NEW YORK — Jessie Woo just wanted to sing. So when the budding vocalist met a successful music producer who told her he wanted to help her with her music, she believed him.
Then, one night seven years ago, the producer raped her, she said.
It was not the only time she was preyed upon by male producers early in her career, said Woo, a cast member of VH1’s “Love & Hip Hop Miami” and host of several programs for BET Networks.
“With these producers, they’re putting you in rooms that you’ve dreamed of. You’re in the studio with artists like ... Lil Wayne, you’re seeing T-Pain, you’re seeing Beyonce. You’re just seeing all these people stop by,” she said. “So, you’re like, ‘OK, this person is a little creepy, but I have to be here ... I’m in the right place, I just got to maneuver around this person’s creepiness. I got to figure out how to dodge the bullet.’ And you’re dodging somebody who is set out to abuse you.”
Other women navigating the pop music industry have started to speak out about similar experiences, after the #MeToo movement has toppled powerful men in Hollywood, politics, business and more. As in those arenas, women can often find themselves being abused, sometimes sexually, by powerful men who hold the keys to success.
In 2017, Jessie Reyez, the singer who co-wrote the recent Calvin Harris hits “One Kiss” (with Dua Lipa) and “Promises” (with Sam Smith), released a powerful short film for her song “Gatekeeper.” In it, she described how she was harassed by a producer: “Oh I’m the gatekeeper/Spread your legs/Open up/You could be famous/If you come up anywhere else, I’ll erase you.”
Last year, she identified her tormentor as music producer Noel “Detail” Fisher, who won a Grammy for co-writing the Beyonce and Jay-Z hit “Drunk in Love.” Reyez said he had tried to belittle and demean her for not having sex with him, and for not having sex to advance her career.
Attempts to reach Fisher — who has also produced hits for Lil Wayne, Nicki Minaj, Wiz Khalifa and more — for comment about her allegation and others that followed were unsuccessful.
Calls to phone numbers linked to him and to his relatives went unanswered.
Reyez’s accusations were echoed by others who painted Fisher as a serial abuser.
“#METOO No wonder why I connected with your song GateKeepers @jessiereyez,” singer Bebe Rexha, 29, wrote on Instagram in May 2018. “He tried the same thing with me. I was just 19. I ran out of the studio crying. Awful Human.”
Another singer, Tinashe, commented on Rexha’s post: “The only session I’ve been in to this day where I left due to being soooo uncomfortable. Glad he’s being exposed for the (expletive) creep he is. Disgusting.”
Janae Knox filed a lawsuit against Fisher in June 2018, claiming that after she was hired as his assistant, she experienced “severe and pervasive sexual harassment and sexual assault by Fisher,” according to court documents. The suit claims Fisher asked Knox to shower with him and demanded sexual favors while she performed her job.
“Detail is a sexual predator and it is troubling that I was one of his victims. I want to encourage other victims to come forward because by doing so, they will begin to heal,” Knox said in a statement to The Associated Press.
Isabella Mack, another Fisher assistant, filed a complaint against him when Knox did, claiming she was forcefully held against her will while he masturbated. The suit said Fisher also demanded she pose for nude pictures and videos, and that Mack suffered extreme emotional distress as a result.
“Detail has to be held accountable for his actions. I also hope that other music industry victims come forward because it is time to expose the system that enables men to abuse women in this business,” Mack said in a statement to the AP.
Another suit against Fisher was filed in December by aspiring musician and model Kristina Buch.
Fisher has yet to enter a legal response to either of the cases filed last year, and attempts to find a lawyer representing him were unsuccessful.
Attorney Genie Harrison, representing Knox and Mack, said her clients “chose to hold Detail accountable” and are letting “other victims know they are not alone.”
“Whether it’s in music, or film, or corporate America, the abuse of power to coerce sex must end. The brave #MeTooInMusic victims who come forward will help accomplish this goal,” Harrison continued in a statement.