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The Recording Academy Establishes Black Music Collective
The newly launched collective comprises a group of prominent Black music creators and professionals who share the common goal of amplifying Black voices within the Recording Academy and the wider music community
The Recording Academy has today (Sept. 3) announced the creation of its 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 the wider music community.
As part of the Recording Academy's commitment to evolving hand-in-hand with its membership, BMC will serve as a space for members to speak openly about new and emerging opportunities in Black music across all genres and identify ways to drive more representation.
The launch of BMC follows the Recording Academy's recent partnership with Color Of Change, the nation's largest online racial justice organization, in July, which set forth to create a Black music advisory group. The BMC fulfills this promise and is bringing together creators and business leaders to create a pipeline of future industry trailblazers. Leaders will meet regularly and initiate programs that will encourage participation and accelerate Black membership in the Recording Academy.
Jeffrey Harleston, Jimmy Jam, Quincy Jones, Debra Lee, John Legend, and Sylvia Rhone will serve as honorary chairs of the BMC. A distinguished leadership committee will be confirmed in the coming weeks and will work in sync with the honorary chairs to propel the collective's mission. Recording Academy Trustee Riggs Morales and Washington, D.C., Chapter Executive Director Jeriel Johnson will lead the initiative internally.
"The Black Music Collective is necessary to help drive the Recording Academy into a new era. Creating an open space for Black music creators can only benefit our membership as a whole," Harvey Mason jr., Chair and Interim President/CEO of the Recording Academy, said. "Through the past few months, I've been personally invested in propelling this collective along with Chapter leadership within the Academy. Together, we will elevate Black music creators within our organization and the industry at large."
"As Black music continues to drive culture, it is essential we grow and maintain representation within the Academy and the music industry," Valeisha Butterfield Jones, Chief Diversity & Inclusion Officer of the Recording Academy, said. "We're thrilled to help develop the leaders of tomorrow with impactful educational and experiential programs that we will announce in coming weeks."
In March 2018, the Recording Academy established a third-party task force to examine issues of diversity and inclusion within the Academy and the broader music community. The Academy has since taken action on the Task Force's initial assessment and recommendations and has made additional strides to facilitate a culture of belonging while recognizing the need to focus on underrepresented communities. Recent initiatives include the hiring of a Chief Diversity & Inclusion Officer, a $1 million donation to Color Of Change, alignment with #TheShowMustBePaused movement created by Jamila Thomas (Atlantic Records) and Brianna Agyemang (Platoon), and the development of an industry Inclusion Rider and Toolkit to be released later this year.
Stay up to date on the Recording Academy's progress, future announcements and recent initiatives on diversity and inclusion.
Recording Academy Invites & Celebrates Its 2020 New Member Class
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.
Read More: 4 Key Takeaways From The "Your Future Is Now" Scholarship Program, According To Past Scholarship Recipients
"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!
Your Future Is Now: Music Industry Executives Discuss The Benefits Of Historically Black Colleges And Universities
Infographic Courtesy of the Recording Academy
Everything You Need To Know About The Recording Academy's 2023 At-Large Trustees Election
The Recording Academy's 2023 At-Large Trustees Election, open Tuesday, May 16 — Monday, May 22, is a pivotal opportunity to shape a well-rounded Board of Trustees and ensure diverse Recording Academy leadership. Here's everything you need to know.
Diverse representation in the Recording Academy's leadership relies on the active participation of its membership. Open Tuesday, May 16 — Monday, May 22, the 2023 At-Large Trustees Election once again provides Voting and Professional Members a chance to have a say in who represents them and directly elect their fellow creators and professionals to the Board of Trustees.
A robust turnout for this election can make a meaningful difference in the future of the Academy. Every ballot cast increases the likelihood of having a well-rounded Board that reflects the varied backgrounds, genres, and disciplines of the wider music community.
Whether this is your first time voting or you need a refresher, here's everything you need to know about the Recording Academy's upcoming 2023 At-Large Trustees Election.
When is the 2023 At-Large Trustees Election?
The At-Large Trustees Election is held each spring. The 2023 election opens Tuesday, May 16, at 8 a.m. local time and runs through Monday, May 22, at 11:59 p.m. local time.
What is the difference between Chapter Board Elections and the At-Large Trustees Election?
During Chapter Board Elections, which took place in March, Voting and Professional Members vote to elect Governors to their local Chapter Board, and Chapter Boards vote to elect their respective Chapter Officers and Trustees.
During the At-Large Trustees Election, all Voting and Professional Members have the opportunity to elect four Trustees to the Board of Trustees.
Who is eligible to vote in the At-Large Trustees Elections?
All Voting and Professional Members of the Recording Academy are eligible and encouraged to vote in the At-Large Trustees Election.
Who serves on the Board of Trustees?
The Board of Trustees is composed of 42 total Trustees. Four Trustees serve as National Officers (Chair, Vice Chair, Secretary/Treasurer, and Chair Emeritus). Of the remaining 38, eight Trustees are elected At-Large by the entire Voting and Professional membership. Since Trustees serve staggered two-year terms, only half of the Board seats are up for election each year.
All members of the Board of Trustees meet the same qualifications and serve the same goal: to uphold the mission of the Recording Academy and serve the music community at large.
Infographic explaining the Recording Academy's 2023 At-Large Trustees Election voting process | Infographic Courtesy of the Recording Academy
Who votes for Trustees?
Chapter Boards (Chapter Governors, Chapter Officers and Trustees) elect 15 Trustees each year during the Chapter Board Elections in the spring.
Voting and Professional Members elect four Trustees each year during the At-Large Trustees Election in May.
What are the responsibilities of Recording Academy Trustees?
In service to the greater music community, members of the Recording Academy Board of Trustees are responsible for:
Why is voting in the At-Large Trustees Election important?
Your vote helps ensure a diverse, inclusive and representative Board.
As demonstrated by the Recording Academy's richly diverse 2022 New Member Class, the Academy is committed to cultivating a true sense of belonging that embraces all communities, musical influences and crafts that power the music industry. Members have an opportunity to elect leaders who reflect this inclusivity.
The Board of Trustees holds a responsibility to serve the needs and aspirations of our vastly diverse music community and ensures the policies and procedures put in place by the Academy represent the values of all members. In partnership with Recording Academy CEO Harvey Mason jr., the Board of Trustees helps strategically guide and shape the mission and policies of the Academy and its commitment to promote diversity, equity and inclusion, fight for creators' rights, protect music people in need, and preserve music's history and invest in its future.
Your vote makes a difference.
Voting in the At-Large Trustees Election ensures that your concerns and values as an active participant of the music community are heard and accurately represented on a national scale.
Voting is a right and a responsibility for all members.
While we love hearing creators' voices on stage and in recordings, it's our responsibility to listen to their concerns, ideas and recommendations to keep our Academy and our industry evolving.
Your vote is your voice.
As a member of the Recording Academy, your vote is tremendously valued and has the power to impact the Academy's greater goals and operations.
How can I vote in the At-Large Trustees Election?
When the At-Large Trustees Election opens on Tuesday, May 16, at 8 a.m. local time, Voting and Professional Members will receive an e-mail from the Recording Academy's online voting partner, Simply Voting, containing a direct link to their online ballot and a unique username and password. Please note this login is different from each member's Recording Academy login.
Once members click on their ballot link, they can review the candidate bios and cast their votes. Voting for the At-Large Trustees Election closes Monday, May 22, at 11:59 p.m. local time.
If members did not receive an e-mail with their ballot, we ask them to please check their spam folder and add email@example.com to their approved senders list. For any further questions or issues, members can reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Learn more about Recording Academy Governance and view the current list of Elected Leaders.
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Photo: Dave Arnold
How The Recording Academy And United Nations Human Rights Are Tackling Climate Change: 5 Takeaways From The Right Here, Right Now Mini Global Climate Concert Series
The first activation of the Recording Academy's collaboration with United Nations Human Rights featured impassioned speeches about climate change and unforgettable performances from the Lumineers frontman Wesley Schultz and special guest Yola.
For centuries, music has soundtracked the fight for societal change and revolutions around the world. From the protest anthems of the Civil Rights Movement to the powerful songs fueling the protests in Iran, music has remained an essential ingredient in the ongoing battle for progress and universal equality. Now, the Recording Academy, in partnership with United Nations Human Rights, continues this long tradition of championing progress via music.
This month, the Recording Academy announced a partnership with several United Nations Human Rights-supported global initiatives that aims to promote global social justice via the power of music. The multifaceted campaign will invite leading artists to use their talents and platforms to advocate for United Nations Human Rights goals, including advocating for the rights of women and the LGBTQ+ community as well as a host of other human rights issues, including gender equality and climate justice.
The Right Here, Right Now Music initiative — a partnership between the Recording Academy and the Right Here, Right Now Global Climate Alliance (Right Here, Right Now) — aims to combat the human rights crisis resulting from climate change, a timely issue impacting vurnerable communities around the world.
The Right Here, Right Now Mini Global Climate Concert Series, the first activation in this newly announced partnership, addressed this important issue head-on. The concert, held in Colorado's iconic Boulder Theater on Thursday, April 13, enlisted major artists, including the Lumineerslead singer and co-founder Wesley Schultz and special guestYola, as well as leaders in the music and intergovernmental industries to call attention to the human rights implications of climate change.
The powerful performances from Yola and Schultz — combined with speeches addressing the importance of utilizing music as a tool to combat climate change — created an atmosphere of longing with an undercurrent of hope for the future.
"I wanted to show our support for these hosts, the Recording Academy and the United Nations [Human Rights], at this forum that addressed the interconnectedness of human rights and climate change," Schultz told the Recording Academy via email about his involvement in the Right Here, Right Now Mini Global Climate Concert Series. "As touring musicians, we can raise awareness about sustainable goals and inspire dialogue about the global climate crisis. As touring musicians, we can raise awareness and amplify calls to action for governments, education, businesses, and individuals to fight the global climate crisis.
"It is everyone's responsibility to help battle climate change," he continued. "But as touring musicians, we must work to seek out real solutions to the sizable carbon footprint that being on the road causes. That's why I'm working with an organization like Sound Future, who are working on finding systemic fixes to help touring become more carbon neutral."
The Recording Academy attended the inaugural Right Here, Right Now Mini Global Climate Concert Series in person. Below are five key takeaways from the collaborative launch event.
The Event's Location Was Chosen Deliberately
Outdoor marquee sign at the Boulder Theater in Colorado for the Right Here, Right Now Mini Global Climate Concert Series on April 13, 2023 | Photo: David Rose
David Clark, founder and CEO of Right Here, Right Now Global Climate Alliance, explained that launching the Mini Global Climate Concert Series in Boulder, Colorado, an area he described as a "hotbed" for climate justice, was a very conscious choice.
"We've got amazing national labs that are coming up with cutting-edge technology, cutting-edge data, research that's shaping the climate dialogue around the world," he said at the concert.
Boulder was also the home of last year's Right Here, Right Now Global Climate Summit, which hosted experts from over 100 nations, including Mary Robinson, the former U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights and the President of Ireland.
The Climate Crisis Is A Human Crisis
The climate crisis already disproportionately impacts socially vulnerable groups: women, children, low-income families, and other historically marginalized communities.
"Human-caused climate change has already caused substantial and irreversible damage to ecosystems and livelihoods with disproportionate impacts on people in ongoing situations," Benjamin Schachter, UN Human Rights Team Leader for Environment and Climate Change, explained from the stage.
Schachter emphasized that countless lives have been lost due to the climate crisis already, and millions of people are displaced by climate and weather-related disasters annually.
Music Creates Powerful Connections
(L-R) David Clark, Harvey Mason jr., Chantel Sausedo, Benjamin Schachter | Photo: David Rose
The Recording Academy has a long history of championing change through the power of music — a point highlighted throughout the Right Here, Right Now Mini Global Climate Concert Series.
"Music is a crucial means of [catalyzing transformative action]," Schachter said. "It constitutes a common language, a means of expression."
"Music has some special abilities," Harvey Mason jr., CEO of the Recording Academy, explained in an impassioned speech from the stage. "It has the ability to give a voice to those that have none, to shine a light on injustices that exist in our world, and to inspire us all to take action."
Mason jr. also amplified an impactful message that reflected the theme of the night: Music is not just a means for entertainment, but a "powerful tool to galvanize social movements to speak the truth, the power to create community and to bring disparate people together for a common cause."
The World Must Band Together
Yola performing at the Right Here, Right Now Mini Global Climate Concert Series at the Boulder Theater in Colorado on April 13, 2023 | Photo: David Rose
Internationally acclaimed and GRAMMY-nominated guest artist Yola performed a no-frills set of raw, vocally driven songs intertwined with the mellow strum of her acoustic guitar. Many of Yola's songs spoke to her newfound strength to stand up for herself, a concept she explored on her 2021 album, Stand For Myself, and clap back at those in power — an appropriate theme that resonated throughout the environmental justice concert.
"This next one might be a little on the nose," Yola chuckled on stage as she introduced her aptly named, GRAMMY-nominated song, "Diamond Studded Shoes," and described the diamond-studded heels of a politician who was "slapping the meals out of kids' hands." The song's moving lyrics — "For the life and soul of the world we know/Fight, 'cause the promise is never gonna be enough" — and theme fully captured the message of the night: Even if things might be bad, resistance is possible and "it'll be fine if we just band together," she said.
Small Actions Lead To Impactful Change
Wesley Schultz of the Lumineers performing at the Right Here, Right Now Mini Global Climate Concert Series at the Boulder Theater in Colorado on April 13, 2023 | Photo: Dave Arnold
Wesley Schultz of the Lumineers took the stage to thunderous applause. Like Yola, Schultz's performance was an unedited glimpse at his raw talent: a 45-minute set composed of just his voice and an acoustic guitar.
Between songs – some of which were covers, others originals – Schultz shared stirring glimpses into his personal life, from his dad's death to a psychedelic-infused trip he had with his wife.
Schultz also shared that his wife, Brandy, is a co-founder of Sound Future, a nonprofit focused on "accelerating climate innovation for the live event industry," according to the organization's website. He explained how Sound Future used flexible solar panels and the heat of the Texas sun to power the stage at Willie Nelson's concert in Luck, Texas.
"It's a very simple idea, right? That we can turn certain things that seem really daunting into something that's very doable," Schultz reflected on the stage. "I think we can all make these little steps here and there, [combined] with the brilliant minds that people have out there, to make some innovation, to make [live shows] a little more friendly on the environment."
Learn more about the Recording Academy's and United Nations Human Rights' partnership, and stay tuned for future news and developments.
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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.
Earlier this month, the Recording Academy's Black Music Collective (BMC) — together with Amazon Music — relaunched the "Your Future Is Now" scholarship program for the third consecutive year.
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.
Your Future Is Now: Music Industry Executives Discuss The Benefits Of Historically Black Colleges And Universities