Alicia Keys received Billboard‘s Impact Award, was celebrated at its 2019 Women in Music Impact Brunch in Los Angeles on Thursday.
Per THR, the singer spoke about her work with organisation She Is the Music, which leads female writing camps and mentorship programs, and has developed the largest database for hiring women in the music industry.
“If I want to find a female lighting designer, how can I find that person? If I want to find a female sound engineer, how can I find that? If I want to find a female business manager or female lawyer,” Keys told Billboard‘s Gail Mitchell. “I think what happens is people get used to working with who they’re used to working with, and then you go and ask for a recommendation and they’ve been used to working with John for 100 years, so John gets recommended. It’s not that Lucy or Terry shouldn’t be recommended, but we get into this systemic style of how we operate. We just get used to it, as opposed to starting to break it and think out of the box and be conscious about the choices that we’re making.”
Keys added that the inspiration for the cause came from Dr. Stacy Smith of the USC Annenberg Inclusion Initiative’s findings that in 2019, women made up just 17 percent of artists in the Billboard Top 100, and 12.3 percent of songwriters. Keys said that the “deep and disturbing gap” was shocking in how poor the statistics really are, and “it’s really about all of us recognizing that when things are unbalanced they have to be rectified and corrected.”
And asked where she hopes to see the industry go, she said she wants a time when hiring women is just part of standard operations, not something people have to consciously think about, so that “it’s not so unusual that, ‘Wow, there’s two women on the board! And one of them is black!’ It’s bullshit.”
Keys also briefly talked about her upcoming album A.L.I.C.I.A, which she said is her first self-titled project because “I feel this is the first time I’ve been most fully myself.”