The Black Music Action Coalition Gala
On September 21, the Black Music Action Coalition, an advocacy organization formed to address systemic racism within the music business, hosted its annual BMAC Gala presented by Live Nation in Beverly Hills. The star-studded evening celebrated artists, executives, entrepreneurs, and activists that have utilized their platforms to effect social change over the past year.
The BMAC Gala 2023 Honorees included:
- Lizzo (GRAMMY Award-winning, Emmy Award-winning superstar singer, songwriter, rapper, and actress)- Quincy Jones Humanitarian Award
- Jermaine Dupri (Hip-hop artist, award-winning producer, songwriter, author, DJ, and CEO of So So Def) – Clarence Avant Trailblazer Award
- Sylvia Rhone (Chairwoman & CEO of Epic Records) – Clarence Avant Trailblazer Award
- Keke Palmer (Emmy® Award-winning actress, singer, songwriter, producer) – BMAC Social Impact Award
- Dr. Menna Demessie (SVP, Universal Music Group and Executive Director, Task Force for Meaningful Change) – BMAC Social Impact Award
- Jesse Collins (Emmy Award-winning producer) – BMAC Social Impact Award
- Jason Flom (Co-Founder and CEO of Lava for Good and Lava Media) – BMAC Change Agent Award
- Trae tha Truth (Rapper and activist) – BMAC Change Agent Award
- Tariq Cherif and Matt Zingler (Rolling Loud Co-Founders) – BMAC 365 Award
Hosted by entertainment/lifestyle specialist Kenny Burns, the Gala featured a lineup of surprise presenters including Lizzo’s Big Grrrls And Big Boiiis, Doechii, Johntá Austin, Bryan-Michael Cox, Khaliah Ali and many of the honorees’ family members. Additional attendees included LL Cool J, Flavor Flav, Doechii, Michaela Jaé Rodriguez, Luke James, Chanté Moore, Ski Mask the Slump God & more.
Special highlights from the evening included:
- BMAC Co-Founder/Chair Willie “Prophet” Stiggers kicked off the ceremony with opening remarks: “Tonight we gather to pay tribute to remarkable individuals who have utilized their platform, resources and influence to propel the fight for social and racial justice through intentional and impactful action.”
- Lizzo’s Big Grrrls And Big Boiiis presented her BMAC award and she graciously accepted the honor saying: “Tonight, I’ve been blessed to receive the Quincy Jones Humanitarian Award. This one truly hits different, because humanitarianism in its nature is thankless, it’s selfless. I’ve decided to share my platform to shine a light on people helping people. Thank you BMAC, this is truly an honor.”
- After her sisters surprised her on stage to present her with the Social Impact Award, an emotional Keke Palmer shed light on the importance of utilizing her platform to create a positive impact: “From a very young age, my love for entertainment comes from wanting to uplift my community… very early on I recognized the impact I could have through the arts and how I could make people feel.”
- In his acceptance speech, Jermaine Dupri took a moment to caution against the use of artificial intelligence in music: “I think AI is taking the emotion out of music… emotion is not something you could get with AI.”
- Luke James, Chanté Moore and BJ the Chicago Kid electrified the crowd with a soulful performance in tribute to the late industry pioneer, Clarence Avant, who was a member of BMAC’s Advisory Board.
In addition to honoring the award recipients, the event celebrated the organization’s accomplishments and highlighted ongoing initiatives. Over the last year, BMAC has been instrumental in addressing systemic racism within the music business and advocating on behalf of Black artists, songwriters, producers, managers, agents, executives, lawyers and other impassioned industry professionals.
In 2023, BMAC joined forces with the Academy of Country Music to launch OnRamp, a program to financially assist young, Black members of the Nashville music community; granting access to professional-development opportunities, community mentorship, and more. BMAC also released their 2nd Annual BMAC Music Industry Action Report Card. The Report Cards hold the music industry accountable and serve as a call-to-action for Black representation, voice, visibility, participation and ownership on par with the revenue driven by Black music and culture. On the policy front, BMAC went to Congress to help re-introduce The RAP Act, a bill to protect artists from the use of their lyrics against them in civil and criminal proceedings, and lobbied for the Fair Act in California to repeal the statute that permits record labels to sue artists if they choose to leave before fulfilling the contractual obligation of delivering a certain number of albums within a seven-year timeframe. BMAC is also actively engaging in discussions to safeguard artists from the potential impact of artificial intelligence (AI) and are committed to identifying areas that require oversight and advocacy in relation to AI. Most recently, BMAC stood in solidarity with the workers of SAG-AFTRA and the WGA in their fight for fair compensation and essential benefits during the ongoing Hollywood labor strike.
The Black Music Action Coalition Board includes Willie “Prophet” Stiggers, Caron Veazey, Ashaunna Ayars, Naima Cochrane, Jamil Davis, Shawn Holiday, Damien Smith, and Courtney Stewart. The Black Music Action Coalition Advisory Board consists ofmusic industry icons including the late Clarence Avant, Irving Azoff and Quincy Jones.
Featured Image By: Lizzo, BMAC Honoree of the Quincy Jones Humanitarian Award and Lizzo’s Big Grrls attend the BMAC Gala presented by Live Nation at The Beverly Hilton on September 21, 2023 in Beverly Hills, California. (Photo by Johnny Nunez/Getty Images for Black Music Action Coalition)