July 21, 2020

UMA host race-themed roundtable with Island chief Darcus Beese

Managing Editor
UMA host race-themed roundtable with Island chief Darcus Beese
Darcus Beese OBE / Jac Ross / Rodney “Darkchild” Jerkins

Universal Music Australia hosted a fireside chat about racial issues on July 8.

The virtual It’s Ok To Be Black event, powered by Island Records, included regional boss George Ash, Island’s global chief Darcus Beese, producer Rodney “Darkchild” Jerkins and Briggs.

Local journalist Simone Amelia Jordan moderated the conversation, and Jac Ross – a new signing to Jerkins’ Darkchild label – performed three songs, including his debut ‘It’s Ok To Be Black’.

Australia and New Zealand employees from UMA’s label and publishing divisions attended the Zoom, including staffers from its merch business Bravado and creative agency BRING.

The conversation centred around race and how creativity can educate and inspire change. The conversation was also peppered with personal industry experiences from Beese and Jerkins.

“Black music is important to the world,” Beese explains, who recounted his start in the music industry in 1988 and went on to sign artists like Amy Winehouse, Jessie J and Astrid.

Beese is committed to breaking future iconic Black hitmakers and ensuring its global A&R teams are too. Some of his recent deals include Jessie Reyez, Skip Marley, Baby Rose and Ross.

He spoke about navigating his way through the industry as a young black man, elevating the careers of artists that are culturally relevant and finding innovative ways to launch artists globally.

“Supporting voices like Jac Ross is a passion and pleasure for Island, in the continued fight to raise up voices for equality, representation and continued investment for Black musicians.”

Beese final thoughts transcended the room as he encouraged community amongst artists, A&R’s and Black artists globally in hopes of a brighter future for music.

The Australian event is the second in a series curated for employees globally and aims to engage, inspire, educate and provide continued priority and guidance on Indigenous protocols.

Briggs is candid about how he found his outlet through the arts and music, using his songwriting chops and platform to dispel the myth around racism: “that it is somewhere else”.

“My whole presence as a creator is about results and solutions,” Briggs said. “I wanted to start an Indigenous record label and set out to change and help Indigenous artists.

“To open up the doors and shift the Australian psyche on how it can be and offer new creators an atmosphere for them to thrive in.”