Last Monday, July 1st the world of comedy and the entertainment industry in general, lost a cherished and irreplaceable friend. Chicago native, Kevin Leray Allen Sr., known to countless artists as Soni D died in a head-on collision in Hinkley, California. He was 52 years old and survived by his four children, mother and two ex-wives (one was in the vehicle with him at the time of the accident).
Soni is one of those artists with multiple slashes behind his name. He was a production manager / sound engineer / percussionist / producer / creator / innovator. Millions of fans of music, comedy and the medium of sound felt the deft touch of this audio master. Perhaps best known for his work as production manager and producer/engineer for TOM JOYNER’s syndicated weekend show, “ON THE MOVE”, Soni’s production expertise enhanced the hilarious comedy bits of Rusty Cundieff, Brad Sanders, Joe Torry, Guy Torry, Buddy Lewis, Edwonda White, Doug Starks, Joey Gaynor, Larry Wilmore and his brother, Marc, Larita Shelby, Greg Eagles, yours truly (it was Soni who helped develop and refine the character of D’Militant) and many more and made them into radio classics. His ear for imaginary was unmatched.
Soni’s previous credits included production director for RADIO ONE’s PHILADELPHIA cluster. Soni also served as production director for ON MIC PRODUCTIONS and AMERICAN URBAN RADIO NETWORKS. At the time of his passing he served as host and producer of his latest creation, the two-hour syndicated show called, “Gospel Reflections.” This popular Gospel Music program features the genre’s greatest artists and their songs spanning decades. The on-air celebration is broadcast weekly in over 15 markets reaching over 2 million African-American households.
Soni D was a spiritual man. In 1978 he took on his very first job as a Gospel DJ for Gospel Skating Night at Chicago’s Skate City Roller Rink. Then after graduating Proviso from East High School in 1981, he attended Kennedy-King College in l982 and became the first “Gospel DJ” on the college’s radio station WKKC. He later became the Executive Director of Development and Content for Jesus Music Productions. The company offers masterfully orchestrated family and religious based programming for TV and radio.
Throughout his diverse career, Soni D remained at the forefront of his industry. He formed the very first turntable mixshow in Memphis, TN, ”The Budweiser Club No-Name Saturday Night Dance Party,” aired on the KRNB Magic 101 FM. Then ”Soni D’s House Express” which featured Chicago-styled House Music on WHRK, K-97 and in 1990 Soni D took his talents to various radio stations including WGCI Chicago, K 104 Dallas, Kiss 104 Atlanta and Power 99 Philadelphia. He also worked his magic as the Production Manager for Cutler Productions/Premiere Radio networks where Soni D created with Cutler Productions the world’s first syndicated mix show ”Mix America” which aired in 40 markets nationwide.
The man’s accolades seemed to never cease. Beyond his stint as production manager and producer/engineer for the ”Tom Joyner’s On The Move” nationally syndicated countdown show for which he was a 3-time ”Billboard Magazine” Award winner; Soni D created GT30 ″Gospel’s Top 30 Countdown” with Ken Carthern and Al “The Bishop” Hobbs.” He produced “The Countdown” with Walt “Baby” Love. He collaborated with Lee Bailey to create “Laugh Zone” and as co-producer for the syndicated “Gospel News Now.”
Soni D kept his finger on the pulse of gospel media. He moved to Atlanta, Georgia for On Mic Productions/American Urban Radio Networks to produce ”The Bobby Jones Gospel Countdown”, “Soni D’s Ol School Mix”, “Soulful Praise” with Donnie McClurkin and “On Da Down Lo” with talk show host Wendy Williams.
This unsung titan was also an inventor whose work will influence generations to come. It was Soni D that created ”Text-A-Mercial” TM, radio and TV commercials created as SMS Text messages sent to cell phones. As I said, we all lost a great friend to not only our industry, but our way of life. He will be missed in ways we cannot yet imagine.
Article By Darryl Littleton