Kline — who recently scored her first major hit as a sole producer for Tenille Arts’ “Somebody Like That,” which peaked at No. 3 on Billboard’s Country Airplay chart — is far from the only producer making strides — and history. In June, WondaGurl — the Toronto native who has worked with Mariah Carey, Travis Scott, Drake and countless others — became the first Black woman to win producer of the year in the 50 year history of Canada’s Juno Awards. She followed the win with a partnership deal with Red Bull Records for her label imprint, Wonderchild. Lazar, for her part, says “I've had quite a few ceiling-breaking moments” — from becoming the first woman mastering engineer nominated for record of the year (Sia’s “Chandelier”) to the first woman mastering engineer to win best engineered album, non-classical (Beck’s Colors). But, she adds, each time someone described those feats in terms of gender, “it ended up oddly discounting the achievement.” Which is why this year, when three projects she worked on all scored album of the year Grammy nominations (Coldplay’s Everyday Life, Jacob Collier’s Djesse Vol.3 and Haim’s Women In Music Pt. III) — a first for any mastering engineer — she could only describe the feeling as “boggling.” She says, “It wasn't about gender anymore, it wasn't about male or female. I was the first person.”
And ultimately, for these top producers, that’s what it all comes down to: unbiased respect. As TRAKGIRL says, “What we’re pursuing, it’s bigger than me and my career.” It’s a sentiment echoed by Lazar, who adds: “We’ve been able to help create pathways and a support network and avenues for people to fight their way through this — and I couldn’t ask for more.”
Although, she adds, she actually could: “More money, more support, more employment opportunities. More and more and more. We need it.”
A version of this article originally appeared in the July 17, 2021 issue of Billboard.