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A Grammy Conversation: The State of R&B (Part 2)

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

The evening was hosted by Quddus and 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.

Many issues and topics were brought up for discussion including: 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 the second clip from the lengthy discussion LaShawn Daniels kept it real as he talked about the issues within certain record labels and the disconnect between what’s good for creative and what’s good for marketing. He used John Legend’s “All of Me” as an example of how labels are now often chasing records instead of putting real belief behind them. He spoke about the successful planning Motown did with their big artists and their up and comers, saying Jimmy Iovine at Interscope was also successful in doing that. But, his main point was that the song comes first and that he can not alienate what kids are doing today, or using to make their music, if that is what is getting a response from their peers.

Liv Warfield shared her story as an independent artist trying to break into the industry and the flip-flopping responses she was hearing from labels. She posed 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 chimed in with their views on being independent artists and how at the end of the day they need to stay driven at their goals and not let certain aspects of the industry derail them.

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