Photo: Johnny Nunez/Getty Images for The Recording Academy
"Black Music Saved The World": How The Recording Academy Honors Presented By The Black Music Collective Celebrated Positive Change For The Culture & Community
The Black Music Collective's inaugural event celebrated the past, present and future achievements of Black music and embodied the Recording Academy's ongoing work to celebrate and advance Black music and its creators and professionals across the industry.
When it comes to music and culture, constant evolutions and unique developments from Black artists have challenged and pushed conventionality into a place of many groundbreaking firsts.
From Megan Thee Stallion, the first woman rapper to perform at the Oscars, to Cardi B, the first solo female rapper to win the GRAMMY for Best Rap Album, to Mickey Guyton, the first Black female solo artist to be nominated for a GRAMMY in the Best Country Solo Performance category — a host of impactful changes has been slowly yet surely bubbling up to the surface.
These cultural progressions run in parallel to the work being done by the Black Music Collective (BMC), a group of prominent Black music creators and professionals dedicated to amplifying Black voices within the Recording Academy and the wider music community, while also serving as the strong currents driving this sea change.
On Saturday, April 2, the night before the 2022 GRAMMYs, at Resorts World Las Vegas, the BMC hosted the Recording Academy Honors Presented By The Black Music Collective, an official GRAMMY Week 2022 event and the inaugural Black Music Collective in-person event. The newly minted, must-attend gala — sponsored by Binance, IBM, Mastercard, Hilton, GREY GOOSE Vodka, and Amazon Music — honored legendary artists like Jimmy Jam, MC Lyte, D-Nice, and the founders of the Black-founded, health-focused record label Love Renaissance (LVRN). The event also featured performances from Chlöe Bailey, Jimmie Allen, Cordae, Muni Long, and Summer Walker, who each took the house on an emotional roller-coaster ride of body-moving grooves; Adam Blackstone served as the event's musical director.
This powerful celebration of Black music and entertainment also welcomed industry execs like LVRN Records executive vice president/general manager and LVRN Management partner Amber Grimes; 300 Entertainment co-founder and CEO Kevin Liles; Universal Music Group senior director of Diversity, Inclusion & Belonging and former Co-Founder & Executive Sponsor of the BMC Jeriel Johnson; and Recording Academy CEO Harvey Mason jr.
Celebrating the past, present and future achievements within Black music and culture, the BMC gala honored 12-time GRAMMY-winning artist John Legend with the first-ever Recording Academy Global Impact Award for his personal and professional achievements in the music industry. The historic night amplified the critical role of Diversity, Equity & Inclusion (DEI) in pushing the music industry forward to the hundreds of artists, GRAMMY nominees and winners, Recording Academy members, and influential music executives in attendance.
"It's been a long time coming, and I don't feel great saying that," Mason Jr. said at the event, referencing how long it took for this gathering to arrive. "But now we're finally here, so let's celebrate."
As stars walked the Black carpet, they were welcomed by a small gallery of iconic images curated by photographer-turned-entrepreneur Johnny Nunez. Following opening remarks from GRAMMY-winning superproducer and event presenter Jimmy Jam about the future of the GRAMMYs, the night shifted to highlight the many ways the Recording Academy plans to combat negativity using passion and music.
And the event would live up to that statement: A wide range of Black music and artists — from the genre-redefining edge of country singer Jimmie Allen to the progressive efforts of LVRN — all embodied the moments and movements happening across studios, stages and boardrooms alike in the business.
"The playing ground has not been level," honoree MC Lyte said during her acceptance speech. "But I'm proud of the progress we've made." "Despite the continued injustice and inequality in our industry and society at large," Lyte continued, "there's no better time to be a Black creator than now."
Founded in 2020 and developed by Riggs Morales and former Co-Founder Jeriel Johnson, along with Recording Academy executives like CEO Mason jr., Co-President Valeisha Butterfield Jones and Vice President of Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Ryan Butler, the Black Music Collective has become a hub for creative geniuses and business leaders to set unified goals, align on a shared agenda, and build community. Butterfield Jones made that agenda crystal clear through gratitude and gravitas.
"Life is short, and this assignment is purpose-driven. We are advancing this mission, and the assignment is bigger than me and any of us individually," Butterfield Jones said at the event. "It's about independent music creators, emerging artists, music people — all music people — and driving real and meaningful change we can all feel from the inside out."
Club Quarantine architect D-Nice spoke from the heart about how the world gravitated toward his virtual DJ sets during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic lockdown and underlined the great role John Legend played in spreading the word to millions of people. Club Quarantine truly became a communal therapeutic experience around the world.
"Club Quarantine is not really about D-Nice, the DJ," he said. "It's about a community. People come together and they share conversations in the chats. I'm just in the background trying to create a space to feel comfortable to get together. I say this like I've said before, 'Black music saved the world.'"
And he's right.
For decades, Black music has made topics trend and barriers end. It has empowered generations to change their family legacies while giving a voice to the voiceless. "American music is Black music," Bruno Mars, who recently swept the 2022 GRAMMYs, said back in 2017. Today, there isn't a place, genre or sound that hasn't been influenced by Black music and culture.
From Muni Long wowing the crowd with her show-stopping remake of Boyz II Men's "End of the Road," titled "Boys II Men," to Saweetie saluting the importance of women throughout hip-hop's 50-year history to Chlöe Bailey proving to be a cultural phenomenon coming into her own, the Recording Academy Honors Presented By The Black Music Collective proved that Black people will power the next wave of creativity for years to come.
Accepting the inaugural Recording Academy Global Impact Award, John Legend, a "GETO" winner and the honoree of the night, summed up the power and influence of Black music in his speech. "Black music is and has been the rhythm, the root, the inspiration, the innovation behind so much of the world's popular music. It doesn't exist without us," he said.
"Our art and music can help movements find their footing and voice," Legend continued. "Our art and music can help activists, the people closest to injustice, and lead the way forward to equality and opportunity."
A new slew of firsts to never forget.
Beyond the glitz and glamor of the night, it's undeniably clear that the Recording Academy Honors Presented By The Black Music Collective was more than a who's who of the entertainment industry: It was a flag-planting occasion that embodied the Recording Academy's ongoing work to celebrate and advance Black music and its creators and professionals across the industry.
DJ Khaled, Samantha Smith and John Legend
Photo: Kevin Winter/Getty Images
DJ Khaled, Nipsey Hussle And John Legend Win Best Rap/Sung Performance For "Higher" | 2020 GRAMMYs
DJ Khaled, Nipsey Hussle and John Legend take home Best Rap/Sung Performance at the 62nd GRAMMY Awards
DJ Khaled, featuring Nipsey Hussle and John Legend, has won Best Rap/Sung Performance for "Higher" at the 62nd GRAMMY Awards. The single was featured on DJ Khaled's 2019 album Father of Asahd and featured Hussle's vocals and Legend on the piano. DJ Khaled predicted the track would win a GRAMMY.
"I even told him, 'We're going to win a GRAMMY.' Because that's how I feel about my album," DJ Khaled told Billboard. "I really feel like not only is this my biggest, this is very special."
After the release of the song and music video -- which was filmed before Hussle's death in March -- DJ Khaled announced all proceeds from "Higher" will go to Hussle's children.
DJ Khaled and co. beat out fellow category nominees Lil Baby & Gunna ("Drip Too Hard"), Lil Nas X ("Panini"), Mustard featuring Roddy Ricch ("Ballin") and Young Thug featuring J. Cole & Travis Scott ("The London"). Hussle earned a second posthumous award at the 62nd GRAMMYs for Best Rap Performance for "Racks In The Middle."
Along with Legend and DJ Khaled, Meek Mill, Kirk Franklin, Roddy Ricch and YG paid tribute to Hussle during the telecast, which concluded with "Higher."
Check out the complete 62nd GRAMMY Awards nominees and winners list here.
Jackson Tops Dead Earners List
Jackson Tops Dead Earners List
GRAMMY winner and Recording Academy Lifetime Achievement Award recipient Michael Jackson topped Forbes' annual list of top-earning dead celebrities with $275 million, earning more than the combined total of the other 12 celebrities on the list. Elvis Presley ranked second with $60 million, John Lennon placed fifth with $17 million and Jimi Hendrix tied for 11th place with $6 million. Forbes compiled the list based on gross earnings between October 2009 and October 2010. (10/26)
UK Arts Council Announces Budget Cut Plans
Following a previous report, Arts Council England has revealed plans to implement the 30 percent cut to the UK's arts funding budget. The cuts will include a 7 percent cash cut for UK arts organizations in 2011–2012, a 15 percent cut for the regular funding of arts organizations by 2014–2015 and a 50 percent reduction to the council's operating costs. (10/26)
GRAMMY Winners To Perform At World Series
GRAMMY winners Kelly Clarkson, Lady Antebellum and John Legend are scheduled to perform "The Star-Spangled Banner" during Major League Baseball's 2010 World Series between the San Francisco Giants and Texas Rangers. Legend and Lady Antebellum will perform at games one and two in San Francisco on Oct. 27 and Oct. 28, respectively, and Clarkson will perform at game three on Oct. 30 in Arlington, Texas. (10/26)
A GRAMMY Glam Dunk
By Will Dawson
For a few hours Tuesday night Hollywood Boulevard was transformed into Glam Central Station as The Recording Academy officially kicked off its 54th GRAMMY Week with the inaugural GRAMMY Glam event.
It was just what you'd expect it to be from the title — an incendiary collision between music and fashion, and beauty and the beats, complete with a GRAMMY gold carpet and enough DJ firepower to ignite a musical bonfire. Sponsored by Olay, CoverGirl and Venus, and featuring the incredible DJ Spinderella (of Salt-N-Pepa), DJ Low Down Loretta Brown (aka Erykah Badu), and dynamic duo the Jane Doze, Hollywood rocked on the dance floor while exploring the cosmetics-filled caverns of the MyHouse nightclub.
"Each year, we try to reinvent ourselves," said Recording Academy President/CEO Neil Portnow before heading inside. "What we've recognized for years is that there's an intersection between beauty, health, style, fashion, and music. I can't wait to see what our team — who are the best in the world, by the way — put together for tonight."
The Jane Doze opened the night on the ones and twos, with contest winners from Turntable.fm also filling in some of the musical menu with their submissions, lending an interactive angle to the evening.
With three themed rooms that featured waterfalls, flames and even contortionists, partygoers had the chance to pose for personalized magazine covers, get tips from professional makeup artists and, while on the venue's main stage, even get a taste of what it's like to be a model on the catwalk.
"It's a marriage made in heaven," said recording artist Goapele. "Music and fashion go hand in hand. It's great that the GRAMMYs saw that and put this great night together."
Other guests echoed those sentiments, and many were excited for the chance to see Badu take her turn as one of the night's DJs.
"I'm from New Orleans and have seen [Badu] perform at Essence [Music Festival] over the years," beamed former Diddy Dirty Money member Dawn Richard. "She's a hero of mine. Everything she does is bold, from her fashion to her musical choices."
Badu's set was filled with blends of everything from GRAMMY-nominated hip-hop collective A Tribe Called Quest to R&B artist Cheryl Lynn. Spinderella spun the classics, giving the crowd an eclectic mix intermingling hits from R&B dance group Nu Shooz to the late Notorious B.I.G.
If all of the guests carrying their coats and heels in hand upon exiting are any indication, a great time was had by all. It was, by all accounts, a glam dunk, and a great way to kick off what promises to be an incredible week leading up to Music's Biggest Night.
Remembering Nipsey Hussle On The Anniversary Of His Death: "I Just Wanted To Be Really Intentional"
The Recording Academy celebrates the life of Nipsey Hussle, the late Los Angeles rapper, who earned two posthumous GRAMMY Awards this year
Since the tragic loss of Los Angeles rapper, entrepreneur and activist Nipsey Hussle on March 31, 2019, his motivational music and inspiring message of investing in your community are continued by the many lives he touched. Here in L.A, you see countless murals painted in his likeness, his inspirational words reminding us greatness and kindness are not mutually exclusive.
In 2018, after a decade of perfecting his storytelling and flow with hard-hitting mixtapes, Hussle released his victorious debut album Victory Lap. It earned him his first GRAMMY nomination, for Best Rap Album, at the 2019 GRAMMYs. The week following the show, he released his final single during his lifetime, "Racks in the Middle," featuring rising L.A. rapper Roddy Ricch and powerhouse producer Hit-Boy.
At the 62nd GRAMMY Awards this year, he posthumously earned three more nominations and took home two wins. "Racks in the Middle" won Best Rap Performance and "Higher," a track he was working on with DJ Khaled before he died, won Best Rap/Sung Performance for "Higher." Khaled released the uplifting track, which also features John Legend, in Hussle's memory on May 17, 2019.
Hussle's family, including his grandmother and his partner Lauren London, took the GRAMMY stage to accept his awards in two tearful yet celebratory moments. Khaled, Legend, Ricch, Meek Mill, Kirk Franklin and YG also celebrated the rap hero with a moving tribute performance during the show.
"The biggest thing that he left behind in his legacy is to go the extra mile for other people and be aware of your community," singer Tinashe said in a recent interview. "That spirit is really important. It's important to bring people together. I think that's part of his message. It's looking out for one another."
That message of hope and community is echoed in so many others' words about Hussle; his positive impact is immense and immeasurable. It is reflected in a message from none other than former President Barack Obama. Hussle's longtime friend and marketing manager Karen Civil read Obama's powerful words about him during his moving memorial service:
"While most folks look at the Crenshaw neighborhood where he grew up and see only gangs, bullets and despair, Nipsey saw potential. He saw hope. He saw a community that, even through its flaws, taught him to always keep going. His choice to invest in that community rather than ignore it—to build a skills training center and coworking space in Crenshaw; to lift up the Eritrean-American community; to set an example for young people to follow—is a legacy worthy of celebration. I hope his memory inspires more good work in Crenshaw and communities like it."
The Marathon Continues.