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The Undoing of Matthew Knowles: What Went Wrong?

Article By Cheri Wilson:: EEW Magazine News Writer

At 63, music executive Matthew Knowles is but a shell of his formerly successful self. In 2010, his efforts to infiltrate the gospel industry seemed to be working.

But here we are four years later, watching the crumbling of Knowles’ Music World Gospel empire, as official news reports surface of artists jumping ship for wider shores and greener pastures.

Last week, a press release was issued notifying the public that former signee, Le’Andria Johnson, who had previously accused Knowles of lack of integrity, was released from her contract. This week, the announcement that Brian Courtney Wilson has officially severed ties with Music World follows.

As the industry titan on the decline hemorrhages revenue and music acts, some are left to wonder, what went wrong?

Michelle Williams announced her split from Matthew Knowles in 2010 (Credit: GETTY)Well, in 2010, though Knowles was driving forward in the faith-based lane, making headway, a controversy was about to stall his engine. In March of that year, it was confirmed through paternity testing that he had fathered a son, Nixon, with his mistress, Alexsandra Wright, a woman 20 years his junior.

This shocking revelation led to divorce from Knowles’ wife of 31 years, Tina Knowles, and one year later, in March 2011, a professional split from his daughter Beyoncé Giselle Knowles-Carter due to accusations of theft and fraud.

By December 2011, Knowles made a grave error by violating an exclusivity agreement with TV One, angering Cathy Hughes, President of Radio One, one of the nation's largest urban multimedia networks targeting an African American audience.

Happier Times: Tina and Matthew Knowles stand proudly with their daughter Beyoncé, working as a team to craft her career, making her one of the world’s most influential pop stars. But it all came crashing down when Matthew Knowles engaged in an adulterous affair.

Subsequently, all artists on Music World’s roster were banned from receiving any airplay on Radio One’s broad network of stations—something that enormously impacted exposure and sales of the label’s music for the worst.

Before the downward spiral began, EEW Magazine reported that a confident Knowles told EBONY Magazine, that he would, “within four years, be the No. 1 label for faith-based music.”

He clearly does not possess the gift of prophecy.

The plan, at the time, was to reorient the gospel genre by scrubbing its long held “gospel” label and broadening its appeal.

"I prefer using the words 'inspirational' and 'faith-based. Gospel boxes it in, and people have a preconceived notion as to what that is,” Knowles told the magazine.  

But from the looks of it, the “label” doesn’t matter as much as the level of integrity the record label owner possesses.

In 2013, unconfirmed reports began surfacing that Knowles was looking for a way to unsaddle himself from the burden of his unprofitable music venture by finding an interested buyer.

Selling it off apparently didn’t work, so artists are sailing off, with the help of savvy legal teams and PR experts to put a pleasant face on an ugly situation.

Related: Micah Stampley condemns Le'Andria Johnson's public Matthew Knowles feud

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