Grammys on the Hill Awards blends music, politics as artists advocate for creators rights

The music world and the world of politics came together for the annual Grammys on the Hill Awards on April 18, 2018 to honor . Three-time Grammy winners Little Big Town were the night’s musical honoree.  Their latest album debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard Country Albums chart and Top 5 on the Billboard 200 all genre chart.

Grammys on the Hill Awards at the Hamilton
Honorees and attendees celebrate at Grammys on the Hill Awards (Photo credit: Paul Morigi/Wire Image)

As the artists waited for the night to begin, thoughts of creators rights were not far from their mind.

GRAMMY-winning producer and songwriter Rodney “Darkchild” Jerkins felt that progress had been made since last year’s event and hopeful this year would they would see the passage of the Music Modernization Act. “I really want to see royalties where they need to be from a streaming aspect to an album’s selling aspect. It’s unbelievable to see how many streams artists can garnish, and yet not be properly paid. I feel that there are laws that have been around for 6-0-70 years and haven’t changed. I feel you have to evolve. If the whole world can evolve, then why not the music industry.” Jerkins also lamented the fact that many veteran artists have to tour as they grow older just to make a living.

Rodney Jerkins at Grammys on the Hill 2018
Rodney Jerkins (Photo credit: Paul Morigi/Wire Image)

GRAMMY-nominated contemporary Christian artist Danny Gokey shared the impact that the current state of artists rights had impacted his touring. “I want to do more in my shows, I want to bring out more, but there’s limited budgets because of the way that the model is set have to bring down, sugarcoat the shows, so to speak. I want to put more into my music, more into my albums.” Gokey’s wife, Leyicet shared how she and their children are not able to go on the road often with her husband due to the tight budgets. The singer agreed, “It really is the bottom line. You shouldn’t have to choose to do music or family.”

Danny Gokey and his wife, Leyicet. (Photo credit: Alicia Butler-Adams)

Similar sentiments were echoed throughout the evening by artists, including keyboardist Ben Tanner of GRAMMY-winning blues rock band Alabama Shakes and 14-time GRAMMY-winning singer and producer Jerry Douglas, who performed the National Anthem at the start of the show.

Jerry Douglas at Grammys on the Hill Awards
Jerry Douglas performs the Star-Spangled Banner (Photo credit: Paul Morigi/Wire Images)

Latin GRAMMY®-winning singer/songwriter Erika Ender, co-writer of “Despacito”; wowed the room with her stylized version of the song. Earlier in the evening, Ender spoke about the need for artists rights, “The current access to music is amazing, but at the same time we need to get paid. It’s like going to work everyday and not getting paid so I think that’s the most important part that the whole industry has gotten united; engineers, producers, songwriters, artists to make the change to reform it so that we could get compensated the way we deserve. Music is magic, and I think it needs to be compensated the right way.”

Erika Ender sings Depacito
Erika Ender sings ‘Depacito’  during Grammys on the Hill Awards (Photo credit: Paul Morigi/Wire Image)

At the end of the Grammys on the Hill Awards, many of the lawmakers, including Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), took to the stage, to celebrate with Little Big Town as they sang, “Boondocks. During the night the group sang, “Better Man.”

Little Big Town Grammys on the Hill finale
Little Big Town joined by lawmakers (Photo credit: Paul Morigi/Wire Images)

On Thursday, the artists will embark on advocacy outreach on Capitol Hill to push for the Music Modernization Act, which would be the biggest update to music law in 40 years. Last week, the legislation passed the House Judiciary Committee with bipartisan support. Two of the of the bill’s main supporters are Rep. Judy Chu (D-Calif.) and Rep. Doug Collins (R-Georgia), were honored by the Recording Academy. Rep. Collins introduced the first installment of the Music Modernization Act.

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