Suits Need Not Apply

  • Maria Schneider drives home a key point in her testimony before the House Judiciary Subcommittee on Capitol Hill on March 13
    Photo: Paul Morigi/
  • Christine Albert performs at the close of the morning briefing during GRAMMYs on the Hill Advocacy Day on April 3
    Photo: Kris Connor/
  • Mindi Abair serenades Sen. Harry Reid (R-Nev.) during GRAMMYs on the Hill Advocacy Day April 3
    Photo: Courtesy Sen. Harry Reid

One of the things I love about working for this organization is that we don’t work for "suits." Our board leadership is composed of music creators: the performers, songwriters and studio professionals we represent.

For instance, Maria Schneider is best known as an innovative composer and bandleader who has won GRAMMYs for her jazz and classical recordings. Most days you will find her in a studio composing or with a baton in hand, leading the Maria Schneider Orchestra at any of the dozens of concerts she performs here and abroad. But she is also on the Board of our New York Chapter, and as such, she came to Washington in March to give powerful testimony before the House Judiciary Subcommittee on the issue of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act’s ineffective notice-and-takedown process for removing infringing material from the Internet.

For another example, back in January saxophonist Mindi Abair was walking the red carpet with a GRAMMY nomination for her Summer Horns project, recorded with fellow saxophonists Dave Koz, Gerald Albright, and Richard Elliot. Then in February she welcomed dozens of members to our national headquarters for a special GRAMMY Town Hall in her capacity as President of the Los Angeles Chapter.

And just last month she was in D.C., saxophone in hand, as one of some 200 Academy members visiting with members of Congress to speak out for the rights of creators like herself. Attired all in black, with a flowing duster and thigh-high boots, Mindi looked like a consummate rocker as she serenaded Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid in a Capitol Hill hallway with an impromptu version of "Summertime" to help spread the word about music legislation like the Songwriter Equity Act, which would modernize the process for setting royalty rates for musical works.

Fans of indie folk may know the duo Albert And Gage and their clever take on American roots music. But the group's Christine Albert is also the Chair of the Academy's Board of Trustees — the first independent artist to hold that all-important post. She too brought her experience as a working musician to bear in Washington during our GRAMMYs on the Hill Advocacy Day, whipping out her guitar to sing "Bells Of Joy" with Mindi adding melodic riffs as musical inspiration to our lobbying groups.

Our members and leaders don't just talk the talk, they walk the walk — literally walking the halls of Congress. By coming to D.C. on their own time and own dime, they make a great sacrifice. While meeting legislators, they even make perhaps the greatest sacrifice any creator can make. They wear a suit.

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