How The 2022 GRAMMYs On The Hill Awards Brought Joy, Healing & Reverence For Music People

(L-R) Jimmy Jam, Rep. Ted Deutch, Sofia Carson, Rep. Michael McCaul, and Terry Lewis

Photo: Paul Morigi / Getty Images

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How The 2022 GRAMMYs On The Hill Awards Brought Joy, Healing & Reverence For Music People

Featuring key congresspeople and leading lights in the music community, the 2022 GRAMMYs On The Hill Awards was in equal parts celebratory and impactful toward the fight for creators' rights for all music people.

Advocacy/Apr 28, 2022 - 10:21 pm

Just before a performance where Jimmy Jam played an enormous keytar and Sen. Amy Klobuchar playfully shook a maraca, Jam laid down his stone-cold genuine feelings about his chosen artform. "Music is the divine art," he told the crowd at the packed GRAMMYs On The Hill Awards ceremony in Washington, D.C., on Wednesday, April 27, as they munched on dinner and dessert and enjoyed an open bar. And he meant it.

"Imagine a life without music," the five-time GRAMMY-winning producer continued. "It would be like breathing without oxygen. It would be like thirst without water. It would be life without the aural sustenance in our souls." Fellow five-time GRAMMY winner Terry Lewis, his decades-long partner who together form the legendary duo Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis, who were this year's artist honorees at the GRAMMYs On The Hill Awards, concurred: "This is the thing that God gave us to pull us together."

This balance between tireless work and divine play — a bunch of musicians jamming out a few blocks away from the hub of U.S. democracy — epitomized the vision of the GRAMMYs On The Hill Awards, Washington, D.C.'s premier annual celebration of music and advocacy. On the surface, it seemed to simply be musicians having a ball with lawmakers, connecting the spheres of music and politics. But there was nothing at all frivolous or superficial about the intent, as encapsulated in Ledisi's passionate question in her performance: "What can be higher than this?"

Much like MusiCares, the Advocacy division of the Recording Academy is predicated on helping music people in need — in this case, creators and artists who aren't fairly compensated for their labor. This happens to songwriters and music creators, who are regularly financially neglected, too often.

At this year's GRAMMYs On The Hill Awards, which celebrates its 20th anniversary this week, this urgent issue was front and center. 

Recording Academy CEO Harvey Mason jr. is one of music's most vocal advocates for fair compensation for creators. A GRAMMY-nominated songwriter and producer by trade, he knows the inner workings of the music business.

"You have to remember, I'm a songwriter," Mason jr. said in an interview on the red carpet at the 2022 GRAMMYs On The Hill Awards. In his experience, he's been paid for his songwriting work. But the landscape is increasingly tilting toward exploitation of his peers. "To get paid $7,000 or $10,000 is not acceptable," he continued. "So that's something I'm very passionate about — in my experience, but also knowing what it takes to be successful."

Other songwriters at the event also echoed this sentiment: Whitney Phillips, Lupita Infante, Emily Warren, Nnenna Freelon, Gramps Morgan, Autumn Rowe, and Emily Bear, the latter three of whom have won GRAMMYs. Although they spoke individually, they came together for a collective higher purpose: a path toward fair treatment and fair compensation for music people, especially after a detrimental pandemic, that can no longer wait. (Gospel singer Yolanda Adams, rappers Bun B and Cordae, gospel group Take 6, and singer/actress Sofia Carson also performed at and/or attended the event.)

"They asked for me to come out here and speak and advocate, and it was a no-brainer for me," Phillips said. "I think what's most frustrating about the songwriter experience is that nobody has known what to do, what to say, who to talk to — what's going to be the most effective way to get this message across that we need to be fairly compensated."

DJs Amira and Kayla performing at the 2022 GRAMMYs On The Hill Awards. Photo: Paul Morigi / Getty Images

Infante, the granddaughter of Mexican ranchera legend Pedro Infante, agrees — and this reality compelled her to become a brand-new Advocacy participant. "I think my music genre is a little bit incoming; I do Mexican music, and there's a big community out there," she says. "I think it's important to have that music protected."

Warren, who co-wrote Dua Lipa's GRAMMY-nominated hit "Don't Start Now," initially tried to highlight advocacy for music people via online posts, but she hit a wall. "I think people don't understand what the [pay] rate is for [music] streaming — why it is that way, what the history of that is, and why it's so hard to change," she says. "I think just making it simple and educating people so they know what to ask for and what they deserve [is important]."

Jazz luminary Nnenna Freelon, who was most recently nominated for a GRAMMY for Best Jazz Vocal Album at the 2022 GRAMMYs, boils it down to eternal family lessons. "What did grandma say? 'Actions speak louder than words,'" she says. "Often, people don't think of the material value of the creation as anything that should be compensated," she added, speaking of the often-invisible role of the songwriter.

Reggae master Gramps Morgan articulates the problem less in terms of dollar signs than of sheer visibility. "If you're not acknowledged, it makes you feel bad," he says. And when he does discuss financial compensation, it's more in terms of the overall system than of applying Band-Aids: "The last time these laws were changed was in the '40s. Now it's time to, as the music has changed and moved forward."

Sofia Carson performing at the 2022 GRAMMYs On The Hill Awards. Photo: Paul Morigi / Getty Images

As singer/songwriter, DJ and activist Rowe puts it, "I got involved with Advocacy, because how can I not? If not, I'm just sitting at home complaining about why things are the way they are." She connects this to our era of no-skin-in-the-game online activism: "You can post all day, you can tweet all day, but you've got to really get out there and get with the people that can actually change your life."

Bear, a pianist straddling the spheres of classical and jazz, says she feels like she regularly gets "the short end of the stick" when it comes to compensation. "I've seen and felt firsthand in the streaming industry era how we can't make a living right now." What of her talented friends? "They have to go back and move in with their parents," Bear laments, "because all of a sudden, touring was gone."

How did these sentiments bear out at the actual GRAMMYs On The Hill Awards ceremony? Through passionate performances and gripping speeches. The 2022 GRAMMYs On The Hill Awards celebrated artist honorees Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis for their decades of creating iconic songs from artists like Janet Jackson, Mary J. Blige, Mariah Carey, and Boyz II Men, as well as Rep. Ted Deutch (D-Fla.) and Rep. Michael McCaul (R-Texas) for their leadership in supporting the rights of music creators. Despite political party lines, a fierce devotion to music binded them all as friends and colleagues last night.

Rep. Deutch, who spoke first, is the lead Democratic sponsor for the American Music Fairness Act, which, if passed, would pay royalties to artists and producers when their music is played on the radio. (If you didn't know this is a problem, read about it — you'll never listen to the radio the same way again.)

Recording Academy CEO Harvey Mason jr. speaking at the 2022 GRAMMYs On The Hill Awards. Photo: Leigh Vogel / Getty Images for The Recording Academy

"Our nation must nourish the songwriters struggling to make a living and support the producer and artist working in studios with the next potential hit," Deutch said in his riveting acceptance speech. And we do this, he declared, by making sure technology operates equitably to properly compensate creators. Proving his passion is on the line, he proclaimed his decades-long love for Bruce Springsteen, Faith Hill, and the greats of Motown, among other artists.

McCaul has co-sponsored key legislation like the Help Independent Tracks Succeed Act (HITS Act), which updates the federal tax code to bring in line music production with other industries and create parity. He noted that his big-band-loving parents were confused by his love of AC/DC and the Who — and he now feels the same about his kids' obsession with hip-hop. But it's all music, Rep. McCaul said in his acceptance speech — and it adds up to an intergenerational mode of expression.

The night also featured speeches from Todd Dupler, Acting Chief Advocacy & Public Policy Officer at the Recording Academy, as well as Recording Academy Board Of Trustees Chair Tammy Hurt, GRAMMY-winning singer/songwriter Jon Secada, and others.

But what ultimately bridged the music and congressional universes at the GRAMMYs On The Hill Awards? The music, of course: an opening performance of the national anthem with mind-bending harmonies by Take 6 and spectacular performances by Ledisi and Co-Chair of the Recording Academy's National Advocacy Committee and four-time GRAMMY winner Yolanda Adams. And to boot, the house band for the night was composed of Recording Academy members from various Chapters across the country.

By the time everyone in the house got on their feet and the stage erupted into a dance party while Adams performed "Open My Heart," the message of the 2022 GRAMMYs On The Hill Awards was abundantly clear: material change beats big talk any day. It's exactly what GRAMMYs on the Hill has advocated and accomplished: Over the past 20 years, the annual event has led to several major legislative wins for the music industry, most notably the Music Modernization Act in 2018.

And as long as that change is charged with a genuine love of music and music people, nothing can stop that righteous tide.

An Inside Look At The Recording Academy's Congressional Briefings During GRAMMY Week

How The HBCU Love Tour Inspires Young Black Students To Prosper In The Music Industry
(L-R): Harvey Mason jr., Precious Jewel, Rico Love, Valeisha Butterfield Jones

Photo Courtesy of the Recording Academy

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How The HBCU Love Tour Inspires Young Black Students To Prosper In The Music Industry

Presented by the Recording Academy's GRAMMY U and Black Music Collective, the inaugural HBCU Love Tour motivates students to learn more about the Academy's aims and stake their claims in the music business.

Recording Academy/Oct 8, 2022 - 02:19 am

On a vivacious afternoon back in April, the energy was positively crackling inside the Howard Theatre in Washington, D.C. From the first minute opening the event to the last seconds of the night, the energy level at the inaugural HBCU Love Tour event was enough to shatter the Richter scale. That's because the HBCU family from across the DMV came ready to learn from today's music industry's leaders.

The HBCU Love Tour, a joint initiative presented by the Recording Academy's GRAMMY U and the Black Music Collective, is a new program aimed at teaching young students and aspiring professionals attending an HBCU, short for historically Black college or university, about the music business and invite them to join GRAMMY U, the Recording Academy's membership program for college students. An entryway into the music industry, the HBCU Love Tour aims to open doors for young, gifted and Black students looking to make their mark in music and entertainment culture.

First, a little background for those who haven't been to the nation's capital. Howard Theatre is a historic spot dating back to 1910; it hosted many Black musical geniuses of the 20th century, from Sarah Vaughan to James Brown to Dionne Warwick. It's also near Howard University, where the majority of the HBCU Love Tour attendees are enrolled. Need proof? Every mention of "H.U." resulted in the saying's remainder, roared back by the audience: "You know!"

The launch of the HBCU Love Tour was a smashing success — you could feel the good vibes. Throughout the event, the throng of attendees, mostly college students, showed a palpable eagerness to learn the ropes of the music business, willing to engage with their entire hearts and minds and absorb that passed-down wisdom.

From Howard students and GRAMMY U affiliates Nia Burnley and Rainee Wilson to the Recording Academy's Vice President of Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Ryan Butler, everyone brought something to the table. (To say nothing of Precious Jewel, the first-ever HBCU Love Contest Winner and one of Howard University's own, who led off the night with a spellbinding performance.)

And throughout a long chat between recent 2022 GRAMMYs On The Hill honorees Jimmy Jam & Terry Lewis  — as well as appearances by Recording Academy CEO Harvey Mason jr.; Chair on the Board of Trustees of the Recording Academy Tammy Hurt; and others — the crowd alternated between silent fascination and visceral enthusiasm.

Read More: "Black Music Saved The World": How The Recording Academy Honors Presented By The Black Music Collective Celebrated Positive Change For The Culture & Community

But a big reason the HBCU Love Tour was so special was due to its radiant host: Rico Love, Vice Chair on the Board of Trustees of the Recording Academy and a two-time GRAMMY nominee.

Even while in conversation with a guest, Love wasn't afraid to break the fourth wall and address the crowd directly — the sign of an excellent moderator — whether he was extolling the virtues of MusiCares ("When you say, 'Forget the GRAMMYs,' you're saying, 'Forget all those people who need help!'") or Advocacy ("Unbeknownst to a lot of people, they're fighting for songwriters' rights!").

Love understands how the Recording Academy and its various initiatives can transform the lives of all music people and creators, including young, aspiring students. "Today was my first day on Capitol Hill doing Advocacy work, and I felt powerful," he said of his work at the 2022 GRAMMYs On The Hill earlier that week.

And in a panel between singer/songwriter Raheem DeVaughn, rapper Cordae and singer/songwriter Kacey Williams, moderated by Love, the realities of struggling in the music business in a pandemic age were laid bare — as well as ways to help ameliorate them.

"I think it's about understanding your worth," Williams, who fronts the band Black Alley, said, succintly summing up the entire theme of the event. "In order to be considered successful in a business, you need to understand what your business is worth."

Of course, songwriters, producers and other music creators hold their craft in high esteem — why else devote their lives to music? However, much of the world hasn't caught up, and it won't without a whole lot of passionate change.

The sheer number of mental seeds planted at the inaugural HBCU Love Tour that night — for a new generation of music people and creators set to lead the industry into the future — is more than enough to engender hope and ignite change.

So, let's keep that blessed feeling of the first-ever HBCU Love Tour in our back pockets as we continue to celebrate and support music and all its professionals and creatives. Whether they consciously know it or not, these students intuitively grasp what they're worth — and the world's about to find out.

Next Up: The HBCU Love Tour heads to Atlanta

Student Showcase
Vinyl at Center Stage
Sunday, Oct. 9, at 4 p.m. ET

Panel: Demystifying the GRAMMY Awards with J.I.D, Baby Tate, and Rico Love
GRAMMY U Masterclass with Armani White presented by Mastercard
Ray Charles Performing Arts Center
Monday, Oct. 10., at 4 p.m. ET
 

GRAMMY U members and students at Clark Atlanta University, Morehouse College, Georgia State University, and Spelman College are invited to attend. RSVP here.

Meet Some Of The Music Industry Leaders Who Just Joined The Recording Academy's 2022 New Member Class

Black Music Collective Podcast: Watch Jimmy Jam & Terry Lewis Discuss Their Legendary Legacy As GRAMMY-Winning Producers
Jimmy Jam & Terry Lewis (L) & MC Lyte (R)

Jimmy Jam & Terry Lewis PHOTO CREDIT: Courtesy of D-Nice / MC LYTE PHOTO CREDIT: D'ANDRE MICHAEL

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Black Music Collective Podcast: Watch Jimmy Jam & Terry Lewis Discuss Their Legendary Legacy As GRAMMY-Winning Producers

In the latest episode of the "Black Music Collective Podcast," watch an engrossing discussion with five-time GRAMMY-winning producers Jimmy Jam & Terry Lewis

Recording Academy/Oct 28, 2021 - 11:30 pm

In the latest episode of the "Recording Academy x EBONY: Black Music Collective Podcast," a new podcast series presented by Procter & Gamble, host and two-time GRAMMY nominee MC Lyte chats with music legends Jimmy Jam & Terry Lewis, who define the phrase "legend status." The production duo has won five GRAMMY Awards and have been nominated in the Producer Of The Year category 11 times—more than anyone else.

They have more Billboard No. 1 hits than any other songwriting and production team in history and have earned more than 100 gold, platinum, multiplatinum, and diamond albums for their work with such iconic artists as Michael Jackson, Luther Vandross, George Michael, Gwen Stefani, Kanye West, and many more.

Always crossing cultural boundaries, Jimmy Jam & Terry Lewis received a nomination for Best Original Song at the 1993 Oscars for their work on the Janet Jackson song "Again" for the film Poetic Justice. They also received a Primetime Emmy Award nomination for Outstanding Music Direction for their work on the 2020 "Let's Go Crazy: The GRAMMY Salute To Prince" GRAMMY special, presented by the Recording Academy, AEG Ehrlich Ventures and CBS.

Even 40 years into their career, Jimmy Jam & Terry Lewis continue to evolve: This week, the production wizards are releasing Jam & Lewis: Volume One, their debut artist album.

Listen to Jimmy Jam & Terry Lewis discuss their impact on the music industry and the key to their long-lasting partnership in the newest episode of the "Recording Academy x EBONY: Black Music Collective Podcast" above.

About The Recording Academy x EBONY: Black Music Collective Podcast:

The "Recording Academy x EBONY: Black Music Collective Podcast" is a six-part podcast series presented by Procter & Gamble. Hosted by MC Lyte, the series includes various members of the Recording Academy's Black Music Collective (BMC), a group of prominent Black music creators and professionals who share the common goal of amplifying Black voices within the Academy and beyond, who discuss their contributions and impact within the community and the music industry at large.

The "Recording Academy x EBONY: Black Music Collective Podcast" streams every Thursday at 8 p.m. ET / 5 p.m. PT through July 29 on EBONY.com and EBONY's YouTube channel and Facebook page, as well as on GRAMMY.com/BlackMusicCollectivePodcast and the Recording Academy's official Facebook page and YouTube channel.

Black Music Collective Podcast: Watch Universal Music Group's Jeff Harleston Discuss How He Elevates Marginalized Communities

The Recording Academy Announces 3rd Annual "Behind The Record" Initiative To Continue To #GiveCredit To Creators In Music

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The Recording Academy Announces 3rd Annual "Behind The Record" Initiative To Continue To #GiveCredit To Creators In Music

This year, the Recording Academy's "Behind The Record" initiative, a global social media activation aimed at spotlighting the many creators in music, introduces Behind The Record Advocacy, a new virtual program to discus creators' needs with Congress

Recording Academy/Oct 12, 2021 - 05:00 pm

The Recording Academy has announced that it will continue giving credit where credit is due with its 3rd annual "Behind The Record" initiative, a global social media activation aimed at spotlighting the many producers, engineers, songwriters, composers, mixers, instrumentalists, and other creators who contribute to the music recording process. Taking place Friday, Oct. 15, the industry-wide conversation encourages artists across all music genres to celebrate their collaborators' incredible behind-the-scenes work on the tracks, records and albums loved by music fans around the world. This year's campaign features a short film, narrated by Recording Academy Board of Trustees Secretary/Treasurer Om'Mas Keith, illustrating that behind every hit song is an intricate dance of creativity that builds and builds to the final product.

A day before the social media activation's launch, on Thursday, Oct. 14, the Recording Academy will introduce Behind The Record Advocacy, a new virtual advocacy program to inform lawmakers about issues affecting the creators behind their favorite records. Building off the success of the Recording Academy's "Behind The Record" initiative, Academy members will meet virtually with members of Congress nationwide to discuss legislation that would have a direct impact on America's recording artists, songwriters and studio professionals, such as the HITS Act and the American Music Fairness Act. With nearly 200 meetings with congressional offices anticipated for Behind The Record Advocacy, members will focus on ensuring that the individuals behind the record are able to earn fair compensation for their work.

"It takes a village to create a recording, and as an organization that serves to support all music creators, we invite our peers to join us in spotlighting the many music professionals behind our favorite songs," Harvey Mason jr., CEO of the Recording Academy, said. "While we celebrate the music professionals behind the scenes, we also recognize the importance of fighting for fair treatment of creators. We're proud of the evolution of 'Behind The Record' to include an advocacy element this year as we continue our ongoing work to ensure all music creators flourish."

"Behind The Record" is supported by the Recording Academy's Advocacy Department, Producers & Engineers Wing and Songwriters & Composers Wing. Supporting all music creators—including the artists behind our favorite records—is an urgent initiative for the Recording Academy year-round. Within the past year alone, the Recording Academy established the Songwriters & Composers Wing to better represent the diverse community of music creators who provide the world with the gift of song. The Academy also reintroduced the HITS Act in the House and Senate, which would allow artists and record producers to deduct 100 percent of sound recording production expenses in the year they are incurred, and continued efforts to support women producers and engineers through its Women In The Mix initiative.

To help the Recording Academy further support creators working behind the scenes, artists can participate in "Behind The Record" by:

  • Emailing givecredit@recordingacademy.com to request an access code to the Credit Cover Generator Portal.
  • Posting your Credit Cover across social media channels and tagging those who worked on your project. Use hashtags #BehindTheRecord #GiveCredit #WeAreMusic.
  • Artists can create Credit Covers for a single track or album, and covers will live in a gallery on the "Behind The Record" website for music fans to view and discover the roles of creatives behind some of their favorite records.

For the third year, Jaxsta, the world's largest public-facing dedicated database of official music credits, provided credits for Warner Music, Sony Music, Universal Music Group, and Merlin releases.

For more information, please visit the "Behind The Record" website. Follow and join the global conversation on social media using the hashtags #BehindTheRecord, #GiveCredit and #WeAreMusic.

Learn More About The Recording Academy's "Behind The Record" Initiative

Black Music Collective Podcast: Watch Jimmy Jam & Terry Lewis Discuss Their Legendary Legacy As GRAMMY-Winning Producers

Jimmy Jam & Terry Lewis (L) & MC Lyte (R)

Jimmy Jam & Terry Lewis PHOTO CREDIT: Courtesy of D-Nice / MC LYTE PHOTO CREDIT: D'ANDRE MICHAEL

 

news

Black Music Collective Podcast: Watch Jimmy Jam & Terry Lewis Discuss Their Legendary Legacy As GRAMMY-Winning Producers

In the latest episode of the "Black Music Collective Podcast," watch an engrossing discussion with five-time GRAMMY-winning producers Jimmy Jam & Terry Lewis

Recording Academy/Jul 9, 2021 - 04:00 am

In the latest episode of the "Recording Academy x EBONY: Black Music Collective Podcast," a new podcast series presented by Procter & Gamble, host and two-time GRAMMY nominee MC Lyte chats with music legends Jimmy Jam & Terry Lewis, who define the phrase "legend status." The production duo has won five GRAMMY Awards and have been nominated in the Producer Of The Year category 11 times—more than anyone else.

They have more Billboard No. 1 hits than any other songwriting and production team in history and have earned more than 100 gold, platinum, multiplatinum, and diamond albums for their work with such iconic artists as Michael Jackson, Luther Vandross, George Michael, Gwen Stefani, Kanye West, and many more.

Always crossing cultural boundaries, Jimmy Jam & Terry Lewis received a nomination for Best Original Song at the 1993 Oscars for their work on the Janet Jackson song "Again" for the film Poetic Justice. They also received a Primetime Emmy Award nomination for Outstanding Music Direction for their work on the 2020 "Let's Go Crazy: The GRAMMY Salute To Prince" GRAMMY special, presented by the Recording Academy, AEG Ehrlich Ventures and CBS.

Even 40 years into their career, Jimmy Jam & Terry Lewis continue to evolve: This week, the production wizards are releasing Jam & Lewis: Volume One, their debut artist album.

Listen to Jimmy Jam & Terry Lewis discuss their impact on the music industry and the key to their long-lasting partnership in the newest episode of the "Recording Academy x EBONY: Black Music Collective Podcast" above.

About The Recording Academy x EBONY: Black Music Collective Podcast:

The "Recording Academy x EBONY: Black Music Collective Podcast" is a six-part podcast series presented by Procter & Gamble. Hosted by MC Lyte, the series includes various members of the Recording Academy's Black Music Collective (BMC), a group of prominent Black music creators and professionals who share the common goal of amplifying Black voices within the Academy and beyond, who discuss their contributions and impact within the community and the music industry at large.

The "Recording Academy x EBONY: Black Music Collective Podcast" streams every Thursday at 8 p.m. ET / 5 p.m. PT through July 29 on EBONY.com and EBONY's YouTube channel and Facebook page, as well as on GRAMMY.com/BlackMusicCollectivePodcast and the Recording Academy's official Facebook page and YouTube channel.

Black Music Collective Podcast: Watch Universal Music Group's Jeff Harleston Discuss How He Elevates Marginalized Communities