By: Philtrina Farquharson, Contributing Writer

The Black Music Action Coalition (BMAC) started in 2020 after an unfortunate series of racial injustices unfolded throughout the country. This advocacy organization consists of notable music industry executives, attorneys, and business moguls who joined forces to bring about change in the world and within the music industry. 

Since its inception, the BMAC Board and Executive Leadership Council (ELC) have launched a COVID Relief Fund for Black creatives and industry professionals, partnered with #BreathWithMe and produced a PSA demanding Racial and Economic Justice, and released the first Music Industry Report Card. 

 This past weekend, BMAC held its second annual Music in Action gala at The Beverly Hilton. The event commemorated artists, executives, businesses, entrepreneurs, activists, and companies that utilized their platforms to effect social change over the past year. 

“I came here to celebrate Black people, Black art, and most importantly, the mission to protect Black art and protect ourselves,” said Kevin Liles, honoree, Co-founder, and CEO of 300 Records. Co-hosted by singer and Bel-Air actress Coco Jones and Kenny Burns, entertainment/lifestyle/culture figure, the evening brought together more than double the guests as the inaugural year and was a memorable event for all. 

(L) Kevin Liles (CEO of 300 Elektra Entertainment)recipient of the BMAC Social Impact Award with (R) award presenter Anthony Anderson (Actor). (Photo Credit: Getty Images for Black Music Action Coalition)

The gala kicked off with a moving speech by Willie “Prophet” Stiggers explaining why this much-needed initiative was put into action. “We knew that if there wasn’t an organization that would hold each other accountable, it would fall upon deaf ears… What we are experiencing tonight are individuals who decided to use their platform to go one step further.”, said Stiggers activist and co-founder of BMAC. 

Guests were then delighted with the soulful sounds of quartet WanMor, the first artists to be signed to Mary J. Blige’s new label, Beautiful Life Productions, and 300 Entertainment. “It’s a blessing to be signed to 300 Entertainment. “What a great feeling to have released our first song last week and It is doing very well. We are honored to be here and walk the Black carpet among icons,” said the quartet collectively. 

The most anticipated award of the night went to Rapper Lil Baby who was honored with the Quincy Jones Humanitarian Award. This award recognized Lil Baby’s work in his community through his Back to School Fest in Atlanta which provided over 3000 children with backpacks, school supplies, and haircuts. In addition to this outreach event, Lil Baby established a $150,000 scholarship entitled “My Turn” at his former high school to give less fortunate children an opportunity to attend college. As he accepted his award, In his speech he emphasized the importance of unity saying, “It’s going to take all of us to stick together and stay together.”

Bringing the crowd to their feet with a standing ovation in awe, honoree Brittany K. Barnett moved the crowd with her criminal justice work. She quit her job as a corporate lawyer to take a case surrounding a Black man who was confirmed to serve 16 life sentences for a non-violent drug offense. Barnett reflected on how it felt to be honored and invited, “I am so grateful and humble. This honor is an incredible feeling for people who are giants to me to be honored amongst them. Alot of times our work is behind the scenes, but it is a time to be celebrated”.

BEVERLY HILLS, CALIFORNIA – SEPTEMBER 22: (L-R) Hosts Kenny Burns and Coco Jones attend the Black Music Action Coalition Second Annual Music in Action Awards Gala at The Beverly Hilton on September 22, 2022 in Beverly Hills, California. (Photo by Leon Bennett/Getty Images for Black Music Action Coalition )

Additional 2022 BMAC Honorees Included

  • Jon “Big Jon” Platt (Chairman and CEO of Sony Music Publishing) – Clarence Avant Trailblazer Award
  • Kevin Liles (CEO of 300 Elektra Entertainment) – BMAC Social Impact Award
  • Amazon Music (Tim Hinshaw, Rochelle Balogun, Josh Beas & Sierra Lever) – BMAC Social Impact Award
  • The Recording Academy (CEO Harvey Mason Jr. and Co-Presidents Valeisha Butterfield Jones & Panos A. Panay) – BMAC Social Impact Award
  • Nikole Hannah-Jones (Journalist), Brittany K. Barnett (Attorney and Author) & Joi Brown (Founder of Culture Creators) – BMAC Change Agent Award
  • Congresswoman Maxine Waters – BMAC Icon Award
  • David Ali (Music Manager) – BMAC BLACK: Future. Now. Award
  • Shirley Halperin (Variety’s Executive Editor of Music) – BMAC 365 Award
  • Gail Mitchell (Billboard’s Executive Director, R&B/Hip-Hop) – BMAC 365 Award

Reflecting on how this initiative started which was built off of the anger and outrage of the preventable death of George Floyd, and seeing all of the positive progress that has been made for the Black community it shows that our community can come together and turn a negative into positive supporting Black generations to come.

To learn more about upcoming BMAC initiatives, you can visit https://www.bmacoalition.org/initiatives