Zena White used her speech at the 2019 Women In Music Awards to remind the music business of its responsibility to “make sure new and diverse voices are being heard”.
White was crowned International Woman Of The Year in recognition of the success she has helped fire at Partisan Records, since relocating to New York in 2017 to take on the role of MD, following a successful stint at services company The Other Hand.
BMI exec Shirin Foroutan first encountered White while MD at Mute, and her introduction showed that she made quite the impact.
Foroutan reminded the crowd of Partisan’s achievements since White came on board – including Mercury nominations for Idles and Fontaines DC, a BRIT nod for Idles and Top 10 albums for both acts.
Her passionate address had White visibly moved on the Partisan table, and Foroutan said Partisan’s MD was “freaking out” about accepting the award because she feared it would steal the spotlight from her team and the label.
“Zena lives and dies by her team,” said Foroutan. “She leads with kindness and empathy and ensures everyone feels nurtured. She’s the executive artists trust.
In a few moments, a packed room got some vivid insight into White’s career. She had doled out plenty more in Partisan’s Music Week cover story back in September, too.
Already this week we’ve brought you speeches from New Artist winner Freya Ridings and Music Creative Camille ‘Kamille’ Purcell and Campaigner Olga FitzRoy, now read on to find out what White had to say on stage…
Massive congratulations to our very own Zena White for being crowned International Woman of the Year by @MusicWeek!!! #MWWIM pic.twitter.com/BtMYdoxotl— Partisan Records (@partisanrecords) November 8, 2019
“Thank you for that introduction! I have a hard time being singled out…
“We’ve had an incredible year. Someone told me that I should say some quite personal things [now] and I was finding it quite hard to imagine what that could possibly be, because no one is really interested in me, it’s really in our artists and what we can achieve as a company.
“But, I am 34, I think that’s quite young to be doing what I’m doing. I started out collecting email addresses at The Fleece & Firkin in Bristol when I was 19 so that I could get into gigs for free. I just kept going and thought, 'I’ve got to keep figuring it out and see how far I can get'.
Thanks to all of the people I’ve been lucky enough to work with
"I often talk about global strategy, but I think that with that comes a huge sense of responsibility to make sure that new and diverse voices are being heard. That’s something that all of us as a community have a responsibility to work together to achieve. Thanks to all of the people I’ve been lucky enough to work with, but also to my friends. I hope that I’ll get to work with many more of you in the room today and beyond and we can be friends too. Thank you.”
Zena White is interviewed in the new issue of Music Week, out now, subscribers can read the story online here. To subscribe and never miss a music biz story, click here.
PHOTO: Jenn Five