Exclusive: The Recording Academy’s Shannon Sanders and Alicia Warwick

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Inside the two-story building that houses the office of the Recording Academy’s Nashville Chapter, preparations are in full swing, leading up to the 58th annual Grammy Awards on Monday,  Feb. 15.

Nashville Chapter President Shannon Sanders and Executive Director Alicia Warwick are enthusiastic while speaking about the importance of the Grammy Awards, The Recording Academy’s focus on advocacy for creators, and the value of Academy membership during a sit-down interview with MusicRow.

For the full interview, purchase a copy of MusicRow’s 2016 CountryBreakout Awards issue, or subscribe to receive your free copy.

A producer, songwriter, arranger, vocalist and musician, Sanders has crafted notable sounds for an array of artists, including India.Arie, Eric Benet, Jonny Lang, John Legend, and others. Among his honors are two Grammy Awards, two Emmy Awards, and a Dove Award. During the conversation with MusicRow, Sanders points out that he is the first African-American president of The Recording Academy’s Nashville chapter.

“That honestly has been a big deal in the black community in Nashville,” he says. “They are very proud of that. So, I think more than anything it speaks to the diversity of our city and music community. I lead from my heart, I write from my heart, and anything I do, I give it my all. I’m in it for all the right reasons. Whatever I can do, whatever I have access to, I want to make available to the academy. I plan on being part of this organization for my entire career.”

Warwick joined the Recording Academy in 2006, and climbed the ranks to become the Nashville Chapter’s Executive Director. Warwick previously worked as NSAI’s Nashville membership director, and interned at Zomba Music, working under Neil Portnow, who is now Recording Academy President and CEO. Warwick is a 2014 graduate of Leadership Music.

Speaking about the diversity of Nashville’s music community, Warwick notes, “We’re so proud and aware of the importance of country music in Nashville from the foundation it sets in so many ways, but there are so many other genres that have set a foundation and that are here. I think we know how pivotal this moment is for us in Nashville. We consistently try to connect multiple times a week and it feels like now is the moment. Something’s brewing.”

The Recording Academy’s Nashville chapter is also highly involved in Grammy U, which provides professional development and experiences to full-time college students pursuing a career in the music industry. Sanders states that Nashville has the largest Grammy U membership of any chapter, describing them as “awesome and super active.”

Warwick agrees, adding, “They are so on top of the industry and uber-aware of the issues the industry is facing. When we do a Grammy U soundcheck, these high-level artists come in and the students ask the most perfect questions. Also we provide advocacy efforts and networking opportunities. We want to provide our members with those tools to be able to sustain their careers.”

Warwick also emphasizes the advocacy efforts that are part of Grammys on the Hill, an initiative that allows intimate interaction with lawmakers, allowing concerns of the music community to be heard.

“It’s a chance to see our music creators from throughout the country. That’s a favorite for many members because it’s a tangible meeting,” she says. “Being right there in front of them in D.C. has energy about it that you can’t describe. Music is energy. Sometimes creators can shy away from talking about their careers, but yet they convey their message so effortlessly.”

Sanders offers, “Advocacy in some ways is even more important to us. Unity is our power. The strength in numbers is our power, that’s why we stress membership. If you are a part of us, you are lending your voice to ours and it’s that much louder.”

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About the Author

Jessica Nicholson serves as the Managing Editor for MusicRow magazine. Her previous music journalism experience includes work with Country Weekly magazine and Contemporary Christian Music (CCM) magazine. She holds a BBA degree in Music Business and Marketing from Belmont University. She welcomes your feedback at [email protected]

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