Perhaps only music can heal a bitterly divided Congress.
Despite a sharp split on most issues, Republicans and Democrats came together this week to pay tribute to Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis, legendary producers and songwriters who, after decades of working on iconic songs from artists such as Janet Jackson, Mary J. Blige, Mariah Carey, and Boyz II Men, released their first album, Jam & Lewis: Volume One, last year.
Harvey Mason, Jr. the first African American President and CEO of the Recording Academy applauded the bipartisan crowd.
“We are celebrating 20 years of advocacy," he told iHeartRadio personality Jazmyn Summers. "We passed a music omnibus bill that would make things better."
Reps. Ted Deutch (D-Fla.) and Michael McCaul (R-Texas) were also honored for their leadership in supporting the rights of music creators, especially for helping music industry professionals recover from the devastating effects of COVID-19.
"During the pandemic, we pushed for health and Congress provided unprecedented assistance through the Save Our Stages Act, the biggest investment in the arts in American history," Mason continued. "We’re all here united in our belief that music can change the world. It serves the hopeful, it brings people together providing the common language for justice and peace. Music has the power to unite, enrich, heal and change the world."
The Save Our Stages Act created grants for live venue operators, producers, promoters, or talent representatives to address the economic effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Jimmy Jam, who is the first Black chair of the Recording Academy told Summers, “We have a night of celebration where different parties whether they are Democratic, or Republican are going to party together tonight. Life without music is like breathing without oxygen. Music is truly divine art.”
Lewis lauded their 50 years of friendship, saying, “I am honored to be with Jimmy in the service of music. Music allows us to find our commonality.”
Rapper Bun B of UGK fame with the late Pimp C commended Lewis and Jam, telling Summers, “As one of the only hip hop members that’s a national trustee for the recording academy, I’m honored to be here as a representative of the hip hop community to pay homage to two incredible musical legends who have given so much to music and culture and progression of American art.”
“Every artist needs someone that can protect them," he continued. "Every artist needs a person that genuinely has a care and concern for them. It’s good to have a good manager, it’s good to have a good lawyer. Those things are extremely important, but the most important thing is to have a good friend. You need someone you can go to because this industry is very rough. A lot of times these young artists get big-headed, older artists too. It’s good to have someone whose gonna be honest with you and tell them the truth about themselves. The question is are you gonna receive that honesty.”
Bun B believes also spoke about it being an opportune time for up-and-coming rappers. “It’s a perfect time for an artist to be able to take advantage of his art because for many years we were creating content but not being properly paid for it but an artist has never had more power than they have right now," he shared. "It’s amazing to see these young artists come into the industry and be able to take full advantage of what the world has for them.”
“They are innovators," he gushed. "We are gospel boys and our good friend's Sounds of Blackness hooked up with them back in the 80s and they (Jam and Lewis) completely made an innovation to what they did and it let us know that anything with the right groove and the right vision can happen. They took our art form and took it to the masses. We love everything about them everything they have done with Janet and all the way across .”
The Recording Academy is lobbying Congress this week as part of the annual Grammys on the Hill Advocacy Day, Capitol Hill's largest legislative event for music creators. It brings Grammy winners and nominees, and industry leaders, to Washington, D.C., to meet with lawmakers. The Academy is pushing for the passage of various new laws it believes will help artists financially including the American Music Fairness Act (AMFA), which among other measures ensures performers are compensated when their songs are played on AM and FM radio. Currently, artists are not compensated.
The American Federation of Musicians in a statement supporting the Act says,” For far too long, our broken system has let AM/FM radio stations — many of which are owned by just a few massive media corporations — get away with refusing to pay performers when they play their music. While corporate broadcasters gobble up billions in advertising dollars, the artists and musicians whose performances make all of it possible receive no compensation whatsoever for their hard work. It’s unfair, plain and simple. It’s time to right this wrong."