In Search of the Global Groove
by Matt Kalkhoff
 

Not unlike the U.S. Marine Corps, Centaur Entertainment is looking for a few good men. These recruits, however, do not have to survive a rigorous and torturous series of grueling physical and mental tests before becoming full-fledged Marines. Instead, they just have to look good, photograph well, and be able to fluidly express themselves while describing their personal experiences on the dance floor and beyond.

In mid-October, Centaur diligently set out to find a new spokesperson for its intensely popular Global Groove CD series. The coveted spot being vacated by the ever-popular Brandon, who will always be remembered as the original Global Groove Guy, offers a one-year modeling contract with Centaur, $1,500 in cash, a trip to New York for Pride 2001, and a host of other prizes. David Morgan, who exclusively photographed Brandon for Centaur, will also relinquish his enviable duties to a successor who will continue the grand tradition.

When the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) was preparing for its crackdown on the numerous illegally pirated dance music compilations several years ago, Nick DeBiase, an entertainment attorney at the time, took advantage of a unique opportunity. Making use of his vast knowledge, experience and connections in the music industry, DeBiase founded Centaur Entertainment, and proudly led the way for the gay community to begin legally producing fully-licensed dance music compilations. Mixed by DJs like Julian Marsh, Tony Moran, and David Knapp, Centaur’s early CDs commemorated such benefit dance events as Winter and White Parties in Miami, as well as Gay Pride celebrations around the country.

Last year, in an effort to fulfill increasingly high demand from record stores and consumers for its product, DeBiase decided to double Centaur’s production in 2000 with a monthly CD series that offered continuity and distinctly provocative themes. The hottest DJs on the circuit were recruited to mix the CDs including David Knapp, Warren Gluck, Roland Belmares and Rob Davis. Based on the incredible popularity of Global Groove, DeBiase will continue it as a perennial series, unveiling a new look and fresh feel each year. Legendary DJ Susan Morabito will blend the tunes for the next Global Groove installment in January, and Antoine Clamaran (Paris) and Alex Lauterstein (NYC) will be featured in subsequent months.

Furthering its deep commitment to charity, Centaur donated 100% of the proceeds from its most successful CD to date, "Dance With Angels," to the AmFAR and Care Resource AIDS charities. The CD, mixed by Julian Marsh, included selections from artists like Madonna, Janet Jackson, Gloria Estefan, Donna Summer, Aretha Franklin and others. Centaur’s next benefit project, "Utopia," which is slated for release in February 2001, will feature a mixture of ballads and up-tempo tracks from artists like Nancy Griffith, Moby, Boy George and Rufus Wainwright. It is expected to be Centaur’s largest cross-over album, reaching a much wider array of listeners while still satisfying its core audience of dance music enthusiasts. Human Rights Campaign Fund (HRC), Lambda Legal Defense & Education Fund, and Gay & Lesbian Centers around the country will share 100% of the proceeds from "Utopia." A breast cancer benefit CD is also forthcoming in October 2001.

An impressive devotion to charitable causes notwithstanding, DeBiase would like to see Centaur Entertainment continue to grow as a financially successful company. To accomplish this, DeBiase has divided Centaur into three separate divisions. In addition to the record label, Centaur also operates distribution and production companies. The distribution arm, heralded as one of the best in the country for an independent dance record label, has placed Centaur’s product in almost every major chain across the country, in gay and lesbian lifestyle stores, and in select international markets. In January 2001, Centaur will begin distributing other labels’ product as well. Inspired by his early experience on Broadway, DeBiase also formed Centaur Productions which is currently developing two Broadway musicals and one animated movie musical.

And if all that were not enough, DeBiase co-owns Emerge Records with acclaimed DJ/producer Tony Moran which focuses on discovering and developing up-and-coming artists, writers and producers. DeBiase and Moran will release and promote exploratory singles on Emerge to determine if a full album is warranted by a particular artist. All resulting albums will be released and distributed by Centaur.

In its relatively short life, Centaur Entertainment has become a formidable force in the music industry by revolutionizing and legitimizing the way compilation CDs are produced and distributed. At the same time, Centaur has filled a tremendous void in the dance music community and raised hundreds of thousands of dollars for charity in the process. By continuing to provide the gay and lesbian community with superb entertainment, and by branching out into other areas and markets as well, Centaur will no doubt continue to influence, inspire and entertain us for many years to come.

As a Titanium Sponsor of Care Resource’s White Party Week, Centaur’s presence in Miami later this week will be significant. Throughout the week, DeBiase and his staff will be continuing their exhaustive search for the new Global Groove Guy. For more information on the model search or Centaur Entertainment in general, please visit their website at www.centaurmusic.com or call (888) 9-CENTAUR.


© 2000 Matt Kalkhoff

This article was featured at http://www.dancemusic.about.com in December 2000.