“Grammy/ Essence Rundown
This past Saturday I attended the Grammy Recording Academy’s “Where is the Love? The Future of R&B” panel discussion and networking reception. It was held in the city of New Orleans during Essence Festival weekend at Tomas Bistro, which is located in the heart of the Warehouse District. I was all eyes and ears as I tightly gripped my composition notebook and pen. The silence of the audience was so loud that it was deafening… and then there was the panel. The voices of Panelists: Myisha Brooks (VP, Creative Relations & Marketing, Motown Records), Carl Chery (Head of Hip-Hop/R&B Programming at Beats Music), Raheem DeVaughn (GRAMMY-nominee), and Tank (GRAMMY-nominee), led by Johnnie Walker (Executive Director Memphis and Shelby Country Music Commission | Formerly Def Jam), echoed in perfect harmony like a mass choir on Easter Sunday. I don’t know if Hip Hop is dead, but R&B is very much alive! Take my hand and embark upon this enchanting journey with me; together you and I will get educated about the current state of R&B, why Essence Festival is important to R&B, the role we can play in shining a light on R&B music, and how the Grammy Recording Academy can be a part of the solution.
Tank: It’s going to take a collective effort from radio and from the arts to put this music in proper perspective, in a sense to where everyone has equal opportunity. I don’t feel that R & B held its ground when Hip Hop started coming in… when it became profitable we abandoned R&B music. The Jill Scott (s) and the Ledisi (s) of the world should always sell one million records. There is a disconnect, between the fans and the artists, because of the quality of music. The quality of the radio does not mix. We need people to love every song from the intro to the outro. There was a time when R & B and Hip Hop had their own separate charts, but somehow they got fused together.
We are two separate people; we are not the same person. We would like to see more R&B.
Myiesha: It’s about the artistry. We need rallies like this and we need forums like this in order to engage. We also have to be creative and innovate. It’s about sales, placement, beats music, googles play, Spotify, etc. It’s about teaching/ educating consumers about the different revenue streams of music and how they can support them whether it is merchandise or it’s going to the shelves. It’s also about the quality of the music. If you’re looking at radio for face value… it’s not a fit. The quality and the radio usually doesn’t mix which is why fewer people support and buy full albums. We need to go back and take it back to when we had full bodies of work, comprehensive albums from the intro to the outro, you loved every song not just a single. We can’t allow everything to be R&B just because it has a melody.
Live music has always been a way to express ourselves no one can duplicate or copy that.
Raheem Davaugn: You’re responsible for you. Once you build a connection with your fans you will create a bond that can’t ever be broken. That bond will last forever if it’s cultivated. There are plenty of spaces, but there are some realms that we have to fight to get into. There are two separate parts of the Grammy (s). There is a televised version and there is a portion that is not. It is two separate ceremonies. The internet shouldn’t be used just to get on the radio. If you have the right kind of music, the right kind of skills and the right kind of set to be able to fill a room the phone will start ringing. Music is color blind. It’s a colorblind emotion. Don’t be mad at the white guy because he does R&B if he’s genuinely a student of culture. Don’t be made at the Asian artists and don’t be mad at the diverse black artist that loves house music. It’s about growth. The way that the Grammy’s works… you’re voting among your peers. If more of your peers know about you and are familiar with your music they’ll vote for you. Don’t make music for the radio. Radio is a major influencer, but it’s also one of the last places where people are going to get their outsource of music.
Make music from the heart, make music from the spirit, make music from the soul.
Johnnie Walker: As long as negativity is being put before them (people) they’re going to support it and the negativity will continue. Positive music continues to dwindle. We have voices from the record label side of things, we have voices from you (audience), and we have the voice of technology. You ask: Did the success of white artists like Justin Timberlake and Robin Thicke detract or enhance the R& B genre? Timberlake isn’t universally perceived as an R&B artist. Country Music was country then and it is country today. We’ve been black, we’ve been soulful.
If a person isn’t passionate and they’re passive then they’ll move on. Many people don’t understand the process. We have to rearrange our passion for the culture that we’re representing.
Carl Chery: People have to know that the music being made is good. We’re putting the responsibility on them, but they may not know it’s there. They may not be familiar with the artist. We’ve been talking about radio, but we didn’t say much of anything about media. The journalist (s), the vibe magazines of the world they have a responsibility also.
The internet isn’t the only way to get the music out there.”
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There you have it, folks. The panel just gave you the Grammy R&B tea and food for thought. Although, there was a great networking reception, after the panel discussion, which featured sounds by DJ i: Wah the Beat Priest let’s keep the momentum going. It doesn’t stop just because the panel has ended. It begins and is a defining moment every time the light of music touches our lives. What will you do to see that R&B music and R&B artists continue to get the respect and love that they rightfully deserve? The ball’s in your court.
“We are passionate about beings that have been blessed with the ability to move mountains with their minds.”