Jonathan Hay, a celebrity publicist and record producer, has been called a “legendary music producer” and “pr maven” by major media outlets. He’s been dubbed an expert in crisis management by both Rolling Stone Magazine and The New York Times. He was awarded the “TIDAL Rising” achievement by the streaming company owned by Jay Z. No stranger to controversy, Hay is outspoken with his views and has been seen on media outlets across the world, ranging from The Washington Post to TMZ. Hay has been involved in charities talked about in such prestigious publications as Vogue and Vanity Fair.
Jonathan Hay was born in Leesburg, Florida and was adopted as a 11-day-old baby. Hay was raised in Louisville, Kentucky by Donald and Nancy Stivers, both who have been very loving and influential throughout his life. His music career started in the early 1990s when he stumbled upon a recording studio while attending college Hay’s first major label work came from Michael Jackson’s MJJ Productions in 1995 with the group Quo. From the Bluegrass state, Hay got his first taste of success in the music industry with Travis Meeks who was signed to Interscope Records and sold over three million records, including 17 weeks at #1 (which at the time was a modern rock record). Hay and Meeks (and his late father Gary Meeks) started a record label and offered Michael Jackson a record deal during Jackson’s public battle with Tommy Motolla and Sony Music. They received support from MJ’s close friend Uri Geller and they faxed over a letter of intent to The King of Pop’s manager Trudy Green. Although the deal never happened, Hay got to work with Jackson’s long time producers Teddy Riley and Bruce Swedien.
Hay worked for John Houston Entertainment, a company owned by Whitney Houston’s father and Kevin Skinner. The company assisted the late iconic songstress. After a long period of time, Hay quit working with Days of the New after a public dispute involving a press release that announced Meeks’ audition for the new band Velvet Revolver, formed by ex-Guns N’ Roses members Slash, Izzy Stradlin, Duff McKagan and Matt Sorum. Hay relocated to Florida and partnered up with Ringz & Partners Entertainment, a company owned by Cilvaringz. Cilvaringz, also known as Tarik Azzougarh, is the producer and concept inventor of Wu-Tang’s single copy album ‘Once Upon A Time In Shaolin’ (an album that was purchased for $2 Million dollars by a single buyer).
In 2005, Jonathan Hay helped publicize “Pon de Replay” the debut single from Rihanna, using controversial marketing tactics. The story of how Hay broke Rihanna’s single has remained a constant topic in the mainstream press since 2008, and was a trending topic in 2015 and 2016. Hay has worked with a plethora of artists and labels, from being a publicist for the iconic Death Row Records to being involved in a song with Prince that was nationally distributed to mammoth retail chains such as Best Buy and Tower Records back in the day.
Jonathan Hay played a significant role in a high-profile guardianship case involving teen actress Ariel Winter, a star on the TV series Modern Family. Winter’s mother, Chrisoula “Crystal” Workman, approached Hay about publicly leaking nude photos of her other daughter, Shanelle Gray, in an attempt to sway an ongoing legal battle in which Winter’s older sister was seeking emergency custody of the young actress. As a witness to the mother’s bizarre attempts, Hay signed a declaration for Ariel Winter in favor of her staying with her sister.
Hay co-founded SMH Records, a Charlotte, North Carolina based record label with music mogul Mike Smith. The startup company got major media attention with its reported capital raise of $30 million. Through Hay’s long-standing relationship with Jim Urie, the label landed a distribution deal with Caroline, a division of Capitol/Universal Music Group. Highlights of Hay’s time with the label include a Kim Kardashian and Kanye West publicity scandal, a record deal offer to Lindsay Lohan, a $15 Million public offer to Jay Z to produce an album and a bidding war with Warner Brothers for Wu-Tang Clan. Jonathan Hay also helped launch One Shot, a TV show hosted by Sway Calloway that aired on BET. Hay was a music producer and mentor on the show which also features DJ Khaled, Tech N9ne, T.I., RZA, Twista, DJ Drama and others.
Hay was a co-executive producer and songwriter of an album by Kxng Crooked of Eminem’s Shady Records. Hay has also executive produced an album that featured film star Johnny Depp. Hay’s produced songs with Cyhi The Prynce, Juicy J, Riff Raff, Twista, Nappy Roots, Royce da 5’9″, Yung Bleu, DJ Whoo Kid and many more.
Hay appeared on Inside Edition where he publicly apologized to Beyonce after an incorrect story appeared in the book Becoming Beyonce, a unauthorized biography written by New York Times bestselling author, J Randy Taraborrelli. Hay was mentioned numerous times in the book for his involvement in a publicity stunt in 2005 when he spread rumors that Def Jam CEO Jay Z was dating his newly signed artist Rihanna. Hay confessed that he started the rumors in order to boost the then 17-year-old’s debut single “Pon De Replay” after several failed attempts: “The PR stunt that I did was out of desperation to help break ‘Pon de Replay,'” Hay told New York Daily News. “It was reckless and I didn’t think it was going to work. I was just throwing spaghetti at the wall to see what would stick.” Hay had never spoken with the author and was blindsided by the book’s release. He was disconcerted to learn that his quotes were taken out of context by Taraborrelli, which caused interference in promotional plans between Hay and TIDAL, a streaming company owned by Jay Z.
Tragedy struck on April 20, 2017. According to St. Matthews Police, Hay and his 14-year-old daughter were victims in a violent home invasion that was allegedly setup by his former neighbor Quantez Gibson. Two men plead guilty to kidnapping and robbery charges and are testifying against Gibson. Hay and his family strongly believe that his ex-fiancé Sabrina Hale was complicit in the home invasion as she was in an intimate relationship with Gibson and had an Emergency Protective Order against her for threatening to kill his daughter. Hale has been under criminal investigation but has yet to be charged with a crime.
Hay told the media that he felt “galvanized” by the home invasion and turned his pain into creativity. In 2018, Hay produced two albums and a single that topped the Billboard Charts in multiple genres including Hip-Hop, Jazz and Christian music.