Image courtesy of the Recording Academy
The Recording Academy's Black Music Collective & Amazon Music Announce Recipients For The 2023 "Your Future Is Now" Scholarship
Five students across five Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) will receive an immersive rotation program opportunity and $10,000 in scholarships.
Every year, the big reveal of the Recording Academy's Black Music Collective (BMC) and Amazon Music's "Your Future Is Now" scholarship recipients is always a thrilling event — and now, that day has finally come.
The Black Music Collective and Amazon Music have announced the recipients of the 2023 "Your Future Is Now" scholarship program: Joseph Michael Abiakam (Norfolk State University), Langston Jackson (Hampton University), Kennedi Amari Johnson (Clark Atlanta University), Courtney Roberts (Texas Southern University), and Caleb Wilkerson (Florida A&M University).
The "Your Future Is Now" scholarship program, which first launched in February 2021 and returned for the third consecutive year in April, provides students at Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) opportunities to learn and explore all facets of the music industry. The scholarship offers students the chance to receive $10,000 for the 2023/2024 school year and the opportunity to be part of an immersive rotation program with Amazon Music and Recording Academy department leads, providing each student a detailed look at their particular field of work within the music industry. To coincide with these scholarships, the BMC and Amazon Music will also award two HBCUs a $10,000 grant each for equipment for their music programs to be announced later this summer.
This diverse group of students represents five HBCU schools, across various stages and areas of focus in their higher education journey. Abiakam is a graduate student at Norfolk State University, interested in piano performance and music production; Jackson is a sophomore at Hampton University, interested in music marketing and audio production; Johnson is a sophomore at Clark Atlanta University, interested in A&R and marketing; Roberts is a freshman at Texas Southern University, interested in A&R and marketing; and Wilkerson is a junior at Florida A&M University, interested in music marketing.
"We are immensely proud to collaborate with Amazon Music in renewing this exceptional scholarship program for the third consecutive year," Ryan Butler, Vice President of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion at the Recording Academy, emphasized. "The imperative of Black representation in the music industry cannot be overstated, and this scholarship is a tangible manifestation of our unwavering commitment to promoting the aspirations of future Black music leaders. We are delighted to provide Joseph, Langston, Kennedi, Courtney, and Caleb with this life-changing opportunity as they pursue their ambitions and contribute to the advancement of Black music."
"The 'Your Future Is Now' scholarship was created to foster an inclusive environment where Black creators can realize their career objectives. Since its launch in 2021, the program has grown to become a cornerstone of Amazon Music and the Black Music Collective's work supporting students at HBCUs," Phylicia Fant, Head of Music Industry and Culture Collaborations at Amazon Music, said. "This year's class of students represents the next generation of Black musicians and executives, and it's an honor to play a part in their development as individuals and future leaders."
In addition, as part of "Your Future Is Now," Amazon Music, the Same House and the Recording Academy are coming together to host the "Your Future Is Now" Business Development Seminar for select members of the 2023 graduating class of Morris Brown College. Revealed this past weekend at Morris Brown's commencement by the Recording Academy's Chief Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Officer, Zing Shaw, this new, half-day music business seminar, taking place on Saturday, June 17, will offer professional development expertise in music business, publishing and music production. Facilitators at the event will include Recording Academy Atlanta Chapter President Justin Henderson and Frankie Yaptinchay of Amazon Music.
Following the music business seminar, graduates will be treated to a suite experience at State Farm Arena for the annual ATL Birthday Bash Concert where they will have the opportunity to network with representatives from the Recording Academy and Amazon Music, as well as other key music industry executives.
Learn more about the Recording Academy’s Black Music Collective and the "Your Future Is Now" scholarship program — and join the Recording Academy in cheering on these inspiring recipients as they charge into the future!
Image courtesy of the Recording Academy
4 Key Takeaways From The "Your Future Is Now" Scholarship Program, According To Past Scholarship Recipients
Past recipients of the "Your Future Is Now" scholarship, presented by the Black Music Collective and Amazon Music, reflect on what they learned from the program, which provides mentorship opportunities and grants to HBCU students and music programs.
This innovative program is designed to provide students at Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) the opportunity to explore all facets of the music industry by offering unique networking opportunities with revered music industry leaders.
This year, five HBCU students will be selected to take part in the program; each recipient will be awarded a $10,000 scholarship. In addition, the BMC and Amazon Music will award two HBCUs $10,000 grants each for equipment for their music programs. The scholarship program also includes an immersive rotational program with Amazon Music and Recording Academy department leads.
The deadline to apply for this year’s "Your Future Is Now" scholarship program is this Friday, April 28. Selected scholarship recipients will be announced on Monday, May 8.
To celebrate this unique, career-building opportunity, the Recording Academy is highlighting past recipients of the "Your Future Is Now" scholarship, who reflected on the lessons they learned from the program and discussed its impact on their burgeoning careers.
*Photo courtesy of Amir Duke.*
Attending HBCU: Morehouse College
Major: Economics with a minor in sales
Class of 2023
The biggest lesson that I learned during my experience in the "Your Future Is Now" scholarship program is the importance of genuine relationship building in the music business.
Being able to network with like-minded individuals and have strong relationships based on similarities and interests will take you far in the music business.
Exploring opportunities and taking your time in the music business is key to longevity. I learned not to rush my career process and to take each opportunity with grace.
*Photo courtesy of Zsana Hoskins.*
Attending HBCU: Howard University
Major: Journalism major with a minor in music
Class of 2024
I learned that the music industry has many layers, and there isn't one particular way to enter it.
There are so many more roles that are available to those who aspire to have a career in music outside of the cliche ones we often hear about. And the journey to a music industry career isn't linear at all.
Everyone's path is different, but the goal is achievable.
*Photo courtesy of Jasmine Gordon.*
Attending HBCU: Spelman College
Major: Comparative women's studies with a concentration in branding and marketing in the music industry and a minor in entrepreneurship
Class of 2025
I had the privilege of interacting with a diverse group of music industry professionals and creators who shared a valuable lesson with me.
I learned the importance of not confining oneself and placing yourself in a singular box, but instead expanding beyond one's creative boundaries and exploring different avenues.
As a young, Black creative, this perspective was particularly impactful for me as it showed me that there are no constraints to my passions within this industry.
I am now inspired to continue to break barriers and pursue my creativity with an open mind.
*Photo courtesy of Jayden Potts*
Attending HBCU: Jackson State University
Major: Music technology
Class of 2026
The biggest lesson I learned during my experience in the "Your Future Is Now" scholarship program is that everyone's path is completely different. Nobody has an exact path to the career they landed in.
It showed me how they persevered through every position they had and pushed forward to their goal in mind, motivating me to do the same.
Graphic Courtesy of the Recording Academy
The Recording Academy's Black Music Collective & Amazon Music Announce Third Annual "Your Future Is Now" Scholarship Program
The innovative "Your Future Is Now" scholarship program aims to provide mentorship opportunities and donations to HBCU students and music programs.
When it comes to uplifting historically marginalized communities, the Recording Academy doesn't just talk the talk — it walks the walk.
Established in 2021, the program is designed to provide students at Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) the opportunity to explore all facets of the music industry by offering unique networking opportunities with revered music industry leaders, including an immersive rotational program with Amazon Music and Recording Academy department leads.
This year, five HBCU students will be selected to take part in the program and will each be awarded a $10,000 scholarship. In addition, the BMC and Amazon Music will award two HBCUs $10,000 grants each for equipment for their music programs.
The scholarship application opens today (Monday, April 3). Applicants must be a U.S. citizen or permanent resident currently enrolled at an HBCU pursuing a bachelor's degree in music, music business, business administration, marketing, communications, or a related field of study. The deadline to apply for the scholarship is Friday, April 28. Selected scholarship recipients will be announced on Monday, May 8.
"We are thrilled to bring back the 'Your Future Is Now' scholarship program in collaboration with Amazon Music for a third year," said Rico Love, Vice Chair of the Recording Academy Board of Trustees and BMC Chair. "With the support of our incredible DEI team Zing Shaw, Ryan Butler and Ricky Lyon, we are committed to leveling the playing field for the next generation of Black musicians and professionals by providing them with invaluable mentorship opportunities and experiences to prepare them for careers in the music industry."
"As a member of the Spelman College family, I know how HBCU networks serve as an ongoing sources of friendship as well as professional support. Projects like the 'Your Future Is Now' scholarship are vital to extending these connections to the next generation of HBCU students," said Phylicia Fant, Head of Music Industry and Culture Collaborations at Amazon Music. "The bonds these students will build as part of the scholarship program will last for decades to come, and Amazon Music is thrilled to be at the forefront of diversity and true and meaningful inclusion."
The Recording Academy and the Black Music Collective are thrilled about this impactful development and remain committed to uplifting people of all backgrounds and experiences in the service of one of humanity's greatest gifts: music.
Photo Courtesy of the Recording Academy
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.
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.
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
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.