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Latin Pop Producer Maffio: Why I'm Proud To Be A Voting Member Of The Recording Academy

Maffio

Photo by John Parra/Getty Images

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Latin Pop Producer Maffio: Why I'm Proud To Be A Voting Member Of The Recording Academy

"I'm grateful for the many opportunities and initiatives the Recording Academy sets forth, such as maintaining the traffic and/or providing the platform for composers, producers, songwriters and artists to mingle and exchange ideas"

GRAMMYs/Nov 10, 2020 - 11:50 pm

In a brand-new editorial series, the Recording Academy has asked its membership to reflect on their their career journey, the current state of the music industry and what we can do to collectively and positively move forward in the current social climate. Below, Dominican producer and Florida chapter member Maffio shares his open letter with GRAMMY.com readers.

Dear Recording Academy Members,

Being a GRAMMY member and a voting member has been an honor and privilege and I couldn’t be prouder of being part of this organization. Admittedly, I’m a proud and "diehard" member.

I’m grateful for the many opportunities and initiatives the Recording Academy sets forth, such as maintaining the traffic and/or providing the platform for composers, producers, songwriters and artists to mingle and exchange ideas for the better. In addition, my experience with the Recording Academy has been a supportive and collaborative experience and one in which provides and pushes artists to deliver the very best in music.

In conclusion, as artists, producers and songwriters, we have to make the best in music and ensure there’s quality control in our music. The gold gramophone awarded at the GRAMMYs represents a worldwide recognition from your own music industry colleagues. No other organization recognizes artists in this way. It is for this reason that the Recording Academy continuously pushes artists boundaries and we respond by raising the bar. This is what the GRAMMYs and the Recording Academy represents, and I can't emphasize enough how proud I am of being a part of this.

Maffio 

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Attorney Shay Lawson Talks #TheShowMustBePaused & Feeling Inspired By Industry Changemakers

Shay Lawson, Esq.

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Attorney Shay Lawson Talks #TheShowMustBePaused & Feeling Inspired By Industry Changemakers

In a brand-new editorial series, the Recording Academy has asked its membership to reflect on their their career journey, the current state of the music industry and what we can do to collectively and positively move forward in the current social climate

GRAMMYs/Nov 11, 2020 - 10:20 pm

In a brand-new editorial series, the Recording Academy has asked its membership to reflect on their their career journey, the current state of the music industry and what we can do to collectively and positively move forward in the current social climate. Below, entertainment attorney and Atlanta chapter governor Shay Lawson shares her open letter with GRAMMY.com readers.

I’m honestly exhausted with how often I’ve sobbed ugly breathless tears seeing images of people who look like me, my brother, my father, my husband on TV being murdered in cold blood as if this is a video game or blockbuster film instead of a real life lost, real carnage in the streets, a real atrocity that is too gruesome to be televised.

The intersectionalities of being Black, being a woman, being an entertainment attorney and holding these identities along with my responsibilities as a member of the legal system and advocate within the music community leave me simultaneously exhausted and inspired.

I’m exhausted with the energy spent pointing fingers and shifting blame that could be used to improve broken systems (including those within the music industry), create access, and nurture the next generation. 

I’m exhausted with an election media cycle using American lives as pawns in a game amid a global pandemic, leaving the public with little to no real hope or guidance in one of the harshest economic realities we’ve faced in years. 

I’m exhausted with all the performative outcry and allyship, only to go back to business in the following weeks with no real work being done, no real change being sparked, no real shift in the internal barometer of how we engage with each other on a day to day basis both personally and professionally.

However, I’m most exhausted with the internal dialogue I have with myself daily on what role I play in all of this and what impact my daily actions and inactions have on the world around me.

In the midst of the comfort and complacency of a less chaotic world we had the luxury to conveniently and selectively ignore the enormous impact we have in the music industry. We love to highlight our impact when we sway locked arms to sing "We Are the World" but somehow have turned a blind eye to "industry standards" that lock music creators into unfair deals for decades and drive profits to mega conglomerates while music creators struggle to make ends meet or have adequate health care, and systematically exclude women, POC and the LGBTQx communities from executive levels and real power. 

Read More: Deep Asymmetries Of Power: How The Recording Industry Spent Decades Denying Fair Payment To Black Artists

But the clock is running out on that era. That is what 2020 has shown me and that is what keeps me inspired.

I am inspired by the bravery of Brianna Agyemang and Jamila Thomas in leading the rallying cry that "The Show Must Be Paused" for us to start to do the work of creating equality in the music industry and in the world around us.

I am inspired by the work of Binta Brown, Jeffrey Azoff, Profit, and the Music Industry Coalition that is putting the funding and manpower in place nationwide to address racism, engage and mobilize young people to vote, and to enact laws that promote social justice.

I am inspired by artists like Offset and how he is using his platform to encourage former felons with restored voting rights to re-engage with the political process, to provide resources for underserved youth to be introduced to STEM through entertainment, to leverage relationships to fundraise for local communities devastated by the pandemic.

However, I am most inspired by seeing the growth and commitment to real impact in the organizations, communities and clients I serve. As a member of the Recording Academy, I can’t describe how the last four years have felt to advocate for legislation like the Music Modernization Act that has directly and immediately began positively impacting music creators. To see the shift in national advocacy conversations to include communities and equality. To be able to host Financial Wellness Open Mic sessions on a local level to give members firsthand access to government grants and resources to survive and thrive in the pandemic. As an attorney to advocate for my clients’ true value in the face of "industry standards," leverage them in positions of ownership and influence, and legally protect the legacy they are building through their works of art and works of the heart. As a regular person at the end of the day taking the opportunity to lean even harder into my humanity and be able to do so alongside my industry peers to have the hard conversations and come up with viable solutions and plans.

So maybe it’s not exhaustion that I feel. Maybe it is a fire that has been stoked inside of me. A fire built up by the disruption to my comfortable complacency when the world was a less chaotic place. A fire built up by the rallying cry put out, and answered by a music industry ready to move mountains. No more water, no more tears, maybe this time its fire to light the path to the best version of ourselves yet.

-Until the next time,

Shay M. Lawson Esq

Recording Academy Member since 2016
Governor — Atlanta Chapter
Atlanta Chapter Co-Chair Advocacy &  Co-Chair Diversity

Latin Pop Producer Maffio: Why I'm Proud To Be A Voting Member Of The Recording Academy

ReImagined: Judy Whitmore Dazzles With A Classic Interpretation Of Frank Sinatra And Count Basie's "The Best Is Yet To Come"
Judy Whitmore

Photo: Courtesy of Judy Whitmore

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ReImagined: Judy Whitmore Dazzles With A Classic Interpretation Of Frank Sinatra And Count Basie's "The Best Is Yet To Come"

Judy Whitmore introduces fans to the music she grew up with in this jazzy full-orchestra performance of "The Best is Yet to Come" — a song that was made famous by Frank Sinatra and Count Basie, and won a GRAMMY thanks to Ella Fitzgerald.

GRAMMYs/Dec 6, 2022 - 06:00 pm

An American standard originally composed in 1959, "The Best is Yet to Come" has been recorded by an array of vocal greats, including Tony Bennett, Michael Bublé, Bob Dylan, and Ella Fitzgerald — the latter of whom won a GRAMMY for her rendition in 1984. But it's most closely associated with Frank Sinatra, who recorded it with jazz pianist Count Basie for their 1964 album, It Might As Well Be Swing. In fact, the song was so important to Sinatra that its titular lyric is carved into his tombstone.

In this episode of ReImagined, vocalist and cabaret-style performer Judy Whitmore delivers a faithful, buoyant rendition of "The Best is Yet to Come." A full orchestra performs behind her, including horns, jazzy drums, a sweeping string section, and a grand piano — creating a swinging performance that does Sinatra proud.

Whitmore's cover choice is no coincidence, as the singer has been inspired by American classics literally since birth — her namesake is legendary actor and musical performer Judy Garland. Like Garland before her, Whitmore has taken on a diverse and multifaceted career. She's a bonafide Renaissance woman, whose resume includes accomplishments as a theater producer, best-selling author and pilot, who also happens to have a Master's degree in clinical psychology.

Singing has been a lifelong passion for Whitmore, and she has several albums to show for it, including 2020's Can't We Be Friends. That project, which includes her spin on standards like "'s Wonderful," "It Had to Be You" and "Love is Here to Stay," is Whitmore's "love letter to The Great American Songbook," her website explains

"This is the music I grew up with, and I don't want people to forget it," she details. "I think it's one of the most extraordinary bodies of work ever created."

Press play on the video above to watch Whitmore bring her love of American classics to her version of "The Best is Yet to Come," and keep checking back to GRAMMY.com for more episodes of ReImagined. 

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5 Takeaways From RM's New Solo Album 'Indigo'
RM performing at the 2022 GRAMMYs.

Photo: Rich Fury/Getty Images for The Recording Academy

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5 Takeaways From RM's New Solo Album 'Indigo'

BTS leader RM makes his official solo debut with his first studio album, 'Indigo,' which showcases a new level of artistry from the rapper.

GRAMMYs/Dec 5, 2022 - 08:03 pm

Like many of his BTS cohorts, RM has shown off his solo musical talents long before this year. His first mixtape RM came out in 2015, capturing the rapper's raw hip-hop roots. His second mixtape Mono was released to critical acclaim in 2018, when BTS were just scratching the surface of their worldwide domination. But this year took RM's solo efforts to the next level with his first-ever studio album, Indigo. 

Across 10 tracks, RM's official solo debut documents the multilingual rapper, producer and singer/songwriter's journey through his twenties. Meshing Korean and English, his reflections about life under the public eye weave through genres and moods organically. And with diverse collaborations — from R&B legend Erykah Badu to fellow South Korean star parkjiyoon — to boot, RM uses Indigo to bring fans deeper into his expansive musical universe.

Now that the highly anticipated project has finally arrived, take a look at five key takeaways from RM's debut studio album, Indigo.

It's Connected To The Art He Loves

RM is known for being a lover of nature and fine art, and that is reflected within Indigo. Promotional photos for the album featured Yun Hyong-Keun's painting "Blue"; RM is known to be a supporter of the late South Korean artist, so the rapper's inclusion of the work shows the intentionality behind his debut — musically and beyond. 

He isn't afraid to mesh artistic mediums, and the sonic and stylistic choices made reflect this. From then sampling Korean Hyong-Keun's reflection on Plato's humanity in the opening track "Yun" to even titling a song "Still Life," the inspiration is present. RM may have refined taste, but he makes it easily digestible through his music.

It's A Reflection Of His Life Up To Now

According to RM himself, Indigo serves as a diary of the last three years of his life. Even so, the album's messages can be a blueprint for anyone going through a transitional period in life, thanks to RM's honest, open-minded and unfiltered lyrics. 

On "Lonely," he candidly exudes his frustrations over a tropical beat. "I'm f—king lonely/ I'm alone on this island," he raps. He later sings, "So many memories are on the floor/ And now I hate the cities I don't belong/ Just wanna go back home." 

The contrast between the song's upbeat melody and longing lyrics provide a dichotomy that perfectly captures the highs and lows of fame. That's a theme that carries throughout the album, further showcasing why RM has become so admired by his fans and peers alike.

The Features Tell A Lot About His Artistry

Eight of the 10 tracks on Indigo are collaborations, all of which display RM's love of diverse genres and musical eras. They also reflect the caliber of artistry RM has reached — he got Erykah Badu! — as well as his ability to bridge the gap across borders. Along with Badu, he teamed up with two other R&B stars, Anderson .Paak and Mahalia, along with several Korean artists: Paul Blanco, Tablo, Kim Sawol, Colde, youjeen, and parkjiyoon. 

There's A Song For Everyone

Many praise RM for his ability to touch people with his leadership qualities and words, and this album may just be the strongest example of that. The project is noticeably more upbeat than Mono, but RM still takes time to break his emotions down lyrically. 

His first verse on the opening track "Yun" declares "F-k the trendsetter, I'ma turn back the time," setting the tone for how RM feels artistically. Then, the high-energy track "Still Life" with Anderson .Paak expresses joy and resilience, proving that one can still stand tall despite difficulty. As he says to .Paak on the track, "S— happens in life, but what happens is what happens."  

Overall, Indigo shows off RM's versatility in a much more impactful way than his previous mixtapes. This album is about the art of music, not breaking records or following trends. It feels like an exploratory culmination of various emotions, moods, and experiences, which helps each track feel relatable in a different way. 

There's A Lot To Look Forward To

RM displayed an immense maturity in his artistic expression through Indigo. He explores emotions both good and bad, but what remains throughout the entire project is a lingering feeling of hope for a better future. 

RM has always been a symbol of hope and grace as he has served as the spokesperson for his fellow members, both musically and in the public eye. But now, RM is getting to express himself for himself — and if Indigo is any indication, this is just the beginning of his journey inspiring the masses as a soloist.

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Herbal Tea & White Sofas: Juls' Must-Have Tour Item Is An African Instrument That Doubles As A Stress Reliever
Juls

Photo: Mahaneela Choudhury-Reid

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Herbal Tea & White Sofas: Juls' Must-Have Tour Item Is An African Instrument That Doubles As A Stress Reliever

The producer and DJ introduces fans to his kosh kash — a pocket-sized, egg-shaped instrument that is so versatile, he carries it with him everywhere when he's on the road.

GRAMMYs/Dec 5, 2022 - 06:59 pm

Juls — also known as Juls Baby, and born Julian Nicco-Annan — is perhaps known best for his work as a producer, helping create hits for acts like Burna Boy, Mr. Eazi and GoldLink. But the Ghanian-British producer and DJ is also a touring act who plays sets around the world — and he makes sure he has his trusty kosh kash with him.

In this episode of Herbal Tea & White Sofas, Juls introduces viewers to the egg-shaped African percussion instrument, which is also known as a Kashaka. The pocket-sized instrument is made up of two small gourds bound together by a string, and makes a rhythmic, rattling noise when shaken. It serves a lot of purposes, Juls explains.

"It's kind of like a shaker. It's kind of like a stress reliever when I'm preparing tours. It also helps me to make music," he says. "So any time I have an idea, I just record it on my phone in Voice Memos. I carry this everywhere I go when I travel."

Another mainstay of Juls' tour rider is "one of the best drinks in the world: Supermalt," the artist continues. "It's like a malt drink, made of wheat, with other things like added sugar and starch."

The non-alcoholic and caffeine-free malt beverage first originated in the early 1970s and served as a cheap energy source for the Nigerian Army. To this day, it's still an Afro-Caribbean staple — and now, a road necessity for Juls. "Definitely need to have that on the rider," he adds.

Press play on the video above to learn more about Juls' road essentials — plus how he prepares for his shows every night — and keep checking back to GRAMMY.com for more new episodes of Herbal Tea & White Sofas. 

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