Island Records' Cheyenne Beam
Photo by Patrick McMullan/Patrick McMullan via Getty Imagess
What Makes A Good Ally? LGBTQ+ Artists And Industry Leaders Weigh In On Pride, Diversity & More In New York
Queens rapper Dai Burger, electropop artist Saro, Island Records associate director of media relations Cheyenne Beam and Brooklyn-via-Oakland emcee Nappy Nina convene at Soho House in N.Y. to discuss issues of acceptance and representation
We're nearing the end of Pride Month, but the issues of acceptance and representation that LGBTQ+ artists—especially those of color—face don't disappear when June is over. With that in mind, the Recording Academy hosted a GRAMMYs Soundbite Conversation After Dark panel at New York City's Soho House Ludlow on Wednesday (June 26) to keep the discussion going.
Moderated by Recording Academy Editor In Chief, Digital Content & Strategy Justin Dwayne Joseph, the panel included Queens rapper Dai Burger, electropop artist Saro, Island Records associate director of media relations Cheyenne Beam and Brooklyn-via-Oakland emcee Nappy Nina explored a slew of topics that specifically impact black and brown members of the LGBTQ+ music community.
"It's kind of just like this double weight," Saro—who noted that while he has been out in his personal life for some time, he just recently came out in his career and started using male pronouns in his music—said. "You feel like you have this extra thing you have to break through."
Beam recalled feeling uncomfortable early in his career, but he said as he gets older, he has gained the confidence and experience to avoid that.
"I feel like the older I get, the more I know who I am and so I can go in any room and stand in my truth and also represent other artists, LGBTQ artists who are trying to make it in the mainstream business like every other artist," he said.
For Dai Burger, there was pressure to fit in, but she never succumbed to it. "It used to come back to me like, 'You should smooth this out a little, make it a little more prim and proper,'" she said "It was hard. I've had people tell me what I should change [and] shouldn't do, but we are who we are and you can't ever change that."
The panel noted that while the music business is more accepting than ever of LGBTQ+ artists, representation is important on all sides of the industry. Beam called for more diversity at record labels.
"We are who we are and you can't ever change that."
"There needs to be more diversity in the meetings, those brainstorming meetings, those creative strategy meetings, those conference calls," he said. "There aren't a lot of people of color in those meetings. A lot of times I walk into the room and I'm the only person of color. So therefore I'm the only person of color who also represents the LGBTQ community, you know what I mean? The more we hire and employ people of color and the more diverse these companies are, the better we can represent the artists and the talent."
Networking and collaborating with other members of the community was also brought up as an important tool. "I think if I do have an artist friend who is a part of the community, it just gives us that more energy and that more magnetism to work on something, and it usually is magical because we can just fully be ourselves together, just connect and make something beautiful," Saro said. "I don't have to wear that mask that I'm learning to shed."
The group discussed the need to book LGBTQ+ artists year-round, not just during Pride Month, and debated over whether or not straight artists like Ariana Grande, who will headline Manchester Pride, should be taking slots at pride events.
"I'm not the type to be like, 'Oh, he's not gay? No, get him off the stage,'" Dai Burger said, adding that she's not a fan of creating boundaries. "Just because someone doesn't announce or tell you their sexuality, you don't know what people are into, do behind closed doors. It shouldn't matter. If you are okay with me and my friends and who we are, then we're okay with you. So come as you are, straight or not. We're all friends, we're all musicians, artists, and there should be no cutoff on that based on what you do when you want to do it."
Nappy Nina disagreed, arguing that there's no shortage of LGBTQ+ artists to fill those performance slots.
"I think allyship looks like taking a step back," she explained. "There are plenty of queer artists. You don't have to go to whatever straight artists you're going to just because they're there and they're available and they're down with LGBTQ+ folks. Allyship does look like taking a step back sometimes. A lot of times."
She also noted that as June comes to a close, it's important to remember the origins of Pride Month and the members of the community who often get overlooked.
"Pride definitely didn't start as a party, and it is the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall riots which started by black trans women and sex workers, not folks who are really currently uplifted or showcased in the forefront of Pride, so I think every year during this month I take time to really reflect on that," she said. "I'm from a place that has a super deep political background, and I think that I've always known to look for the real sh*t, the ones who paved the way for me, because it's not the gay white men who are on the floats at the forefront right now."
Photo: Jason Kempin/Getty Images
Terri Clark, Cassadee Pope Join GLAAD's Concert For Love And Acceptance
The third annual concert in Nashville, Tenn., will also feature Ty Herndon, Michael Ray, Calum Scott, and Brandon Stansell
Advocacy organization GLAAD is all about spreading the message of acceptance for the LGBTQ community. This year they'll take that message directly to Nashville, Tenn., with the third annual edition of their Concert for Love and Acceptance.
Hosted by Ty Herndon and CMT's Cody Alan, the show will feature performances by Herndon, Terri Clark, Cassadee Pope, Michael Ray, Calum Scott, and Brandon Stansell. Additional performances and appearances will be announced. CMT will serve as the event's official sponsor.
"I'm thrilled to partner with GLAAD once again for this show that has broken so much new ground and started so many important conversations over the past three years," Herndon said, according to Billboard. "Letting our LGBTQ friends, family, and neighbors know they are accepted and loved just as they are isn't just making the world a better place — it's literally saving lives — and I'm so proud to be a part of it."
The Concert for Love and Acceptance will be held June 7 at the Wildhorse Saloon in Nashville. Tickets are available via GLAAD's website.
Mexican Summer Continues Looking Glass Series With Latest Nappy Nina "Weight" Release
The single is "a song is about being confident in uncertainty," the emcee explains
Oakland's own Nappy Nina continues Mexican Summer's Looking Glass digital music series with a reflective track that gets comfortable with unpredicatibility.
"What day is it?/ Whose say is it?/ Some delay in it/ Come pray a bit," she raps over an emotive piano in "Weight." The single is "about being confident in uncertainty," the emcee explains in a statement.
Recording the track was the first time Nappy Nina, who also produces, was in the studio with others in months. "It was inspiring to see some of my favorite folks feel free in the space and for them to create things we could pick apart and put back together again to build this song," she continues in the statement.
The second round of songs will continue this fall with never-before-released music from Lucy Gooch, CMON, Dougie Poole, and more.
The first Looking Glass series launched earlier this year to support the indie Brooklyn-based label's artists during the COVID-19 aftermath. All proceeds from Bandcamp go directlty to the artists or to a charity they choose.
Check out the Looking Glass series on Bandcamp here.
Attendees at 2019 Pride Parade in New York City
Photo: Erin Lefevre/NurPhoto via Getty Images
Global Pride 2020 Announces Lineup Additions, Will Focus On Black Lives Matter: Todrick Hall, Adam Lambert, Kesha, Leann Rimes And More Confirmed
Taking place June 27, the inaugural 24-hour online LGBTQ+ pride event will also feature speakers like former U.S. Vice President Joe Biden, Speaker Of The U.S. House Of Representatives Nancy Pelosi, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and others
Global Pride, a newly launched worldwide 24-hour online LGBTQ+ pride event, has announced additional speakers, performers and guests for its forthcoming inaugural celebration, which takes place June 27.
Newly added artists include Adam Lambert, Kesha, Natasha Bedingfield, Leann Rimes, Pussy Riot, Village People, Mel C of Spice Girls, Calum Scott and Mary Lambert. They join previously announced artists like Pabllo Vittar, Ava Max, Olivia Newton-John, Deborah Cox and several others.
The event will also include newly announced speakers like former U.S. Vice President and current Presidential Democratic candidate Joe Biden, Speaker Of The U.S. House Of Representatives Nancy Pelosi, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, Pussycat Dolls, Rita Ora, Bebe Rexha and others from the worlds of music, entertainment, advocacy and politics.
Singer, songwriter, actor and director Todrick Hall will host.
According to a press release announcing the news, the event will "amplify black voices" and will center on the Black Lives Matters movement; Global Pride organizers are working in conjunction with the organization's founders for the event.
"As a Black woman in the LGBTQIA+ community, I feel we must confront the systemic racism and violence facing my Black brothers, sisters and non-binary siblings, in the larger culture and within the LGBTQIA+ community. I could not think of a larger platform than Global Pride to do this," Natalie Thompson, co-chair of the Global Pride organizing committee, said in a statement.
“I am proud to work beside so many diverse colleagues from around the world," she continued. "Our community knows well that we must confront hate and prejudice head-on. We have been watching an epidemic of violence against trans people of color – mostly women – in the past decade and this larger discussion must be inclusive and all encompassing. All Black Lives Matter.”
Billed as the "world’s biggest ever LGBTI+ Pride event," per the event's website, Global Pride is a 24-hour livestreamed event comprising music, performances, speeches and messages of support. The event will be available to watch on host Todrick Hall's YouTube channel, iHeartRadio’s YouTube channel and on the Global Pride website.
Produced by Pride organizations from around the world, including InterPride and the European Pride Organisers Association, two of the world’s biggest international Pride networks, Global Pride 2020 was launched in response to the more than 500 Pride events that were cancelled or postponed worldwide due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Watch TRANScendent Sounds Festival 2021 In Full: Performances And Appearances By Billy Porter, Angelica Ross, Nomi Ruiz, Shea Diamond, KC Ortiz & More
Watch GRAMMY.com's TRANScendent Sounds Festival 2021 in full now. Hosted by "POSE" star Angelica Ross, the virtual event features performances from Nomi Ruiz, Shea Diamond, KC Ortiz, Brody Ray, and Mal Blum, as well as appearances by Billy Porter and more
Today, Saturday, June 26, the second annual TRANScendent Sounds Festival, GRAMMY.com's online music festival putting the spotlight on a diverse roster of transgender music artists, returns for another year of stellar performances from visionary trans artists. Hosted by "POSE" star Angelica Ross, the uplifting virtual event features performances from Nomi Ruiz, Shea Diamond, KC Ortiz, Brody Ray, and Mal Blum, as well as appearances by Billy Porter, Jazz Jennings and Raquel Willis.
Watch the legendary show in full below: