2020 Billboard Power List Event
Signage is seen at the 2020 Billboard Power List Event at NeueHouse Hollywood on January 23, 2020 in Los Angeles, California.
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Billboard’s Grammys 2020 Power 100 Event Pins Leadership As The Music Industry’s Most Lucrative Tool

The event was held in Los Angeles ahead of the Grammy Awards.

The start of a new decade inspired a change of plans for Billboard’s annual Power List. In previous years, the publication ranked 100 music industry professionals for their strides in the business by creating strategies that have propelled artists to the top of the charts and proved that the senior practices of the business can sometimes benefit from a fresh makeover. For 2020’s edition, the brand opted to not rank those chosen professionals but instead gathered and produced a list of honorees including Lyor Cohen (YouTube’s Global Head of Music), Roc Nation’s Jay-Z (Chairman), Desiree Perez (CEO), and Jay Brown (Vice Chairman) to Quality Control’s CEO Pierre “P” Thomas and COO Kevin “Coach K” Lee.

To a resounding applause inside the event’s NeueHouse location on a balmy Thursday evening (Jan. 23) in Los Angeles, Hannah Karp, Editorial Director of Billboard Media Group, explained the reason for the change and the company’s hope that next year will produce another list of futuristic innovators. “For one thing it’s always been hard to compare the power of executives in different sectors,” Karp said. “We also wanted to inspire a new generation of music business executives that honor leadership instead of just leverage.”

The first award of the night, which was named in honor of Jay Frank, a beloved music industry veteran who worked as senior vice president at Universal Music Group (UMG) before he passed away from cancer in 2019, was given to Mitchell Shymanskly, vice president of data and analytics at UMG, for his strides in digital music leadership.

“Jay was a visionary in our field, he saw things differently which is the true definition of an innovator,” he said. “He was looking constantly for an edge and it was a great privilege of mine to have the opportunity to work alongside him.” Shymanskly learned the mantra, “We don’t succeed alone.” That quote was echoed by Columbia Records chairman/CEO Ron Perry, who received the Breakthrough Award. He gave praise to his team for their work and success, especially after a year of witnessing Lil Nas X’s breakneck speed to pop stardom.

While future pioneers both in front and behind the mic filled the room, a living legend who helped shape some of music’s most fortified models also made a special guest appearance. The Clive Davis Visionary Award was presented to Atlantic Records’ Craig Kallman (CEO) and Julie Greenwald (COO) by the man himself, Clive Davis.

Greenwald shared the duo’s singular vision that allows Atlantic Records the ability to remain one of the music industry's pillars of success. “Build and maintain a music company that we love, we surrounded ourselves with an extraordinary team of people and then we signed artists that both Ahmet and Lyor would truly be proud of,” Greenwald said. For women in the music industry, being able to take that stage and receive these awards was a major feat for Jody Gerson, UMG’s CEO, who received the Executive of the Year award. The Executive of the Decade award was given to UMG's chairman/CEO Sir Lucian Grainge. “To me, what is most meaningful is that this is a recognition without qualifications,” she said. “I am being honored not as a female executive, but as an executive. It is my hope that this award will help pave the road for more exceptional and diverse leaders to come. We all deserve to be judged for our merits regardless of who you are or how you identify.”

Gerson also sits on the board of directors for She Is The Music (SITM), a program that promotes inclusivity in the music industry. Gerson revealed that UMG will donate $50,000 to the organization, which aims to provide resources for gender diversity in songwriting, producing, executive positions and more. In 2018, the Annenberg Inclusion Initiative conducted a study on the lack of women representation in the music sector. The research, which was published in 2018, concluded that for the year of 2017 out of 651 producers only two percent were women while men dominated at 98 percent. In the songwriting world, out of 2,767 credited songwriters, 12.3 percent were women while 87.7 percent were men.

Now, with new sights and plans set to change the makeup of the industry, Gerson reiterated that there's no better time than the present to implement new practices. “The moment of change is here.”

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"A Celebration Of Life For Kobe And Gianna Bryant" Takes Place At Staples Center

On Monday (Feb. 24), a public memorial service for Kobe Bryant and his daughter Gianna Bryant was held at the Staples Center in Los Angeles. The ceremony honors their lives weeks after a devastating helicopter crash occurred on Jan. 26 in Calabasas, California, that also took the lives of seven other people aboard the aircraft. According to The Washington Post, nearly 20,000 people are slated to attend the service. Ticket sales will benefit the Mamba and Mambacita Sports Foundation.

The basketball legend's wife and mother of his children, Vanessa Bryant, previously posted a message to her angels on Instagram and said the family will take things one day at a time. "I take comfort in knowing that Kobe and Gigi both knew that they were so deeply loved," she wrote. "We were so incredibly blessed to have them in our lives. I wish they were here with us forever. They were our beautiful blessings taken from us too soon. I'm not sure what our lives hold beyond today, and it's impossible to imagine life without them. But we wake up each day, trying to keep pushing because Kobe, and our baby girl, Gigi, are shining on us to light the way."

 

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My girls and I want to thank the millions of people who’ve shown support and love during this horrific time. Thank you for all the prayers. We definitely need them. We are completely devastated by the sudden loss of my adoring husband, Kobe — the amazing father of our children; and my beautiful, sweet Gianna — a loving, thoughtful, and wonderful daughter, and amazing sister to Natalia, Bianka, and Capri. We are also devastated for the families who lost their loved ones on Sunday, and we share in their grief intimately. There aren’t enough words to describe our pain right now. I take comfort in knowing that Kobe and Gigi both knew that they were so deeply loved. We were so incredibly blessed to have them in our lives. I wish they were here with us forever. They were our beautiful blessings taken from us too soon. I’m not sure what our lives hold beyond today, and it’s impossible to imagine life without them. But we wake up each day, trying to keep pushing because Kobe, and our baby girl, Gigi, are shining on us to light the way. Our love for them is endless — and that’s to say, immeasurable. I just wish I could hug them, kiss them and bless them. Have them here with us, forever. Thank you for sharing your joy, your grief and your support with us. We ask that you grant us the respect and privacy we will need to navigate this new reality. To honor our Team Mamba family, the Mamba Sports Foundation has set up the MambaOnThree Fund to help support the other families affected by this tragedy. To donate, please go to MambaOnThree.org. To further Kobe and Gianna’s legacy in youth sports, please visit MambaSportsFoundation.org. Thank you so much for lifting us up in your prayers, and for loving Kobe, Gigi, Natalia, Bianka, Capri and me. #Mamba #Mambacita #GirlsDad #DaddysGirls #Family ❤️

A post shared by Vanessa Bryant 🦋 (@vanessabryant) on Jan 29, 2020 at 4:59pm PST

 

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To my forever Valentine, I love you so much. Missing you so much on your favorite holiday. Te amo per sempre. Kisses to you and Gigi in heaven. Happy Valentine’s Day, my babies. With all my love, your boo-boo. ❤️song: Tell Him @mslaurynhill

A post shared by Vanessa Bryant 🦋 (@vanessabryant) on Feb 14, 2020 at 1:43pm PST

 

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#2, #24, #20 years as a Laker and the amount of years Kob and I were together ❤️❤️💜💛

A post shared by Vanessa Bryant 🦋 (@vanessabryant) on Feb 7, 2020 at 9:49am PST

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Katherine Johnson, Famed NASA Mathematician, Dies At 101

On Monday morning (Feb. 24), news surfaced of famed mathematician Katherine Johnson's passing at age 101. The pioneer in science and math was memorialized by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), where she worked in 1953 before retiring in 1986.

"We're saddened by the passing of celebrated #HiddenFigures mathematician Katherine Johnson," the statement reads. "Today, we celebrate her 101 years of life and honor her legacy of excellence that broke down racial and social barriers."

We're saddened by the passing of celebrated #HiddenFigures mathematician Katherine Johnson. Today, we celebrate her 101 years of life and honor her legacy of excellence that broke down racial and social barriers: https://t.co/Tl3tsHAfYB pic.twitter.com/dGiGmEVvAW

— NASA (@NASA) February 24, 2020

Throughout her tenure at NASA, Johnson worked on equations and solutions to aid in successful flight missions. It wasn't until 1962 that her skills placed her in an upper echelon of mathematicians for her work during astronaut John Glenn's orbital mission. The moment was depicted in a book authored by Margot Lee Shetterly titled Hidden Figures. In 2017, a film of the same name was created and broke records for its real-life storytelling.

In an interview with The Guardian, actress Taraji P. Henson who portrayed Johnson onscreen, said upon meeting the legendary figure, she realized how much they had in common. “When I met [Johnson], the way she talked about maths, the way her eyes lit up, that’s how I feel about acting," she said. "I understand her passion; you can replace that with anything.”

Cemented alongside her other achievements, Johnson was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by former President Barack Obama in 2015.

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Bennett Raglin

B. Smith, Lifestyle Guru, Restaurateur And Former Model, Dies From Alzheimer’s Disease

B. Smith, the groundbreaking lifestyle guru, restaurateur, author and former model, died on Saturday (Feb. 22) from early on-set Alzheimer’s disease. She was 70.

Smith’s husband, Dan Gasby, announced her death via Facebook on Sunday (Feb. 23). “It is with great sadness that my daughter, Dana, and I announce the passing of my wife, Barbara Elaine Smith,” the statement reads. “B died peacefully Saturday, February 22, 2020, at 10:50 p.m., of Early-Onset Alzheimer’s Disease in our home in Long Island, New York.”

Barbara Elaine Smith was born in Everson, Penn., on Aug. 24, 1949. Smith began her modeling career in the 1960s working for Ebony Fashion Fair and later signing with Wilhelmina Models. Smith covered 15 magazines during her modeling days, including becoming the first Black model to cover Mademoiselle magazine in 1976. Additionally, Smith appeared in TV commercials for Mercedes-Benz, and worked as a spokesperson for Verizon, Colgate, Palmolive, and more.

Smith opened her first of multiple restaurants in New York City’s theater district in 1986. She also opened restaurants in Long Island, N.Y. and Washington D.C.

For nearly a decade, Smith hosted the nationally syndicated show, B. Smith with Style, captivating audiences with her bright personality and unforgettable smile. Smith also produced multiple specials for TV One and was bestselling author. Her signature tagline, “Whatever you do, do it with style,” was featured at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture.

In 2001, Bed Bath & Beyond debuted the B. Smith Style Home Collection. The collection, which including bedding, doormats and more, made Smith the first Black woman to have a home decor line sold by a national retailer.

Smith publicly revealed her Alzheimer’s diagnosis to CBS News in 2014. During the interview, Smith didn’t shy away from expressing her fears of battling the disease, and admitted that she initially tried to hide it, but she was determined to persevering in spite of Alzheimer’s.

“I think the future’s going to be fine,” Smith said at the time. “I’m going to do my best to make it work out for me, and for as many people that I can possibly help.”

Read dedications to Smith below.

The elegance. The grace. The style. May God rest and bless her soul. #BSmith was one-of-a-kind.

Thanks to @mmeans40 for this fantastic video. pic.twitter.com/ByZRURLiHY

— Ava DuVernay (@ava) February 23, 2020

She broke down barriers. She shined. She fought the good fight. Rest In Peace, B. Smith.#BSmith pic.twitter.com/ocEL3IkDoC

— Audrey Washington (@AudreyWSBTV) February 23, 2020

.⁦@ThankyouDan⁩ #Memories #BSmith was an icon and a mentor. Rest in power Queen B. pic.twitter.com/zCf2LrXUhz

— Maya R. Cummings, Ph.D. (@MayaRockeymoore) February 23, 2020

RIP to the legendary B.Smith

I remember growing up and watching her show. I wanted to be her. Style and grace. Rest well beautiful. pic.twitter.com/diBjGf1Jyb

— Melanin Monroe (@whatdedesays) February 23, 2020

Sad to share the passing of restauranteur, model and advocate B. Smith after a several year battle with Alzheimer’s. We are thankful she spoke at our Celebrating Hope Gala in 2016. Rest B. And thank you 💜 #ENDALZ @alzassociation pic.twitter.com/G9IDVAB0DL

— Alzheimer's Association Connecticut Chapter (@alzct) February 23, 2020

We lost legendary fashion model, chef, restaurateur, lifestyle icon and magazine publisher, B Smith today. 70 years old, she and her husband, Dan Gasby were at the forefront of #alzheimers #research for people of color. Love to them and daughter, Dana. #bsmithwithstyle pic.twitter.com/pqFOpa9oxs

— Al Roker (@alroker) February 23, 2020

I only met B. Smith once or twice at her restaurant in New York City.

She was beautiful, graceful and welcoming each time. As a model, a TV personality, a business owner and an entrepreneur, she was always a trailblazer.

May she rest in peace. https://t.co/YqyxUZKMrB

— Keith Boykin (@keithboykin) February 23, 2020

All of these things so true. Thank you B. Smith. https://t.co/Fmi0QJNviu

— Tamron Hall (@tamronhall) February 23, 2020

RIP B. Smith. You epitomized class, true beauty and dignity. Rest well Queen❤️❤️❤️ pic.twitter.com/uJlWb9aapG

— Viola Davis (@violadavis) February 23, 2020

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