Harvey Mason, jr. has been named the official president/CEO of the Recording Academy by the organization’s board of trustees, it announced on Thursday. Mason has been serving as the unpaid interim president/CEO since January of last year. He will relinquish his role as chair of the board of trustees, which he had held since 2019.
In a joint statement, search committee co-chairs John Burk and Leslie Ann Jones said: “We are delighted that Harvey will remain at the helm and continue to steer the organization through this pivotal time. As we journeyed deeper into our extensive search, it became clear that the best person for the job was Harvey. We are immensely impressed by the remarkable work he has done during his interim tenure and look forward to the continued evolution of the Academy under his effective, results-driven leadership.”
“I want to commend the search committee and our partners at Heidrick and Struggles for orchestrating a robust and exhaustive search for our next President and CEO,” said Tammy Hurt, Vice Chair of the Recording Academy. “I am not surprised that they faced a significant challenge in finding candidates that would meet the standard that has been set by Harvey during these past 16 months. He has led the Academy through one of the most difficult periods in our history. As a music creator himself, he has provided hope, inspiration and a vision for the future that we are well on our way to achieving. We are all thrilled that he has agreed to become our permanent CEO and will continue to lead us into the future.”
Mason took the helm of the Academy at a time of considerable controversy — replacing his predecessor, Deborah Dugan, who was ousted after just eight months, days before the 2020 Grammys — followed six weeks later by the pandemic. But through it all, as the announcement notes, Mason oversaw the Academy’s charitable wing MusiCares (with acting chairman Steve Boom) as it raised and distributed over $24 million to help struggling music creators through the crisis, and the Academy advocated effectively in Washington for relief. He also worked to reform the Academy’s internal processes, including the implementation of the final recommendations of its Diversity and Inclusion Task Force; he hired its first-ever Chief Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Officer; conducted an organizational restructure; launched a new Songwriters & Composers Wing and the Black Music Collective; and most recently oversaw the elimination of the controversial “secret” nomination-review committees in favor of the final nominations being decided by the general voting body.
Mason also told Variety multiple times that he planned to step down this month to focus on his career as a songwriter-producer, but the announcement notes, “though a search committee of the Academy’s Board worked with a leading search firm and considered numerous candidates for the position, the committee and the Board as a whole concluded that no candidate matched Mason’s combination of skills and experience: a Grammy-nominated creator, an entrepreneur, and a transformational leader. Mason will not retain his role as Board Chair, and will take appropriate steps to prevent any conflict of interest with his business, Harvey Mason Media.
“There is nothing more rewarding than having the trust and respect of your colleagues and peers,” Mason said. “I am honored to have been appointed to continue to lead the Recording Academy on our transformative journey. While I had not initially expected to be in this position, I remain deeply invested in the success of the organization and am motivated to help us achieve our greatest ambitions. I will serve humbly with a steadfast commitment to building a more inclusive, responsive and relevant Academy.”