L-R: Hakeem Jeffries, John Legend
Photo: Recording Academy
Celebrating GRAMMY Nominees Who Advocated For Creators' Rights
Daryl Friedman, Chief Advocacy Officer of the Recording Academy, spoke with Billboard about the important role Academy members played in pushing Congress to include creator-friendly provisions in the recent COVID-19 stimulus package. "Much to the chagrin of our in-house lobbyists, I always say our best lobbyists are our members because they really can tell the story in a compelling way," noted Friedman.
This year, the Academy has repeatedly called on our members to ask their elected officials to support many provisions that would yield positive results for the struggling music ecosystem, including passage of the HITS Act and support for solutions to mitigate the pandemics’ enduring impact. Ahead of Sunday’s 63rd GRAMMY Awards, we want to acknowledge those nominees who answered the call and helped advance the agenda of music creators during this trying year:
A 5-time GRAMMY Award winner, Brandi Carlile is no stranger to using her voice to create change. Carlile spoke with a crowd of music advocates during last year’s GRAMMY Week in support of the GRAMMY Fund for Music Creators. This year, Carlile is nominated for Best Country Song and Best Song Written For Visual Media.
Brandi Carlile speaks to a crowd of advocates during GRAMMY Week in 2020.
Brandy Clark is nominated for Best Country Solo Performance and Best Country Album. Clark has a long track record as a music advocate, including representing the Nashville Chapter as chair of their Advocacy Committee and serving as a District Advocate leader for last year’s meeting with Rep. Jim Cooper (D-Tenn.).
While balancing a busy tour and recording schedule as a member of the band Lady A, Dave Haywood, a seven-time GRAMMY winner, has found time to call on legislators to support and enact meaningful reform to better the entire music ecosystem. Along with the rest of Lady A, Haywood was honored at the GRAMMYs On The Hill Awards in 2014 and is a regular participant in District Advocate. He currently serves as the Vice President of the Academy’s Nashville Chapter Board. This year, Lady A’s Ocean is nominated for Best Country Duo/Group Performance.
Rodney Jerkins, a legendary producer and two-time GRAMMY winner, has become a mainstay at the Academy’s advocacy initiatives. Most recently, Jerkins participated in the GRAMMY Week Congressional Briefing in 2020. Jerkins showcased his work with emerging artist Jac Ross and shared firsthand testimony of the difficulties faced when launching a career in the creative workforce. Jerkins’ Come Together is nominated for Best Gospel Performance/Song.
A group of lawmakers and music makers at the Recording Academy’s Congressional briefing on January 25, 2020, in Beverly Hills, CA (L to R) Rep. Michael McCaul (R-Texas), Jac Ross, Cyndi Lauper, Rep. Norma Torres (D-Calif.), Rep. Stephanie Murphy (D-Fla.), Rodney Jerkins, Rep. Linda Sánchez (D-Calif.), and Rep. Billy Long (R-Mo.)
An accomplished mastering engineer, Emily Lazar has three nominations in the Album Of The Year category for her work on Coldplay’s Everyday Life, Jacob Collier’s Djesse Vol.3, and HAIM’s Women In Music Pt. III. Between recording sessions, Lazar serves as a member of the Academy’s National Advocacy Committee, which is comprised of prominent music creators and determines the Academy’s legislative priorities.
As a member of the Los Angeles Chapter Board, Ledisi has long supported the Academy’s legislative priorities. In a recent “Profile in Advocacy,” Ledisi discussed the importance of using your voice to create meaningful change, noting that, “The most important work for any creator is not merely to create, but to also be of service beyond one's self, and our collective future depends on that.” This year, Ledisi’s Anything For You is nominated for Best Traditional R&B Performance.
An eleven-time GRAMMY winner, John Legend has used his talents to bring joy to the world, and his voice to advocate for change. During District Advocate day in 2020, Legend spoke with Democratic Caucus Chairman Hakeem Jeffries (D-N.Y.) about how to best help the music ecosystem overcome the pandemic’s impact. Legend also serves as a Recording Academy National Trustee and as an Honorary Chair of the Black Music Collective, which officially launched last year. Legend is nominated for Best R&B Performance and Best R&B Album.
John Legend meets with Democratic Caucus Chairman Hakeem Jeffries during the Academy’s virtual District Advocate day in 2020. (L to R): Chairman Hakeem Jeffries (D-N.Y.) and John Legend (Photo by Recording Academy)
Julia Michaels joined the Recording Academy’s Advocacy team for a holiday reception commemorating the opening of the Academy’s new Washington, D.C. office in 2018. Joined by a bipartisan and bicameral group of elected officials, Michaels shared insight into the importance of supporting music priorities and celebrated the recent passage of the Music Modernization Act. Michaels’ and JP Saxe’s If The World Was Ending is nominated for Song Of The Year.
Policymakers and music creators mark the opening of the Advocacy team’s new office with a ribbon cutting ceremony in 2018 (L to R) Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-Fla.), National Trustee Tracy Hamlin, Julia Michaels, Daryl Friedman, Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.), and Rep. Ron Estes (R-Kan.)
From attending GRAMMYs On The Hill to Zoom-ing with legislators, PJ Morton is a familiar face on Capitol Hill and in the Louisiana State Capitol due to his long history of championing music policies. When describing his virtual District Advocate day meeting, Morton stressed to Billboard the importance of reaching out to policymakers to raise awareness of a legislative solution. “It’s a slow process to change. But I think once you see it work, once you see your voice can matter, you can be a little more invested in it.” A two-time GRAMMY winner, Morton’s Gospel According To PJ is nominated for Best Gospel Album.
From District Advocate to GRAMMYs on the Hill, GRAMMY winner Bobby Rush has joined music advocates over the years on their mission to directly lobby Congress on the importance of fair compensation for creators. Rush’s Rawer Than Raw is nominated for Best Traditional Blues Album.
We thank all of the nominees who helped enact change during this incredibly difficult year! Without your overwhelming support, the Academy would not have been able to accomplish the tremendous and historic legislative victories in our fight against the COVID-19 pandemic
Be sure to join us for the 63rd GRAMMY Awards on Sunday, March 15, 2021, at 8:00 p.m. ET/5:00 p.m. PT.