The 2020 ASCAP Rhythm & Soul Music Awards, ASCAP’s fourth virtual awards show this year, included powerful performances, meaningful discussions, uplifting speeches, emotional tributes and a lively after party to top it all off. The three-day celebration across digital platforms created memorable moments while giving fans an intimate glimpse of their favorite songwriters and artists in their homes and studios.
As part of its weekly ASCAP Experience: Home Edition programming, ASCAP also hosted a “Leading Ladies of Publishing A&R” panel discussion featuring women executives from three of its top Rhythm & Soul Music Award-winning publishers: Brandra Ringo (Warner Chappell), Ari Gelaw (UMPG) and Jennifer Drake (Sony/ATV). The three A&R executives shared insights on their roles, speaking about what they look for in a new signing, how they fit into a songwriter’s team, the daily joys and struggles of balancing their career and personal lives, and their experiences as women in a male-driven industry.
Highlights from both events included:
- Words of wisdom from “Leading Ladies of Publishing A&R” on their ASCAP Experience panel: Brandra Ringo (Warner Chappell Music): “You can’t have a plan B, it’s always plan A and go get it;” Ari Gelaw (UMPG): “Trust your process and be a student of the game… Just don’t give up. The people who get there are the people who just didn’t stop;” and Jennifer Drake (Sony/ATV): “Nothing beats the work and fine-tuning your craft. Do it to the best of your ability and then some… Know your craft and make connections in that space.”
- ASCAP Chairman of the Board and President Paul Williams set the stage for this year’s winners with a video introduction, saying “As the world stumbles and tries to pick itself up, we must try to offer hope, and healing, and a vision for a better future. That’s where your music comes in. I believe in my very core that your music has the power to lift our spirits, move hearts and minds and inspire real change. That deserves to be honored and celebrated.”
- Cardi B became the first woman to win ASCAP Rhythm & Soul Music “Songwriter of the Year” for the second straight year.
- ASCAP Rhythm & Soul Music Awards veteran Anthony Brown and group therAPy gave a rousing performance of his winning gospel hit, “Blessings on Blessings.” https://www.
- Singer-songwriter Joelle James unboxing her award for “Boo’d Up,” saying, "Thanks for making this special even though we couldn't be together this year... ASCAP you're the best. You always make me feel special." https://www.
- Singer-songwriter Nicole Bus performing her winning song “You” in a full-circle moment about a year after she opened the 2019 ASCAP Rhythm & Soul Music Awards show with the same song.
- Producer Hitmaka shared an unboxing video for his awards for Meek Mill’s “Dangerous” and A Boogie Wit Da Hoodie’s “Look Back At It.” https://www.instagram.com/p/
- Singer-songwriter and rapper Jeremih unwrapped his award for “Dangerous” and “On Chill” with gratitude: “Another one to add to the wall, big shout out to the ASCAP Awards.”
- Mustard unboxing his awards for co-producing/writing Ella Mai’s “Boo’d Up,” “Shot Clock” and “Trip,” and for his collaboration with Migos on “Pure Water:” “It was an amazing year… Thank you ASCAP, I appreciate you always.” https://www.
- Rapper Petey Pablo accepted his award for “My Type,” thanking Saweetie for the remix (Pablo’s “Freek-a-Leek” was sampled in the #ASCAPAwards-winning track): “It’s all about making great music that lasts a lifetime and taking a masterpiece and creating a new masterpiece… I want to send prayers to all the friends and family and everyone that has been affected by everything that is going on and everyone that is still staying strong and musically creative in a crazy time like this.” https://www.instagram.com/p/
- Singer-songwriter Shanice accepted her award for her contribution to Chris Brown’s “Undecided,” which samples her 1991 hit “I Love Your Smile.” She recalled: "In the ‘90s, that melody brought so much joy to people and in 2020, melodies still put a smile on people's faces."
- Gospel artist JJ Hairston expressed thanks for his award for “Miracle Worker” and shared an urgent message: “We gotta keep making good music because it’s important and it’s necessary in this season.” https://www.instagram.com/p/
- Producer Westen Weiss acknowledged his collaborators in thanks for his Top Rap Song award for “Going Bad” and said: “Also a big shout out to all my peers who also won awards this year — I’m super excited to see all the work you guys have coming...”
- April Daniels, wife of the late LaShawn “Big Shiz” Daniels, posted an unboxing video accepting the award for “Look Back at It” on his behalf. “I love that my husband is still being celebrated today. His legacy continues… it is amazing to see his catalogue of music still changing the world, still affecting the world, still being recognized even beyond his transition.”
- As part of the Awards, ASCAP saluted members of the ASCAP family lost over the past year, including LaShawn "Big Shiz" Daniels, Fred the Godson, Andre Harrell, Bill Withers, Betty Wright, Kobe Bryant and Naya Rivera.
- 2014 ASCAP Founders Award recipient Jermaine Dupri hosted and DJ’d the official Rhythm & Soul Music Awards Instagram Live after party on @jermainedupri on Friday, July 17, sending virtual attendees off in style.