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Meet The Recording Academy D.C. Chapter's First Black Female President, Elise Perry

Elise Perry 

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Meet The Recording Academy D.C. Chapter's First Black Female President, Elise Perry

Learn more about the Washington D.C. producer and engineer as well as her vision for the chapter serving the nation's capital, Maryland and Virginia

GRAMMYs/Jun 19, 2020 - 03:55 am

Elise Perry, the newly elected president of the Recording Academy's Washington D.C. Chapter, won't just be empowering and supporting artists, producers and other music professionals in the nation's capital, Maryland and Virginia—she'll be showing young Black women they can break boundaries as the chapter's first Black woman to hold the role. "If a young Black woman or any person even is motivated by me just doing what I do, I will have accomplished a lot," Perry says. 

The producer and engineer, who also creates programming on platforms like YouTube and Facebook Live and has been a broadcast specialist for NBC, BET, National Geographic, PBS, and more, says the fact that she is the first is "daunting but I’m ready to do my best and make people, especially Black people proud." 

Passionate about her hometown's music community and culture, she's ready to continue supporting and celebrating the music creators in the city that has shaped her in and out of her professional career after years of being active in the D.C. Chapter. Highlighting her community is a mission that she has felt strongly about since she was young. "I always felt D.C. deserved the focus and the shine," she says. 

The Recording Academy interviewed Perry about her journey to her new role, what she hopes to accomplish as new D.C. chapter president, the work she's been doing in the chapter to highlight women, the projects she's working on as a music and TV/Film creator, her state of mind during the pandemic as well as our current racial climate, and much more. 

Tell us about your road to the Recording Academy. Where did you grow up and what inspired you to work in the music industry?

A young producer heard I wrote some good music and suggested I join the "D.C. GRAMMY Chapter." Like many, I thought, at the time, I wasn’t accomplished enough to consider that. After some time, I was approached again. I received a proper nudge, which I needed, but at least now I quietly felt like "If I’m in the Recording Academy I could be a part of the changes I wanted to see." Eventually, there was a lot of [time in] committee membership, Board of Governors service, and [there were] years of co-chairing different committees. After a few tries at Vice Presidency, I have landed here as the President. It’s a tad surreal. 

I grew up in Washington D.C. I’m the third child of two musician parents. They were both educators and singers in public chorales and church choirs. On any given day in my home, especially a Saturday, I heard everything from orchestral and choral classics to The Modern Jazz Quartet and Ramsey Lewis, Roberta Flack to The Delfonics, Earth, Wind & Fire, Parliament-Funkadelic, etc... it was vast over the years. Those were my early musical influences before I played an actual instrument at 7 years old. 

I wanted to play music until I found out I wanted to write music. My instrument of choice leading to college however, wasn’t what I wanted to build my career on. I became a Mass Media Major, did well and set out to be in broadcast media. I played the bassoon in concert band and marched with tenor sax and planned to be done with playing after college at Hampton University. But a last-minute audio recording elective and meeting a guy with a sequencer after I got back home changed things. I then wanted to write music and run a record label in D.C. I always felt D.C. deserved the focus and the shine. So, one down with one to go.

What does it mean to you to be the first Black female president of the D.C. Chapter? What do you hope to accomplish in your role at the Recording Academy? 

It was really something I never thought about until it was brought to my attention… pretty much after I won. It’s truly an honor. I’m humbled. I have often been the only [Black woman]… but never the first. It’s daunting but I’m ready to do my best and make people, especially Black people proud and then, perhaps, excited to be in this Chapter. I do understand I'm an image that needs to be seen. We have a lot to be proud of. If a young Black woman or any person even is motivated by me just doing what I do, I will have accomplished a lot. It’s scary but as the saying goes, "To whom much is given, much is required." So here I go.

What do I hope to accomplish? Well, from us as a chapter, expect more! Expect more engagement between members and the musical community in general. Expect that every area that the Academy celebrates will be unearthed and uplifted with fresh dynamic programming virtual or otherwise hopefully. Beyond that, we will continue our active consistent federal and local advocacy and support of music creators' rights and strengthening of music education.

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What is one thing about the D.C. or the DMV music community you love?

I love my city. It’s a creative diversity haven. My home was filled with all genres of music. I went to D.C. public schools when music programs were still rich. Even the (D.C. Metropolitan) Police Band played assemblies and they were hot! They still are! I learned music history and played clarinet and bassoon in the D.C. Youth Orchestra Program from 6-12th grade. With them, I traveled abroad. I, as well as many other kids who played in marching and concert bands in high school, competed at a high level for scholarships. Every neighborhood in D.C. cranked go-go or had a go-go band. When I decided to become a writer/producer/composer, I folded all of these flavors and more into whatever I did while having similar experiences with my peers that had similar as well as different musical backgrounds, be it church, youth chorales, dance crews, rap groups, performance groups, neighborhood go-go bands, sidewalk, singers, drummers, and brass ensembles. EVERYONE had unparalleled talent. That’s not even mentioning those that have settled in D.C. from other parts of the country or the world. All of this talent is active in one city. Every nook and cranny has a soundtrack! There is brilliant musicianship in D.C. on the corner and in the concert hall.

We are living unprecedented times as a pandemic and protests around justice and racism have simultaneously taken place. What is the role of the music industry now? What does support look like to you?

Music is a healing balm. When there is no hand to hold, there is the warmth of the word and the comfort of the chords. When the truth of our hearts is revealed in song, that’s the kind of love that we hope touches someone where they need the connection. 

The music business must shift and pivot to serving the creators so they may continue to create and be paid. We need spaces and perhaps now a new business model that considers all involved. I don’t have all of the answers to business but you go down the right path when you consider the needs of those that consume your products…our art. People want to pray, cry, dance, shout, scream, preach through music, it’s their truth. The industry has to see itself as a service provider like essential personnel and work it out. It’s happening. We are all shifting.

Have you seen the landscape around women working in music production change? If so, how? What work is left to be done?

It’s changing. What's interesting to me is that women have always been actively working in music production. What I always noticed is that some women that are in production are just doing what they do. When we are done, they go on about their lives. We take the good with the bad and make it happen because this is who we are. …And we are exceptional because you can’t be one stitch less. It's not necessarily celebrated and many don't need the celebration. But there came a time where respect needed to be more outwardly present. Respect was needed for talent and skills, credits and fair compensation. That's what’s needed always. We should be seen, heard and properly acknowledged in those spaces. Women have a special approach to creativity. We just have to do our thing and turn a blind eye and a deaf ear to anything that stops the forward motion. We have poignant stories and soundtracks to create. Our chapter has put the spotlight on women creators for a long while, especially producers and engineers. We continue to do that. Before the pandemic, we were in the midst of a series spotlighting women creators. Women Crushing Washington (WCW) We were to showcase women in the forefront of the Music industry every Wednesday in March, Womens History Month. We had to shut it down after week two. 

How have you been dealing with everything going on? How are you taking care of your mental health?

I’m fine. I’m quiet. I’m more intentional. I have faith. I'm eating clean. I keep my body moving and strong. I talk to my family and friends. I garden. I cook, I listen to music. I study new technology. Monitoring my mental health is important in times like these. I have a lot of hope but there are days where creating or just doing anything is the last thing on my mind. Those are days to just listen to other people's music or just chill all the way out and let nature be your music. Self care works.

When the pandemic began, I worked on a meditation project. I'm so glad I was part of it because the way I prepared to compose the pieces was downright spiritual. I made space to create something pure. It gave me an emotional blueprint for staying peaceful during this pandemic and then the civil unrest that followed. There is a lot that one can/could have gathered from the pause that the pandemic has given us. I have more focus. Moreover, I hope that the cries of Black Lives Matter and the exhaustion and anger and demands for justice don’t time out or fall on deaf ears.

What are some current projects you're working on?

I have two careers. I am obviously a music producer/engineer. I also am a TV/Film Director/ Content Creator. I am producing music projects for a few artists. I hope to release an Elise Perry project later this year. I am directing a few web-based performance shows currently. I’m developing music-based visual content for various platforms while developing my own. Wish me luck and good fortune!

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Rosalía Announces First Solo North American Tour

Rosalía 

Photo: Carlos Alvarez/Getty Images

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Rosalía Announces First Solo North American Tour

El Mal Querer Tour, named after the Spanish pop star's latest album, will come to Los Angeles on April 17 in between her Coachella performances

GRAMMYs/Mar 20, 2019 - 12:25 am

Rosalía is set to perform at some of the most popular music festivals around the globe, including Primavera Sound in Spain, Lollapalooza (Argentina and Chile) and Coachella, but the Spanish pop star isn't stopping there when she gets to the States. Now, she has announced her first solo North American Tour with a string of dates that will bring her to select cities in the U.S. and Canada.

El Mal Querer Tour, named after her latest album, will come to Los Angeles on April 17 in between her Coachella performances. Then she'll play San Francisco on April 22, New York on April 30 and close out in Toronto on May 2.

 

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"I’m so happy to announce my first solo North American tour dates," the singer tweeted.

Rosalía won Best Alternative Song and Best Fusion/ Urban Interpretation at the 19th Latin GRAMMY Awards in November and has been praised for bringing flamenco to the limelight with her hip-hop and pop beats. During her acceptance speech she gave a special shout-out to female artists who came before her, including Lauryn Hill and Bjork. 

Rosalía has been getting some love herself lately, most notably from Alicia Keys, who gave the Spanish star a shout-out during an acceptance speech, and Madonna, who featured her on her Spotify International Women's Day Playlist. 

Tickets for the tour go on sale March 22. For more tour dates, visit Rosalía's website.

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Walk, Don't Run: 60 Years Of The Ventures Exhibit Will Showcase The Surf-Rock Icons' Impact On Pop Culture

The Ventures

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Walk, Don't Run: 60 Years Of The Ventures Exhibit Will Showcase The Surf-Rock Icons' Impact On Pop Culture

The exhibit, opening Dec. 7, will feature late band member Mel Taylor's Gretsch snare drum, a 1965 Ventures model Mosrite electric guitar, the original 45 rpm of "Walk Don't Run" and more

GRAMMYs/Nov 22, 2019 - 01:44 am

Influential instrumental rock band The Ventures are getting their own exhibit at the GRAMMY Museum in Los Angeles that will showcase the band's impact on pop culture since the release of their massive hit "Walk, Don't Run" 60 years ago. 

The Rock Hall of Fame inductees and Billboard chart-toppers have become especially iconic in the surf-rock world, known for its reverb-loaded guitar sound, for songs like "Wipeout," "Hawaii Five-O" and "Walk, Don't Run." The Walk, Don't Run: 60 Years Of The Ventures exhibit opening Dec. 7 will feature late band member Mel Taylor's Gretsch snare drum, a 1965 Ventures model Mosrite electric guitar, the original 45 rpm of "Walk Don't Run," a Fender Limited Edition Ventures Signature guitars, rare photos and other items from their career spanning six decades and 250 albums. 

“It’s such an honor to have an exhibit dedicated to The Ventures at the GRAMMY Museum and be recognized for our impact on music history,” said Don Wilson, a founding member of the band, in a statement. "I like to think that, because we ‘Venturized’ the music we recorded and played, we made it instantly recognizable as being The Ventures. We continue to do that, even today."

Don Wilson, Gerry McGee, Bob Spalding, and Leon Taylor are current band members. On Jan. 9, Taylor's widow and former Fiona Taylor, Ventures associated musician Jeff "Skunk" Baxter and others will be in conversation with GRAMMY Museum Artistic Director Scott Goldman about the band's journey into becoming the most successful instrumental rock band in history at the Clive Davis Theater. 

"The Ventures have inspired generations of musicians during their storied six-decade career, motivating many artists to follow in their footsteps and start their own projects," said Michael Sticka, GRAMMY Museum President. "As a music museum, we aim to shine a light on music education, and we applaud the Ventures for earning their honorary title of 'the band that launched a thousand bands.' Many thanks to the Ventures and their families for letting us feature items from this important era in music history."

The exhibit will run Dec. 7–Aug. 3, 2020 at the GRAMMY Museum

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Alicia Keys Unveils Dates For New Storytelling Series

Alicia Keys

Photo by Isabel Infantes/PA Images via Getty Images

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Alicia Keys Unveils Dates For New Storytelling Series

The artist will take her upcoming 'More Myself: A Journey' biography on a four-city book tour

GRAMMYs/Mar 5, 2020 - 04:07 am

After performing her powerhouse piano medley at the 62nd Annual GRAMMYs, R&B superstar, GRAMMY-winning artist and former GRAMMY’s host Alicia Keys has revealed that she will set out on a four-stop book tour next month. The storytelling tour will support her forthcoming book More Myself: A Journey, which is slated for a March 31 release via Flatiron Books and is reported to feature stories and music from the book, told and performed by Alicia and her piano, according to a statement.

Part autobiography, part narrative documentary, Keys' title is dubbed in its description as an "intimate, revealing look at one artist’s journey from self-censorship to full expression."  You can pre-order the title here.

The book tour will kick off with a March 31 Brooklyn stop at the Brooklyn Academy of Music. From there, Keys will visit Atlanta’s Symphony Hall on April 5 and Chicago’s Thalia Hall with Chicago Ideas the following day, April 6. The short-run will culminate on April 7 in Los Angeles at the Theatre at Ace Hotel.

Pre-sales for the tour are underway and public on-sale will begin on Friday, March 6 at 12 p.m. Eastern Time. Tickets for the intimate dates and full release dates and times are available here.

Keys won her first five career awards at the 44th Annual GRAMMYs in 2002. On the night, she received awards in the Best New Artists, Song of the Year, Best R&B Song, Best R&B Album and Best Female R&B Vocal Performance categories respectively. She has received a total of 29 nominations and 15 GRAMMYs in her career.

This year, Keys will also embark on a world tour in support of Alicia, the artist’s upcoming seventh studio album and the follow up of 2016’s Here, due out March 20 via RCA Records.

Brittany Howard, Brandi Carlile, Leon Bridges, 2 Chainz & More Join Small Business Live Benefit Livestream

Brittany Howard

Photo: C Brandon/Redferns/Getty Images

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Brittany Howard, Brandi Carlile, Leon Bridges, 2 Chainz & More Join Small Business Live Benefit Livestream

Proceeds from the event will be go toward loans to small businesses founded by people of color, with additional support to women-owned and immigrant-owned businesses, via Accion Opportunity Fund

GRAMMYs/Jun 16, 2020 - 04:13 am

This Saturday, June 20, artists including Brittany Howard, Brandi Carlile, Leon Bridges, 2 Chainz and more will come together for Small Business Live, a livestream fundraiser event for small businesses facing challenges from the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Proceeds from the livestream will go to Accion Opportunity Fund to support small businesses founded by people of color, with additional support to women-owned and immigrant-owned businesses.

“Entrepreneurs of color are denied credit more often and charged higher rates for money they borrow to fund their businesses. We need to accelerate support to underserved businesses in order to reach our full potential,” Accion Opportunity Fund CEO Luz Urrutia said. “We have to decide what we want our Main Streets to look like when this is over, and we must act decisively to keep small businesses alive and ready to rebuild. This is a fun way to do something really important. Everyone’s support will make a huge difference to small business owners, their families and employees who have been devastated by this pandemic, the recession, and centuries of racism, xenophobia and oppression.”

Tune in for Small Business Live Saturday, June 20 from 4:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m. EDT on smallbiz.live. The site also provides a full schedule of programs and links to watch the livestream on all major digital platforms. To learn more about Accion Opportunity Fund, visit the organization's website.

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