pictured above: a Fondra Martin and her sons Ian Martin Head Assistant to Khloe Kardashian’s stylist. (left) and Shawn Barron Vice President of A&R Atlantic Records (right)
Buffalo born and raised Shawn Barron and Ian Martin, are currently residents of Los Angeles where they are successfully pursuing their individual careers – Shawn as Vice President of A&R at Atlantic Records; and Ian as Head Assistant to Khloe Kardashian’s stylist.
The two talented brothers recently returned to the Queen City to visit their mom, noted hair stylist and businesswoman LaFondra Martin, their role model and the one person they credit with inspiring them the most.
“I made sure they got a good education,” LaFondra said reflecting on her sons upbringing. “They saw their mother work very hard to get them where they needed to go in life…and I’m so proud of them.”
They also watched her give back in terms of being involved in the community with various organizations – both civic and political.
“My hope for them is that they give back the blessings that the Lord has bestowed upon them,” the life long member of Mt. Olive Baptist Church continued. “That they have enough power and drive to help others along the way.”
-From the Mail Room to VP-
Shawn, 35, her eldest son, has made tremendous strides in his career at Atlantic.
Now in his 10th year there, he describes his role as identifying artists and signing them to record labels, as well as helping them develop their music.
While at Cardinal O’Hara High, Shawn said his original goal was to play basketball. That changed when he attended college at Seaton Hall University in South Orange, NJ.
“While I was in college I wanted to be a sports agent,” Shawn said, adding that he had no interest in going into music. “Then a friend wanted to be a rapper and asked me to manage him…that’s basically how I got interested.”
While working on his Bachelors degree in Communications, his last semester was spent interning at Universal Records. After his internship, Koch Records hired him for a mailroom position. After scouting Drake, Shawn was given the okay to search for more artists. The rest is history-
He travels all over the country scouting new talent and was responsible for the signing of Ty Dolla $ign and several other notable names. He has also worked with the likes of Cardi B, Bruno Mars and has helped out on releases from Lupe Fiasco, Wiz Khalifa, B.O.B. and Trey Songz, among others.
Being around so many celebrities his upbringing has paid off; keeping him focused and level headed.
“Shawn Barron knows talent when he sees it. Since scouting Drake to Koch Records back in 2007, he’s pushed a number of artists that labels failed to pick up before the hype begin. From Wale to Curren$y and even Kevin Rudolph, Barron knew their potential early on in their careers.” says the Source.com
-Close to Home-
He also recognized the talent of his younger brother, Ian, and moved him out to LA recently where he is currently working as Head Assistant to the stylist for Chole Kardshian. Ian, 20, has also had the opportunity to work the celebrated Fashion Week in New York City.
“I have always liked styling,” said Ian. As a kid he remembers styling friends around the neighborhood. And since he was 15 years old he would go back and forth to LA to visit his brother. Ian’s goal is become a top stylist and go into brand management. If talent has anything to do with him reaching that goal, he’s right on track.
A graduate of Cheektowaga Central who studied briefly at the Academy of Art at the University of San Francisco, he credits his fashion sense to his mom, who acknowledges that she recognized his talent since he was about 8 years old. Others have as well.
“I’ve been dressing my whole life,” she said with a laugh. “I love style and fashion. That’s where my son picked it up from.”
Shawn says he’s always looking for ways to give back to his community and acknowledges there’s a lot of talent in Buffalo.
He’s done some scouting here and enjoys talking to young people about the music industry. Most want to know how they can get started.
The business he was once quoted as saying, is very cut throat and not designed for everyone.
“There is no real way to really get in…it’s based on your talent,” he said “I’d still like to do a music festival here and I’m trying to put it together,” he continued. He’s also working to develop his own record label which he calls “Too Easy.”
However no one knows better than Shawn that getting into the industry is not easy at all. Nor is the road to success in general. You have to have talent and you have to be prepared.
“To be successful you have to be consistent in what you do and work toward it every day…it will work out,” assured Shawn.