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Vibe Out: Lydia Harris goes from Queen of Death Row Records to Queen of delectable dining with new catering company

Written by on December 1, 2021

Lydia Harris, co-founder of Death Row Records

If you look up the name Lydia Harris, you will see this Queen is connected to the biggest names in music history, from Marion “Suge” Knight to her ex-husband, Michael “Harry-O” Harris, who was just pardoned from prison by former President Donald Trump. A Vanity Fair article calls her “The Real Cookie Lyon” with many saying Taraji P. Henson’s iconic “Empire” character was a twist on Harris’ life. Harris, who was nicknamed “Lady Boss,” successfully sued Suge for $107M for unpaid properties and royalties and, although he has not paid up yet, she is climbing her way back to the top one creative concept at a time. From authoring a powerful book, working on a new record label, to catering, this Houston woman gives new meaning to the phrase “you can’t keep a good woman down.” We talked to Harris about her latest venture in our “Vibe With” series.

Michael “Harry-O” Harris, Lydia Harris, Marion “Suge” Knight

Vibe Houston:  Tell us about yourself

Harris: I am the co-founder of the Death Row Records, now a mother, author and a chef. I am passionate about creating a new legacy that will outlive the infamous record label. That was the beginning of my journey as an entrepreneur and taught me valuable lessons, but none like being a mother to my daughter. I wrote my book for her because I didn’t know what life would look like for me coming up in the era of Death Row. I found a passion in cooking. It became my peace, which I now can share with the world.

Vibe Houston:  How did you go from the music industry to the restaurant industry?

Harris: After Death Row, my life changed. I had to figure out how to live and how to survive and cooking became my escape. The kitchen became a therapy zone for me to be able to express myself in creative ways. I have had several restaurants and my passion has been being able to share the intimacy and see the smiles on peoples faces due to my work in a way that you cannot see in a concert or arena filled with people.

Vibe Houston:  What do you feel is the best feature of your company…the food or the experience, or is it something else?

Harris: When people experience Lydia’s Catering some people experience family for the first time, some love and some joy. It is the level of satisfaction that they get from placing and order and it being fulfilled to their desires. It is an upscale experience. No matter the environment, venue or party I am able to lay out some of the best dishes that people have experience. The food is so good it makes you wanna’ dance.

Vibe Houston:  Let’s talk about your menu selection. What do you offer and what would you say are your most popular dishes?

Harris: Nothing about me has ever been one dimensional. In culinary school they taught us how to prepare a variety of dishes. So, I offer whatever the party requires. Every menu will vary depending on the event. My specialty would have to be fried lobster tails. Growing up, lobster was always considered a high-quality seafood dish. It was expensive and I am a woman who takes pride in what I deliver and giving people the best experiences with every bite. Lobster tails just remind me of elegance and excellence.

Vibe Houston:  How have you adjusted during COVID? Is business still well?

Harris: During COVID business got better because it was more intimate and people experienced more of a convince of Lydia coming to them. I think it really helped because people got to know me for being even more than a chef. I was able to have conversations and build relationships with my clients which made all the difference in the business.

Vibe Houston:  What do you do to give back to the community?

Harris: Recently I have partnered with women’s shelters. I take pride in being able to empower women. We live in a world where too often men will attempt to count a woman out. Or women will compete with each other. My goal is to make collaboration popular again among us. So I enjoy being able to spend my time inspiring women to uplift one another. Every month I aim to do something that gives back to the community in ways that I wish I would have experienced myself. I have a big heart, so I always look for opportunities to use my gifts to be a blessing to others.

Vibe Houston:  How do you feel about the renewed interest or national push of supporting Black businesses? Do you think it will be short-lived?

Harris: I don’t really like the term short-lived. I especially wouldn’t say that about the push for the interest in black businesses. I think we are finding our worth. We are finding our identity. We are waking up in a world that wants to keep us asleep for so long.  If you keep pushing through things get better. That’s the power of endurance and perseverance. It’s better to help support black businesses and not give up so easily on them because they can only get better. That’s what happened with all of the great businesses that we know today. When they failed, not only did they keep going but their support also kept going because of their resilience.

Vibe Houston:  Any advice to entrepreneurs or small business owners fighting to stay afloat during these challenging times?

Harris: The challenge is the biggest part of life. You can’t run from it, you have to run to it. Embrace what you don’t know and what makes you think a bit harder. That is where your breakthrough is. Don’t give up because you lose money, people stop supporting, people talk down on your ideas. This is why you have to have identity and trust that God has a plan even when things seem to be still. You will win in the end and that’s a promise.

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