Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis honored at Grammys on the Hill Awards
WASHINGTON, DC — The Grammys may have happened earlier this month, but there are still trophies to be handed out.
R&B songwriting duo Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis were honored on Wednesday for defining the sound of pop music over the past 40 years at the Recording Academy’s Grammys on the Hill Awards at The Hamilton. The couple will celebrate 50 years of friendship this year and in half a century they have contributed to more than 100 gold, platinum and diamond albums and written for artists including Usher, Janet Jackson, Mariah Carey and George Michael.
“It’s always an honor to be honored,” Jimmy Jam told USA TODAY. “The Grammys (are) known as a one-night-a-year awards show, and when I was president of the Recording Academy, I always said, ‘It’s the other 364 days of the year that are important.’ “
Watch:Iconic producers Jam & Lewis talk about their first album, in collaboration with Prince
Jimmy Jam added that defending the music was always a priority for the Grammys, noting that being honored at an event where musicians and politicians try to raise awareness about the US Music Fairness Act and other ongoing progress in music policy “couldn’t be better” .
“We are servants of music,” said Terry Lewis, stressing the importance of pay equity for songwriters and producers. “It is very important that we emphasize to those who come behind us that we have a voice and that we must use it to improve their situation and that of those who come behind them.”
The American Music Fairness Act is a bipartisan bill that would require radio stations to pay artists for the songs they play. And it’s a bill that a lot of people at the Grammys on the Hill Awards were pushing for.
Fran Drescher, also present on Wednesday evening, was pushing for the bill, which is now in the House of Representatives, to be sent to the Senate.
“Even the biggest stars, unless they own the copyrights, don’t get paid every time (the song) airs and maybe 50 years ago that made sense , but right now that no longer applies in our time,” Drescher, who is currently the president of SAG-AFTRA, told USA TODAY.
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The ‘The Nanny’ star noted that as an actress, whenever she works on a project, she gets paid when it airs and that right should also be extended to musicians, songwriters, producers and other players in the music industry.
“‘Uptown Funk’ is the most played song in radio history and all those people who were involved in creating it that day don’t see a dime of it,” Drescher said. “The idea of using any type of intellectual property and not paying for it seems very outdated.”
Congressmen Ted Deutch (D-FL) and Michael McCaul (R-TX) were also honored Wednesday for their support of the American Music Fairness Act and the Help Independent Tracks Succeed Act, respectively.
Wednesday’s event also featured rapper Cordae who joked that one of the reasons he was at the Grammys on the Hill was simply because “it’s convenient” since he lives in town.
In addition to his closeness to the event, Cordae told USA TODAY that he is a supporter of those in positions of power using their influence to defend the rights of artists.
The “From a Birds Eye View” artist is no stranger to doing the right thing. Last year, the rapper donated his proceeds from “Liberated: Music for the Movement Volume 3” to scholarships for HBCU students.
“When you get blessings, you have to be a blessing to others. That’s how the world works…everyone teaches,” Cordae said.