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Your Future Is Now: Music Industry Executives Discuss The Benefits Of Historically Black Colleges And Universities
(L-R) Otaniyuwa Ehue, Elijah Russell, Kyla Graham, Chris Timothy, Teah England, and MOR attend HBCU Love Tour Talent Showcase at Howard University

Photo: Brian Stukes/Getty Images for The Recording Academy

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Your Future Is Now: Music Industry Executives Discuss The Benefits Of Historically Black Colleges And Universities

From Interscope Records' Tim Glover to Warner Records' Julian Petty, GRAMMY.com gathered a group of music industry executives to discuss their HBCU experience

GRAMMYs/May 16, 2022 - 10:28 pm

Black creatives, from songwriters to engineers, form the music industry's backbone. To ensure their passions and successes are given a platform, the Recording Academy's Black Music Collective (BMC), a group of prominent Black music creators and professionals, are striving to amplify Black voices.

The BMC aims to create a safe space for the next generation of Black creatives and professionals — both within the Recording Academy and the music industry at large. That’s why they collaborated with Amazon Music to launch the "Your Future Is Now" scholarship program. First announced last year during Black History Month, "Your Future Is Now" is a multi-year mentorship and scholarship program that aims to provide select students at Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) the opportunity to learn and explore all facets of the music industry. The program, which returns this year, offers select students currently enrolled at a HBCU networking opportunities with music industry leaders as well as an immersive rotation program with Amazon Music and Recording Academy department leads, an experience that will provide each student a detailed look at different fields across the music industry.

For this year's program, the BMC will select four current HBCU students for the "Your Future Is Now" program who will each receive a scholarship of $10,000. As well, the BMC and Amazon Music will also award two HBCUs a $10,000 grant each to be used for equipment for their music programs.

In honor of the return of the "Your Future Is Now" program, GRAMMY.com spoke with key players in the music industry — including Tim Glover of Interscope Records, producer TRAKGIRL and Warner Records' Julian Petty — about their personal experiences attending various HBCUs, and the growth they'd like to see within the community.

Visit the "Your Future Is Now" scholarship program page to apply for the scholarship.

Mike Hamilton Jr. (Senior Director of Commerce, Epic Records)

Studied Communications at Howard University, Graduation Year: 2012

What do HBCUs offer in terms of unique education and experience?

The most invaluable quality that's found at HBCUs is the family atmosphere. You're not your student ID number. Professors, staff, faculty, etc. take real investment in students. They know you — and sometimes even your family members — by name. That's almost unheard of at the higher education level.

You also are immersed in the full range and diversity of Black people from different regions of the U.S. and the world at large. Along with those, the network and lifelong relationships you build with friends and classmates, as well as the common bond you have with graduates of other HBCUs, are things that I wouldn't trade for the world.

What are some key reasons why students should consider attending HBCUs?

You don't just receive an education at an HBCU; it's the full experience that separates it from other institutions. Rap cyphers on the Yard, homecomings, the gospel choir, the bands, fine arts, Greek life, the campus being the equivalent of a daily fashion show are just some of the elements that make HBCU culture extremely unique.

Additionally, in a world that constantly reminds Black people that we are "other[ed]," there's a safety in knowing that for four or five years you're not constantly being reminded of your Blackness in ways that are racist and oppressive. You are who you are and the HBCU environment instills confidence in you that allows you to navigate every space you occupy even after that "safety net" is gone.

What are some experiences or knowledge you attained at your HBCU that impacted your career?

The power of networking and really hustling to make things happen. Howard hit us over the head with that from day one, and it's the most impactful tool I took away from my experience there. My first full-time job in the business was as an assistant at Atlantic Records. I got the job through a reference from an executive there (shout-out to Sydney Margetson, also an HU alum) who I met at a panel at my Howard freshman dorm. We stayed in contact and when the assistant job became available in the brand partnerships department, he referred me to Camille Hackney who hired me on the spot after my second interview. I also worked closely with Joi Brown (another HU alum) while in the department.

There are so many Howard and other HBCU alumni in the music business. That common grind spirit is something that we all relate to. I think that's why so many of us have been successful in this industry. You have to have a certain level of determination in order to make a name for yourself in music, no matter what side of the business you're on. Whether you have the resources to do it or not, you learn how to be resourceful. HBCUs prepare you for that.

What growth or developments would you like to see happen at HBCUs to take things to the next level?

I'd love to see more partnerships between HBCUs and various music companies that help facilitate a real education and deep learning process so that students fully understand the range of opportunities that exist in our industry. It's no secret that the music business (like many other fields) has a diversity problem. And there are so many talented kids on these campuses who could become the next wave of incredible executives, talent managers and more if they were more exposed to opportunities and granted the chance to learn about them from [alumni].

And I don't mean just partnering with certain HBCUs. It's so common for everyone to only do things at Howard, Spelman and Morehouse. I'm from North Carolina where there's not much of a music scene; it's grown a lot since I graduated high school and we're seeing more artists come out of NC now. But had I not gone to Howard and been able to tap into that network, I'm not sure I'd be where I am now. Students who opt to attend HBCUs that aren't in major cities like D.C. or Atlanta should still have access to the networking opportunities that I did. I'd like to see that happen on a much wider scale. And I'm happy to be part of it myself.

Timothy Glover Image

Timothy Glover (SVP A&R, Interscope Records)

Studied Marketing at Howard University; Graduation Year: 2006

Photo courtesy of Timothy Glover

What do HBCUs offer in terms of unique education and experience?

Howard University School of Business is an accredited business school with a great business program. Howard allowed me to evaluate real businesses and taught me how to carry myself. They kept us professional and gave us information that prepared us for the real world.

What are some key reasons why students should consider attending HBCUs?

Attending Howard, I was around people that looked like me. I think it helped make me become a more social person [in that I] gained long-lasting relationships with students in different industries. That same network transferred over to my professional career. Many people who I went to school with are in the same industry and we immediately have that connection, even if we weren't at Howard during the same years.

What are some experiences or knowledge you attained from your HBCU experience that impacted your career? 

I learned how to put together business plans, interacted with African-American faculty and learned the skills needed to feel comfortable in any room.

What growth or developments would you like to see happen at HBCUs to take things to the next level?

I would love to see more music courses in all HBCUs. When I was at Howard I was constantly looking for ways to learn the music business. In addition to the music courses, it would be great if these programs were connected with labels to really give these students an opportunity to work across UMG, Warner, Sony, etc.

Kienon Johnson

Keinon Johnson (President of Urban Promotions, Interscope Records)

Studied Mass Media Arts at Clark Atlanta University; Graduation Year: 1997

Photo by Harold Daniels

What do HBCUs offer in terms of education and experience that is unique?

My experience at Clark Atlanta University provided a space for young Black students like myself to feel secure in the familiarity of our shared experiences while pursuing our education.

What are some key reasons why students should consider attending HBCUs?

The sense of community and finding your tribe is without question a uniquely HBCU experience. Many of the relationships I built during my time at CAU are even stronger today in regards to both business and friendship.

What are some experiences or knowledge you attained at your HBCU that impacted your career?

The relationships you cultivate in college, while you and your peers are all broke and figuring who you are and will become, are the same relationships that will enrich your life after college is over. There's something about struggling together, learning together, becoming together at an HBCU that bonds you for life.

What growth or developments would you like to see happen at HBCUs to take things to the next level?

I would love to see more investment in all HBCUs across the country to modernize them and provide them with the top resources available, which will keep them competitive with other institutions of higher learning. I think all things being equal, the experiences you gain while attending an HBCU are priceless. It would be amazing if the lesser-known schools outside of Atlanta, D.C. and VA received more sustained funding from private and public donors.

Trakgirl

Shakari "TRAKGIRL" Linder (Music Producer/Entrepreneur/Founder, TRAKGIRL/The 7/NO ADTNL)

Studied Business at Hampton University; Graduation Year: 2010s (note: undisclosed years)

Photo by Barron Bazemore

What do HBCUs offer in terms of education and experience that is unique?

Hampton provided life lessons that I was able to utilize in my daily life, such as holding yourself to a high standard. Both in life and as a creative, we should hold ourselves in that nature. Hampton gave me an opportunity to find and know myself. That's something a book can't teach you.

What are some key reasons why students should consider attending HBCUs?

The alumni network is golden at an HBCU. When you go out in the world it's nothing like meeting someone who has a similar foundation as you. It's also amazing to see people who look like you with so many different ideas and perspectives. It's like being on a special island.

What are some experiences or knowledge you attained from your HBCU that impacted your career?

My career is bigger than just music. Building a legacy and leaving the blueprint for others after you to thrive is something Hampton helped grow inside me. Giving back to my people and community is far greater than just being in the studio. Let's create our own legacy. Ownership is key for us. Again, [these are] principles that HBCU culture enhances.

What growth or developments would you like to see happen at HBCUs to take things to the next level?

I want everything at a high level for my HBCUs. Every resource that PWIs [Predominantly White Institutions] have, HBCUs should have — we deserve that standard. Also, updated campus facilities that include state-of-the-art studios and programs/courses focused on financial literacy for music creatives.

Rachel Jackson

Rachel "Rachie" Jackson (Artist Relations Manager, YouTube Music)

Studied Business Marketing & Psychology at Clark Atlanta University; Graduation Year: 2013

Photo courtesy of Rachel Jackson

What do HBCUs offer in terms of education and experience that is unique?

HBCUs present a unique opportunity for Black students to discover that we are in no way culturally homogenized. Out of the 107 HBCUs, there are clusters of them that are top 10, 5 or even No. 1 in specialized fields such as Business, Health, Agriculture, STEM, Criminal Justice, and more. Additionally, there is nothing like an HBCU homecoming!

What are some key reasons why students should consider attending HBCUs? 

The scholarly pride, support, life-long bonds and networking opportunities that come from HBCUs are a few underrated additives that come along with attending. There have been so many times where I was chosen for an opportunity or included in a program that helped my career grow because of having CAU on my resume. It set me so far apart from my competition.

The HBCU alumni base looks out for and encourages growth in all aspects when they come across students that attended. I view it as a baton that I believe I was passed to carry out the same historical support. I always say that CAU shaped me for the better. Our dual mottos "I'll Find a Way or Make One" and "Culture for Service" are strong ideals that were instilled in me during my undergraduate experience, and I still apply them to my matriculation through life.

What are some experiences or knowledge you attained at your HBCU that impacted your career?

The CAU School of Business Administration primed me like no other. I thank all of the professors that taught me within my degree programs, my business communication (both written and verbal), presentation/public speaking skills, marketing acumen, understanding of supply chain, the list goes on and on. I also was able to hone my event planning, promotions, and live concert logistics skills by way of being so closely involved with our Homecoming festivities.

What growth or developments would you like to see happen at HBCUs to take things to the next level?

I'd love to see more corporate entities pouring more money into HBCUs while simultaneously incepting incubators that land opportunities for growth within both creative and corporate industries. I'd also like to see a greater emphasis placed on scholastic programming around financial literacy and wealth management.

Albert Cooke

Albert Cooke (General Manager, Hillman Grad Records/Def Jam Recordings)

Studied International Relations at Lincoln University; Graduation Year: 2007

Photo courtesy of Albert Cooke

What do HBCUs offer in terms of education and experience that is unique?

HBCUs are educational centers of empowerment for those who attend. You learn about the great history of Black leadership throughout the diaspora while also being encouraged to add to that legacy. Your experience will be enriched through interacting with other Black students from different parts of the world at various school activities, campus-wide events and organizations.

What are some key reasons why students should consider attending HBCUs?

One key reason is the overall support from faculty and staff. Their efforts aid in building knowledge within the community and providing accountability on campus. Many of the opportunities I was presented at Lincoln were introduced to me by professors and faculty who believed I had the potential to make a difference.

Another key reason is the financial cost. Most HBCUs have tuition that is lower than most PWIs while providing quality education to those ready to make an impact on their lives. Lastly, the bonds you build with other students and alumni while attending an HBCU are like no other. The experiences of homecomings, graduations, step shows, probates, and sporting events create a family-like atmosphere that continues well after you graduate.

What are some experiences or knowledge you attained from your HBCU that impacted your career?

Serving in various leadership positions while at Lincoln provided me the early opportunity to define the type of leader I wanted to be and how I wanted to support members of the Lincoln community. The knowledge I gained from majoring in international relations provided insight on the importance of cultural understanding, diplomacy, compromise, strategy, and maintaining strong relationships in business.

What growth or developments would you like to see happen at HBCUs to take things to the next level?

HBCUs should continue to expand study abroad opportunities in various disciplines for students. I would also like to see more music industry-focused degree programs since many of today's leading artists either are Black or influenced by Black artistry and culture.

Julian K. Petty

Julian K. Petty (EVP, Head of Business & Legal Affairs, Warner Records)

Studied Marketing at Howard University; Graduation Year: 1999

Photo courtesy of Julian K. Petty

What do HBCUs offer in terms of education and experience that is unique?

I believe the quality of the education is just like at any other competitive school. However, for many of the students, it's the first time that they are being taught by professors who look like them. These are highly accomplished educators who could have taught anywhere (which some have on their path to an HBCU) but they chose to take their talents and expertise to a historically Black institution. Moreover, the professors bring a certain passion and perspective to the coursework that makes it an education like no other.

As far as experience, it's unique for the simple fact that it's probably the only time the average Black American will go through day-to-day life and not have to think about race as a burden.

What are some key reasons why students should consider attending HBCUs?

Great education, strong alumni network, and professors who care about your "life outcome," not just your grades.

What are some experiences or knowledge you attained from your HBCU that impacted your career? 

One of the biggest reasons I am where I am today is because of a summer internship I did at Def Jam Records back in the summer of '96. I spent the summer working in the marketing department under the tutelage of Howard alum Jasmine "Jazz" Young. We've stayed in touch ever since and I couldn't imagine where I'd be now if Jazz didn't give me that shot. Since then, I've worked with countless Howard alum as well as folks from other HBCUs. My career trajectory has been greatly influenced by HBCU grads and the network we have.

What growth or developments would you like to see happen at HBCUs to take things to the next level?

In order to take things to the next level, you must have resources. I've seen some real progress in the last few years but I believe there is much to be done in the area of philanthropy. [The action of] "giving back" must become second nature in order for our HBCUs to survive and thrive. The alumni have to step up to the plate.

Phylicia Fant

Phylicia Fant (Head of Music Industry Partnerships, Amazon Music)

Studied English Language & Literature at Spelman College; Graduation Year: 2000

Photo courtesy of Phylicia Fant

What do HBCUs offer in terms of education and experience that is unique?

The experience is unparalleled. The first part is education about self-love and acceptance. The latter is a redirection of what society might have told you to be true about people of color. We are not a monolith and what we have and continue to contribute to the world is often undervalued if not recognized at all. It is the ultimate history lesson and ownership of what our ancestors died for.

What are some key reasons why students should consider attending HBCUs?

Community is essential to growth. What happens beyond graduation is when the experience truly activates. It is the unspoken language that says "I see you and know your worth." If you call upon this tribe, it is our duty to show up for each other personally and professionally. That bond can never be broken.

What are some experiences or knowledge you attained from your HBCU that impacted your career?

I am an unapologetically Black woman. I am often misunderstood simply by the tone of my voice. I have sometimes questioned my appearance because it was not status quo. I recall the day I called my mom about getting braids in corporate America, recalling a time I was almost removed from an organization because I was told my hair resembled snakes. The call ended with, "We did not raise you to hide. You better go get those braids and embrace who you are." That led me right back to a class I took about the Black female body at Spelman. Having a career where you are often the only one means embracing all parts of you are you won't succeed. So that is my voice, my hair, my body, and all things that allow me to be me.

What growth or developments would you like to see happen at HBCUs to take things to the next level?

First and foremost, graduates have to give back financially to their alma maters. We also have to go back and let these students know that jobs exist that are both traditional and non-traditional. We grow up knowing that certain jobs allow acceptance on a larger scale but we also have to let them know what is possible. I had no idea publicity or the music business existed until my last year of college and I was in the epicenter of music and culture.

For HBCUs not in cities like Atlanta and D.C., it can be hard to access these experiences. We have to level the playing field and that can only be done by showing up and giving back.

Lake Morrison

Leighton "Lake" Morrison (Co-owner, Generation Now)

Studied Political Science at Morehouse College; Graduation Year: 2000

Photo courtesy of Warner Music Group

What do HBCUs offer in terms of education and experience that is unique?

Seeing progressive young Black people from all over the world. In my personal experience, I had classmates from everywhere from New York to Africa. Just to see how different regions were was almost like you were able to travel without actually traveling.

What are some key reasons why students should consider attending HBCUs?

There's a certain passion the professors have about making sure they prepare you for the real world. As I grew older I truly see the benefit of having those "hard" teachers.

What are some experiences or knowledge you attained from your HBCU that impacted your career?

Creating and maintaining relationships. That's the single most important thing I learned and took with me.

What growth or developments would you like to see happen at HBCUs to take things to the next level?

I think it's started already, but more of the top recruits coming to the athletic programs will help tons. That will help funnel funds into the colleges and universities and make them competitive in every aspect.

DJ Drama Photo

Tyree "DJ Drama" Simmons (CEO, Generation Now)

Studied Mass Communications at Clark Atlanta University; Graduation Year: 2000

Photo courtesy of Warner Music Group

What do HBCUs offer in terms of education and experience that is unique?

It offers relationships that you can cherish throughout your life and career, along with having family and friends. What was special to me beyond the classroom and the education I got in school was the education and experience I got from meeting so many people from various backgrounds and places, while all having very unique goals. The friends I met in my time at Clark Atlanta are still some of the best and most important relationships that I have to this day. I met my best friends and my business partners while attending CAU and being at the Atlanta University Center (AUC).

What are some key reasons why students should consider attending HBCUs?

Relationships and a cultivating learning environment, the culture when it comes to pride and loyalty, and the bonds you only make at HBCUs.

What are some experiences or knowledge you attained from your HBCU that impacted your career?

Being a DJ coming from Philly to Atlanta and being in an environment that had so many young people from all across the country and the world, it taught me how to be a much better and well-rounded DJ. I learned how to control the crowd. To this day, I feel like I learned my DJ chops in the AUC. It taught me how to hustle outside of the classroom and really take advantage of every moment that you're in.

What growth or developments would you like to see happen at HBCUs to take things to the next level?

More alumni involvement and acknowledging the culture more.

"Black Music Saved The World": How The Recording Academy Honors Presented By The Black Music Collective Celebrated Positive Change For The Culture & Community

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GRAMMY SoundChecks With Gavin DeGraw

GRAMMYs/Dec 3, 2014 - 05:06 am

On Aug. 28 Nashville Chapter GRAMMY U members took part in GRAMMY SoundChecks with Gavin DeGraw. Approximately 30 students gathered at music venue City Hall and watched DeGraw play through some of the singles from earlier in his career along with "Cheated On Me" from his latest self-titled album.

In between songs, DeGraw conducted a question-and-answer session and inquired about the talents and goals of the students in attendance. He gave inside tips to the musicians present on how to make it in the industry and made sure that every question was answered before moving onto the next song.

 

Juan Gabriel named 2009 Latin Recording Academy Person Of The Year

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Juan Gabriel named 2009 Latin Recording Academy Person Of The Year

Annual star-studded gala slated for Nov. 4 in Las Vegas during 10th Annual Latin GRAMMY Week celebration

GRAMMYs/May 15, 2017 - 01:36 pm

 GRAMMY.com

 Internationally renowned singer/songwriter/performer Juan Gabriel will be celebrated as the 2009 Latin Recording Academy Person of the Year, it was announced today by The Latin Recording Academy. Juan Gabriel, chosen for his professional accomplishments as well as his commitment to philanthropic efforts, will be recognized at a star-studded concert and black tie dinner on Nov. 4 at the Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas, Nev. 

The "Celebration with Juan Gabriel" gala will be one of the most prestigious events held during Latin GRAMMY week, a celebration that culminates with the 10th Annual Latin GRAMMY Awards ceremony. The milestone telecast will be held at Mandalay Bay Events Center in Las Vegas on Nov. 5 and will be broadcast live on the Univision Television Network at 8 p.m. Eastern/7 p.m. Central. 

"As we celebrate this momentous decade of the Latin GRAMMYs, The Latin Recording Academy and its Board of Trustees take great pride in recognizing Juan Gabriel as an extraordinary entertainer who never has forgotten his roots, while at the same time having a global impact," said Latin Recording Academy President Gabriel Abaroa. "His influence on the music and culture of our era has been tremendous, and we welcome this opportunity to pay a fitting tribute to a voice that strongly resonates within our community.

Over the course of his 30-year career, Juan Gabriel has sold more than 100 million albums and has performed to sold-out audiences throughout the world. He has produced more than 100 albums for more than 50 artists including Paul Anka, Lola Beltran, Rocío Dúrcal, and Lucha Villa among many others. Additionally, Juan Gabriel has written more than 1,500 songs, which have been covered by such artists as Marc Anthony, Raúl Di Blasio, Ana Gabriel, Angelica María, Lucia Mendez, Estela Nuñez, and Son Del Son. In 1986, Los Angeles Mayor Tom Bradley declared Oct. 5 "The Day of Juan Gabriel." The '90s saw his induction into Billboard's Latin Music Hall of Fame and he joined La Opinion's Tributo Nacional Lifetime Achievement Award recipients list. 

At the age of 13, Juan Gabriel was already writing his own songs and in 1971 recorded his first hit, "No Tengo Dinero," which landed him a recording contract with RCA. Over the next 14 years, he established himself as Mexico's leading singer/songwriter, composing in diverse styles such as rancheras, ballads, pop, disco, and mariachi, which resulted in an incredible list of hits ("Hasta Que Te Conocí," "Siempre En Mi Mente," "Querida," "Inocente Pobre Amigo," "Abrázame Muy Fuerte," "Amor Eterno," "El Noa Noa," and "Insensible") not only for himself  but for many leading Latin artists. In 1990, Juan Gabriel became the only non-classical singer/songwriter to perform at the Palacio de Bellas Artes in Mexico City and the album release of that concert, Juan Gabriel En Vivo Desde El Palacio De Bellas Artes, broke sales records and established his iconic status. 

After a hiatus from recording, Juan Gabriel released such albums as Gracias Por Esperar, Juntos Otra Vez, Abrázame Muy Fuerte, Los Gabriel…Para Ti, Juan Gabriel Con La Banda…El Recodo, and El Mexico Que Se Nos Fue, which were all certified gold and/or platinum by the RIAA. In 1996, to commemorate his 25th anniversary in the music industry, BMG released a retrospective set of CDs entitled 25 Aniversario, Solos, Duetos, y Versiones Especiales, comprised appropriately of 25 discs.   

In addition to his numerous accolades and career successes, Juan Gabriel has been a compassionate and generous philanthropist. He has donated all proceeds from approximately 10 performances a year to his favorite children's foster homes, and proceeds from fan photo-ops go to support Mexican orphans. In 1987, he founded Semjase, an orphanage for approximately 120 children, which also serves as a music school with music, recreation and video game rooms. Today, he continues to personally fund the school he opened more than 22 years ago.   

Juan Gabriel will have the distinction of becoming the 10th Latin Recording Academy Person of the Year honoree, and joins a list of artists such as Gloria Estefan, Gilberto Gil, Juan Luis Guerra, Julio Iglesias, Ricky Martin, and Carlos Santana among others who have been recognized. 

For information on purchasing tickets or tables to The Latin Recording Academy Person of the Year tribute to Juan Gabriel, please contact The Latin Recording Academy ticketing office at 310.314.8281 or ticketing@grammy.com.

Set List Bonus: Bumbershoot 2013
Grizzled Mighty perform at Bumbershoot on Sept. 1

Photo: The Recording Academy

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Set List Bonus: Bumbershoot 2013

GRAMMYs/Dec 3, 2014 - 04:22 am

Welcome to The Set List. Here you'll find the latest concert recaps for many of your favorite, or maybe not so favorite, artists. Our bloggers will do their best to provide you with every detail of the show, from which songs were on the set list to what the artist was wearing to which out-of-control fan made a scene. Hey, it'll be like you were there. And if you like what you read, we'll even let you know where you can catch the artist on tour. Feel free to drop us a comment and let us know your concert experience. Oh, and rock on.

By Alexa Zaske
Seattle

This past Labor Day weekend meant one thing for many folks in Seattle: Bumbershoot, a three-decade-old music and arts event that consumed the area surrounding the Space Needle from Aug. 31–Sept. 2. Amid attendees wandering around dressed as zombies and participating in festival-planned flash mobs to Michael Jackson's "Thriller," this year the focus was on music from the Pacific Northwest region — from the soulful sounds of Allen Stone and legendary female rockers Heart, to the highly-awaited return of Death Cab For Cutie performing their 2003 hit album Transatlanticism in its entirety.

The festival started off on day one with performances by synth-pop group the Flavr Blue, hip-hop artist Grynch, rapper Nacho Picasso, psychedelic pop group Beat Connection, lively rapper/writer George Watsky, hip-hop group the Physics, and (my personal favorite), punk/dance band !!! (Chk Chk Chk). Also performing on day one was Seattle folk singer/songwriter Kris Orlowski, who was accompanied by the Passenger String Quartet. As always, Orlowski's songs were catchy and endearing yet brilliant and honest.

Day one came to a scorching finale with a full set from GRAMMY-nominated rock group Heart. Kicking off with their Top 20 hit "Barracuda," the set spanned three decades of songs, including "Heartless," "Magic Man" and "What About Love?" It became a gathering of Seattle rock greats when, during Heart's final song, Pearl Jam guitarist Mike McCready joined for 1976's "Crazy On You."

Day two got off to an early start with performances from eccentric Seattle group Kithkin and Seattle ladies Mary Lambert and Shelby Earl, who were accompanied by the band Le Wrens. My highlight of the day was the Grizzled Mighty — a duo with a bigger sound than most family sized bands. Drummer Whitney Petty, whose stage presence and skills make for an exciting performance, was balanced out by the easy listening of guitarist and lead singer Ryan Granger.

Then the long-awaited moment finally fell upon Seattle when, after wrapping a long-awaited tour with the Postal Service, singer/songwriter Ben Gibbard returned to Seattle to represent another great success of the Pacific Northwest — Death Cab For Cutie. The band celebrated the 10-year anniversary of their album Transatlanticism by performing it from front to back. While a majority of attendees opted to watch the set from an air-conditioned arena, some of us recognized the uniqueness of this experience and enjoyed the entire set lying in the grass where the entire performance was streamed. 

Monday was the day for soul and folk. Local blues/R&B group Hot Bodies In Motion have been making their way through the Seattle scene with songs such as "Old Habits," "That Darkness" and "The Pulse." Their set was lively and enticing to people who have seen them multiple times or never at all.

My other highlights of the festival included the Maldives, who delivered a fun performance with the perfect amount of satirical humor and folk. They represent the increasing number of Pacific Northwest bands who consist of many members playing different sounds while still managing to stay cohesive and simple. I embraced the return of folk/pop duo Ivan & Alyosha with open arms and later closed my festival experience with local favorite Stone.

For music fans in Seattle and beyond, the annual Bumbershoot festival is a must-attend.

(Alexa Zaske is the Chapter Assistant for The Recording Academy Pacific Northwest Chapter. She's a music enthusiast and obsessed with the local Seattle scene.)

Neil Portnow Addresses Diversity & Inclusion, Looks Ahead During Speech At 2019 GRAMMYs

Neil Portnow and Jimmy Jam

Photo: Michael Kovac/Getty Images

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Neil Portnow Addresses Diversity & Inclusion, Looks Ahead During Speech At 2019 GRAMMYs

Jimmy Jam helps celebrate the outgoing President/CEO of the Recording Academy on the 61st GRAMMY Awards

GRAMMYs/Feb 11, 2019 - 10:58 am

As Neil Portnow's tenure as Recording Academy President/CEO draws to its end, five-time GRAMMY winner Jimmy Jam paid tribute to his friend and walked us through a brief overview of some of the Academy's major recent achievements, including the invaluable work of MusiCares, the GRAMMY Museum, Advocacy and more.

Portnow delivered a brief speech, acknowledging the need to continue to focus on issues of diversity and inclusion in the music industry. He also seized the golden opportunity to say the words he's always wanted to say on the GRAMMY stage, saying, "I'd like to thank the Academy," showing his gratitude and respect for the staff, elected leaders and music community he's worked with during his career at the Recording Academy. "We can be so proud of what we’ve all accomplished together," Portnow added.

"As I finish out my term leading this great organization, my heart and soul are filled with gratitude, pride, for the opportunity and unequal experience," he continued. "Please know that my commitment to all the good that we do will carry on as we turn the page on the next chapter of the storied history of this phenomenal institution."

Full Winners List: 61st GRAMMY Awards