Keziah Myers, Executive Director at ADVANCE, Canada’s Black Music Business Collective, and SOCAN Creative Executive, Black Music, Jeffrey “Lord Quest” Nuamah delved into their triumphs, challenges, and unique experiences as Black individuals navigating the music industry, to a listenership of SOCAN staff at a “Fireside Chat” held live and via webcast on Feb. 27, 2024, during Black History Month.

At ADVANCE, Myers advocates for the betterment, upliftment, and retention of Black Talent within the music industry. In the Canadian music industry, ADVANCE holds institutions accountable; solidifies Black representation in all facets of the business; cultivates an environment that empowers, educates, and facilitates opportunities for emerging Black professionals; and promotes the upward mobility of those professionals.

In discussion with Quest, Myers shared personal experiences to illustrate and represent both the achievements and trials of Black individuals in the music industry, allowing that in her early days at a major record label, “I was the only one who looked like me operating in these spaces.”

Myers explained how she used her influence to help the American country duo War & Treaty gain representation at the Canadian Country Music Awards. In explaining that it’s nothing new for Black artists to be making country music, she pointed to Beyoncé’s new country album, the decade that Canadian country singer SACHA has been working at it, and the fact that the banjo first arrived in America from Africa.

Myers said that her awareness of her family history in the transatlantic slave trade means that she recognizes the progress made since then but says that we now require legislation that focuses on real equity. “The table needs to be bigger for Black representation,” she said. “We need to feel seen, heard, and empowered at every step.”

Asked what people in the music industry can do to support Black creatives, Myers said they should look at processes through a lens that includes everyone; that they not be afraid to make the table bigger; that they watch for unconscious bias; that they be very intentional; that they ask for input from others; that they be aware that Black people are not a monolith; that they understand that allyship isn’t an identity, but a form of daily practice and constant learning; that they do the research, and do the work; that they leave ego behind; and that they directly support Black businesses and artists.