UK independent and major record labels association the BPI is delighted to announce that the latest in its series of BPI Equality Sessions will take place on Wednesday, 20th October (4pm– 6pm) and will honour Black History Month.
To register for free attendance please click here.
This virtual event will acknowledge and celebrate the work and changes made to date across the music community to promote greater diversity and inclusion following the industry’s Black Out Tuesday response to the death of George Floyd in June 2020.
Chaired by BPI COO MJ Olaore, the event will comprise two panels: Creating A Culture of Equity and Inclusion in Record Labels followed by panel two – Changemakers: Moving the Needle on Equity & Diversity. In between there will be an interview by BPI EJAG member Sharon Brooks of recording artist Jords, who will discuss his free school uniform initiative. See further details below.
All the panel speakers will be invited to discuss their work and initiatives to date, and also reflect on the successes, continuing challenges and any changes they've been encouraged by, as well as sharing actionable insights with attendees.
The BPI Equality Sessions aim to shine a light on individuals and initiatives that are making a difference in their fields and are paving the way for new generations to thrive in a more diverse and inclusive music business. Sessions to date have taken Women in the Music Industry and Celebrating Pride as their themes.
Discussion Panel: Creating a Culture of Equity and Inclusion in Record Labels
Full details incl. bios will be announced in due course, but speakers confirmed to date include:
- Reni Adadevoh, Vice President, Legal and Business Affairs at Warner Music International and Co-Chair of their Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic employee resource group
- Caeshia St Paul, Marketing Manager for BMG
Interview with recording artist Jords, discussing his free school uniform initiative
Sharon Brooks will be interviewing Jords, who performed the song Black & Ready to critical acclaim in support of Black Lives Matter. He has been an advocate for Black history to be included in the School Curriculum and launched the free school uniform initiative. See Jords’ bio in Notes.
Discussion Panel: Changemakers: Moving the Needle on Equity & Diversity
- Sharon Brooks, Owner/Media Consultant – Swiss Media UK
- Ammo Talwar MBE, CEO Punch Records, Chair UK Music Diversity Taskforce, BPI Council Member
- MJ Olaore, Chief Operating Officer BPI
- Sheryl Nwosu, Barrister and Chairperson, Black Music Coalition
- Yaw Owusu, Director & Executive Manager, The Playmaker Group & Senior Manager, Power Up (PRS Foundation)
- See Notes for speaker biographies
Notes to Editors
Jordan Edwards-Wilks, more recognisable by his stage name Jords, is known for his smooth hybrid of hip-hop, R&B and poetry. Tracking from his first release in 2016 to the tender 2020 project ‘Almost An Adult’ all the way through to what he’s making now, growth and exploration are at the very heart of Jords’ music. During this journey he’s gained support from Annie Mac, DJ Target, Mistajam, Mim Shaikh, Yasmin Evans, Twin B, Julie Adenuga and Dotty, as well as widespread praise from press: CLASH, Complex UK, Dummy Mag, GUAP, Nation of Billions, NME.COM, TRENCH, RWD, GRM Daily, Link Up and many more.
Celebrating Black culture in full technicolour is vital to Jords’ artistry. He admits, “to be honest I don’t know how not to; I’m celebrating everything that I am.” During his recent COLORS performance of his song ‘Rice & P’s’ he flows effortlessly, ‘back roads singing, trap phone ringing, skin colour made it all so different, pandemic wasn’t in the 2020 vision.’
With new music on the way, Jords is ready to set the tone with his first release of the year. ‘Enemies’ is a blend of Jords’ love of funky house, Kaytranada and old school DJ sets, tapping into his own nostalgia. On the track, he, Masego and UK rapper Kadiata converge to cure negativity with kindness. Following up a sold-out show in Notting Hills Arts Club and a performance at Ends Festival, Jords is back this year for a headline show at Colours Hoxton in October 26th. 2021 is sure to be a momentous year for Jords!
Sharon Brooks, Owner/Media Consultant – Swiss Media UK
Sharon's eclectic experience spans almost two decades in the music industry, from hosting club events in the west end, marketing and promotion to recording, acquiring and licensing musical copyright repertoire across the globe.
Working as music promoter from the late 90’s at Singleminded Promotions, she saw a string of specialist dance acts, DJ’s and producers achieve chart topping releases, including number 1 hits from General Levy’s’ ‘Incredible’ and Shanks & Bigfoot’s ‘Sweet Like Chocolate.’
She is co-founder of independent record label BMP and spearheaded the launch of MAWA/ UNCUT DVD’s International music division and their office in New York where they globally exported and licensed a wealth of musical genres including classic pop, dance, jazz, Cuban and reggae. She also administered their music publishing catalogue and set up their sub-publishing partners across Europe.
Sharon is CEO of Swiss Media UK a bespoke coaching and content marketing consultancy where she also provides Neighbouring Rights management for reggae company Free World Music. She is passionate about supporting budding female entrepreneurs and is Ambassador for private members club Albright, which focuses on creating opportunities for women wanting to enhance their professional career and/or start a business.
Her social conscious work sees her chair non-profit organisation, Black Thrives’- grant making employment project which recently distributed £300K of funding to initiatives and charities that support people of colour with disabilities find work. She is a certified Mental Health First Aider, Diversity Advocate and a member of the BPI - Equity and Justice Advisory Group.
Ammo Talwar MBE, CEO Punch Records, Chair UK Music Diversity Taskforce, BPI Council Member
Ammo started life selling vinyl at his specialist record shop, which became a local hub for DJs and artists. His leadership and vision built the company into an award-winning music agency; working internationally and in partnership with leading private and public sector companies to support music and innovation. He received an MBE for contributions to music.
A recipient of the International Cultural leadership award, Ammo’s professional acumen is in demand by organisations facing both new business opportunities and challenges. Currently Chairman of UK Music Diversity Taskforce he recently helped shape and lead on the innovative 10 Point Plan to rebalance the UK diversity deficit - A major music industry intervention to drive change, with accountability, metrics and audit. He also has two dogs, Sydney and Lenny the lurcher.
MJ Olaore, Chief Operating Officer BPI
MJ Olaore is BPI’s Chief Operating Officer, where she oversees day-to-day operational and financial affairs, plus development of its commercial activities, as well as leading on all Diversity, Equality and Inclusion initiatives.
MJ grew up in Nigeria and Scotland, and studied law at Liverpool University before taking on her first role at Price Waterhouse in London. MJ has since gone on to develop a distinguished and successful career in broadcast media and entertainment, rising to senior management positions at London News Radio, Virgin Radio and its successor Absolute Radio, all the while developing a broad range of skills across advertising and sales, IT, broadcast engineering, facilities, legal, strategy and research, finance, and operations. Prior to joining the BPI, MJ served as Chief Operating Officer at leading independent market research company Firefish, where she was instrumental in managing its growth from a single UK entity to an eight-company group, with businesses in the USA, Singapore and the Netherlands.
MJ has recently been inducted into the Music Week Women in Music Roll of Honour recognising her work to promote Diversity, Equity & Inclusion and on industry sustainability.
Sheryl Nwosu - Barrister and Chairperson, Black Music Coalition
Sheryl Nwosu is a practising lawyer (Barrister) and the first Chairperson of the Black Music Coalition, an organisation created in June 2020 to tackle direct and indirect racism affecting the careers and progression of Black music executives in the UK Music Industry; readily understanding and supporting all the aims of the Coalition from its inception, as well as chairing, Sheryl plays a proactive role with the executive committee of the organisation formulating and executing the strategy and long-term objectives of the organisation.
She is a vocal advocate on issues of racial equality, equity, inclusion and diversity in all areas of her professional life; as a lawyer she employs her critical awareness of issues of racial inequality within the Criminal Justice System, maintaining an intersectional perspective on how race, background and gender can impact the experience of individuals in the justice system. She is the senior Equality, Diversity and Inclusion (ED&I) officer within her chambers (25 Bedford Row) and a member of the Race Equality, Inclusion & Anti-Racism working group at her Inn. In both the legal profession and the music industry Sheryl is actively working to address issues such as the barriers to entry, lack of promotion and failure to retain people from a non-white background as well seeking to confront and eradicate some of the hostile experiences people from a non-white background experience in their professional lives.
Yaw Owusu – Director & Executive Manager, The Playmaker Group & Senior Manager, Power Up (PRS Foundation)
Yaw is a Director and Executive Manager of The Playmaker Group where his prime activities include creative consultancy, talent development and content creation. He has consulted on a number of key music projects, working with the likes of MTV, BET, Liverpool International Music Festival (LIMF), Nike, BBC Radio 1 Academy, MOBO, The Fader, Jockey Club Live and Levi’s amongst many others. Yaw has also produced acclaimed radio documentaries for outlets such as BBC Radio 1 & 1Xtra, BBC Radio 4 and The World Service, and worked on various music campaigns for artists ranging from music pioneers such as Wiley (A-List Records) and Damian Marley, to dynamic creatives Yuna, Shakka and Jesse Boykins III to grassroots emerging artists like XamVolo and Sub Blue. He is also co-founder, alongside partners Seani B and Ray Paul, of BrukOut Entertainment, a joint venture Record Label with Universal.
In 2020, Yaw started working with PRS Foundation as Programme Consultant to build POWER UP, a new and pioneering initiative aiming to power up Black music creators and executives as part PRS Foundation’s actions following Black Lives Matter movement conversations. He was appointed to the Senior Management role in December 2020 to run the new initiative and integrate the programme learnings and actions across the organisation. Yaw is a member of the Liverpool City Region Music Board and is one of the leads of the Liverpool City Region Black Music Action Group also.