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A Grammy Conversation: The State Of R&B

Last month, The Recording Academy held “A Grammy Conversation” on the current state of R&B music at the West Hollywood Soho House.

Quddus hosted the evening and the conversation included five panelists: Music Journalist Gail Mitchell, singer-songwriter/producer Liv Warfield, Grammy-winning producer LaShawn Daniels, eight-time Grammy nominee Ledisi and four-time Grammy nominee Tyrese Gibson. According to HitsDailyDouble they each attributed their inspiration to classic R&B and soul artists, including James Brown, Marvin Gaye, Stevie Wonder, Etta James, Donny Hathaway, Tina Turner, Sam Cooke, Jodeci and Earth Wind & Fire.

The discussion included topics like: Will new R&B artists be heard? Will people take a chance on them? Will urban alternative artists find a way to bridge the gap between what was and what is? Is the playing field uneven between black and white artists? Is there a place for R&B in a singles-driven music industry and a society that has been hypnotized by EDM music?

In part two of the discussion LaShawn Daniels talked about the issues within certain record labels and the disconnect between the good in an artist being creative versus what’s good and convenient for marketing. As usual, John Legend’s “All of Me” was used as an example of how labels are now often chasing records instead of putting real belief behind them. Daniels also spoke about the successful planning Motown did with their big artists as well as their up and comers. He also acknowledged Jimmy Iovine (at Interscope) for being successful with this also. Daniels basically explained the song comes first.

Songstress Liv Warfield shared her story as an independent artist trying to break into the industry and her experiences with flip-flopping labels. She asked the question: Why is Sirius radio breaking so much more music than terrestrial radio and continuing to play records that FM won’t even try? Ledisi and Tyrese talked about being independent artists and how artists need to stay driven at their own musical goals and not let certain aspects of the industry divert them. Tyrese also explained why he thinks the industry is too caught up with who produced a song or who is featured on a song, while Ledisi explained her desire for today’s R&B to be more balanced between the origins and today’s new styles.

Check out the clip aboves!

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  • Excellent article and videos. The art of writing arranging and producing REAL Rhythm and Blues songs is lost upon a lot of black music artist today. It’s all about featuring another music artist(s) on your songs to help you sell your records. Why? Because you are not talented enough to do a whole album by yourself. So many of these songs have other artist guest featured on them. A lot of times the artist whose song it is gets pushed to the back by all of the guest artist. The art of going into the studio and recording songs with REAL drums,pianos,horns,etc etc is also lost on a lot of today’s black music artist. All you have to do now days is push a button to the sound of a real instrument being played. As for music on the radio today i don’t listen to it. It’s all the same songs being played 24/7 on these stations. I listen to music from my music collection. I buy cds because i am not into the whole downloading thing. Also black music singing groups are a thing of the past. All of our black music artist are solo performers now. Give me my music from the 70’s and 80’s any day of the week.

    • MarilynRStroup

      I just got