On the heels of the Recording Academy’s First Annual Block Party for Washington, DC Members, FamousDC had the opportunity for an exclusive interview with Jeriel Johnson the DC Chapter’s Executive Director to talk events, music, and organizational goals. FamousDC will be on the Red Carpet at tomorrow’s event.
Tell us a little bit about the Washington, DC Chapter of The Recording Academy. What is the mission and goals of the organization? How does it relate to the Grammy’s and the national Recording Academy?
I think it’s important to mention that the Washington, D.C. Chapter of the Academy is comprised of D.C., Maryland, Virginia, and West Virginia so we cover a pretty wide territory. Our goal is to create innovative and substantive career development programming for music creators and professionals in our market. We’re constantly looking for the brightest talent in the area, seeking to support their music careers and engage them in our programs. The bulk of our events are geared towards members, so it’s rare that our events are open to the public, but we also try to make sure the community is aware of our work on behalf of the artist community, so there’s a balance. We are one of the 12 Chapters in the organization that make up the Recording Academy, and our voting members are the people who ultimately vote to decide the GRAMMY nominees and winners.
In your role as Executive Director, what are your upcoming plans for the organization? Do you have any events or artists appearances in the works?
My focus for the last several months has been our first ever D.C. Chapter Block Party which is happening on Friday, May 10th at City Winery DC. We have a really exciting night planned for our members and their guests with performances by DRAM, Rare Essence, Kevin Ross, Chaz French, Angelica Garcia, MAKUTA, with a special appearance by Wale. It’s going to be an amazing night. A lot of planning has gone into the event, and I know our members will have a great night. That will make it all worth it.
How would you describe the DC music scene? What local artists and/or venues are your personal favorites?
I would describe the DC music scene as resilient. This community has faced a lot of adversity with so many changes to the city over the last few years. We’ve been able to witness the strength of the musicians and music advocates in the community through things like the #DontMuteDC movement and the opposition to the Amplified Noise Amendment Act in 2018. I speak on behalf of the D.C. Chapter when I say that we’re proud to stand alongside the incredible work that is being done to preserve the cultural fabric of D.C., which is music.
You have held roles at Disney, Warner Bros. Records, and NBCUniversal and have had an exemplary career in the music industry. We heard you started playing drums at the age of 2 and went on tour at 15. Is that true? Also, what advice do you have for people looking to have a similar career?
Yes, I started playing drums at a very young age. That classic story of the kid banging on pots and pans was me. I was very fortunate to have some great mentors, teachers, and peers along the way who really challenged me to grow into a complete musician. For me, I try not to give blanket music industry advice, because there’s really no one path better than the other when it comes to a career in music. But what I will say is never underestimate anyone. Be friendly to everyone (from the CEO to the janitor), do your research, and do your best to remember names. Remembering someone’s name (who may have forgotten yours) can go a long way.
What are the top 5 songs that you are listening to right now?
This is a tough one, but in no particular order:
ABOUT THE RECORDING ACADEMY
The Recording Academy represents the voices of performers, songwriters, producers, engineers, and all music professionals. Dedicated to ensuring the recording arts remain a thriving part of our shared cultural heritage, the Academy honors music’s history while investing in its future through the GRAMMY Museum®, advocates on behalf of music creators, supports music people in times of need through MusiCares®, and celebrates artistic excellence through the GRAMMY Awards®—music’s only peer-recognized accolade and highest achievement. As the world’s leading society of music professionals, we work year-round to foster a more inspiring world for creators.
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