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A Festivity Honoring Women in the Mix Inspired by Stories of Tears, Tenacity, and Triumph

Showcasing Carly Pearce, Jordin Sparks, Emily King, and an impactful keynote from Ty Stiklorius, the event at GRAMMY House on February 1 was not only a celebration of women’s accomplishments but also a poignant reminder that there is ongoing work within the music industry. The occasion also featured professional hair and makeup touchup activations.

A Celebration Of Women In The Mix gathered musicians, agents, producers, engineers, managers, and more for a three-hour event filled with food, drinks, speeches, and overall festivities. Hosted by People Magazine Editor-At-Large Janine Rubenstein, the occasion included a keynote speech by Ty Stiklorius, CEO of Friends At Work and renowned for managing artists like John Legend. Performances by Sephora Sounds’ artists Beth Million and Rawan Chaya, along with current Best R&B Album nominee Emily King, added to the celebration.

“We aimed to ensure,” stated Tammy Hurt, Chair of the Board for the Recording Academy, explaining the inception of Women In The Mix in 2019, “that we were promoting representation and providing opportunities for all women in music, from studio professionals to artists and beyond.” The team set a goal of recruiting 2,500 new women members to the Academy’s voting body by 2025. Sephora, the event’s Presenting Sponsor, had makeup artists on-site for touch-ups, and Anna E. Banks, SVP of Personalization, emphasized Sephora’s commitment to creating an inclusive beauty community. Sephora Sounds, a new program, aims to foster diversity and representation, breaking down barriers and amplifying marginalized voices in the industry.

Keynote speaker Ty Stiklorius moved much of the room with poignant stories of encountering unscrupulous record executives, facing dashed dreams, and navigating the less-trodden path to decades of success in the music industry. Clad in a striking maroon suit, Stiklorius recounted how she not only became John Legend’s manager but also his film and TV producing partner, business collaborator in several ventures, and co-founder of social impact groups striving to address issues like incarceration and promote equal opportunities.

Quoting America Ferrera’s impactful words from the Barbie movie, Stiklorius highlighted the impossible expectations placed on women, be it as a spouse, a mother, or in a professional setting. Expressing frustration at the persistent belief that women can’t lead in the music industry while balancing family life, Stiklorius established Friends At Work to provide a platform for more women and marginalized individuals to thrive, be acknowledged, and receive fair compensation in the industry.

Indeed, Stiklorius emphasized that women still have a considerable distance to cover to achieve any semblance of equality in the music industry. While women are prominently featured in major categories at this year’s GRAMMY Awards, a recent study by the USC Annenberg Inclusion Initiative revealed that, despite constituting over half of the population and the music market, women only represent approximately 35 percent of the Billboard Hot 100. A mere 6.5 percent of music producers are women, and less than 20 percent of the songwriters behind last year’s top songs were women. Stiklorius noted that “nearly a quarter of the most popular songs of the last 12 years were penned by just 12 men.”

“Consider how these 12 men shape audience perceptions and beliefs on topics like romantic relationships, wealth, health, and more,” Stiklorius remarked, referring to a recent article she authored for the L.A. Times. In the article, she argues that achieving gender parity in the songwriter space could be accomplished in just four years if top women performers included just two women songwriters in some of their sessions and songs. “It’s not a monumental request,” she stated. “With the increasing influence of female performers, those who consistently top the charts can transform the lives of women songwriters and our culture. Because the current status quo doesn’t benefit anyone, regardless of gender identity, as we all miss out on untapped and underappreciated talent.

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