During Black Music Month, ESSENCE is highlighting Black women who are kicking ass behind-the-scenes in the music industry. From executives to producers to songwriters, these are the women who make our favorite musicians shine, and our favorite bops come to life.
Did you ever wonder why T.I. started carrying a bottle of Rémy Martin? Or how Lizzo linked up with plus-size clothing retailer Lane Bryant? Or how about K. Michelle created her own flavor of Jack Daniels, or even how Cardi B ended up being in a Google commercial?
The answer is Joi Brown. She’s the Senior Vice President of Marketing and Brand Partnerships at Atlantic Records. It’s her job to pair Atlantic’s artists with brands that we know and love.
And if that didn’t keep her up at night, the mother of two also wanted to ensure that the next generation of music executives were mentored and nurtured. So in 2016, she founded Culture Creators to connect newcomers with those who paved the way to foster connectivity, leadership and even pool talent to help companies diversify.
This year, their annual brunch—being held on June 22 inside the Beverly Hilton Hotel in Los Angeles—will honor actress Marsai Martin, Blavity founder Morgan DeBaun, and Gucci vice president Antoine Phillips, among others.
ESSENCE asked Brown what songs she’s listening to and how she’s carved out her own lane in the music industry. Here’s what she had to say:
ESSENCE: What’s the last song you added to your playlist?
Joi Brown: Honesty by Pink Sweat$
What’s the craziest or most memorable thing that’s ever happened in your career as a Black woman in music?
I remember working with Sean Paul on his Grammy Awards collaboration with Sting. We sat in his green room in Denver, meeting him along his tour stop to work out their upcoming performance. I remember sitting there with Sean, Sting, and Jason (Sean’s brother) thinking, ‘Wow, I’m sitting here in a creative session with Sting.’ I think I fell in love with my job all over again in that very moment.
You have a seat at the table shaping culture. How do you show up in that room?
Unapologetically female, empowered, Black, and proud. Understanding the power we have globally inspires me to keep working to connect like-minded go-getters and ensure that I help in any way that I can to bring their story to life.
How has being a Black woman uniquely qualified you for your position?
Being a Black woman in my position doesn’t uniquely qualify me for my position. I believe it is my hunger, creativity, and kick-ass attitude that makes me stand out.