The organization, formed last year in the wake of a racial reckoning in the music industry, was created to “advocate on behalf of Black artists, songwriters, producers, managers, agents, executives, lawyers, and other passionate industry professionals.” The Weeknd, who has done philanthropic work for Black Lives Matter and MusicCares, among other organizations, was the co-recipient of The Quincy Jones Humanitarian Award.
“I first met Quincy Jones in Vegas a long time ago,” he told the crowd. “He pulled up to one of my club shows and when I got off stage, he was waiting on the side and I was so excited to meet him. There were fans on the other side of the stage screaming and trying to get my attention, but I was so focused on him; the reason why I make music. He stopped me and he said, ‘Go take pictures. Sign autographs. And I’ll still be here waiting. They’re just more important.’
“And it stuck with me until this day,” he added. “He was teaching me a lesson that nothing is more important than the people and giving back is always better than receiving.”
H.E.R., Motown chairman and CEO Ethiopia Habtemariam, attorneys Dina LaPolt and Ben Crump, YouTube Music exec Tuma Basa and Live Nation Urban’s Shawn Gee also received awards.