“There are two kinds of artists in the world,” says music industry veteran Grace Miguel. “There are those whose sole focus is their personal art, and there are those who use their talent to make a positive change in the world.” For more than 20 years, Miguel has devoted herself to helping artists realize their potential and to serve the greater good. Now she is applying that mission to her work as co-founder of Coup D’Etat, the management, branding and marketing force behind musical powerhouse, Usher Raymond IV.
“Usher is one of the most successful artists in the world and I can proudly say he understands the importance of using his influence to inspire and mentor young people. At Coup D’Etat my focus is on tying Usher’s philanthropic and creative energies together with his entertainment career, and making the connection between art and education. It’s a role I feel very fortunate to play.”
Raised in Brooklyn by a mother who had a passion for service, the seeds of social responsibility were planted in Miguel at a young age. “My mother taught me, by example, very early in my life the importance of giving back. I’ve always wanted to do something that impacts lives.”
Grace began her career as a chef working the circuit of the top NYC catering companies, then went on to own her own catering company that serviced the entertainment industry, ending her gastronomic career as the executive chef on the set of the Cosby show. “When the show ended in 1992, I knew it was time for a complete change. I had a passion for bringing people together and was socially immersed in the creative scene. I knew a lot of great photographers, musicians and artists so it only made sense for me to transition to music.”
Miguel’s first role in the music business was in the publicity department at MCA records, and her new career grew from there. “At record labels, I worked to bring together a fractured creative system. An artist would turn in an incredible body of work and you would have various departments translating that vision in their own voices and in isolation. It was essential to me that the artist directly dictated the visuals, based on his or her vision. That became my brand of artist development. I realized my life’s passion was helping other people recognize their gifts and to help them figure out how to express them.”
Grace joined Jive Records and then later went on to run the creative services department at Geffen records. She also developed the careers of notable film and video directors in a boutique production company that she co-founded. Her most recent role in the record business, before founding Coup D’état with Usher, was at Island Def Jam Records where she was appointed by then Chairman, LA Reid, as the Executive Vice President of Marketing | Creative Services, working with the label’s roster of talent, including Jay Z, Kanye West, Rihanna, Justin Bieber and Mariah Carey to name a few.
Throughout Grace’s years in the record industry, she dedicated her time to several philanthropic projects. She was the originator of the legendary “Rap Roasts”, which celebrated the accomplishments of hip hop luminaries such as Sean “Diddy” Combs, Russell Simmons and Steve Rifkin, and raised money for the charities closest to the honorees’ hearts. She produced the hip hop compilation America is Slowly Dying, through the Red Hot Organization, to help raise HIV/AIDS awareness among African-Americans. The album, which featured artists such as Chubb Rock, De La Soul and Wu-Tang Clan, was labeled “a masterpiece,” by Source magazine.
Currently, Grace sits on the board of Usher’s youth mentoring program, New Look Foundation. Founded in 1999, the foundation has mentored more than 16,000 middle school through college-aged students, giving them the skills to become global youth leaders and inspiring positive change in their communities. In addition she has launched her own philanthropic initiative En Meme Temps, with a mission of building the culture of art in the academic arena to support the growth of children.
Through Coup D’état, Miguel continues to focus on broadening Usher’s already illustrious career, while changing the paradigm. “We want to alter how people do business in the entertainment industry, by doing it differently ourselves. While it is essential in every business to keep evolving, it is even more important when it relates to the arts given the vital role creative expression plays in our human desire to grow. We are challenging ourselves to model a new example.”