Meet Richardine Bartee, Grammy Recording Academy Member And ‘Afrobeats To The World’ Advocate

Richardine Bartee
CEO of via Richardine Bartee

Afrobeats to the world is no longer something we just say.

It’s a movement now and everyone is getting on board! 

I got the chance to interview New York-based music guru and emerging acts crusader, Richardine Bartee, born in New York to Liberian parents.

CEO of via Richardine Bartee

She’s enthusiastic about emerging acts and her passion basically forms the foundation of her very successful blog, Grungecake…a website dedicated to emerging acts.

“I love musicians, at every stage, but there’s something about helping a human being get their work to the audience they deserve.”

Richardine is also a member of The Grammys Recording Academy who has done outstanding work with labels such as Sony Music, Universal Music Group and MTV, she was looking forward to an upcoming project with Roc Nation at the SXSW festival which, unfortunately, got cancelled due to the coronavirus pandemic. 

“The scope of my job is to push the music and the musician forward. I wear many hats, so I do what I need to do to make things happen. There aren’t any limits unless I am contracted to do one thing.”

When I first got into contact with Richardine Bartee for the interview, I was pleasantly surprised that she was very easy to talk to (not that I was expecting a gruff mean strict lady) but I was nervous a little bit. She put me at ease the minute we got to talking and we had a great time talking about her work, her life growing up, the Afrobeats agenda and her role as a member of the Recording Academy. 

To be a part of the Recording Academy is a big deal. It’s what Richardine calls “an arrival.” You have to be recognised for your work and nominated to be a part of it. Some might even refer to it as an exclusive “club” of big industry players encompassing musicians, producers and other music professionals working collectively for every artiste’s sake.

Being a part of the Recording Academy is not just about going to the Grammys.

It means Richardine gets to be a part of groundbreaking legislation that benefits artistes, songwriters and basically all creatives in the music industry. 

“It’s about making consistent changes to benefit the people we work for (artistes) as industry professionals.”

I couldn’t help but ask about the Grammys and the future of Afrobeats and whether or not there’s the hope of some sort of specificity in the World music genre. I didn’t get an answer that will make headlines but…she did say they are working on it so…that’s something to keep our hopes alive on right?

Afrobeats is rapidly gaining worldwide recognition and Richardine is just excited as all of us about this especially as she has worked with huge African artistes like Davido, Eddy Kenzo, and recently, the emerging Nigerian artist poised to take over the music charts… Oxlade.

Despite the high demand for Afrobeats, and as an industry expert who has worked with lots of emerging acts, Richardine offered some sage advice about the spotlight that’s shining on afrobeats and how artistes can maximise the incoming attention.

“I think all African artists should understand that they are in demand now, so they have leverage.”

“It is a business, and everyone isn’t as kind as you are. Some people are looking to get ahead or misuse you if you’ll let them”

“Don’t take the first opportunity that comes your way but if that first opportunity is the one you’ve been dreaming of as an artist, do your best to negotiate the best deals with an attorney/lawyer/legal aid” 

Richardine Bartee (middle), CEO of via Richardine Bartee

Richardine’s passion about pushing Afrobeats has her well aware that aside the music giants such as Davido, Burna Boy and more getting their music played internationally, there are a lot more undiscovered artists waiting to be heard and her desire to be a part of the voices amplifying the genre is somewhat linked to the fact that she is of Liberian descent. 

“My plan is to push the culture forward. I think it is in my blood. My father was passionate about Africa, especially, Liberia. I think that the only way to help Liberia, in any way, is to help everyone.”

The music enthusiast’s knack for identifying great music and seeing the potential in making them marketable to bigger audiences outside of their scope is what has brought her where she is now. From writing in high school merely as a hobby to starting her website and going on to write and work for MTV, Roc Nation and other industry professionals, Richardine Bartee does not discriminate when it comes to genres and only looks out for music that connects to her in whatever language it’s in. 

“For me, the genre doesn’t matter. It’s about the product, the market, and setting real expectations.”

“I listen to hear if the artist has the potential to garner a large audience. It’s important to me if I’m looking to take them on as an emerging act and make an impact. Otherwise, we are wasting each other’s time.”

“Next, I want to know if the artist and their team are clear communicators and easy to work with. That also matters, just as much as the talent!”

“As an artist, you need to have something special that no can deny, and have a great spirit. Be someone that people can enjoy having around, and be grateful for all things people do for you. People like me will do what they do from their hearts. Do not take them for granted and always be respectful.”

To every artiste eyeing the Grammys someday, Richardine’s tip is very simple: “Make sure you’re making music that can resonate with audiences beyond your culture.”

Employing Richardine’s expertise is actually very simple. She expects nothing but the best and only stays focused on extremely talented individuals. 

For someone who’s become known for her good eye (or ear) for just the right music, her advice to all emerging acts is to 1. Know what you want, 2. Efficiently communicate when your ‘wants’ change, 3. Be grateful and appreciate everyone that crosses your path because you might learn something from each interaction, 4. Do your part, and 5. Live in the moment but don’t dwell in it. 

“Live in the moment because you won’t live it again. Each moment is unique, but know how to maximise your momentum, so you can last”


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