The Recording Academy has named Harvey Mason Jr. its new president/CEO after the producer served in the role on an interim basis for the past 16 months.
The academy opened a search earlier this year, conducted by Heidrick and Struggles, that reached out to more than 100 potential candidates, but clearly decided the right person was already at the helm. Mason, who was also board chair, will not retain that title.
In a joint statement, search committee co-chairs John Burk and Leslie Ann Jones said: “We are delighted that Harvey will remain at the helm and continue to steer the organization through this pivotal time. As we journeyed deeper into our extensive search, it became clear that the best person for the job was Harvey. We are immensely impressed by the remarkable work he has done during his interim tenure and look forward to the continued evolution of the Academy under his effective, results-driven leadership.”
“There is nothing more rewarding than having the trust and respect of your colleagues and peers,” Mason Jr. added. “I am honored to have been appointed to continue to lead the Recording Academy on our transformative journey. While I had not initially expected to be in this position, I remain deeply invested in the success of the organization and am motivated to help us achieve our greatest ambitions. I will serve humbly with a steadfast commitment to building a more inclusive, responsive and relevant Academy.”
Under Mason Jr., the academy has undergone dramatic changes since it officially terminated former president/CEO Deborah Dugan on March 2, 2020, after she had been placed on administrative leave six weeks earlier. She and the Recording Academy are in arbitration over her dismissal. Mason had been a leading contender for the role during the 2019 job search when Dugan, who only served five months, was selected. Dugan took over from longtime president/CEO Neil Portnow.
In April last year, the academy hired Valeisha Butterfield Jones as its first chief diversity, equity and inclusion officer. And then in September, it formed the Black Music Collective, which includes a number of prominent Black music creators and professionals with “the common goal of amplifying Black voices within the Academy.”
More recently, on April 30, the Recording Academy announced the trustees voted to disband the nominations review committees in general and genre fields for the Grammy Awards. As of this year’s awards, the committees had the final say in determining the nominees in 59 of the 84 categories (two new categories were added in the same trustees meeting to bring the total to 86 categories). The reviews committees began in 1989 with the classical categories and was slowly adopted across many genre categories and the general fields over the years. Grammy voters will now determine the finalists in all but the craft categories, which will continue to use committees.
“I want to commend the search committee and our partners at Heidrick and Struggles for orchestrating a robust and exhaustive search for our next President and CEO,” said Tammy Hurt, vice chair of the Recording Academy. “I am not surprised that they faced a significant challenge in finding candidates that would meet the standard that has been set by Harvey during these past 16 months. He has led the Academy through one of the most difficult periods in our history. As a music creator himself, he has provided hope, inspiration and a vision for the future that we are well on our way to achieving. We are all thrilled that he has agreed to become our permanent CEO and will continue to lead us into the future.”
Mason comes to the position as a past Grammy nominee himself, including for his work on Jesus Christ Superstar:Live in Concert for best musical theater album in 2019. He is best known as a producer and songwriter who has collaborated with such artists as Aretha Franklin, Beyonce, Michael Jackson, Whitney Houston, Justin Timberlake, Ariana Grande and Mariah Carey.
He currently serves as executive music producer for NBC’s Zoey’s Extraordinary Playlist and is the producer for Respect, the Franklin biopic starring Jennifer Hudson, out Aug. 13.