On September 3, the Recording Academy announced that it will be forming a Black Music Collective. The collective is a group of music creators and professionals with a mission to celebrate and emphasize black artists within the Academy and the music community in general.
The collective will serve as a space where members can speak openly about new and emerging opportunities in black music and identity ways to drive representation.
Five honorary chairs of the collective were named including multi-Grammy winning artists John Legend, Jimmy Jam and Quincy Jones as well as two veteran executives, Sylvia Rhone and Debra Lee.
Legend has been vocal about his feelings concerning black artists in relation to the likelihood of them winning Grammy awards. Here is a quote he gave the press when attending a high profile Grammy event. “It’s almost impossible for a Black artist to win album of the year. It's like, how many years do we have to see Beyoncé getting snubbed? Kanye [West] has never won album of the year. It’s kind of insane, actually…We’ve got to do something, because that’s a terrible record, and Diddy is right to complain about it.”
The Academy has been addressing the issue for years and now that Legend has been named chair, he can actively play his part in the effort.
Chair and interim president/CEO of the Recording Academy had this to say of the collective. “The Black Music Collective is necessary to help drive the Recording Academy into a new era. Creating an open space for Black music creators can only benefit our membership as a whole. Through the past few months, I’ve been personally invested in propelling this collective along with chapter leadership within the Academy. Together, we will elevate Black music creators within our organization and the industry at large.”
In the coming weeks, the collective will be working on enlisting a leadership committee who will work with the chairs to move the mission forward. The leaders will meet regularly to initiate programs to encourage participation and boost black membership in the Recording Academy. Recording Academy trustee Riggs Morales and executive director for the Washington, D.C. chapter Jeriel Johnson will lead the initiative on an internal level.
The creation of the collective is another step the Academy has taken to increase black awareness. In March of 2018, they established a diversity and inclusion task force to examine race related issues within the academy and within the music community in general.
The task force announced its recommendations in Dec. of 2019 leading the Academy to take action by hiring its first chief diversity and inclusion officer. They also made a $1 million donation and announced their partnership with Color of Change, the nation’s largest online racial organization. They are currently working on an industry inclusion and toolkit rider to be released later this year.