WASHINGTON – In partnership with the Recording Academy’s Black Music Collective and GRAMMY U and led by the Recording Academy Board of Trustees' Vice Chair and Black Music Collective Chair Rico Love, the Recording Academy made its first stop of the “HBCU Love Tour” at the Howard Theater.
The “HBCU Love Tour” is a national tour initiated by the Recording Academy with the goal of expanding its academic footprint, inspiring students to pursue a career in music and bolstering Black representation at GRAMMY U and membership at the Recording Academy. “In a nutshell, [GRAMMY U] is a membership for the recording academy for students pursuing a career in music,” said GRAMMY U Director Jessie Allen. “We have different opportunities, professional development, mentorship programs, sound checks and other things that we do to let students talk to artists and understand their careers.”
The tour began with the HBCU Love Talent Contest held on April 16 at the Songbyrd Music House. Ten students had the opportunity to showcase their talents in front of their peers and industry professionals. Senior Precious Swinton, stage name Precious Jewel, won the contest. She received a $1,000 cash prize and the opportunity to perform at the first stop of the tour in front of special guests, including, legendary producers Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis, rapper Cordae and Recording Academy executives.
Her performance of her original song, “Pride is a Sin” drew jeers from the crowd and delivered a soulfulness similar to Erykah Badu, a performer she often draws inspiration from. Swinton is a woman of duality who plans to pursue careers in both music and psychology. This opportunity from the Grammys makes that dream possible. “Any Grammy co-sign is amazing, but I really hope that this opportunity brings me into rooms where I can have the opportunity to create music with better resources and make sure it’s distributed authentically with purpose and with quality,” said Swinton.
Ryan Butler, vice president of diversity, equity and inclusion at the Recording Academy and founding executive director of the Warner Music/Blavatnik Center for Music Business at Howard University is focused on creating opportunity for HBCU students. “I am a proud Howard alum and when you get into these positions, I believe in lifting as we climb,” he said. “We can’t be what we can’t see, so I want students at HBCUs to know that, not only is the music industry a place for them, but that the Recording Academy specifically, is a place for them to be nurtured, developed and celebrated.”
The HBCU Love Tour was the conception of Florida A&M University (FAMU) graduate, artist vice chair of the Recording Academy and chair of the organization’s Black Music Collective, Rico Love. He was inspired by the realization that so much of who he is was shaped by his experience at FAMU. It was the place where he discovered that there were thousands of people who thought like him and looked like him. He wanted to bring opportunity back to his people and demystify the music industry for up-and-coming artists.
The future of the HBCU Love Tour is for it to be a program completely run by students who are passionate about art and creation, according to Love. “I want us to have an HBCU branch of the Grammys. I want us to be active, and I want students to understand that there’s a community waiting for them and that is welcoming with open arms and wants to nurture their careers and their ideas,” Love said
The HBCU Love Tour will make one more stop this year, during which they will visit Clark-Atlanta University, Spelman College and Morehouse College. Students had the opportunity to network with Grammy executives and learn from some of the industry’s top talent. After this final stop, they will be heading back to their offices to evaluate the program’s success and plan a larger tour later this year.
About Howard University
Founded in 1867, Howard University is a private, research university that is comprised of 14 schools and colleges. Students pursue more than 140 programs of study leading to undergraduate, graduate and professional degrees. The University operates with a commitment to Excellence in Truth and Service and has produced one Schwarzman Scholar, three Marshall Scholars, four Rhodes Scholars, 12 Truman Scholars, 25 Pickering Fellows and more than 165 Fulbright recipients. Howard also produces more on-campus African American Ph.D. recipients than any other university in the United States. For more information on Howard University, visit www.howard.edu.
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