Entertainment impresario and Liberian business magnate, Barkue Tubman, who returned to her native Liberia in 2005 is a trailblazer in the entertainment industry. Having achieved incredible triumph in the United States while cracking the glass ceiling in a field normally reserved for male executives, Barkue is a gem, who it seems everything she touches is gold. Simple as that may seem and sound she has been described as a ‘workaholic and an innovator’ whose drive to make deals defines her.
After she returned home few years ago, Tubman, who is also the CEO of the Miss Boss Lady Entertainment told the British Broadcasting Corporation last year that getting started in Liberia wasn’t easy. “I didn’t really know what I was gonna do initially, but Liberia was a virgin market. Even back then anything I wanted to do as far as I was concerned, with the gifts that I had been blessed with, I knew I would turn it around because I know the strength that I have” she told the BBC’s series African Dream.
Although Barkue Tubman hails from a famous Liberian family, her compelling story and success as a business person is that of her own making. Having fled the country in the aftermath of the turmoil that engulfed the country in the 1980s while just starting primary school, she and her family settled in New York, subsequently graduating from Elon College In North Carolina with degree in French and Business Management.
Hungry for success and the determination to thrive, the ‘boss lady’ joined the male-dominated entertainment industry, which according to insiders is known for its hard nose and stiff knuckles, was able to live up to expectations and went beyond the mark of potential. She would later climb the ladder rapidly to the very top.
According to industry insiders, when the young Liberian mogul began pursuing her interest in the industry, Artist Management was her major focus. According to the Miss Boss Lady International Group’s webpage, which lists her achievements in the music Industry “she accepted a staff position as a Travel Specialist with a company whose clientele included Motown Records’ Babyface, New Edition and Boyz 2 Men, etc.
New Edition’s and Usher’s manager at the time, Brooke Payne, was impressed by Tubman’s vibrant personality and tenacity, and recruited her for a position at his 617 Management company in Los Angeles. After 617 Management, Tubman went on to work with Quadree El Amin and John Dukakis of South Paw Entertainment, where she further honed her management skills by working with top industry talents like Boyz 2 Men & Janet Jackson. Such achievements by any personality in the American entertainment industry deserves rave reviews.
With the drive and the flair she brought her clients and employers, the 39-year old Tubman got the attention of the music industry and executives. Amongst them Queen Latifahs’s management and a record label company in New Jersey –Flavor Unit.
Assured she had acquired the necessary managerial skills to make her own impact, she and Flavor Unit parted ways in 1998. It was then that she began the appropriately titled ‘Miss Boss Lady Entertainment, Inc.’
What she did after leaving Flavor Unit would attest to her managerial skills and business acumen. She later took under her arms and guided the magnificent R&B foursome ‘NEXT’. Under Tubman’s stewardship, the quartet gained multi-platinum status and was chosen for the prestigious American Music Awards garnering eight billboard awards for the hit single, “Too Close.”
The ‘boss lady’ would eventually as president for another management company, Family Tree, worked with insanely talented artists such as Outcast, Raphael Saadiq, Jagged Edge & Macy Gray. She also managed the high-profile Donnell Jones. As her clientele grew so did she also worked for Violator Records, as Vice President of Product Management, and Management Consultant to the music heavyweight rapper Busta Rhymes, and the decorated Grammy winning multi-artistic Missy Elliott.
The elegant Ms. Tubman has never look back since then. Those accomplishments and experiences has allowed her to expand her horizons. The Miss Boss Lady Entertainment Group is also establishing a foothold on the African continent, especially in her native Liberia.
Talking about coming home to Liberia, she said during an interview with the BBC. “What I learned quickly when I hit the ground was that entertainment was not a priority on anybody’s list, for obvious reasons. It wasn’t rocket science. It was definitively tough but you don’t necessarily give up, you just rearrange how you approach what you can do for the entertainment industry; with respect to creating opportunities, but every year it gets better and better”
Tubman went on to successfully host the 2007/08 Miss Liberia Beauty Pageant, amongst other high-profile events in the country since her arrival there.
Tubman says she sees a bright future for Liberia and its entertainment industry, and is not shy to commend Africa’s first female President Johnson Sirleaf, whom she sees as a role model. She credits President Sirleaf enabling the business environment forLiberians to flourish.
Bringing her unique management skills to Liberia while aiming to promoting Liberian artists and the entertainment industry in the country, Barkue and her Miss Boss lady group in April 2008, were instrumental in bringing the internationally acclaimed Senegalese-American hip hop super star Akon to perform at the Monrovia Football Stadium.
The boss lady says the entertainment industry could do better. She maintains that “The future of Liberian artists is definitely bright because young people are really striving to make themselves better and learn.” Her first move to promote Liberian artists, and give them international recognition and exposure came in July last year when she signed her first Liberian performer, the ever-talented crooner David Mell.
Mell’s YouTube joint “Carry Ur Load” is a popular hit. Speaking to the Front Page Africa, the mogul said “Today I am proud,” to say Miss Boss Lady is…going to take an artist under her wing and prepare him not only for Liberia, but also for the international community. When we watch the BET awards we must not only see Nigerian artists but also a Liberian artist purposely representing our country.”
She added, “He has agreed to put his career in my hands and I am going to do everything possible for us all to be successful.” With such commitment and entrepreneurship, the elegant Ms Barkue Tubman has been called a ‘unique Liberian ambassador’ by some, to others she’s the ultimate goal getter.
To give back to society, Tubman founded and is board chair of the African and African Women for peace (AAW-PEACE) initiative. The organization holds annual conferences with the aim of encouraging, engaging, empowering, and uniting women worldwide from Africa to North America in the entertainment industry.
Ralph Geeplay can be reached at email@example.com