Alicia Keys attended a National Music Publishers Association event on Wednesday to receive its Icon Songwriter award. During her acceptance speech, she revealed her new She Is the Music initiative to further female career progression.
“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,” she said, according to Variety. “We’re calling our initiative She Is the Music. We want to create a model for change that affects women across all industries. 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 is it’s over for pay inequity and colleagues who are at best disrespectful and at the worst unsafe — so it’s over for that.”
Keys recently shared a photo of a writing camp session she had with a dozen women in the music industry via her Instagram.
Just finished this sick women’s writing camp!! I love supporting these amazing female writers, producers, engineers and creative minds! And there are so many more incredible ones!! Can you believe of almost three thousand pop songwriters credited last year, only 12% were female. Only 3% of engineers are female. One of them is @anntasticlv. Only 2% of producers are female. One of them is me. Crazy! Our world is 50/50. Isn’t it time for our industry to reflect that? #sheisthemusic Tag the incredible women you know!!! 👏🏽 👏🏽 👏🏽
In her speech, and in her Instagram post above, she cited statistics from the University of Southern California’s Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism study of Grammy nominees. “Of almost 3,000 pop songwriters credited last year only 12% were female, only 3% of the engineers were female, and one of them is Ann [Mincieli, Keys’ regular engineer]. Only 2% of producers are female and one of them is me! Our world is 50-50, and it’s time for our industry to reflect that.”
Keys went on to talk about the Time’s Up movement as well as the gender pay gap. “We deserve the utmost respect, and so many of these women across industries are telling our culture that time is up on double standards,” she continued, “and it is over for pay inequity and colleagues who are at best disrespectful and at the worst unsafe – so it’s over for that.”
The singer highlighted the importance of diversity and women of color in the music industry. “Songwriters tell our stories, they sing who we are as people — don’t we all want to hear from all of us? My ancestors’ spiritual songs told their stories and gave them strength, and we’re all stronger because of it.” Keys named some of her influences, such as Joan Baez, Nina Simone and Aretha Franklin. She also mentioned contemporary female artists of color who are carrying the torch such, as Janelle Monáe, SZA, Solange and Mary J. Blige.