Women's History Month: Meet Two Women Advocates Devoted To Creating Music — And Defending It

Yolanda Adams and Rep. Lois Frankel

Photo: Leigh Vogel/WireImage for The Recording Academy

news

Women's History Month: Meet Two Women Advocates Devoted To Creating Music — And Defending It

This Women's History Month, we're reflecting on the continual advocacy efforts of two women and what makes them stand out in the music industry. Ledisi and Yolanda Adams have both made waves in the music industry through their talent and dedication to cre

Advocacy/Mar 29, 2022 - 10:58 pm

Women's History Month is here again, and we're opening up the conversation through the lens of advocacy for all music people.

To kick it off, why not meditate on the advocacy efforts of two women who stand tall in the often male-dominated music industry?

Meet Ledisi and Yolanda Adams, who have made waves in the music industry through their creative outpourings and tireless devotion to creator's rights.

Ledisi — A Towering Vocalist & Voice For Creators

As a GRAMMY Award winner — and a 2022 GRAMMY nominee for Best Traditional Pop Vocal Album — Ledisi not only works hard on her music, but also for the entire music community.

She has participated in the GRAMMYs on the Hill Awards and Advocacy Day, works as the president of the Academy's L.A. Chapter, and remains outspoken on the importance of music education and using one's voice to help others.

In 2021, Ledisi discussed how she previously felt uncomfortable staking a claim in the advocacy space. But after participating in a GRAMMY U panel for the San Francisco Chapter, her perspective changed — and she realized there is far more to the Recording Academy than handing out awards.

Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) and Ledisi. Photo: Paul Morigi/WireImage for NARAS​

"I can proudly say I am an Advocate for the Arts, and it started here with the Recording Academy. I have found so much joy in helping my beloved music community," she said. "In my first GRAMMYs On The Hill, I walked alongside my peers lobbying in the halls of Congress using my little voice — [one] that shocks sometimes, [but] still, people listened.

As Ledisi recalled, she left with the realization that the Recording Academy's essence is artists and artistry. "It's creators like me who advocate for artist rights and their legacy," she added, "for fair representation, diversity and the passion to preserve the history of all music creators."

Read More: Anthony Hamilton To Ledisi: 60th GRAMMY Nominees Go To Bat For Music Creators

In 2015, Ledisi came to D.C. to both perform at the GRAMMYs on the Hill Awards and participate in the Advocacy Day that followed.

When asked about her role as an advocate in an interview, Ledisi replied: "Nothing in music is free. Everything has a cost, and as long as we continue to have outdated laws that don't reflect the times and it affects creators, we will never be 'free.'"

Read More: Celebrating GRAMMY Nominees Who Advocated For Creators' Rights

In 2018, Ledisi spoke out for SB-933, or California's Arts for Every Student Act. While, unfortunately, it didn't make its way to law, the underlying message — and her sentiment in support of it — remain impactful.

Why did Ledisi stump for the bill? Because "children deserve the opportunity to nurture their love of the arts," she said.

Ledisi also touched on key qualities that arts education instills in students: collaboration, communication, critical thinking, creativity, and encouraging others to innovate and persevere.

Read More: Ledisi Weighs In On The Importance Of Music Education

On a collegiate level, in 2020, Ledisi partnered with former First Lady Michelle Obama's Reach Higher Initiative and GRAMMY U to help students reach their goals in the music industry.

Oh, and as for SB-933? Granted, it may not have passed back in 2018. But this year, California has a fresh opportunity to drastically improve arts education statewide — if the California Arts and Music in Schools ballot initiative becomes law.

Yolanda Adams — A Gospel Great Demanding Fair Pay

In 2019, Yolanda Adams was honored at GRAMMYs On The Hill for her dedication to advocating for the rights of artists.

She's not only a gospel singer-songwriter and four-time GRAMMY winner — she's consistently been a champion for creator's rights. Through a variety of channels, Yolanda has demonstrated her commitment to music advocacy time and time again.

Adams has been the Co-Chair of the National Advocacy Committee since 2020. This committee works to determine specific policy positions of the Recording Academy and advance the interests of all music creators.

As chair, she has worked with the Academy's Advocacy team in Washington, D.C., to advocate for legislation that would enhance the rights of creators such as the HITS Act and American Music Fairness Act.

Read More: Yolanda Adams To Co-Chair Recording Academy's National Advocacy Committee

In 2020, Yolanda Adams testified in front of the Senate Judiciary Committee Subcommittee on Intellectual Property with the theme: "How Does The DMCA Contemplate Limitations and Exceptions Like Fair Use?"

Her testimony highlighted the importance of artists receiving compensation and giving permission for usage of their music — especially when the pandemic ground live music to a halt.

Adams also spoke about the need to pass legislation that would put an end to AM-FM radio being able to play music without giving compensation to artists. This is what the American Music Fairness Act — introduced in June of 2021 — would do.

"When we can't perform, we try to make part of our living from our recordings. In the digital landscape, where streams only bring fractions of a penny to the creators, we hope to monetize every use," Adams said during the hearing. "This is where fair use comes in."

"When you hear a debate about fair use, it's typically about monetization. And that's important to me and my fellow Recording Academy members," she continued. "If someone's claim of fair use reduces the artists' ability to earn a living, it should be treated as infringement, plain and simple."

Adams not only advocated at a national level, but statewide as well. In 2018 she joined the Recording Academy in Texas for the Texas Chapter Advocacy Day where she and other Academy members met with state lawmakers to highlight the importance of artists' rights within their state.

Read More: Texas Chapter Advocacy Day Unites Music Champions in the Lone Star State

She also participated in the 7th annual District Advocate Day in August of 2020. Although this day was filled with virtual meetings rather than in person, it nonetheless was crucial in getting Members of Congress aware of the issues at hand—including providing relief for shuttered venues and artists who were impacted by the pandemic.

Adams also participated in the Academy's 7th annual District Advocate Day on Aug. 12 [2020], advocating alongside nearly 2,000 music professionals for critical support for the music community as it continues dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic.

"We're going to keep on fighting so we can make sure terrestrial radio gives us what we rightfully earned," she said, "and make sure the next generations of artists don't feel that they have to play their music underground."

Keep checking RecordingAcademy.com and GRAMMY.com throughout Women's History Month to learn how women artists and advocates have fought for all music creators throughout the years — and how they're just getting started.

Creators & Champions For Creators: These 2022 GRAMMYs Award Show Nominees Are Also Advocates For The Music Industry

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

Graphic: The Recording Academy

news

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.

Recording Academy/Sep 16, 2022 - 01:00 pm

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:

HONORARY CHAIRS

Returning

  • Jeff Harleston

  • Jimmy Jam

  • Quincy Jones

  • John Legend

New

  • Yolanda Adams

  • Valeisha Butterfield Jones

  • Ethiopia Habtemariam

  • Yvette Noel-Schure

LEADERSHIP COUNCIL

Returning

  • Brianna Agyemang

  • Tunde Balogun

  • Tuma Basa

  • Catherine Brewton

  • Binta Niambi Brown

  • Terri Lyne Carrington

  • D-Nice

  • Phylicia Fant

  • H.E.R.

  • Jeriel Johnson

  • Om'Mas Keith

  • Rico Love, Chair

  • Heather Lowery

  • MixedByAli

  • Riggs Morales

  • Steve Pamon

  • Tayla Parx

  • Ryan Press

  • Rashad Robinson

  • Jamila Thomas

New

  • Prince Charles Alexander

  • Jimmie Allen

  • Denzel Baptiste & David Biral (Take A Daytrip)

  • Jennifer Goicoechea

  • Mickey Guyton

  • Claudine Joseph

  • Ledisi

  • Herb Trawick

  • Ebonie Ward

  • Yola

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

Black Music Collective Podcast: How Yolanda Adams Became A Global Icon In Gospel Music
Yolanda Adams (L) & MC Lyte (R)

Yolanda Adams Photo Credit: Courtesy of Roy Cox / MC Lyte Photo Credit: D'Andre Michael

news

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

Recording Academy/Oct 29, 2021 - 12:29 am

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

Black Music Collective Podcast: Watch Ledisi Discuss Her Journey In Music As An Independent Artist
Ledisi (L) & MC Lyte (R)

PHOTO CREDIT: COURTESY OF Artist / MC LYTE PHOTO CREDIT: D'ANDRE MICHAEL

news

Black Music Collective Podcast: Watch Ledisi Discuss Her Journey In Music As An Independent Artist

In the latest episode of the "Black Music Collective Podcast," GRAMMY-winning artist Ledisi talks through her journey in music on a road that hasn't always been easy and how she's remained true to who she is as an artist

Recording Academy/Oct 28, 2021 - 11:35 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 powerhouse vocalist Ledisi, one of the greatest singers of her generation.

Throughout her distinguished career, Ledisi has garnered an impressive list of accolades, including three Soul Train Music Awards, a NAACP Theater Award and six NAACP Image Award nominations. Most recently, Ledisi received two LA Stage Alliance Ovation Award nominations, including Best Featured Actress in a Musical. This year, she received her first GRAMMY Award, for Best Traditional R&B Performance for her hit song, "Anything for You," at the 63rd GRAMMY Awards this past March. (She counts 13 career GRAMMY nominations overall.)

Born in New Orleans and reared in Oakland, California, Ledisi has wowed fans with her unparalleled vocals ever since she burst onto the scene. She is a beloved favorite among fellow musical and cultural icons, including the Obama family, the late Prince, Patti LaBelle, Smokey Robinson, Stevie Wonder, Chaka Khan, and so many others.

An influential figure within the Recording Academy family, Ledisi was elected President of the Recording Academy's Los Angeles Chapter this year.

Listen to Ledisi talk through her journey in music on a road that hasn't always been easy and learn how she has remained true to who she is as an artist 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

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

news

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