Artist manager Patrick Rains heads his own independent label, PRA Records, and has a client roster that includes/or has included Al Jarreau, David Sanborn, founding Crusaders member Joe Sample, songwriter Aimee Mann formerly of the group 'Til Tuesday, Jonatha Brooke, and bassist/multi-instrumentalist producer Marcus Miller. Miller was the label's first signee debuting with his album The Sun Don't Lie charting on the contemporary jazz chart and nominated for a 1995 Grammy Award in the Best Contemporary Jazz category.
Rains got his start in the music business while attending the University of Minnesota where he began promoting concerts in the late '60s. Then he began managing a band, Minneapolis that had a local hit. He made the move West when he graduated from college in 1971 along with the two songwriters from the band to see if they could parlay their local success into a bigger deal. A couple of days after he moved to L.A., Rains ran into a guy that was trying to get started as a professional performer, his name was Al Jarreau. He became his manager, starting his own management company, Patrick Rains and Associates.
The hookup with Marcus Miller came about during the production of David Sanborn's Voyeur album in 1980. Rains met Miller when he was about 16 years old. Though still a teenager, Miller was a hot session player in New York. Already managing Sanborn, Rains met Miller while the bassist was recording parts for Voyeur. Rains was impressed with his musicianship and approached about helping him develop a career. The manager soon recognized the potential in Miller as a recording artist in his own right, but it was a no-go as far as the labels were concerned. There was some interest in Miller as a developing songwriter and producer, but none of the labels initially saw him as a recording artist. So in the early '80s, Rains put up his own money for Miller to go into the studio and make an album. The album Suddenly was released through Warner Bros. and generated some chart action through the single "Much Too Much." A second Warner Bros. release, the self-titled Marcus Miller, included the single "My Best Friend's Girlfriend," which garnered airplay and through a still-in-demand 12" remix continues to receive dance club play in 2000.
Following these two releases, the pair opted to go a different route and decided to pursue the commercial/pop side of music with a band. So Miller decided to put a band together with a couple of guys he'd grown up and played with in Jamaica, Queens, NY. Teaming up with drummer Lenny White, keyboardist Bernard Wright, and Chaka Khan's brother singer Mark Stevens, Miller formed the Jamaica Boys, and a self-titled debut The Jamaica Boys was released on Reprise/Warner Bros. in 1987. The singles "It's That Lovin' Feeling" and "Spend Some Time With Me," charted R&B. Another Reprise album, J Boys, followed, with the single "Shake It Up" reaching number 11 R&B on Billboard's chart in spring 1990.
Other acts signed to PRA Records are Detroit rock-meets-house group Charm Farm (winner of the Motor City Awards-best new music group of 1993), singer/songwriter Kevin Gilbert formerly of Madonna producer Patrick Leonard's band Toy Machine, guitarist Tim Pierce, and the Big Geraniums.