'They're moving the dial forward for Black artistry': BMC reveals Excellence Honourees list 2023

'They're moving the dial forward for Black artistry': BMC reveals Excellence Honourees list 2023

The Black Music Coalition reveals the second edition of its Excellence Honourees list, as chair Sheryl Nwosu writes exclusively for Music Week about this year's executives and outlines the latest news from the organisation. Five of this year's Honourees are profiled in the September edition of Music Week, out now. Read Nwosu's piece in full here...

As an organisation, the Black Music Coalition stands behind and champions Black executives to ensure their ongoing visibility and appreciation in the music industry. We do this by creating opportunities for them to shine and be seen, by recognising and amplifying their talents and our annual Excellence Honourees list aims to do just that, which is why we are so excited to showcase our 10 second year Honourees.

We know that Black professionals in music can often feel pigeonholed in the projects and work they are given access to, with the irony being that while this is a creative industry many find their creativity, even as a music exec, curtailed and eroded. This year’s Honourees are in our view notably all proactive and creative go-getting music executives and this is borne out by their respective track records. 

This year, we looked for executives who, among other qualities, had a discernible track record of supporting the culture and moving the dial forward for Black artistry and creativity. In fact, for some of our picks, this included their own professional and personal creativity. 

The criteria for what it takes to be an incredible executive is something that has been evolving at a dizzying pace in recent years. There is a need for innovation, understanding of community building, as well as all important tenacity. Our Honourees, all at varying stages of their careers, share these qualities and are all fast-gaining recognition as key components of an industry. It is vital that outstanding work from bright Black executives is encouraged, documented and spotlighted to ensure that the industry remains a place of promise for Black execs. This must include the promises for change made by the industry itself. 

This year’s Honourees are in our view notably all proactive and creative go-getting music executives

This year’s Honourees have between them created platforms which promote or support the culture, or through their roles they support and also expand the reach, scope and artistry of the acts they work with or the music coming out of the UK and beyond. 

Many of this year’s 10 Honourees can rightly be described as double or even triple threats with each of them being in our view a “one to watch” in the industry. They deserve to have this light shone on them and we look forward to watching the heights each of them climbs to as they continue to navigate their current roles and their careers.

Before you check out the Honourees feature in the new edition of Music Week, I am also very excited to announce that as of October 2023 the BMC is opening its membership to all music executives working in the UK. 

As chair of the organisation, one of my aims for the Black Music Coalition is to not only connect the community of Black music professionals in the UK, but also for the BMC to be a voice for all Black executives working in the UK industry, and so membership to the BMC will be open to all Black music executives or interns. 

We will also be offering ‘Associate Membership’ to individuals no matter their colour, race, or ethnicity who are working in the UK music industry and who understand and support the aims of the Black Music Coalition. Corporate Affiliate Membership will also be available to music businesses and organisations and other businesses and organisations who also recognise and support our aims. 

We believe that building a wide community of members will allow us to better address and communicate our objectives, as well increase the reach of the voice and visibility of Black executives working in music. Look out for the forthcoming membership announcement, which will give more details about how to join and our member benefits. We hope that you will, quite literally, join us. 

Continuing to look ahead and as we move further and further away from 2020, the proclamations and the efforts towards making the industry fairer and more equitable, I’ve personally detected a now lingering impression that the industry as a whole’s efforts and commitments towards achieving specifically racial equity are waning. 

We are nowhere near a time when the industry should be dialling back its efforts to better diversity and inclusion

Taking this in as well as considering industry data, for example from UK Music’s 2022 diversity report, which backs up our awareness that people from Black, Asian and ethnically diverse backgrounds are still more represented at lower career levels and less at higher career levels in the industry, it is clear to us that we are nowhere near a time (should there ever be one) when the industry should be dialling back its efforts to better diversity and inclusion. 

In a conversation I had recently with a senior music executive it was suggested to me that sex and gender are now high on organisations’ diversity agenda. “And so they should be”, was my response, because truth be told these issues are not ‘either, or’. If organisations remain committed to equality for all,diversity in the industry and real inclusion, then the approach cannot be piecemeal or moment led, it has to be one which understands and takes into account intersectionality. 

Our calls to action therefore remain because it remains a fact that the issue of race continues to play a part in how Black execs experience the industry and how they are able to show up in it; it plays a part in why many Black execs leave the industry; and it explains the lack of representative numbers at senior levels. The BMC remains determined to create a better landscape (work-scape?) for all Black execs in the industry; and to that end 2020 was just a start and the data, stories, and on-going experiences of Black execs indicate that now is not the time to stop.

Lastly, I want to extend a huge thanks to Ben and George at Music Week for the platform and their ongoing support of the BMC and our endeavours, also to the brilliant photographer for the Honourees shoot Cali, and of course to all of our 2023 Honourees, listed below:

Abena Adu, artist manager, founder, The WFA Agency 
Adenike Derrick, marketing manager at SoundOn 
Emmanuel Olowojoba, senior A&R manager
Fi Ogunyemi, new business development executive (brand partnerships) at Globe, UMG
Ginelle Appau, Black music editor, Apple Music
Jade Busola, talent manager
Jonathan (Jae) Chabala, artist marketing manager, Spotify, UK & IE 
Keana Bernard, producer, music supervisor, presenter 
Mauro Fernandes Borges, creative lead, EMI
Taisha Jay, talent manager

The BMC presents to you, its Excellence Honourees list of 2023!

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