Alicia Keys has announced She Is the Music, a women-led music industry initiative for female advancement, Variety reports. The singer announced the organization’s formation during her speech at the National Music Publishers Association’s annual meeting on Wednesday, where she was being honored as Icon Songwriter.
“I’ve joined forces with a group of really powerful female executives, songwriters, artists, engineers, producers and publishers to help reshape the industry that we all love by creating real opportunities and a pipeline of talent for other women,” she said. “We’re calling our initiative She Is the Music. We want to create a model for change that affects women across all industries.
“We deserve the utmost respect, and so many of these women across industries are telling our culture that time is up on double standards,” she continued, “and it is over for pay inequity and colleagues who are at best disrespectful and at the worst unsafe – so it’s over for that.”
While Keys didn’t detail the specifics regarding the initiative, she did stress why the timing is crucial. “We have to do something because the statistics are brutal,” she said during her speech, providing statistics backed by a University of Southern California’s Annenberg Inclusion Initiative study, which was released earlier this year. The study found that women have been vastly underrepresented in the music industry.
“Of almost 3,000 pop songwriters credited last year, only 12 percent were female. Only 3 percent of the engineers were female, and one of them is [Keys’ engineer] Ann [Mincieli]. Only 2 percent of producers are female and one of them is me,” she remarked. “Our world is 50-50 and it’s time for our industry to reflect that.”
Keys also emphasized the importance of diversity and encouraged people to hire women, particulary women of color. “Songwriters tell our stories, they sing who we are as people – don’t we all want to hear from all of us?,” she added, before citing artists whose protest songs continue to fuel “today’s battle for civil rights,” including Joan Baez, Nina Simone, Buffy St. Marie, Carole King, Joni Mitchell and Aretha Franklin. Keys tied their contributions to the newer generation who carry their message forward, including Mary J. Blige, Sia, SZA, Kacey Musgraves, Solange, Janelle Monáe and H.E.R., all of whom are “female writers who are running with that torch today and lifting all of us up.”
Keys’ She Is the Music is among other music-oriented initiatives that have formed following Hollywood’s Time’s Up and #MeToo movements. In February, music industry executives Meg Harkins and Karen Rait founded Voices in Entertainment, a grassroots music industry analog to Hollywood’s anti-sexual harassment movement, which encouraged supporters to wear white roses at the Grammys to support “equal representation in the workplace, for leadership that reflects the diversity of our society, workplaces free of sexual harassment and a heightened awareness of accountability.”