By: Michael Kaplan
Photos: Rhonda Spevak
Monte and Angelina Lipman are a hit couple, in perfect sync and balance, with a great mood and rhythm, and singing a delightful tune. They are at once the epitome of the power couple, and still totally relatable, grounded, warm, earnest, and friendly. After living in New York City for many years, they made the move to Bedford in pursuit of a weekend getaway, but the beautiful surroundings and welcoming community felt serendipitous when it came to deciding where to raise their children. Eight years ago, they bought their spectacular Katonah estate. Both hailing from large families -Monte is the oldest of 9!- the epicenter of the Lipmans’ life is family, with the spotlight on their three children: their son B. Remington who’s 16 and who’s known as Remy, daughter Juliet Angelina who is 14, and their youngest Cameron Scott who is 7.
Monte is the Founder and Chairman of Republic Records, working alongside his younger brother, best friend and Co-Founder, Avery.A division of Universal Music Group, the world’s leading music company, Republic’s roster includes Ariana Grande, Drake, John Mellencamp, Jonas Brothers, Lil Wayne, Nicki Minaj, Pearl Jam, Post Malone, Taylor Swift, The Weeknd, and many, many more. Republic is consistently recognized as the industry leader, with all signs pointing to another year at the top of the charts in 2021.
“Early in my career, I had already been fired from three jobs in a short period of time,” recalls Monte. “I clearly thought I knew what I was doing, and I just wanted a job where I couldn’t get canned, so I figured we would start our own company,” he laughs. “We’re as passionate about music now as we were then—if not more so. We’ve been very privileged to work with an incredible roster of artists.”
About the brothers’ life story and path in the music industry, Monte explains, “Avery and I were born in Kentucky on a military base. Our parents were kind of like hippies, but after we hitchhiked cross-country as a family and settled into California, when I was 10, our folks divorced and then we spent a few years growing up bicoastally, with our dad in Malibu and mom in Brooklyn. One day, my brother and I were watching Happy Days in the mid-seventies on an old TV, and sparks started flying everywhere and the thing literally just blew up. My dad took it as a sign from above. After that, and for some of our informative years, Avery and I were always huddled around a radio or a record player listening to my dad’s albums. From the Beatles to Stevie Wonder, to the music of the ‘70s, that’s probably when we developed such an affinity for music.” Their dad moved back to Montclair, New Jersey in 1979, and Monte and Avery attended Montclair High School, where they both played baseball and football. Monte went to the University at Albany and played some football there too – and, of course, Avery followed in his footsteps, and even continued to share a room. Monte takes some measure of pride in his Jersey ‘hometown’ and in his alma mater, and has delivered the commencement speech at both Montclair High and University at Albany.
Working together with Avery, the brothers have cultivated a family culture at Republic. At the helm of the label, Monte oversees releasing music into the marketplace from both global superstars and new talent. He signs recording artists, orchestrates alliances with subsidiaries, and fosters the company’s growth and expansion. He refers to his job as “a passionate hobby.”
Monte’s reputation as a leader and a good guy in the music industry is well established.
About their achievement, Monte explains, “First of all, Avery and I jumped into it at a very early age, with all four feet and blind ambition. We made a lot of mistakes, but we’ve always had the confidence to trust our own instincts and judgement. Because music is so personal, we are humbled to help curate the soundtrack of people’s lives. This industry has been changing rapidly and constantly for my entire career. We celebrate and embrace the individuality of our artists and support them in pursuing their goals, dreams and aspirations. We also recognize that these artists have the ability to make the world a better place, and we take tremendous pride in our role with them. When young people ask me what to study to prepare them for a career in the music industry, I say, ‘human behavior.’ It’s all about understanding people and respecting their artistry. With us, there’s no ceiling on success. If you want to be the biggest artist in the world, we’re your label.”
Angelina (Davis) was also born in Brooklyn, to British parents of Jamaican descent, who had come to New York for her dad to work as a doctor. Similar to Monte, Angelina’s parents also divorced when she was ten. She relocated to Miami with her mom, attended Gulliver Prep, and spent summers and vacations in London and the UAE, visiting with her dad. She achieved a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology from Columbia University, a Master’s Degree in Psychology from New York University, and a dual-PHD in Social Personality and Industrial Organizational Psychology from New York University. She went on to work in the fields of management consulting and applied research and also worked as an assistant professor at the Business School of Columbia University, conducting research, mentoring graduate students, and teaching the MBA negotiation course.
“I’m a research psychologist by trade, and I’m interested in the psychology of management and how teams and people work,” Angelina explains. “This concept has continually evolved for me. When I decided to leave academia to become a full-time mom, it was hard to switch that part off. I’ve become more and more focused on discovering ways for society to make quality mental health more accessible. As a natural evolution of this ambition, I’m releasing a book titled Blocking The Noise: A Roadmap to Happiness, which I want to illustrate an actionable and accessible path to wellness.”
Angelina and Monte first met at a lounge downtown in New York City. “Now that I have a 13-year-old daughter, I wish I could say we met at church or temple,” laughs Angelina.After a two year courtship, they were married at what was then their Bedford weekend home. “We’ve been best friends from the start, and we work well together,” Angelina continues. “We’re both pretty driven and a little too organized.”
The Lipman’s home is a stately European manor home situated among a classic Bedford backdrop of lush greenery. Every inch of the inside and outside of the house, which has a history dating back to 1903, is meticulously maintained. The house itself includes elegant rooms with old-world wood paneling, carved molding and woodwork, fireplaces, and large French doors and windows. One specific piece of artwork, above the mantelpiece in the ball room, which draws particular attention is a large multi-media piece by Peter Tunney with the word GRATTITUDE, presiding over the space.
Angelina says, “For us, making this our full-time permanent residence was really about the local community. Monte can get into his office in Manhattan quick enough and has the real convenience of being about 15 minutes from Westchester Airport, and yet you’re really in a country neighborhood, filled with great people and all sorts of special local services and amenities.”Of the area, Monte adds, “Katonah really is home for us. We’ve really worked at putting some deep roots into the community.”
To that end, the couple have become major supporters of the Westchester Land Trust, and Angelina has served on the Rippowam Cisqua School Board. Angelina also just joined the Board of the Bedford Riding Lanes Association.Angelina adds, “We’d cleared the riding trails that run over our property but had little involvement because we don’t ride. But during covid we learned we could use the BRLA trails for hiking and other fun, and now taking the family for a walk on the trails is one of our favorite activities.”
And well beyond local boundaries, the Lipmans are substantially involved in charitable work and renowned philanthropists, with a general focus in the areas of cancer and addiction. Monte is on the board of the TJ Martell Foundation for aids and cancer research. Monte and Angelina are on the leadership committee of DKMS (concentrated on eliminating blood cancer) and have been honored by the organization for their significant support. The Lipmans are recognized supporters of the Multiple Myeloma Research Foundation , the City of Hope, and The Neil Lasher Music Fund at Caron Treatment Centers, which advocates for addiction recovery treatment. And the UJA-Federation has honored Monte and Avery for their substantial generosity.
When asked to identify a few guests – dead or alive – they would have to a fantasy dinner party, Angelina immediately named, “Toni Morrison, because being introduced to her writing as a young girl, and realizing this is an extraordinary black woman producing works of great importance and beauty, was pivotal in my own development.” And then, asking if she “…could reserve the right to add to the guest list before the date of the party,” Angelina added “Audrey Hepburn, because I love her style and grace, and Billy Porter, because I think Billy’s a true artist and really changed the narrative in fashion.” It’s worth noting that Billy Porter recently also signed with Republic Records.
Monte added, “Martin Luther King, because he is one of those extraordinary beings who made the world a better place. Joe Namath, because he was the best. And I think the pioneer and legendary film producer and movie studio head, Louis B. Mayer, would be interesting. And definitely Nick Saban, head coach of the University of Alabama’s football team.”
Whereupon Monte insists on a trip to the basement, not to see the walls and walls of hundreds of gold and platinum records, but into his clean, white and attractive, but nonetheless clearly ‘man-cave’ of a room, featuring maybe a hundred authentic NCAA college football helmets, and an absolute shrine to college football. “Look,” Monte points out with obvious pleasure, “Saban signed this hat for me! I think running a college football team and running a record label share a lot of parallels. It starts with recruiting the best executives and coaches in order to build a powerful infrastructure. I admire and I’m inspired by Saban and his constant pursuit of excellence.”
In many ways, the holidays tell you everything you need to know about the Lipman family. The Christmas tree is laden with Hanukkah menorahs and other beautiful tidings of happiness and joy – all illustrating a commitment to inclusivity. Monte is Jewish, and Angelina was born into an evangelical family, but say they’re raising the kids in an interfaith environment. Angelina says, “We’re blessed to have unparalleled harmony between our two large families. For the holidays, we start Christmas morning with a traditional Jewish lox and bagels breakfast and we end the evening with a Jamaican jerk turkey for Christmas dinner. Monte’s family brings Christmas gifts, while my family has developed a deep appreciation for the Jewish holidays…and particularly my mother who now makes potato latkes with a Jamaican flare. It sounds a little corny, but we’re one big happy family and the Holidays are our favorite time to get together.”
For the Holidays everyone will gather at Monte and Angelina’s house…with beautiful tidings of happiness and joy. Delightful music indeed!