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Music and entertainment industry luminaries gathered Thursday night for the annual charity benefit gala Songs of Hope where singer SZA, producer/songwriter Benny Blanco and Grammy-winning songwriter/record producer Mike WiLL Made-It took home the night’s top honors.
The event — presented by Spotify at record producer/songwriter Alex da Kid’s KIDinaKORNER Kampus — aimed to honor songwriters and bring music biz figures and songwriters together to support the world-renowned independent cancer research and treatment center City of Hope in its fight against cancer, HIV/AIDS, diabetes and other life-threatening diseases.
The inaugural She is the Music award, presented by Universal Music Publishing Group Global chairman and CEO Jody Gerson, went to Grammy-nominated platinum-selling artist SZA.
During her acceptance speech, the singer remarked on the great work that City of Hope does, in addition to opening up about personal experiences she has had with those in her life who have battled cancer.
“It’s [City of Hope] really part of like an energetic thread. Even with cancer, one of my dearest home-girls … she was a bubbly, happy, normal person and she ended up with stage 3 cancer and it’s really crazy, and my mom powering through radiation,” SZA said. “It’s just people that you don’t really expect. And my aunt having, you know, her breast removed but still coming out to all of my shows because she just wants to support me, and all these powerful women that I love and respect and Jody just being the biggest boss that she is.”
The singer went on to express her appreciation for receiving the inaugural award: “I’m honored to be around all of you people who genuinely care for others and have thoughts for others for a cause like cancer that strikes me at every point of my life. I’m just really honored to be a part of this.”
Legendary music exec Clive Davis was also on hand to present the Legend in Songwriting award, which was given to Blanco and Mike WiLL Made-It.
Davis spoke exclusively with The Hollywood Reporter on his decision to honor the pair, saying, “Mike WiLL Made-It and Benny Blanco are two very gifted songwriters. Mike, you know, is a phenomenon in his own right. The work that he’s done with Jay-Z, with Rihanna, with a substantial number of major artists such as Future, 2 Chainz … has been extremely special,” he said.
Davis went on to tell THR about what makes Blanco so deserving of the award: “Benny, I mean, what can I say about Benny Blanco? He’s already been a five-time BMI Songwriter of the Year, he’s already been given the Hal David Award by the Songwriters Hall of Fame. This year alone with ‘Perfect’ and ‘Castle [on the Hill]’… he really has achieved so much and he’s only 30 years old, so that’s a real wow.”
The 14th annual Songs of Hope gala raised more than $400,000 for the treatment center, adding to the more than $3.5 million total for City of Hope raised.
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