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Suit: Singer says St. Pete music promoter Bill Edwards hurt his career

By Susan Taylor Martin
Singer Daniel Orlando has sued St. Petersburg entrepreneur Bill Edwards, saying he hurt his music career and reputation. Edwards is also the owner of the Tampa Bay Rowdies. [DAVID W DOONAN | Special To The Times, 2016]

Three years ago, singer Daniel Orlando contracted with St. Petersburg entrepreneur Bill Edwards to promote his recording career. Now Orlando claims Edwards hurt both his career and his reputation in the music industry.

In a lawsuit filed Friday in Pinellas County Circuit Court, Orlando is seeking in excess of $15,000 in damages against Edwards, Big 3 Records and Big 3 Entertainment alleging fraud and breach of contract.

Edwards and his companies "maliciously and intentionally used their contract power to professionally and financially hand-cuff Orlando’s music carer," the suit says. Since Orlando tried to rescind the contract, the response has been "a series of intimidation tactics" and "demands for exorbitant… amounts" of money.

Told of the suit, Edwards said the 28-year-old singer "abandoned us" just as a record was about to released.

"Of course I’m asking for money," Edwards said. "He quit in the middle of his career."

The suit comes just a few days before Edwards’ right-hand man, former St. Petersburg mayor Rick Baker faces incumbent Rick Kriseman in a costly, contentious election.

In the suit, Orlando says he entered into agreements with Edwards’ companies to provide various services that included producing, distributing, marketing and licensing his music.

Edwards told Orlando he was committed to spending $1 million to make him "a star" and promised to link him up with Sony/Red and other "big names" in the music industry. Subsequent events, though, showed Edwards never intended to promote Orlando’s career, the suit says.

In one example, Edwards arranged for Orlando to perform in front of Brian Avent, who had managed Josh Grobon and other popular artists. Avnet pitched a recording plan but Edwards ignored it and nothing happened, the suit says.

In another case, Edwards hired industry pro Amy Smith, who arranged to introduce Orlando to New York radio executives after five of his songs ranked high on a "hit predictor." But when Edwards learned of Smith’s plans he became furious and "immediately and inexplicably" rescinded his approval, the suit says.

The suit alleges that the Edwards wanted to take full control of Orlando’s music only for "what appears to have been Edwards’ own private use, entertainment and amusement, like having Orlando provide entertainment performances and acting as a companion on occasion to Edwards’ wife," the suit says.

Although Edwards said Orlando had "ruined his career," his web site shows a fairly busy schedule albeit in small venues in small cities. In May, he and American Idol winner Jordin Sparks sang a medley of Tony Bennett’s hits at a Las Vegas gala celebrating Bennett’s 90th birthday.

RELATED COVERAGE:Bill Edwards’ firm is sole defendant after Wells Fargo settles suit for $108 million

This is not the only lawsuit facing Edwards, who manages St. Petersburg’s Mahaffey Theater and owns the Tampa Bay Rowdies. He and his now-defunct Mortgage Investors Corp. are accused of cheating veterans and U.S. taxpayers out millions of dollars in the refinancings of VA loans.

Contact Susan Taylor Martin at [email protected] or (727) 893-8642. Follow @susanskate