Photo: Ron T. Young Photography
Profiles In Advocacy: Ledisi On The Importance Of Using Your Voice To Make Change
The Recording Academy has asked our members to reflect on their path of becoming an advocate for music and discuss the importance of using your voice to create change. The inaugural "Profile in Advocacy" is from thirteen-time GRAMMY-nominated artist and Los Angeles Chapter Governor, Ledisi.
I have always been uncomfortable using this part of my voice. But I feel it is important for many to hear the human side to the numbers and legal/political jargon most creators like myself get bombarded with when it comes to the word Advocacy.
There was a time I viewed this organization as a prestigious shiny golden statue and thought that my little voice from New Orleans East/East Oakland could never be heard amongst the many voices inside such an elitist tent. That all changed when I agreed to participate in a GRAMMY U panel for the San Francisco Chapter.
— GRAMMY Advocacy (@GRAMMYAdvocacy) December 29, 2020
I used my little voice, while my stomach was in knots, and spoke about my experiences as a local artist at the time. I looked around and saw everyone was listening. I sat next to major artists who also spoke about their experiences and we were all under one umbrella inspiring future creators. That day lead me to become a member of the Recording Academy. That was 17 years ago and I saw then that there was more to this organization than only what I watched on television.
Today, as a Governor for the Los Angeles Chapter, 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. My first GRAMMYs On The Hill I walked alongside my peers lobbying in the halls of Congress using my little voice, that shocks sometimes, and still, people listened. I left there inspired understanding that the heartbeat of the Recording Academy is the artists. It's creators like me who advocate for artist rights and their legacy, for fair representation, diversity and the passion to preserve the history of all music creators.
➡️ Pandemic Unemployment Assistance
➡️Small Business Loans
➡️Venue Relief#Congress has introduced a new pro-creator COVID-19 relief bill, which will be passed later today.
Learn more about this new package and how it aids the creative workforce.https://t.co/n1uN51D51U
— GRAMMY Advocacy (@GRAMMYAdvocacy) December 22, 2020
It wasn't just a guy in a suit speaking for creators. It was us, creators speaking up for ourselves. 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.
I was asked in a recent interview, "Why do you call yourself an advocate for the Arts? Isn't art already radical?" My reply was that "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." Artists are barely surviving through this pandemic on the very art they have given their lives to. It's diminishing for some and many have had to find other ways to supplement their income. And after all this what do we have to go back to? This is the time we are forced to live off of streaming and music sales. But publishing alone isn't enough for most of us. So like many others, I advocate for music creators for this very reason.
There's still much work to be done and we need more artists to become active to help educate others and to speak out on behalf of our music community. We need them to use their voices and to get involved publicly to help make true change a possibility. Every creative should be an advocate for music. We have so much power as creators, and when we use our voice, even when it shakes… people will listen.