Recording Academy Names Members of Diversity, Female Inclusion Task Force

Andra Day_DNC_2 - Getty - H 2016
Getty Images

Andra Day_DNC_2 - Getty - H 2016

Notable figures on the 16-person group include Common, Sheryl Crow, Andra Day, Jimmy Jam, BET's Debra Lee and founder director of USC's Annenberg Inclusion Initiative, Dr. Stacy L. Smith.

The Recording Academy's 16-member task force on diversity and female inclusion was announced Wednesday, with members ranging from several Grammy winners and network CEOs to executives at several major label groups.

Led by Tina Tchen, the former chief of staff to former first lady Michelle Obama, the task force includes Universal Music Group executive vp Michele Anthony, BET CEO Debra Lee, ASCAP CEO Elizabeth Matthews, Sony Music executive vp business affairs Julie Swidler and Lionfish Entertainment CEO Rebeca Leon, among others.

The panel also includes several artists and songwriters, including Common, Sheryl Crow, Andra Day and Jimmy Jam.

Recording Academy CEO Neil Portnow announced the formation of the task force in early February, following criticism regarding the lack of female artist representation in several categories at this year's Grammy Awards. The exec also came under fire for comments he made after the awards, saying women needed to "step up" if they wanted a larger role in the music industry. Portnow quickly apologized, but several called for his resignation.

Tchen was introduced to lead the task force in early March. "I'm honored to lead such an esteemed group of visionaries who possess the experience and passion needed to drive real change in building a more inclusive and equitable music community," she said. "This is an important first step made possible by the Recording Academy's leadership, which recognizes the benefit of examining these issues with fresh eyes."

Focused on female inclusion and diversity, the task force will be charged with identifying the "various barriers and unconscious biases faced by underrepresented communities throughout the music industry and, specifically, across Recording Academy operations and policies," according to an earlier statement, looking at governance, hiring and promotion practices, membership, awards and the Grammys telecast. According to the Academy, the 16-member task force is set to meet soon. To kick things off, the group is asking for feedback from the public (using this form) on what they think should be reviewed or considered. Throughout the process, Tchen will update the Academy on the group's progress.

"This is an extremely important initiative for us," said John Poppo, chair of the Recording Academy board of trustees. "The board takes seriously any role the Recording Academy can play in serving our music community, and certainly one that could facilitate increased diversity and inclusion. We are inspired by the prospect of what this task force might accomplish, and we're grateful to Tina and the group's esteemed members for graciously agreeing to partner with us in this effort."

Added Portnow, "There's an opportunity for us to effect historic change in attitudes and practices within our industry. We embrace that opportunity in full."

Below is the full panel:

Stephanie Alexa, vp finance and licensing administration, ATO Records
Michele Anthony, executive vp and executive management board member, Universal Music Group
Cam, Grammy-nominated artist
Common, Grammy-winning artist
Sheryl Crow, Grammy-winning artist
Andra Day, Grammy-nominated artist
Giselle Fernandez, award-winning television journalist
Jimmy Jam, Grammy-winning artist
Beth Laird, CEO and co-owner, Creative Nation
Debra Lee, chairman and CEO, BET Networks
Rebeca Leon, co-founder and CEO, Lionfish Entertainment
Elizabeth Matthews, CEO, ASCAP
Dr. Stacy L. Smith, founder and director, USC Annenberg Inclusion Initiative
Ty Stiklorius, founder and CEO, Friends At Work
Julie Swidler, executive vp business affairs and general counsel, Sony Music
Dean Wilson, CEO, SEVEN20

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