Singer and songwriter Alicia Keys, who co-founded She Is the Music (a non-profit organization) last year along with Jody Gerson, Sam Kirby Yoh and Ann Mincieli, was honoured with the American Express Impact Award at Billboard’s 14th annual Women in Music event held earlier this week in Los Angeles.
During Billboard’s 2019 Women in Music Impact Brunch, the singer not only spoke about She Is the Music initiative, which leads female writing camps and mentorship programs, and has developed the largest database for hiring women in the music industry, but also highlighted the importance of diversity and inclusion.
Speaking of the database, Keys told Billboard‘s Gail Mitchell, “If I want to find a female lighting designer, how can I find that person? If I want to find a female sound engineer, how can I find that?”
She continued, “What happens is people get used to working with who they’re used to working with, and then you go and ask for a recommendation and they have been used to working with John for 100 years, so John gets recommended. It’s not that Lucy or Terry shouldn’t be recommended, but we get into this systemic style of how we operate. We just get used to it, as opposed to starting to break it and think out of the box and be conscious about the choices that we’re making.”
The Hollywood Reporter noted, “Keys is so hands-on in the organization that when she hosted The Late Late Show with James Corden on Monday, she brought women from the database to shadow the stage manager, associate music producer and head writers of the CBS show. “It’s happening, it’s a real thing, because women get it done,” she said.
Inspiration for the cause came from Dr. Stacy Smith of the USC Annenberg Inclusion Initiative’s findings that in 2019, women made up just 17 per cent of artists in the Billboard Top 100, and 12.3 per cent of songwriters.”
During the conversation, Keys said that the “deep and disturbing gap” was shocking in how poor the statistics really are, and “it’s really about all of us recognizing that when things are unbalanced they have to be rectified and corrected.”
As for where she hopes to see the industry in the coming years, the singer revealed that she wants a time when hiring women is just part of standard operations, not something people have to consciously think about, so that “it’s not so unusual that, ‘Wow, there’s two women on the board! And one of them is black!’ It’s bulls***.”
Apart from this, Alicia Keys also briefly talked about her upcoming album, called A.L.I.C.I.A, which she said is her first self-titled project because she thinks that “this is the first time I’ve been most fully myself.”
– With information from The Hollywood Reporter and People.