The mission statement found on the opening page of the program guide for Grit Before the Gram: The Soundtrack of Our Solidarity speaks volumes about the inaugural Grammy Week event held Thursday evening: “For generations black women have been the unsung heroes in the music industry. We are the ones working behind the scenes to get shit done. Now for the first time ever, we’ve come together to honor our talent, brilliance and fortitude and celebrate all we’ve accomplished. This night is for us!”
Beyond celebrating, however, Grit Before the Gram also focused on sisterhood, solidarity, reuniting with longtime industry colleagues and building new alliances with next-gen businesswomen. Held at the West Hollywood Edition Hotel on storied Sunset Boulevard, the event was created by Karleen Roy, who is also the founder/CEO of New York-based event production agency The Vanity Group.
“This is long overdue. There has to be one night when the glam squad is for us,” joked Roy as she welcomed a roomful of multi-generational women that took the invitation’s “formal and fabulous” attire theme to heart. During her remarks, Roy also shouted out her Grit support team, dubbed “The Alliance.”
Among the members on hand from that group were Motown president Ethiopia Habtemariam, Roc Nation co-president Shari Bryant, Atlantic exec VP urban promotions Juliette Jones, Interscope exec VP, head of media strategy Cara Donatto, Quality Control artist manager Simone Mitchell, LL Cool J Inc. COO Claudine Joseph, creative director/choreographer Laurianne Gibson and marketing executive Afrika Lander. Among other executives spotted in the room: Empire VP of A&R Tina Davis, Interscope exec VP of urban operations Nicole Wyskoarko, Def Jam senior vp, urban promotion Natina Nimene, Radio One Philadelphia (WPPZ-FM/Classix 107.9) on-air personality Dyana Williams and Recording Academy Los Angeles Chapter exec director Qiana Conley.
The generation-bridging also carried over into the honoree presentations. The Spotlight Award, presented by hair care brand Emerge, saluted seven-time Grammy-nominated songwriter/producer Nija Charles. The 22-year-old is currently a nominee in the best R&B song category for “No Guidance” by Chris Brown featuring Drake. After accepting the honor, Charles said, “I’m grateful. Being a woman — and black — in this industry, it’s hard to prevail. So thank you for this honor.”
Power publicist Yvette Noel-Schure, exec VP/co-founder of Schure Media Group (Beyoncé, Buju Banton, LeAnn Rimes, Julio Iglesias), received the Bridge Award. Following the presentation by Vanessa Anderson, owner/account executive at AM PR Group, Noel-Schure pledged to hearty audience applause, “In a world of hate, I will continue to love. In a world of rudeness and impoliteness, I will continue to be kind. In a world that has developed into thinking that facts do not matter, I will state the truth over and over again. And for the artists who trust me with their narratives, I will continue to fight for them, think out of the box for them and open up once-closed doors to them.”