John Legend made a poignant statement about the power of music at the Black Music Collective's first-ever Recording Academy Honors — sponsored by Binance, IBM, Mastercard, Hilton, Grey Goose Vodka, and Amazon Music. On April 2, the 12-time Grammy-winning musician and Recording Academy trustee received the inaugural global impact award for his many career achievements ahead of this year's Grammy Awards.
In a room full of his industry peers and today's biggest music stars, Legend was celebrated alongside other honorees like DJ D-Nice, MC Lyte, Rigo "Riggs" Morales, and Black-owned record label Love Renaissance (aka LVRN). The event included remarkable performances from Summer Walker, Muni Long, Cordae, Jimmie Allen, and Chlöe, all honoring the night's awardees.
"Black music is, and has been, the rhythm, the root, the inspiration, [and] the innovation behind so much of the world's popular music."
In his acceptance speech, Legend gave flowers to the many Black artists who have made an incredible impact on pop culture through their music. "I'm proud to celebrate, honor, and cultivate our music, because Black music is, and has been, the rhythm, the root, the inspiration, [and] the innovation behind so much of the world's popular music — it doesn't exist without us," he declared on Saturday night. "We've been so blessed to be part of that tradition; to be Black music makers — that's something worth celebrating [and] something worth being proud of."
Legend went on to quote the late novelist and activist James Baldwin, stating, "Artists are here to disturb the peace." He added: "As we talk about global impact, we have to uplift that dominant strain in Black music . . . with our art, and through our art, we can move the world." Legend also emphasized Black music's influence in helping "movements find their footing," assisting activists in leading "the way forward to equality and opportunity," and aiding us all in imagining "a better future."
The singer concluded his speech by thanking the Recording Academy and his team before leaving the audience with a sound message to reflect on. "I am so grateful for moments like this," Legend said. "Not because of what they say about me and my journey, but because of what they say about our journey; about our work, our struggle, and all the things that we can achieve together. In that spirit, in recognition of all that artists can do in service of justice and love, I humbly accept this honor."