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Bebe Rexha Hosts Brandi Carlile, Charli XCX, Madison Beer, More at Pre-Grammy Brunch (EXCLUSIVE)

The second annual Women in Harmony event was held at the Sunset Tower Hotel.

Bebe Rexha
Chelsea Lauren/Variety/REX/Shutt

At the invitation of hitmaker Bebe Rexha, artists, songwriters and producers gathered at the Sunset Tower Hotel on Thursday for the second annual Women in Harmony pre-Grammy brunch. The star-studded affair aims to raise awareness of women’s issues as they relate to representation in the music industry, particularly on the creative end. Among those in attendance were Brandi Carlile, Charli XCX, Noah Cyrus, Ashlee Simpson, Madison Beer, Nicole Scherzinger, Sabrina Carpenter, Zhavia, Lennon Stella, Fletcher and Donna Missal along with songwriters Teddy Geiger, Sarah Aarons, Tayla Parks, Bonnie McKee, Mozella and Lauren Christy, among others.

Speaking to the crowd gathered, Rexha delivered an impassioned speech about the “need for more opportunity and more access.” Touching on biases that have long lingered behind the scenes, Rexha urged the 100 women listening “to support other women or you’re going to be miserable for the entirety of your f–ing life. That there’s not enough room for all of us is complete bulls–t. I will tell you right now there is enough room for all of us.”

Comforting and disconcerting at the same time, Rexha described the all-too-common occurrence of being judged by male decision makers on things like age or dress size recounting a recent experience where an executive told her that “At 29 [years old], are you sure you want to put that kind of music out? Shouldn’t you grab a guitar and stand behind it?”

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Songwriter Amy Allen also recalled a similar situation (in the form of a poem — or a future song? — read it below) where she was immediately asked her age while Parks who’s credited on Ariana Grande’s “Thank U, Next,” described how, as a black woman of a certain age, she’s often pigeonholed as someone who’s talents are hip-hop bangers.

Meanwhile, the charts, and particularly terrestrial radio, tell a different and more inclusive tale. As it was pointed out, female songwriters have credits on Grammy nominated smashes like “The Middle” and current chart-toppers like Halsey’s “Without Me.”

Said Aarons: “There are times when I’m in the studio and I look around and I’m like, ‘I’m the only girl, and there are, like, eight guys in here.’ Obviously I’m proud of the fact that I am in there. And then I just try to do the best I can. To show other girls that it is possible. And one day I hope to be sitting in a room and it will be, like, three girls and that will be totally normal.”

“Women want to collaborate with each other,” offered Charli XCX. “I think women are so over being pitted against each other and compared to each other — women want to work together, support each other. You can see that from events like this and from the way other female artists speak about other female artists. There’s a real sense of community between all of us.”

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Speaking to Variety after the event, Rexha said her goal was to appeal to “the girls who usually leave the party early” and encourage them to talk, work and hang out with each other. “I feel like everybody kind of let loose and that’s just what I wanted to happen.”

It was a sentiment shared by Sarah Stennett of First Access Entertainment, whose clients include Rexha, Beer, Ashlee Simpson and Rita Ora, among others. “This event brings together women creatives who are so overlooked,” she told Variety. “Artists, songwriters, producers that don’t have the opportunity to be heard beyond those other events. I think women are more conscious of how important it is to support each other.”

Said Simpson: “Women have a voice and they know that they do and that’s empowering. And young girls [can] learn from that and have someone to look up to.”

As for next steps? Rexha hopes to create workshops that offer professional advice to women trying to make it in the music industry, and maybe one day to give away scholarships. “The first step is bringing us all together,” she added.

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Amy Allen’s Women in Harmony poem:

My alarm rings at 8
I wake up, go to class
Try to strengthen my abs
Try to tighten my ass

Then I go home to shower
And get dressed for a meeting
But I heard he’s a creep
So just nothing revealing

Then I get to his office
Assistant says he’s 15 min late
And when he finally sees me
He just asks me my age

Then he listens to my songs
As he answers some emails
And at the end he looks up and says
Some really good topliners are female

Then he gives me a hug
And says we’ll keep in touch
And I say thanks but in my head I’m thinking I couldn’t give a fuck

Then I go to my session
the producer is fine
But he’s shocked when I start talking about Melodyne,
And when I play a bass line
And adjust my mic
Says he’s never seen a “girl” do anything of the like

And I don’t know whether to laugh
Or to cry
Or to rip him a new one
Or to just let it slide

And I start thinking about all of the women like me
And all the fucked up lopsided sad shit they have seen

But then I start driving home
Put KIIS radio on
And thats I when I hear Ariana, Dua, and Bebe in back to back songs

And my mood changes instantly
As I smile ear to ear
Cuz I know they’re A&Red, written and performed by my bad-ass chick peers

So thank u again Bebe
For being such an inspirational go-getter
And for getting a bunch of us women in music together