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6 Organizations Supporting Women In Audio Production & Engineering: Women's Audio Mission, She Is The Music & More
Esjay Jones at Sunset Sound

Photo: Marc Silverstein

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6 Organizations Supporting Women In Audio Production & Engineering: Women's Audio Mission, She Is The Music & More

"Any and everyone can be involved in the movement to support more women in music."

GRAMMYs/Nov 14, 2022 - 03:07 pm

From pay gaps to the relative dearth of women in senior management roles, there is significant inequality in today’s workforce. The music industry is no different and the stats are even more harrowing: According to the Recording Academy's Women In The Mix study, women represent only 21 percent of artists, 12.6 percent of songwriters, and 2.6 percent of producers.

Despite some of the most impactful music artists and songwriters being women — from Beyoncė (seven No. 1 albums) and Joni Mitchell (notably credited for influencing Prince, Chaka Khan, Taylor Swift, Neil Diamond, Herbie Hancock, Annie Lennox, among others) to Carole King (who wrote 118 Billboard 100 hits) and Taylor Swift (11 No. 1 albums and the only artist to sweep all top ten spots in the Billboard 100)  — 57 percent of women in the industry are forced to work more than one job to make ends meet. Twenty-four percent of Women In The Mix respondents worked over 40 hours a week, and an additional 28 percent log over 50 hours a week.

Music permeates every aspect of our lives. It’s a vital way in how we express ourselves and connect with others. It’s long past time that women got an equal say in that conversation. "Any and everyone can be involved in the movement to support more women in music on various levels" says Girls Makes Beats Founder Tiffany "Delilah" Miranda.

Miranda's organization is one of many dedicated to developing professional opportunities, including mentorship, for women and girls in the music industry. "Providing the tools needed goes a long way towards successful career paths," she says, adding that consumers "can support women in music by listening to, sharing, and supporting female creators."

There are a number of organizations supporting women and girls in audio engineering and production who are working hard to change this narrative. Here are seven such orgs that empower women and gender-expansive people to create the future of music.

Girls Make Beats 

Girls Make Beats is passionate about helping young women have successful, sustained careers in music. Since 2012, Girls Make Beats has been dedicated to increased female representation in music production and empower the next generation of producers, DJs, and audio engineers by "creating real-world opportunities."

Influenced by jazz greats, like Nina Simone and Etta James, with their larger than life voices, Founder Tiffany "Delilah" Miranda had grown tired of being stifled by male producers. "This inspired me to create my own music," says Miranda. "I quickly realized how male-dominated most of the creative control spaces were and wanted to create a safe space for girls to find their own sound without having to face many of the challenges I had to overcome."

Through their various programs and initiatives, Girls Make Beats emphasizes the tenets of sisterhood, empowerment, mentorship, access and opportunity, leadership, and social-emotional learning. They recently opened an official Girls Make Beats Academy in Los Angeles and also have scholarships available, globally, for their year-round programming.

Women’s Audio Mission

Based in the San Francisco Bay Area, Women’s Audio Mission (WAM) will soon be celebrating its 20th anniversary. WAM offers training and mentorship for the "advancement of women and gender-expansive people in music/audio production and creative technology, fields in which they are critically underrepresented."

Founded by Terri Winston while she was a Professor and Director of the Sound Recording Arts Program at City College of San Francisco, WAM resides at the intersection of creativity and technology, weaving "art and music with science, technology, and computer programming" in an effort "to close the critical gender gap in creative technology careers."

"Studios have not been historically safe for women because only 2-3 percent of the recording engineers and producers are women/gender-expansive. They are soundproof boxes, often in remote, industrial areas with no HR or other support,” Winston told GRAMMY.com." "WAM has been changing that for the last 20 years training over 4,000 women, girls and gender-expansive youth every year to…radically change the gender gap in recording studios and the music industry."

WAM’s goals are twofold: Increase the number of women and gender-expansive people in the music industry (who make up less than 5 percent of its workforce), and to combat the 70 percent drop in women and gender-expansive people entering college STEM programs since 2000.

Throughout its storied existence, WAM has worked with over 22,000 individuals; been declared the "Best Hope for the Future of Music" by San Francisco Weekly; placed over 1,000 students in jobs throughout the industry (in companies like Dolby Labs, Sony, Pixar, Disney and Google); worked with award-winning artists (such as Sheila E., Kronos Quartet, Neko Case, Angélique Kidjo); and has been recognized by the White House for its innovations in education.

EqualizeHer

Legendary singer, songwriter, and producer Linda Perry of the 4 Non Blondes has teamed with philanthropist and activist Alisha Ballard to create EqualizeHer, a new initiative and organization working to help bring gender equality to the music industry. 

EqualizeHer is focused on four actionable goals: Release and distribute music produced, written, and performed by women; host live music events produced entirely by women; provide opportunities for young female artists to perform in front of live audiences to gain experience and be heard; and work with existing organizations to fill the gaps and join forces.

Through their combined efforts, they’re rallying artists like Paris Jackson (who played a live benefit for EqualizeHer at the renowned LA venue the Troubadour on Oct. 9 with Aimee Mann, Tinashe, Tish Melton, and more). Billie Eilish and Christina Aguilera have also expressed interest in being ambassadors for this organization.

She Is The Music 

From industry professionals to songwriters, She is the Music, is devoted to increasing the number of women working in music across. They’ve created an international database of women to help the industry discover, connect, and create with women, all of whom have been vetted and verified. 

Spearheaded by the inimitable Alicia Keys, along with a cadre of influential and talented women in the industry, "We want to create a model for change that affects women across all industries," Keys told Essence. "We deserve the utmost respect, and so many of these women across industries are telling our culture that time is up on double standards, and it’s over for pay inequity and colleagues who are at best disrespectful and at the worst unsafe — so it’s over for that." 

The organization also hosts songwriting sessions and mentorship programs to develop and empower the next generation of women in music. Participants work with artists and receive pertinent, experiential insight into all areas of production, business, touring, and songwriting.

"We are an independent, global network that operates as a unifying organization for women from across the industry,"  their website states, "creating strength and impact on a global scale. As an umbrella nonprofit, we also provide resources and support for female-focused initiatives that are working to create meaningful change both through our own programs, as well as external efforts around the world."

She Knows Tech

As its name indicates, She Knows Tech, concentrates on bringing talented female-identifying producers and engineers and tech performers to the forefront of the industry. The organization provides a safe space and platform for women to give and receive training in music technology.

"Upon learning of the striking gender imbalance and lack of female role models within the industry, we started She Knows Tech to support each other and find mentors to connect, within and outside the educational space," say Founders Jasmine Kok and Meghan Smyth.

The two have amplified their mission through a series of events, culminating with the  She Knows Tech Summit.

Established in 2021, the multi-day event  includes workshops, masterclasses, a job fair, showcases, camps, and conversations moderated by GRAMMY-winning engineers, and is presented by 30+ gender expansive audio professionals. The hybrid event "created an empowering experience for our community to learn from role models that represent them in the space."

She Knows Tech has chapters in Valencia and Boston, and recently came under the ownership of We Are Moving the Needle. Its partners include industry heavy hitters around the world, from the Audio Engineering Society to Spitfire Audio.

We Are Moving The Needle

Founded by GRAMMY winner Emily Lazar, Chief Mastering Engineer for The Lodge, We Are Moving The Needle is an "inclusive organization working to create measurable change by empowering women in the recording and professional audio industry with the education, equipment and the mentorship needed to succeed at the highest levels."

Only 2.6 percent of producers and audio engineers on the Billboard Hot 100 are women, according to  the USC Annenberg Inclusion in the Recording Studio study. "I​t was a sobering reality, and I knew then that I had to do something to change that," Lazar noted. "It was hard for me to understand how the music industry at large was failing so miserably at something that, in actuality, isn’t very difficult to address."

"In addition to donating scholarships, equipment, and funds to We Are Moving The Needle," says Lazar, "those in positions of power can simply hire more women. They can make a conscious effort to consider women for producing and engineering roles on every record."

We Are Moving the Needle's  advisory board includes an embarrassment of riches in terms of experience, success, knowledge, and accolades. Their members include Alanis Morissette, Brandi Carlile, Brittany Howard, Liz Phair, Imogen Heap, Linda Perry, and HAIM.

"I always say," reminds Lazar, "‘if you can see it, you can be it. Representation matters."

Beat By Girlz

Beats By Girlz provides tools, education and resources within the community to drive growth and learning for younger generations of women and gender-expansive people. Their decentralized team works with members and partners all around the world including a board of music industry veterans  and has five chapters across the world representing 15 different countries.

Learn Why "She Is The Music" & ASCAP's Female Songwriting Camp Felt "Essential"

Jillian Jacqueline

Photo: Jason Kempin/Getty Images

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Learn Why "She Is The Music" & ASCAP's Female Songwriting Camp Felt "Essential"

Participants in the creative and innovative incubator came away with fresh confidence.

GRAMMYs/Oct 27, 2018 - 04:31 am

Songwriting camps have certainly proven their worth recently and from Oct. 17–19, ASCAP and joined forces with "She Is The Music" a new mentoring initiative founded Alicia Keys, to fulfill the promise Keys made last summer toward promoting women-led creativity.

The camp partnered with powerhouses such as engineer Ann Mincieli, and with Mary J. Blige who headlined and participated in the all-female songwriting camp. United in the name of advancement, the program has potential to lead a cultural shift more respectful and nurturing toward women's musical and creative gifts, as well as career success.

"I've joined forces with a group of really powerful female executives, songwriters, artists, engineers, producers and publishers to help reshape the industry that we all love by creating real opportunities and a pipeline of talent for other women," Keys said speech accepting her Icon Award from the National Music Publishers Association last June. "We're calling our initiative 'She Is the Music.'" By mid-month, creative get-togethers to make progress had commenced and the ASCAP songwriting camp is an extension of that summer spirit.

"For the most part, I tend to gravitate towards female writers because there's no substitute for people completely understanding your experience and your perspective," said country singer-songwriter Jillian Jacqueline. "If we all get together in a room and break all the walls and the myths and concepts down to talk about what it is to be where we are and describe what we're going through, bonds happen. Connection happens. Those are the things people can't take away from you — the human connection. That's why this is so essential."

"Songwriting is an art. You have to be transparent in order to get people to look at your art," said Blige, reinforcing the spirit of openness that made the camp such an exciting creative environment. "It's very hard for women to come together because it's such a male-dominated world, male-dominated industry. It makes it hard on us so we're hard on each other … When you see us actually have the confidence and the courage to come together to do something great like this, it's a blessing."

"There is a culture and there is a system in place that says if you're a woman, you're either a girlfriend, a wife… you're an artist, or you're here for my pleasure," added songwriter Priscilla Renea. "I think that's the most encouraging thing about this, women are going to walk away feeling confident."

Organizers were delighted with the sense of accomplishment that emerged from this October camp and look forward to holding more and inspiring others to follow their lead. Thanks to the vision of "She Is The Music," it's likely just a matter of time before songs everybody sings emerge thanks to this women-in-leadership model.

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Global Spin: Katerine Duska And Leon Of Athens Premiere "Babel," A Bilingual Tale Of A Love Lost In Translation
(L-R) Leon of Athens, Katerine Duska

Photo (L-R): Ria Mort, Thanos Poulimenos

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Global Spin: Katerine Duska And Leon Of Athens Premiere "Babel," A Bilingual Tale Of A Love Lost In Translation

Frequent songwriting partners Katerine Duska and Leon Of Athens grapple with a relationship full of miscommunication in this emotional duet, which they debut with a powerful Global Spin performance.

GRAMMYs/Nov 29, 2022 - 06:00 pm

"Can I love you a little more clearly?" Katerine Duska and Leon of Athens sing in the emotional chorus of their new song, "Babel." "Can we get it right? Can we talk another night away?"

In this episode of Global Spin, the two pop singers — and frequent songwriting partners — effortlessly trade off between Greek and English in a compelling performance. But as beautiful as the bilingual, harmony-driven duet may be, "Babel" chronicles a fraught relationship where, ultimately, the love gets lost in translation.

"Babel" brings the two lovers back to where they started: Frustrated and failing to see eye to eye, but still invested in one another. That narrative pairs with an equally passionate, string-filled sonic backdrop in this song, which Duska and Leon of Athens premiere on Global Spin.

The song's visual component further underscores its message. Duska and Leon of Athens perform the song from a bed, surrounded by candles and rippling water. As they wrestle through their disagreements — both lyrically and physically — the two artists make an attempt to find tenderness, but their best efforts dissolve into frustration and disconnection.

The bilingual duo have co-written several times in the past, and they're no strangers to performing together, either. Their first duet, "ANEMOS," came out in 2019; a year later, the pair released another collaboration, "Communication."

Press play on the video above to get a first look at the latest collaboration between Katerine Duska and Leon of Athens, and keep checking GRAMMY.com every Tuesday for more new episodes of Global Spin.

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Herbal Tea & White Sofas: Akon And Teemanay's Favorite Tour Meal Is So Iconic That It Has Its Own Festival
(L-R) Akon and Teemanay

Photo: Matteo Vincenzo (right)

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Herbal Tea & White Sofas: Akon And Teemanay's Favorite Tour Meal Is So Iconic That It Has Its Own Festival

Over plates of Nigerian jollof rice, global superstar Akon and Afrobeats mainstay Teemanay explain the finer points of this staple West African dish — which is also their staple meal on the road.

GRAMMYs/Nov 29, 2022 - 05:00 pm

When it comes to music, R&B giant Akon and rising Afrobeats star Teemanay (aka Young Icon) have a lot in common. Not only are they both from West Africa — Akon's family roots are in Senegal, while Teemanay hails from Nigeria – but the two teamed up on the four-song EP Konvict Kulture Presents Teemanay, which came out on Akon's label earlier this year.

The two acts have similar tastes when it comes to food, too — though they might disagree on the finer points. Jollof rice, a staple throughout West Africa, is a dish that both artists grew up loving, even though they hail from different countries within the region.

"For a meal, if they have jollof rice for me, I will give them an extra 15 minutes of free performance," Teemanay jokes in the newest episode of Herbal Tea & White Sofas.

"So the rice is actually smoked, almost like when you cook barbeque," Akon details, explaining what it is that makes this particular dish so special. "When you look at jollof, it ranks in the top five of those things you just can't forget. It's a part of the meal, every meal."

The dish is so essential that Akon hosts an annual Jollof, Music & Food Festival in Atlanta, which features a lineup of music and food trucks. But the pinnacle of the event is the jollof cook-off, in which recipes from different countries compete to see which region creates the best version of the dish.

"This year, Senegal won. But we kinda expect that, because Senegal is really the creators of jollof rice," Akon proudly explains, as Teemanay shakes his head in disagreement.

"I'm in a very aggressive, fighting mood right now," Teemanay shoots back with a smirk. "Nigerian jollof is the best jollof in the world."

Whichever regional version they prefer, Akon and Teemanay can agree on one thing: There's no better post-show meal or tour bus snack out there than jollof rice. 

Press play on the video above to watch the two stars duke it out over their favorite jollof, and keep checking back to GRAMMY.com for more new episodes of Herbal Tea & White Sofas.

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9 Organizations Helping Music Makers In Need: MusiCares, The GRAMMY Museum & Others

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9 Organizations Helping Music Makers In Need: MusiCares, The GRAMMY Museum & Others

Are you in a position to donate to musicians in a state of financial or personal crisis on this GivingTuesday? Check out these nine charitable organizations — beneath the Recording Academy umbrella and otherwise.

GRAMMYs/Nov 29, 2022 - 03:17 pm

Imagine a world where care and concern is distributed in a holistic circuit, rather than being hoarded away or never employed at all. That's the paradigm that GivingTuesday is reaching toward.

Created in 2012 under the simple precept of being generous and celebrating generosity, GivingTuesday is a practical hub for getting involved in one's community and giving as freely to benefit and nourish others.

Since GivingTuesday has swelled not just from a single day in the calendar year, but a lens through which to view the other 364 days. You can find your local GivingTuesday network here, find ways to participate here, and find ways to join  GivingTuesday events here.

Where does the Recording Academy come in? Helping musicians in need isn't something they do on the side, an afterthought while they hand out awards.

No, aiding music people is at the core of the Academy's mission. MusiCares, the Academy's philanthropic arm, has changed innumerable lives for the better.

And through this society of music professionals and its other major components — including  Advocacy, the GRAMMY Museum and GRAMMY U — the Academy continues its fight in legislative and educational forms.

If you're willing and able to help musicians in need this GivingTuesday, here's a helpful hub of nine charitable organizations with whom you can do so.

MusiCares

Any list of orgs that aid musicians would be remiss to not include MusiCares.

Through the generosity of donors and volunteer professionals, this organization of committed service members has been able to aid struggling music people in three key areas: mental health and addiction recovery services, health services, and human services.

For more information on each of those, visit here. To apply for assistance, click here. And to donate to MusiCares, head here.

GRAMMY Museum

"Museum" might be right there in the name, but there's a lot more to this precious sector of the Recording Academy.

The GRAMMY Museum in Los Angeles doesn't just put on immersive exhibits that honor the legacies of musical giants; it's a hub for music education.

At press time, more than 20,000 students have visited the Museum, more than 10,000 students have participated in the Museum's Clive Davis theater, and 20,000 students have participated in their GRAMMY Camp weekends.

To donate to the GRAMMY Museum, click here. To become a member, visit here.

Give a Beat

By now, the evidence is ironclad: Giving incarcerated people access to music and art dramatically increases morale and decreases recidivism.

Give a Beat is keenly aware of this, both on direct-impact and mentorship levels.

The org hosts classes for incarcerated people, in order for them to "find healing, transformation, and empowerment" through its Prison Electronic Music Program, which helps incarcerated folks wade deep into the fields of music production and DJing.

Its On a New Track Reentry Mentoring Program initiative connects music industry professionals with formerly incarcerated individuals in order to transfer their skills into a professional setting.

To become a member of Give a Beat, click here. To donate, visit here.

Jazz Foundation of America

Despite being at the heart of American musical expression, jazz, blues and roots can sometimes feel roped off on the sidelines of the music industry — and its practitioners can slip between society's cracks.

That's where the Jazz Foundation of America comes in. They aid musicians struggling to hang onto their homes, connect physicians and specialists with uninsured artists and help musicians get back on their feet after life-upending natural disasters.

To donate to the Jazz Foundation, click here; for all other info, visit their website.

The Blues Foundation

Headquartered in Memphis, the Blues Foundation aims to preserve the history and heritage of the blues — which lies at the heart of all American forms. This goes not only for irreplaceable sites and artifacts, but the living, breathing people who continue to make it.

The Blues Foundation offers educational outreach, providing scholarships to youth performers to attend summer blues camps and workshops.

On top of that, in the early 2000s, they created the HART Fund to offer financial support to musicians in need of medical, dental, and vision care.

And for blues artists who have passed on, the HART Fund diverts money to their families  to ensure their loved ones would be guaranteed dignified funerals.

For more information on the Blues Foundation, visit here. To donate, click here.

Musicians Foundation

Founded all the way back when World War I broke out, the Musicians Foundation has spent more than a century cutting checks to musicians in times of need.

This includes financial grants to cover basic expenses, like medical and dental treatments, rents and mortgages and utilities. Submitted grant applications are reviewed by their staff and a screening committee. If approved, the money is dispatched rapidly and directly to the debtor to relieve financial pressure as soon as possible.

The Musicians Foundation's philanthropic legacy is enshrined in Century of Giving, a comprehensive analysis of financial aid granted to musicians and their families by the Foundation since 1914.

For more information, visit here; click here to donate.

Music Maker Foundation

Based in North Carolina, the Music Maker Foundation tends to the day-to-day needs of American roots artists — helping them negotiate crises so they can "keep roofs over their heads, food on their tables, [and] instruments in their hands."

This relief comes in the forms of basic sustenance, resources performance (like booking venues and providing CDs to sell) and spreading education about their contributions to the American roots canon.

Check out their website for more information; to donate, click here.

Sweet Relief: Musicians Fund

When music people are in danger, this charitable organization sees no barriers of genre, region or nature of crisis.

If you're a musician suffering from physical, mental or financial hardship — whether it be due to a disability, an affliction like cancer, or anything else — Sweet Relief has got your back.

There are numerous ways to support Sweet Relief; you can become a partner, intern or volunteer, or simply chip in a few bucks for one of their various funds to keep their selfless work moving.

For any and all further information, visit their website.

Music Workers Alliance

The Recording Academy's concern and consideration for music people hardly stops at musicians — they're here to support all music people.

They share this operating principle with Music Workers Alliance, which tirelessly labors to ensure music people are treated like they matter — and are fairly remunerated for their efforts.

This takes many forms, like fighting for music workers at the federal, state and city level for access to benefits and fair protections, and ensuring economic justice and fair working conditions.

Music Workers Alliance also fights for economic justice on the digital plane, and aims to provide equal access for people of color and other underrepresented groups in the industry.

For more info, visit their website; for ways to get involved, click here.

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