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

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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

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

Ledisi (L) & MC Lyte (R)

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

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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/Jul 16, 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 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

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

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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

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

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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/Jul 23, 2021 - 04:00 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

Diversity, Equity & Inclusion: Watch The Recording Academy's Inspiring "Change Music" Summit In Full

 

 
 

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Diversity, Equity & Inclusion: Watch The Recording Academy's Inspiring "Change Music" Summit In Full

Alongside Color Of Change, The Recording Academy hosted the virtual industrywide #ChangeMusic Summit, which welcomed leaders in music and media for panels on shifting culture, amplifying diverse voices, driving systemic change and more

Recording Academy/Oct 2, 2020 - 10:38 pm

On Thursday (Oct. 1), the Recording Academy joined Color Of Change, the nation's largest online racial justice organization, to host a virtual industrywide #ChangeMusic Summit with leaders in music and media. The digital event is part of an ongoing series of initiatives facilitated by the Recording Academy to help accelerate equity and diverse representation within the organization and to further support inclusion outcomes across the wider music industry. 

Watch the #ChangeMusic Summit in full below. 

The four-hour event brought together leaders, executives and experts for panels on shifting culture, amplifying diverse voices, putting leadership in action and driving systemic change throughout the music community. As well, prominent culture trailblazers and music business leaders openly discussed best practices and strategies to encourage systemic change and elevate women, Black and Latinx, as well as all underrepresented music creators and professionals.

Some of the event's participants included singer-songwriters Ledisi and Maimouna "Mumu Fresh" Youssef; television personalities Rocsi Diaz and Jeff Johnson; music culture influencer Karen Civil; award-winning poet and president of the Recording Academy's Chicago Chapter J. Ivy; and prominent executives and industry professionals including Tuma Basa (YouTube), Ingrid Best (Combs Enterprises), Binta Brown (omalilly projects; Black Music Action Coalition), Shari Bryant (Roc Nation), Jeff Burroughs (Def Jam Recordings), Ryan Butler (Recording Academy), Valeisha Butterfield Jones (Recording Academy), Harvey Mason jr. (Recording Academy), Rashad Robinson (Color Of Change) and many others. See the full list of participants below.

As part of the summit, the Recording Academy and Color Of Change announced the forthcoming #ChangeMusic Roadmap, a tool to help people at all levels of the music industry take action to enact racial and social justice within the industry. The full roadmap will be released before the end of the year, however, the first aspect of the roadmap discussed was a needed commitment to transparent reporting on Black representation. 

Read: The Recording Academy & Color Of Change Team Up To Promote Positive Change In The Music Industry

"This is a crucial moment in our world, our nation and our society and it is now more important than ever that we bring people together to make progress on justice, equity, diversity, and inclusion," Recording Academy Chair and Interim President/CEO Harvey Mason jr. said. "As leaders in the music industry, we have an opportunity as role models to lead by example and set a progressive tone for culture and society. We are honored that so many from the industry joined this important conversation and we're committed to the work ahead."

"Black artists' rich contributions have undeniably shaped the music industry into what it is today. The industry must tear down the systems that silence, harm and pigeonhole Black artists for profitable gains," President of Color Of Change Rashad Robinson said. "Everyone has the responsibility to work towards progress. The #ChangeMusic Roadmap will begin the process of giving the industry the tools to challenge injustice and enact tangible change now. The Recording Academy is setting a strong example for the industry from the inside, holding those in power accountable to change. Together, we can propel music into the equitable future Black artists have earned, and always deserved."

Participants in the #ChangeMusic Summit included: singer/songwriters Ledisi, Rico Love and Maimouna "Mumu Fresh" Youssef; television personalities Rocsi Diaz and Jeff Johnson; music culture influencer Karen Civil; poet J. Ivy; and prominent executives and industry professionals including Tuma Basa (YouTube), Ingrid Best (Combs Enterprises), Binta Brown (omalilly projects; Black Music Action Coalition), Shari Bryant (Roc Nation), Jeff Burroughs (Def Jam Recordings), Ryan Butler (Recording Academy), Valeisha Butterfield Jones (Recording Academy), Qiana Conley (Recording Academy), Caroline "Baroline" Diaz (Interscope Records), Michelle Edgar (Epic Records; Music Unites; XX Project), Ethiopia Habtemariam (Motown Records; Capitol Music Group), Erin Hall Harris (Combs Enterprises), Tammy Hurt (Recording Academy), Jeriel Johnson (Recording Academy), Debra Lee (formerly BET Networks), Harvey Mason jr. (Recording Academy), Adam McFarland (Blacksmith Recordings; #TheShowMustBePaused), Riggs Morales (Atlantic Records), Jessica Rivera (YouTube), Rashad Robinson (Color Of Change), Travis Robinson (Universal Music Group), Lenny Santiago (Roc Nation), Rashid Shabazz (Color Of Change), Dr. Maurice Stinnett (Warner Music Group), Tiffany R. Warren (Omnicom Group; ADCOLOR), and Roe Williams (KWL Enterprises).

The Recording Academy's strategic alliance with Color Of Change and solidarity with ongoing social justice movements, such as #TheShowMustBePaused, was also a highly prioritized conversation topic among attendees. 

Learn more about the progress and future announcements regarding the Recording Academy's Diversity & Inclusion efforts.

The Recording Academy Establishes Black Music Collective