine your perfect life-- where do you live, who are your friends, what is your budget, and what sorts of people are you around every day? Focus is important, but we can often misinterpret what our dream job would actually look like if we focus on just the job itself and not how it would affect our lives.
Also, we often need time to learn what we actually enjoy doing in the workforce. Kharmony didn’t want work in A&R when she was young, because being a talent agent just wasn’t on her radar. Only after she had started doing that work did she realize it would be a great fit! Kharmony said, “I opened myself up to an opportunity, and that’s where I found true passion.”
How does she implement her life plan on a day-to-day basis? Well, her first step is to set aside time for meditation every day. “For some people, if they don’t set the tone for the day, the day sets the tone for them,” she explained. But, through meditation, she takes control of her outlook and so she can make sure she will live the events of the day as best she can. Then she goes about her day according to schedule, making sure she has enough time to mentally recharge so she can bring her best to the table. Kharmony also asks for help when she needs it — people are capable of so much more than they think when they work together. Beyond that, just keep your end goals in mind. Make sure to engage with people and activities that enrich you and help you grow!
Creative success is a growing process. You mess up, look at your mistakes, and try again. You push yourself and believe in yourself and look for ways to bring your passion to your audience. So Kharmony’s advice to young creatives is simple: “Continue to study, be open, and evolve.”