Summer Walker, John Legend Light Up Black Music Grammy Event

Summer Walker, Chloe Bailey, Muni Love, Cordae and Jimmie Allen delivered rousing performances and pioneering rapper MC Lyte and singer-songwriter John Legend were honored at Recording Academy’s first-ever Black Music Collective ceremony on Saturday night.

“It’s been a long time coming, and I don’t feel comfortable saying it,” Recording Academy CEO Harvey Mason Jr. told the glittering crowd at Resorts World Las Vegas. “But now we’re here, so let’s celebrate.”

And the event lived up to the moment, setting the flag for an exciting new milestone in the Grammy Week lineup. The event also addressed the broad spectrum of black music, ranging from the sultry R&B of Walker and Long to rapper Cordae and country singer Allen, and hundreds of artists, industry figures and community members were in the room.

Amber Grimes gave a poignant introductory speech honoring Walker’s label LVRN (Love Renaissance) and how the company’s five founders came together to elevate Atlanta’s music scene and make mental health a foundation of their approach. The label also carries 6lack, DRAM and Boogie as well as Walker.

Saweetie presented pioneering rapper and television personality MC Lyte, honored for her pioneering role in hip-hop.

“Without women, there is no conversation about the past, present and future of hip-hop,” she said. “The pitch wasn’t level, but I’m proud of the progress we’ve made. Despite the ongoing injustice and inequality in our industry and society at large, there is no better time to be a Black creator than now.”

Showing heartfelt humility, DJ D-Nice spoke about how the world unexpectedly gathered around his virtual club quarantine sets during lockdown, spoke of his amazement when hundreds of thousands of people tuned in and the role John Legend played in spreading the message via Instagram. Recording Academy Co-President Valeisha Butterfield Jones showcased her background in the Obama administration and delivered a moving speech addressing the moment and its significance for the community. And Legend himself received the Academy’s first-ever Global Impact Award.

Muni Long (pictured above with Legend) brought the house down with her bawdy ballad “Boyz 2 Men”: “I got my ‘hoo’/ And you got yours too/ You are just the ex that I call for sex/ Until I’ll find the one I want.” (See clip below.)

Led by Riggs Morales, The Collective is an advisory group formed in 2020 to advance black music. Legend serves as Honorary Chairman along with Quincy Jones, Debra Lee, Jimmy Jam and others.

“Black music is and has been the rhythm, the root, the inspiration, the innovation behind so much of the world’s popular music. It doesn’t exist without us,” Legend said. “Our art and music can help movements find their footing and voice. Our art and music can help activists, those closest to injustice, leading the way to equality and opportunity.”

D-Nice also acknowledged the influence of John Legend through the creation of his hugely successful Club Quarantine, telling industry creators that it was Legend who helped drive the wave of recognition and new followers in the early days of the IG live broadcast to spark group.

“Club Quarantine isn’t really about D-Nice, the DJ,” he said. “It’s about a community. People come together and talk in the chats. I’m just in the background trying to create a space that is comfortable for people to come together. I’m saying this like I said before ‘Black Music Saved the World’.” Summer Walker, John Legend Light Up Black Music Grammy Event

Charles Jones

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