Photo: Paul Morigi/WireImage
Neil Portnow, Yolanda Adams & P.J. Morton
Inside The 2019 GRAMMYs On The Hill Awards Celebration
Music and politics came together on the eve of Capitol Hill's largest policy event for music to celebrate champions of music creators' rights from both worlds
Hot on the heels of the successful passage of the Music Modernization Act in October 2018, the 2019 GRAMMYs on the Hill gala event celebrated an industry now looking to provide quality educational opportunities for young artists, as well as the artists of the past and present highlighting their stellar advocates in the halls of Congress. Ultimately, the underscored the truly good, decent and humane benefits that can blossom when music and politics unite to ensure a sustainable future for all music creators.
Washington, D.C.’s The Hamilton hosted the event, which honored singer/songwriter/actress Kristin Chenoweth and gospel icon Yolanda Adams. As well, two congressional honorees—Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), the President Pro Tempore of the Senate, and Rep. Hakeem Jeffries (D-N.Y.), the Chairman of the House Democratic Caucus—were feted. Though Senator Grassley was unable to attend, he was more than ably replaced by Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), the Speaker of the House, who noted the “tireless advocacy work of artists like Adams and Chenoweth for the aid of America’s music professionals,” was, “greatly appreciated by their many friends on Capitol Hill.”
Chenoweth, a stalwart musical icon whose talents span musical theater, film, and television, was honored with the GRAMMYs on the Hill Philanthropist Award. Regarding her Kristin Chenoweth Art and Education Fund, the diminutive in stature yet mightily voiced performer noted that she would rather show than discuss the impact of her Art and Education Fund. Pairing with Cassandra Haight, a student from Washington, D.C.’s Duke Ellington School of the Performing Arts, she performed “For Good,” her duet from the soundtrack of legendary Broadway musical Wicked.
Incredibly honored and grateful to have received such a beautiful recognition at #GRAMMYsOnTheHill last night. Thank you to @SpeakerPelosi for presenting me with the Philanthropist Award from the @RecordingAcad @GRAMMYAdvocacy pic.twitter.com/4bPrZjlImw— Kristin Chenoweth (@KChenoweth) April 10, 2019
Insofar as being the man responsible for being the first (and only) person to quote Notorious B.I.G.’s “Juicy” on the floor of the House of Representatives (during a 2017 discussion on Affordable Care Act), Hakeem Jeffries is already a groundbreaker. Regarding the passage of the MMA, he noted a promising message of bipartisanship and unity as it related to how Congress regarded the industry. “We came together as Republicans and Democrats, the left and the right because music is such a universal language. [Music] captures the soundtrack of our life including love, loss, and a life well lived. People put aside their partisan differences to do what’s right for artists, songwriters, and creatives.”
Adams, was gracious in being honored with the Recording Academy's Creators Leadership Award, and the GRAMMY-winning gospel icon also delivered a memorable performance. The President of the Recording Academy Texas Chapter, her strong advocacy work for preserving the health and financial sustainability of her fellow artists and songwriters via Academy charity MusiCares, was highlighted.
As always, this year’s “only at the GRAMMYs on the Hill Awards” moment did not fail to entertain. GRAMMY-nominated singer/songwriter Linda Perry played a stirring acoustic guitar rendition of a song she penned, Christina Aguilera’s “Beautiful," which won the GRAMMY for Best Female Pop Vocal Performance in 2004. Perry then launched into a feel-good rendition of her own—via her former group 4 Non Blondes—1991 hit “What’s Up” alongside a stage filled with performance luminaries including Gavin DeGraw, and 20 members of Congress as a backing choir and band.
I’m in Washington DC for #GRAMMYsOnTheHill. And on this stage is a bunch of congress, @GavinDeGraw and @LZZYHALE oh and @SpeakerPelosi watching from the audience .. @GRAMMYAdvocacy pic.twitter.com/VC3Uad21qN— LINDA PERRY (@RealLindaPerry) April 10, 2019
“Often when you think you’re at the end of something, you’re at the beginning of something else,” outgoing CEO of the Recording Academy, Neil Portnow paraphrased Mister Rogers, at the open of his remarks. Capping his 17 years in the position with the passage of the Music Modernization Act (MMA) is unquestionably a highlight.
"The passage of the MMA is a monumental success, not only for music creators but for music people everywhere," said Portnow. "Progress begins with unity. From creators to elected leaders, our Recording Academy staff, and our partner organizations throughout the industry, have demonstrated altruistic harmony.”
He also noted that, “At the heart of Recording Academy members is a desire to give back. The Academy has deepened its commitment to its charities. Tonight’s beneficiary, The GRAMMY Museum, is our shared music cultural home.”
As the event bringing together the worlds of music and politics came to a close, everyone looked toward the following morning for GRAMMYs on the Hill Advocacy Day, where both lawmakers and music advocates are able to share perspectives looking ahead to the future of music policy. And as all of those on stage and in the audience experienced on this lively night in the Nation's Capitol, music has the power to bring us together.
Photo: Paras Griffin/Getty Images for Urban One Honors
4 Ways Pharrell Williams Has Made An Impact: Supporting The Music Industry, Amplifying Social Issues & More
From advocacy and activism to music education and philanthropy, trailblazing superproducer Pharrell Williams uses his global reach to enact social change and inspire the masses — which is exactly why he's a 2023 GRAMMYs On The Hill honoree.
Thirteen-time GRAMMY winner Pharrell Williams understands how to wield his influence for the betterment of humanity. When he's not in the studio making award-winning music, the prolific multihyphenate spends his time supporting causes like education, sustainable fashion, conservation, and human rights, and leverages his platform to make change happen — creating a blueprint for merging passions with social causes.
The visionary's philanthropic reach is awe-inspiring. Since establishing his first non-profit, From One Hand to AnOTHER, in 2008 — a six-week summer camp that offers learning programs focused on science, technology and the arts to children from low-income families — Williams has given a host of communities access to resources, tools and life-changing opportunities. He's helped build an after-school center in his hometown of Virginia Beach, offered internships to students from Harlem, New York, and launched a non-profit initiative for Black and Latinx entrepreneurs on the heels of the 2020 racial justice protests.
Ultimately, the mega-producer wants to make the world a better place for future generations, which shines through in his dedication to education, climate action and equality. By taking action to tackle these big-picture issues, Williams is showing others in his position that it's possible to do what you love and make a difference in the world.
To mark Williams' efforts and their impacts, the multihyphenate will be honored alongside U.S. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) and Sen. Bill Cassidy (R-La.) at this year's GRAMMYs On The Hill in Washington D.C. The annual event spotlights congressional leaders and music makers who have worked together to raise awareness and pass legislation to help ensure fair pay and equal rights for creators.
Ahead of the event on April 26 and 27, take a look at four ways Williams has supported the music industry — and beyond.
He Advocates For The Protection Of Creators' Rights
Williams has made a concerted effort to negotiate with labels for control of his music, and he uses his platform to help fight for equality and equity for all artists. "I shouldn't be the only one with this preferred deal," Williams said to the head of Columbia Records after negotiating a deal to own his masters in 2015. "All artists should own their intellectual property — otherwise you're just working for someone else. It's really weird: They own the fields where you and God have laid the seeds; you do the harvesting, but they have the ownership."
Williams has consistently highlighted the importance of ownership in music, and his push to usher in new protections for artists extends to the virtual world. In 2021, the music mogul joined the advisory council of CXIP DAO, a decentralized organization that allows creators to protect their copyrights and manage their digital assets.
Read More: Everything You Need To Know About GRAMMYs On The Hill 2023: What It Is, Who It Benefits & What It Has Accomplished
He Supports And Funds Arts & Music Education Programs
Williams got his musical start as a drummer in elementary school before taking band in middle school, where he met a similarly music-minded classmate named Chad Hugo, his future production partner in the Neptunes. Along with support from his grandmother, this educational experience shaped Williams into the innovator he is today, and encouraged him to center much of his philanthropy on the arts and education as a whole.
"I want all children to have access to that kind of creative growth, access, and support. All kids, not just my own," Pharrell told Billboard in 2019.
His actions have shown just that: In 2009, Williams' non-profit launched a Summer of Innovation camp in association with NASA. His foundation would go on to donate school supplies and offer free after-school programs and camps to kids from his hometown areas.
In 2018, the "Happy" singer partnered with American Express Platinum for The Yellow Ball, a fundraising event at the Brooklyn Museum to benefit Young Audiences Arts for Learning. Soon after, he joined forces with Verizon to launch a tech-forward music curriculum for underserved middle schools all over the country, which provides students with access to virtual reality, 3D printers and other emerging technology.
He Launched A Private School
Back in 2021, Williams took his education advocacy to the next level when he announced the launch of Yellowhab, a tuition-free private school for third to sixth graders from low-income families in his home state of Virginia. Always innovating, Williams's micro-school takes "a future-forward approach" to learning that includes using tech and other methods to immerse students in the educational process.
"If the system is fixed and unfair, then it needs to be broken," Williams said in a press release. "We don't want lockstep learning where so many kids fall behind; we want bespoke learning designed for each child, where the things that make a child different are the same things that will make a child rise up and take flight."
He Uses Fashion To Help Global Causes
The fashion influencer has created a number of clothing and accessory lines throughout his career, from the Billionaire Boys Club label to its many offshoots. He's partnered with high-profile brands to create collections that raise awareness and funding for socially conscious causes; in December 2022, his global lifestyle brand ICECREAM collabed with Mini USA for a capsule collection whose proceeds went to Polar Bears International, a non-profit that works to protect the endangered species.
But with eight million metric tons of plastic in the ocean, his sustainable denim collection with Bionic Yarns may be his most socially impactful. Over a two-year period, this collaboration converted an estimated seven million plastic bottles into clothing items.
"We are trying to infiltrate the entire spectrum of fashion, high-end and low. It's a part of sustainability and the cause is to never throw anything [plastics and trash] into the ocean again," Williams told Women's Wear Daily in 2014. "The ocean is just one part of the earth we're concentrating on, but the world is made up of 75 to 80 percent water. It's a huge place to start."
Inside GRAMMYs On The Hill 2023: How The Recording Academy Will Fight For Creator's Rights
Graphic: The Recording Academy
The Recording Academy's Black Music Collective Welcomes New Honorary Chairs And Leadership Council: Mickey Guyton, Jimmie Allen, Yolanda Adams, Yola & Many More
The Recording Academy's Black Music Collective welcomes its new and returning Honorary Chairs and Leadership Council, who are committed to amplifying and advancing Black music creators and professionals within the Academy and music industry at-large.
Include. Advance. Uplift. The Recording Academy's Black Music Collective (BMC) today announced the addition of new music creators and professionals to its esteemed Honorary Chairs and Leadership Council. These members — which include both new and returning Honorary Chairs, like Quincy Jones, John Legend, Yolanda Adams, and Ethiopia Habtemariam, and Leadership Council representatives, like H.E.R., Brianna Agyemang, D-Nice, and Terri Lyne Carrington — will continue the BMC's commitment to supporting and elevating Black artists, creators and music professionals.
The full list of the Black Music Collective's new and returning Honorary Chairs and Leadership Council members is included below.
The new and returning Honorary Chairs and Leadership Council members will work hand in hand with the Recording Academy's Diversity, Equity & Inclusion team and BMC leads, Ryan Butler and Ricky Lyon, to elevate the mission of the BMC. As well, Recording Academy's Board of Trustees Vice Chair Rico Love steps in as the new BMC Chair.
"The Black Music Collective has remained steadfast in its mission to advance Black music since its founding in 2020. We are thrilled to have inaugural members of the BMC returning and honored to have an esteemed community of new industry leaders joining us to accelerate progress," Recording Academy CEO Harvey Mason jr. said. "Black music is an integral part of all music, and we are committed to the long-term work required to drive real and measurable change."
Established in 2020, the BMC has thrived and grown ever since. Its industry-leading, trailblazing events, initiatives and collaborations have supported Black musicians and professionals across all genres, industries and backgrounds. The BMC's annual "Your Future Is Now" scholarship program, launched in February 2021 in partnership with Amazon Music, and the launch of the HBCU Love Tour, created in partnership with GRAMMY U, have supported students at Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) who represent the next generation of music industry leaders. The first-ever Recording Academy Honors Presented By The Black Music Collective event, an official GRAMMY Week 2022 event launched in April ahead of the 2022 GRAMMYs, honored John Legend with the inaugural Recording Academy Global Impact Award and celebrated D-Nice, Love Renaissance, MC Lyte, and BMC Leadership Council member Riggs Morales.
"There have been moments where I knew I had to be the one young girls saw pick up a guitar, or advocate for the right to be creatively free, to stand for myself. They needed to see a dark-skinned, plus-size woman do that, so this moment feels like a deepening of my mission for representation for all of that. For this and so many more reasons, I'm so profoundly honored to join the Black Music Collective Leadership Council," singer/songwriter, musician and actress Yola said.
The Black Music Collective's Honorary Chairs and Leadership Council:
Valeisha Butterfield Jones
Binta Niambi Brown
Terri Lyne Carrington
Rico Love, Chair
Prince Charles Alexander
Denzel Baptiste & David Biral (Take A Daytrip)
Stay up to date on the BMC's progress and follow the BMC on Instagram.
How The Recording Academy's 2022 New Membership Class Reflects Its Ongoing Commitment To Diversity, Equity & Inclusion
Everything You Need To Know About The Recording Academy's 2022 Chapter Board Elections
The Recording Academy's 2022 Chapter Board Elections, open March 29 - April 4, are a pivotal opportunity to serve our local Chapter communities and to help launch the next generation of Recording Academy leaders. Here's everything you need to know.
As we prepare to celebrate music's best and brightest at the 2022 GRAMMYs, officially known as the 64th GRAMMY Awards, we must also recognize those who are dedicated to serving our music community year-round.
The active participation of Recording Academy members makes a difference, whether it's voting in the GRAMMY Awards process, recommending peers for membership, or registering for the District Advocate advocacy movement.
The upcoming Chapter Board Elections are a pivotal opportunity to serve our local Chapter communities and to help launch the next generation of Recording Academy leaders. The results of this election will impact the future of the Academy from the local to the national level.
Here's everything you need to know about the Recording Academy's 2022 Chapter Board Elections before voting opens next week.
When are Chapter Board Elections?
The Chapter Board Elections are typically held in early April of each year. The 2022 Elections are open Tuesday, March 29, at 8 a.m. local time – Monday, April 4, at 11:59 p.m. local time.
What are Chapter Boards?
The Recording Academy's membership is organized into 12 Chapters nationwide. Each Chapter has a local Board of Governors that advises and supports the National Board of Trustees and collaborates with the Chapter President and Academy staff on local programming and Academy initiatives.
Who is eligible to vote in Chapter Board Elections?
Each Chapter's Voting and Professional membership vote in their respective Chapter Board Elections to elect their Chapter's Governors.
Who serves on Chapter Boards?
A Chapter Board is composed of Recording Academy members who are elected to the positions of Trustee; Chapter Officers, which include a President, Vice President, and Secretary; and Governors.
Why is voting in Chapter Board Elections important?
Voting is a right and a responsibility as a member.
While we love hearing creators' voices on stage and on recordings, it's our responsibility to listen to their concerns, ideas and recommendations in order to keep our Academy and our industry moving forward.
Your vote makes a difference.
Voting in this election is an opportunity to help drive the Recording Academy and our music communities forward by electing the best and brightest members to your Chapter's leadership.
Your vote helps ensure a diverse, inclusive and representative Board.
Recording Academy members elected to their Chapter Boards ensure the policies and procedures put in place by the Academy reflect the needs and aspirations of our vastly diverse music community.
Your vote is your voice.
As a member of the Recording Academy, your vote carries weight and is tremendously valued.
How can I vote in the Chapter Board Elections?
When the elections open on Tuesday, March 29, Voting and Professional members will receive an email from the Recording Academy with a direct link to their online ballot. This login will be different from each member's Recording Academy login.
Once you click on your ballot link, review the candidates' bios. Vote for the individuals who you believe will best represent your local music community.
Be sure to submit your Chapter Board Elections ballot before voting closes on Monday, April 4. If you have any questions or issues with your ballot, please reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org.
For more information about Recording Academy Governance or to view the current list of Elected Leaders, visit https://recordingacademy.com/Governance.
Recording Academy Bolsters Membership With 2,710 Music Creators And Professionals Invited
Yolanda Adams Photo Credit: Courtesy of Roy Cox / MC Lyte Photo Credit: D'Andre Michael
Black Music Collective Podcast: How Yolanda Adams Became A Global Icon In Gospel Music
In the latest episode of the "Black Music Collective Podcast," four-time GRAMMY-winning artist Yolanda Adams discusses her journey to becoming a household name in the gospel world and the power of faith
In the newest 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 gospel music icon Yolanda Adams.
Recognized by Billboard as one of the Top Gospel Artists of the last decade, Adams is a four-time GRAMMY-winning artist who believes her music heals, encourages and inspires others to trust more than themselves. She has triumphantly carried the torch for contemporary gospel and inspirational music across her impressive discography.
In addition to her storied music career, which has seen the Houston, Texas, native pivot from school teacher to part-time model to platinum-selling artist, Adams is also an author, designer, record company executive, mother, and host of her award-winning, nationally syndicated radio show, "The Yolanda Adams Morning Show."
An active member within the Recording Academy family and Trustee of the Texas Chapter, Adams currently serves on the distinguished leadership council of the Recording Academy's Black Music Collective.
Listen to Yolanda Adams discuss her journey to becoming a household name in the gospel world and the power of faith 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 Jimmy Jam & Terry Lewis Discuss Their Legendary Legacy As GRAMMY-Winning Producers