Prior to the honorees' award ceremony, ASCAP Rhythm & Soul hosted a cocktail hour featuring Caribbean fare hors d'oeuvres from Negril Villiage, beverages from Myx Fusions, and music provided by DJ Adore.
Hosted by Jennifer Goicoechea, Associate Director of ASCAP Rhythm & Soul, the event commenced with a warm recognition of the series' sponsors Myx Fusions (Mona Scott-Young, co-owner and CMO was a 2011 ASCAP Honoree), Melody Ehsani and Susan G. Komen for the Cure. Goicoechea also acknowledged her team at the ASCAP Urban Rhythm and Soul Department including Joncier Rienecker, Membership Representative, her interns and assistants concluding her heartfelt thanks with "I love you guys, you guys are amazing."
Capturing the audience's attention Ray Louise, a new member of the ASCAP family, performed two original songs. Following Louise's performance, Goicoechea introduced the honorees and welcomed them to the stage. As each guest of honor approached the platform, Goicoechea detailed their involvement in society, outlining these women's investments outside of their business titles. Debra Antney runs No RIP, an organization that spreads awareness about cyber bullying; KeKe Wyatt is a spokesperson for the National Coalition for Domestic Violence; and Omara Harris gives back to her alma maters Spelman and NC Central School of Law.
Goicoechea interviewed the panel asking questions to provide a clearer scope on how these superwomen manage to balance business and life while experiencing issues like black tax, a concept that one has to work twice as hard as their Caucasian co-workers and being a female in a male dominated industry.
While talking about their day to day tasks, each of the women describe a hectic but fruitful day. "It's crazy. Everyday is a different day. There is no telling what could pop up," says Antney while Harris describes a day full of negotiating and peevish replies—and that spontaneity and pressure is what fuels them. Knowing that her clients make sacrifices i.e. sleeping in the studio, Harris realizes they may not have time to focus on the business acumen and so it's rewarding for her to make sure "[her clients] get what they deserve."
The ladies also touched on their lessons learned thus far and all three agreed there is a great difficulty in finding balance between work and life. As Wyatt rubbed her round belly, she stated, "this is baby number 8 and honestly the hardest thing is leaving my children," but Wyatt chooses to teach them that this hard work pays for the possessions they enjoy. Harris explains, "Time management. It's difficult to decide what to take on and not let it drain you," because irrationally taking on projects could ultimately effect your reputation.
Providing their perspectives, the panel discussed being immersed in male dominated industries. Antney narrated a time where she physically "had to jump on top of the table like an ape and was like 'Earth to Mars, I'm here!'" She proceeded to say, "It was that disrespectful...and they were my artists." But rest assured, Antney stated, "I have no problem putting them back in their place." Wyatt added, "they think you're crazy when you do it" and that's a risk these women are willing to take to gain respect. As they shared their stories, they supplied the room with valuable knowledge, "we [women] need each other more than what women understand. Legs closed. Pocketbooks open," Antney chanted. Harris inquired, "What are people going to remember about you when you're gone? Stay focused on your legacy." And Antney concluded, "Be you. Be true to who you are. It's so important."
Goicoechea ended the inspiring panel by asking what upcoming projects these women had in store for the upcoming new year. Wyatt announced her upcoming album, a television show screening her and her family, and of course her eighth child's arrival. Antney disclosed her independent radio station, Be100 is going on a televised tour to search for the next female and male artist and informed us to be on the lookout for her new country artist. And Harris expressed she is also expecting a little one in April. It was an inspirational night for all who were present as we giggled, SMH-ed and related to the trio. Everyone left feeling a little closer to these influential women.