It’s no secret that the Recording Academy, the organization behind The Grammy Awards Show, has a complicated relationship with Black artists due to a historic lack of visibility and recognition. This year, on the heels of 12 months of grappling with the COVID-19 pandemic and countless protests demanding social justice, audiences saw some major changes. And Harvey Mason Jr., the Interim President and Chief Executive Officer of the Recording Academy, has been leading the charge of reform.
From the start, Mason’s major goal has been to ensure that artists, specifically those from marginalized communities, have access to resources, receive recognition and are given a solid platform to excel in their craft. Systemic change was the first step. There have been modifications to the voting body, updated leadership roles, and a re-evaluation of hiring and retention practices. The Academy’s new approach, which is focused on diversity, will impact future generations and their involvement in the music world.
When asked about the Recording Academy’s new outlook, Mason was clear on his new vision: improving relations with the artist community and the Academy to develop a stronger partnership. According to Mason, collaboration isn’t just about the show, it’s an essential component of sustaining the entire industry. “If [we’re] not diligent, music will become undervalued,” he adds. His point was further highlighted during the 63rd Annual GRAMMY Award show this past Sunday through his speech “Music Requires Listening.” Check it out below:
It’s not just talk. In an effort to increase diversity and support stability in the industry, the Recording Academy instituted a resource guide, in partnership with Color of Change, to cultivate spaces for conversations in the music community called #ChangeMusicRoadmap. Through connecting and aligning with Black talent and organizations that focus on uplifting the Black community, this partnership is also a step towards rectifying historic discrepancies and injustices.
Through new initiatives aimed at increasing diversity and collaboration, and under the leadership of Harvey Mason Jr. and other key executives, such as Valeisha Butterfield, Chief Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Officer, the iconic organization is becoming a platform for change.
Due to persistent advocacy, the Recording Academy is finally playing a new tune. And musicians, the music industry and music lovers are ready to dance.
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Savannah M. Taylor is a native of Springfield, MA, and a graduate of Syracuse University where she received her Bachelor of Arts degree in African American Studies with a minor in Communication & Rhetorical Studies. Some of her many passions include storytelling through various mediums and bringing awareness to Black history and culture through the advocacy of the Black diasporic community. These passions led her to start her own initiative called The Silhouette Brand, a platform to provide access to resources, opportunity, and exposure for people across the African diaspora.