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International Diva Vicki Shepard!

   

The Me in "You and Me" Finally Speaks Out!

NAJM Dance Culture
Vicki Shepard is no newcomer to the dance music business. Unfortunately along with her incredible chart topping successes have come some terrible injustices. Vicki sat down with NAJM to publicly talk for the first time about her experience regarding the sampling of her voice. The sample was turned into an international number one hit and Vicki never received any vocal credit or financial restitution of any kind.
 

NAJM:  Tell us a little about your experience with the group Cappella and the song "You and Me"?

 

 

VS:  This is a business that has no rules. I think that is what makes it so open to good, but also open to a lot of very bad things. The part I can’t get through is getting ripped off. Record labels are rarely straightforward. Maybe there are some exceptions. That leads me to the situation with the Cappella song, “You and Me.”
NAJM:  In your words tell us what happened?
VS:  Basically what happened is that I paid for a production/song to be written and produced for me. That song was done in 1992, and I recorded it in New York and it was called “Love Has Changed My Mind.” I took the song to England my last tour with “Loading Bay” and I offered it to him. I asked him if he wanted to do anything with this song and he said no. I then approached the label “3 Beat Music” and they licensed the track from me for a three-year period. We were going to put it out as my first release with them. About one year later a guy who lives in London, called me up and said, “I heard your new single, it’s fabulous!” I said, “What new single?” He goes, “it’s on the radio”.
NAJM:  And the song was “You & Me?” by Cappella?
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A Business With No Rules?

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VS:  That’s how I was introduced to “You & Me”. Then I found out it was live and kicking – and kicking ass, literally. Because it was doing very well, I called “Three Beat” and asked them if they had licensed the record. They swore up and down that they did not license the track to Media Records, a label out of Italy, who ended up producing the Cappella song "You And Me". They in turn brought it to England through London Records, so I went to the people there, and said “listen, a) this is my voice; b) I’d like to promote it for you. Let’s work together on this”. They said, “No, it’s not your voice”. I said, “don’t even go there. I will cut you off at the knees”.
NAJM:  Wow!
dot_clear.gif (43 bytes) VS:  My husband specializes in digital signal processing, and I will show you the graph. I said that I can show you without a doubt that this is me. So now, they’re saying, “ok, it’s you”. Then they said we will give you a background credit and that’s all. I was like “a background credit? No way!” This is my voice and the only other voice on this record is the rap. To my knowledge there are some other mixes, out of the 12 or 13 mixes I heard of the song there is one other voice in there, but the majority of the voice, and the entire hook, is me. (Singing – You and me you and me, you and me you and me, you and me you and me, you and me forever…) With my vibrato you cannot miss it!
NAJM:  You do have a very recognizable voice.
VS:  You can’t miss it. It’s very distinctive. If you’ve ever heard “Love Has Changed My Mind” and listen to that phrase, you’ll see what I’m saying. They just totally blew me off. So I went and got a lawyer, which was another fiasco in itself! What they offered me in financial restitution was just laughable! My lawyer said   “I’m going to make this work in your favor”. He didn’t and he said, “don’t go to the press”, and that was the worst thing I ever did. That was my biggest mistake. I should have gone to the Sun and said, “This is me”. Whoever is on the video obviously is not me. If you hear her open her mouth you’ll know it’s not her! I tried to litigate. The laws in Europe are just so bad. I had no rights whatsoever. I’m still trying to litigate. For a while, I just gave it up and said the hell with it. It just broke my heart. I put my everything into this for my whole life and somebody steals my record. They make a record with my voice and they got Top Ten in more than 15 countries. If that isn’t enough to break your heart!
NAJM:  I’m sure that your aware that Martha Wash had something similar happen to her.
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No Case Law?

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VS:  I talked with Stephen Brown her attorney that got all the money for her and the record deal. The problem was that the single was never released as a domestic here in the States.
NAJM:  So no US copyright laws were broken because it was never released here. So you were powerless because it was only a European release?
VS:  Right.
NAJM:  We were reading something just recently that said if you do catch someone copying your material overseas, it’s almost impossible to litigate because the laws don’t cross boundaries, copyright laws are completely different from country to country.
VS:  So true, and [the woman who was pretending to be the vocalist on the record] had enough nerve to get on Top of Pops in London! That’s what really killed me. That is a break that I have been striving for in England and she get on Top of the Pops with my song and my voice.
NAJM:  So she obviously lip-synced?
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Raped of Your Artistry

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VS:  Please! When you are on Top of the Pops you have to sing live, but you can sing over your track, so she’s got me backing her up!  I also heard her on Radio 1 trying to sing one phrase a cappella and she wrecked it. I felt raped, completely raped. They are out there working off my voice making lots of money. You can tell I’m not happy! Isn’t this funny? You just look at the situation and you go, whoa. People have no idea that this was me. They have no idea. That just kills me. The revenue alone that I lost is critical, but what’s really critical is what I have worked for all my life – to have a crossover pop hit. I’ve had it, but it just doesn’t have my name on it, and I never received a dime from 3 Beat Music, even for the original license!
NAJM:  We hear time and time again, to hang on to your masters. Do you still own the masters of “Love Has Changed My Mind”?
VS: Yes, I paid for the entire production and the original song to be written for me. I only licensed the track to 3 Beat for three years. That was back in 1992. 3 Beat had released “Love Has Changed My Mind” as a 12-inch. Then what they did was they licensed the whole track itself to Media Records in Italy.
NAJM:  The single is on compilations, right?
VS:  Yes, it is. They had the legal right to license it – they just they owe me 50% of the licensing fee per our original agreement. Not only that, but when you license a track you’re supposed to put the person’s name or a credit on it. I found out later that 3 Beat Music had legally licensed it out, but I never received any money. Not only is it me without a name, it’s like being the invisible singer. It’s very upsetting.
NAJM:  As a result, you said a few minutes ago that the company said they would give you a background credit. Have they?
VS:  No.
NAJM:  So to this day you’re listed nowhere?
VS:  I told them no. I don’t want it. They wanted me to settle for that. I said never, never would I settle for that.
NAJM:  So is the case still in litigation?
VS:  I just finally gave up with [my lawyer] in England because he was just basically useless. He didn’t do a damn thing for me. They still offered me the same amount when he was done with them. Nothing had changed. He wrote letters, etc. and it still ended up being the same! With no moral right, how can you put (as with Martha) the little Italian model [with someone else’s voice] out to promote a record?
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Fight For Your Credits!

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NAJM:  So what can be done to stop this?
VS:  Steven Brown set precedence with his settlements for Loleatta Holloway and Martha Wash. What he does now is that he goes to other artists who did songs years ago like Frankie Limon; he’d go after that guy and get his money, that’s what he does now. Which is wonderful.
NAJM:  That’s very admirable, but it sounds as though the US Copyright laws need to change to protect the artist in territories outside of the US.
VS:  There are so many people who are in our business who are so talented, and they lose out big time because tracks are ripped off or they’re never given credit for the music.
NAJM:  Cappella’s “You & Me” featuring Vicki Shepard is on our “Top 100 of the Millennium”, at number #53. Perhaps now you’ll receive some over-due credit.
VS:  This should be fun. This is destiny. I can’t believe that you love Cappella! Here what you thought was Cappella was really me singing on the song “You and Me”.
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Check out NAJM's Review of "Somewhere 2000"

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