Recording Artists and Music Professionals With Disabilities (RAMPD), an organization that advocates for disability inclusion and access in the mainstream music industry, will officially launch on Friday (Jan. 21) with a virtual, pre-recorded event at the Grammy Museum Experience Prudential Center in Newark, New Jersey.
The event, which is being livestreamed on YouTube at 5 p.m ET on Friday, is set to be hosted by RAMPD founder and president Lachi, a blind, Black singer-songwriter who also co-chairs the Grammy Advocacy committee for the Recording Academy’s New York chapter. Performers tapped for the event include Adrian Anantawan, Eliza Hull, Aoede, Tabi and Ryan Gooche Nelson.
Founded in May 2021, RAMPD has already met with leaders from top music companies and non-profits and is fostering partnerships with the Recording Academy, WomenInMusic.org, NIVA and more.
Among other initiatives, the organization recently partnered with the NYC Mayor’s Office of Media and Entertainment, the Music Inclusion Coalition and Blonde Records to make the first-ever WAVY Awards – which celebrates “historically excluded artists, such as women, non-binary, LGBTQ+, BIPOC, and artists who identify as having disabilities,” according to its official website – inclusive. One way the ceremony did this was by integrating “self-descriptions,” which entails visual descriptions of the show and its participants being added as audio for the benefit of blind and visually impaired attendees.
One of RAMPD’s stated goals is to make accessibility ramps visible on TV during award shows to help normalize disability in the entertainment industry. Other current projects include RAMPD Stamp (“helping venues go beyond compliance”) and AIMS (“making music awards shows fully accessible”).
RAMPD, which is fiscally sponsored by Accessible Festivals, is minority/woman led; Lachi is joined on the leadership team by singer-songwriter/violinist Gaelynn Lea (co-founder/vp), Andrea Jennings (secretary), pop R&B singer-songwriter Precious Perez (membership chair) and singer-songwriter Tabi Haley (PR/chair).
A RAMPD one-sheet states that the organization believes disability is a natural form of human diversity and notes that 1 in 4 Americans will experience disability at some point in their lifetimes. The organization “is working to shift how artists with disabilities are perceived in the music industry — moving away from inspirational tokenism, and towards competent and competitive professionals who deserve respect and recognition in their chosen field,” the one-sheet continues.
RAMPD is also committed to elevating what it calls “disability culture,” defined as “a celebration of people who identify as disabled, while acknowledging the vast diversity of the disability experience and each person’s inherent and equal worth. It is unapologetic, creative, innovative, adaptable, imaginative, and rooted in problem-solving. It is based on the premise that disability needs to be seen, respected, included and celebrated. It includes our worldviews, our perspectives, our contributions, our art, our words, and our music. Disability Culture, at least in part, is a vibrant and thriving counter-response to the exclusion, marginalization, and oppression historically and currently experienced by many disabled individuals.”
Interested music professionals, recording artists and allies are encouraged to sign up to join the RAMPD mailing list and receive free community membership. Disabled individuals who join the mailing list will receive a notification of professional membership once the application process opens. Music companies and organizations looking to help amplify RAMPD’s mission can email firstname.lastname@example.org about potential partnerships.