US music venture set up by Dana and family had turnover of over $7.6m

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AN AMERICAN music company established by Dana Rosemary Scallon and members of her family in 1985 had a turnover of more than $7.6 million between 1996 and 2005, a court in Iowa was told in 2008.

Dana’s sister, Susan Stein, who worked with the company, Heart Beat LLC, told the court that the bulk of the company’s turnover went on promoting Dana and her music in the US where, she said, Dana could get up to $5,000 (€3,700) for a performance.

Although religious recordings by Dana constituted the bulk of the company’s product and sales, it did not have any written agreement with Dana over copyright.

In 2005, Heart Beat and Ms Stein’s family, on the one side, and Dana and her husband Damien Scallon, on the other, fell out and the matter ended up in court.

The court heard how Heart Beat got into debt and Dana and her husband became aggrieved over what they alleged were the underpayment and non-payment of royalties.

They set up their own company, DS Music Productions LLC, and in 2005 sought without success the return of master recordings from Heart Beat.

Ms Stein told the court that she and her sister, Dana, had sung together when they were teenagers and had signed a contract with Decca. However, she then married American dentist Ronald Stein and they eventually settled in Donnellson, Iowa.

Ms Stein told the court she had felt there was an opportunity for her sister to have a career in the US in religious music.

Her brother John Brown and Dana had worked for a time with the Daughters of St Paul in the US and when they parted from them her husband suggested that they set up their own business.

They travelled to Ireland to discuss the matter and Dana, having prayed about the idea, agreed and said her one-third share in the business should go to her husband, Damien Scallon. Ms Stein and John Brown were to have the other two-thirds.

However, these shareholdings were not registered in the US, where company filings said the firm was owned by the Steins.

The company recorded a CD called The Rosary with Dana singing and her husband’s brother, Fr Kevin Scallon, recording some spoken prayers. The production and arrangements were by Dana’s brother, Gerry Brown.

Ms Stein told the court it was never her understanding that Dana could at any time seek the return of the master recordings of the music produced for Heart Beat. She said her husband had put his farm in Iowa up as collateral against a $275,000 loan taken out by Heart Beat.

“I’ve gone through my husband’s money, there’s no more money to go through and so they ran, they said ‘there’s no more money, let’s go, let’s start a new company’.”

She said royalties due to Dana were worked out through John Brown. Some expenditures by Heart Beat would be recouped against the royalties, while at other times royalties due would be used to do such things as pay for Dana’s daughter’s car or Visa bills.

She said Dana moved to Alabama after this was suggested to her by Mother Anglica, a nun who had set up an order in Birmingham, Alabama, and developed a multimillion-dollar global TV network, the Eternal Word Television Network.

The nun gave a job to Damian Scallon, Ms Stein said. He was “setting up retreats, people coming to visit the network, he would have been in charge of setting up the hotel and et cetera. That’s when they moved.”

During the 1990s Dana was touring in the US, hosting TV programmes and making records for Heart Beat. In 1997 she ran for the office of President of Ireland and in 1999 she was elected to the European Parliament.

Ms Stein said Heart Beat put “any resources, any monies that we had into her presidential election . . . I left the office for about six months there and worked with her on the campaign. It was very expensive for Heart Beat”.

The expenditure ($58,000) was officially declared in Ireland and recouped out of Dana’s royalties.

During Dana’s time as an MEP, Ms Stein said, she organised concerts in the US when Dana wasn’t busy in Europe and also bought seats for her at political fund-raising dinners in the US to “maintain the American position”. She said she organised the tours because Dana needed to make more money.

She said that after the Scallons had set up DS Music Productions in 2005 she had suggested that it and Heart Beat work together but Dana had not been in favour of this. “Her determination was to destroy Heart Beat Records and see me in my grave.”

Ms Stein said that after the split in the family the Scallons wrote to people in the business in the US saying Heart Beat and the Steins had no right to distribute Dana’s music and were doing so illegally.

“Thank God most of them know me and they know my principles and they know how I love my sister and they know that I gave my life and left my kids and family for her, they know the money that Heart Beat has spent to promote her and make her a household name so she gets $4,000 or $5,000 every time she walks on the stage. So I have that type of credibility.

“But she is determined . . . she wants – I believe she doesn’t have a job now, her husband doesn’t have a job, and she wants to reap from the work and the millions that Heart Beat did . . . to benefit her and her family.”

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