Last night, the 4th Annual ASCAP Women Behind the Music Series was held in New York. Honorees this year included DJ and BLACK GIRLS ROCK! Inc. Founder Beverly Bond, Island/Def Jam Music Group Vice President of Business & Legal Affairs Nicole Wyskoarko and Universal Music Publishing Senior Vice President and Co-Head of East Coast Operations Jessica Rivera. The evening was moderated by ASCAP Vice President, Membership – Rhythm & Soul Nicole George, with music by DJ Fame Cohen. Sterling Simms performed on this evening and did a special rendition of Same Cooke’s “A Change is Gonna Come”. We also got a chance to chat with each of the evening’s honorees who shared with us some insight into their careers.

Jessica Rivera, who discussed during the evening about how she got her start in the industry through a chance meeting with Q-Tip while working as a recording studio receptionist, shared with us her role in finding talent at Universal Music. “We have an amazing roster and we’re always building the roster with new talent. That’s something we pride ourselves on”, said Rivera. “I remember when we signed Keri Hilson as this young songwriter, and all of the sudden she became a huge artist and not just a songwriter. We pride ourselves on really recognizing talent because I love the talent and giving them the attention they deserve.”

Many don’t realize the impact that law has on the music industry, but it’s importance cannot be denied. Nicole Wyskoarko shared with us: “In a lot of ways, law is very important in what’s going on in music today. Law encompasses all of the digital environment, because there are so many new ways of exploiting music.” Wyskoarko went on to add “Lawyers are the ones who kinda come in and set the boundaries for how music is going to be exploited, how the writers and artists are going to earn money. Then if you look at an album, there are so many rights involved, you’ve got to get the samples cleared and things like that.”

At this point, almost everyone is familiar with “Black Girls Rock!!”, but not many realize the hard work and dedication of its founder Beverly Bond. Even with its worldwide success now, she always believed in herself. “I believed in my dream. It’s been overwhelming how the response has been so positive from all over the world. That can be a great thing, but sometimes you have to take a moment to breathe and say “Wow”. I look at it as my responsibility. I’m very fortunate to be able to be in a position to make a difference.”

Finally, ASCAP Vice President, Membership – Rhythm & Soul Nicole George discussed with us the original vision for the event and how they’ve been able to carry it on through the years. “We created this event to celebrate the accomplishments of women behind the music. I’m excited to have been able to continue to celebrate the amazing contributions that they’ve made. Myself and my team really just kinda brainstorm and think about who’s making an impact. Who does the public need to know about. Who’s flying under the radar that we need to lift up and elevate. We have people who aren’t really in front of the camera or the media so people wouldn’t know what they do is amazing.”

Additional Contributions by: Akim Bryant

Jessica Rivera

Nicole Wyskoarko

Beverly Bond

Sterling Simms

Nicole George

Sterling Simms