Mr. Harrell is Mr. Bieber’s vocal producer, a many-layered and amorphous job: part vocal coach, part cheerleader, part sound engineer, part therapist. At this studio he’s a star too: the nameplate on a kick scooter at the front desk just says, “KUK.”
Pop music’s universe of celebrities has widened in recent years to include producers and songwriters; they’re as crucial to what you hear on the radio as the stars, and increasingly known to the public. But there are deeper levels of highly specialized talent, just as integral, that often goes unrecognized.
Mr. Harrell, 47, is one of those figures, shaping the sound of radio from the shadows. His client roster also includes Jennifer Lopez and Rihanna, and his job is to make sure that the star’s vocal is as powerful and flawless as it can be.