Victoria Monét  on being 1st Black woman to win Best Engineered Album Grammy: ‘I want there to be so many more’

Dollita Okine March 19, 2024
Photo via: Instagram, Victoria Monét

Besides winning Grammys for best new artist and best R&B album at the 66th Grammy Awards, Victoria Monét won a Grammy for best engineered album. She is the first Black woman to win the award for her co-engineered major-label debut, Jaguar II, and also the fourth woman overall to win the coveted Grammy following Imogen Heap, Trina Shoemaker, and Emily Lazar.

The honoree has written and produced hits for Ariana Grande, Blackpink, Chloe x Halle, and Chris Brown as well as herself. The 34-year-old told THR, “I think I’ve been a producer for longer than I knew I was a producer. I didn’t know before that the definition didn’t have to be applied to actually playing an instrument or pressing any particular button.”

“Sometimes the way Quincy Jones produces, he doesn’t touch a thing, he just orchestrates and puts together what he feels is necessary. So for as long as I can remember, when I’m involved in something, I’ve been kind of producing it — whether it be a dance performance in high school, I’m like, ‘How about we fade the music here, put this song with this song?’ and moving things around. So when I got into the studio space, it was natural for me to voice my opinions about the direction I felt the music should go.”

Monét revealed that her six-year relationship with a producer, during which time they lived together and collaborated on music, inspired her to start producing beats.

“He was like, ‘You need to record yourself.’ I was like, ‘OK, just show me. I’ll make sure I can record it.’ I pulled the mic up to Pro Tools and started recording my audio and editing and trying to mix it and balance it out. Before that, it was GarageBand, trying to record from my laptop and figure out all of those technicalities,” she recounted. 

She said it enhanced her experience and that she rushed in to help when she went to a studio and the producer didn’t know how to utilize certain tools.

The trailblazer mentioned some of her mentors, including Imogen Heap. “[She] is kind of self-contained and she’ll go in and record herself, and from start to finish has that ability. I think I’ve really been inspired by LaShawn Daniels as an engineer and vocal producer, so I know a lot more about how I want things to sound when they’re layered and panning vocals and certain things.”

According to a recent USC Annenberg Inclusion Initiative study, women account for less than 3% of music industry engineers.

However, Monét said that she sees a promise of more female engineers in the male-dominated field, noting, “[I’m] seeing more and more female engineers, more female Black engineers, more even starting as little as children. There’s a program called Girls Make Beats, and they teach little girls how to engineer; they teach them how to make beats and use certain beat programs, and then they go out into the public and do performances and seminars and stuff. I’m looking forward to seeing more of this, but it is telling about where we are in the process.”

She added, “But as far as iconic female engineers, I want there to be so many more. I know there’s so many that exist, but I think because of gender and judgment, people tend to respect them less for some reason. I think when you go in and you see a female engineer sitting there, people have said, ‘Oh, where’s the engineer?’ And they’re like, ‘Right here.’ [It’s about] seeing it more and making it normalized and providing the space to give opportunities to the females, especially Black female engineers.”

Last Edited by:Mildred Europa Taylor Updated: March 19, 2024


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