John Legend, Summer Walker, D-Nice and Muni Long Celebrate the Inaugural Black Music Collective Ceremony

2022-04-05T15:53:31+00:00April 5th, 2022|

On Saturday night (April 2), The Recording Academy held its inaugural Black Music Collective ceremony at Resorts World Las Vegas. John Legend, MC Lyte, R&B imprint LVRN, and D-Nice served as the evening’s honorees and delivered riveting speeches highlighting each other’s cultural feats and the reverence of Black music.

“Black music is and has been the rhythm, the root, the inspiration, [and] the innovation behind so much of the world’s popular music. It doesn’t exist without us,” exclaimed Legend during his acceptance speech for Global Impact Award. “We are so blessed to be a part of that tradition, to be Black music makers. That’s something worth celebrating, that’s something worth being proud of.” Established in 2020, the Black Music Collective “is a hub for power players in Black music, across all genres, under the GRAMMY roof, bringing together creative geniuses and business leaders to set unified goals, align on a shared agenda, and build community.” Legend serves as an honorary chairman for the BMC, alongside Jimmy Jam, Debra Lee and Quincy Jones.

The event produced MVD, a creative agency that specializes in integrating marketing, was responsible for putting together the inaugural event. “Representation matters. The Black Music Collective and Riggs Morales trusted us to bring this vision to life authentically,” says co-founders MVD co–founders Massah David & Miatta Johnson. “To have a produced the inaugural Recording Academy Honors presented by the Black Music Collective was truly an honor in itself. With being the first comes a lot of responsibility, essentially you are crafting the blueprint and setting the bar for subsequent years to follow.”

Along with the honorees receiving their awards and praises, Recording Academy CEO Harvey Mason jr. gushed about the BMC’s inception and being able to finally construct an event catered to Black music after a 64-year wait. “I’m not proud of that fact and that stat, but I’m extremely proud that we’re having this event now.”

Recording Academy co-president Valeisha Butterfield Jones, who previously worked for the Obama administration and Google, expressed her gratitude for working for the Academy and the responsibilities that come with her weighty title. “Life is short, and this assignment is purpose-driven,” she offered. “We are advancing this mission, and the assignment is bigger than me and any of us individually. It’s about independent music creators, emerging artists, music people — all music people — and driving real and meaningful change we can all feel from the inside out.”

Attendees enjoyed the night’s performers, beginning with R&B superstar (and LVRN’s leading lady) Summer Walker. The Still Over It singer was on hand to perform the album’s “Unloyal” sans featured artist Ari Lennox, and celebrate her label’s success during their momentous tribute. LVRN’s executive vice president and GM Amber Grimes beamed about her five male counterparts (Carlon Ramong, Justice Baiden, Junia Abaidoo, Sean Famoso McNichol, and Tunde Balogun), their unrelenting drive to push R&B forward, and how they later morphed their workplace into one of female inclusion and mental health.

“The dreams I’ve seen you make a reality, the late nights you’ve worked to serve your artists, and the passion you have to do everything everybody said you couldn’t do almost left me speechless,” said Grimes.

Other performers included country star Jimmie Allen, rapper Cordae, singer Chloe Bailey and singer/songwriter Muni Long, who captivated the crowd with her provocative remake of Boyz II Men’s “End of the Road,” titled “Boys II Men.” Platinum-certified rapper Saweetie presented for multi-hyphenate MC Lyte, who raved about why “there’s no better time to be a Black creator than now” and the importance of women throughout hip-hop’s 50-year history. DJ D-Nice ruminated on the success of Club Quarantine, which helped bring music lovers together during the start of the pandemic back in 2020, and how it exponentially grew into a cultural phenomenon in a matter of weeks.

“When the world stopped, the only thing that mattered to me was how we were going to keep this thing going,” he expressed. “It wasn’t about music — it was about people.”

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