Jimmy Jam joins John Legend and Quincy Jones among the six honorary chairs of the Recording Academy’s newly formed Black Music Collective to amplify Black voices in the Grammy Awards and the music industry in general.
Jam -- a Minneapolis-bred musician who has won five Grammys with his producing-songwriting partner Terry Lewis -- has long been active in the Recording Academy. He was first Black person to chair the academy’s trustees, from 2007-09, and he is a longtime member of academy’s television committee for the Grammys.
Black musicians including Kanye West, P. Diddy and Legend have been outspokenly critical of the Grammy Awards.
“It’s almost impossible for a Black artist to win album of the year,” Legend told Entertainment Weekly earlier this year. “It's like, how many years do we have to see Beyonce getting snubbed? Kanye [West] has never won album of the year. It’s kind of insane, actually.”
Actually, Bruno Mars won album of the year in 2018, Herbie Hancock in 2008, Ray Charles in 2005, OutKast in 2004 and Lauryn Hill in 1999. However, arguments have been made that deserving Black artists, including Beyonce, Kendrick Lamar and West, were overlooked in other recent years.
In May, the Recording Academy hired its first chief diversity and inclusion officer, Valeisha Butterfield Jones.
Joining Jam as honorary chairs of the Black Music Collective are Epic Records CEO Sylvia Rhone, former BET CEO Debra Lee, Universal Music Group lawyer Jeffrey Harleston, 11-time Grammy winner Legend and Jones, who has collected the most nonclassical Grammys, with 28.