Did you know that the Head of Music Industry and Culture Collaborations at Amazon Music is a soror of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc. who crossed at Spelman College?
In the ever-evolving landscape of the entertainment industry, there exists a rare breed of visionary executives who possess an innate ability to bridge the realms of music and culture with unparalleled finesse. Phylicia Fant, a name that resonates with distinction and innovation, exemplifies precisely this exceptional blend of talents. Her remarkable journey, from the inception of her career at Motown Records to her current role as the Head of Music Industry and Culture Collaborations at Amazon Music, serves as an extraordinary testament to her indomitable spirit and ceaseless dedication.
Phylicia’s impact on the music industry is immeasurable. Her tenure as the Head Of Urban Music at Columbia Records saw her stewardship over a roster that read like a who’s who of contemporary music royalty. From Beyoncé to Lil Nas X, Pharrell to Chloe and Halle, she has masterfully navigated the multifaceted world of music, contributing to the success of some of the biggest names in the industry.
Before her Amazon Music chapter, she served as the Senior Vice President of Media & Strategic Development at Warner Bros. Records, where her imaginative and high-profile media campaigns became the hallmark of the label. Her influence extended far beyond traditional media, as she seamlessly intertwined her projects with film, television, fashion, nightlife, charity, politics, and sports, redefining the boundaries of music promotion.
Phylicia’s journey started at the legendary Motown Records, where she played a pivotal role in propelling the “neo-soul movement” into public consciousness. Her efforts not only contributed to the rise of luminaries like Erykah Badu and India.Arie but also nurtured talents such as Brian McKnight and 702, solidifying her reputation as a tastemaker and trendsetter.
As she progressed in her career, Phylicia’s rolodex swelled, and her talents flourished. Her work at Universal’s Pop music department involved a diverse range of marquee acts, from Prince to Amy Winehouse, demonstrating her versatility and keen understanding of music across genres.
Beyond her remarkable professional journey, Phylicia is a stalwart advocate for the music industry’s betterment. Her affiliations with organizations like NARAS and her involvement in numerous advisory boards, such as the Recording Academy LA Chapter and the MusiCares Foundation, underscore her commitment to the growth and progress of the industry.
An alumna of Spelman College and a member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc., Phylicia’s dedication to her alma mater is evident through her role in founding and launching the Annual Entertainment Summit at Spelman College, a platform that continues to inspire the next generation of industry leaders.
Phylicia Fant’s story is one of perseverance, vision, and an unyielding passion for music and culture. Watch The Yard connected with her to ask her about her life, career, her love for HBCUs and her sorority and the power of networking.
Check out our Watch The Yard exclusive interview below:
Can you explain what your job as Head of Music Industry and Culture Collaborations at Amazon Music entails?
Our team is dedicated to bringing Amazon Music closer to culture and community by collaborating with artists, trend gatekeepers and change agents in meaningful ways. We look at new spaces across music, sports, fashion, and philanthropy and activate with the mindset of targeting the cultural zeitgeist. We strive to build trust gain credibility as we make AM a cultural force.
Why did you decide to go to Spelman College for undergrad?
My Mom always said my checks only go to Spelman. Partly because she is also a graduate of Spelman, but for me as I got older and had regular visits at Spelman, continuing that legacy felt necessary and impactful for my transition into adulthood and womanhood.
What made you first interested in joining Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc.?
It was in my home parents as both my parents are Greek. My dad is a member of Omega Psi Phi and my mother is a member of Delta Sigma Theta, but most importantly, they are active members. Every weekend I saw service and community as staples in my household. My mother is a founding member of the Marietta Roswell Chapter which again instilled in me that service was beyond my undergrad experience and that sisterhood would be a pillar of my success and fortitude.
What is your favorite memory as an undergraduate member of the Eta Kappa Chapter of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc.?
Crossing at Lower Manley is a feeling I can’t out into words. All the schools from the AUC (Morehouse, Clark, Morris Brown, Spelman) and all the sororities and fraternities come out to support. It is a hug that will stay with you because you realize in that moment this is your tribe. This is support in transcendent and indictive of what the HBCU experience is all about.
Outside of academics, what life lessons did college at an HBCU teach you?
Pride in being black and the understood love, protection and community. From the curriculum, to the diverse background of the attendees you learn being black and the black experience while sometimes rooted in pain, the joy and heritage these campuses embody is rich, beautiful and powerful.
How do you think joining a Black sorority has contributed to your career journey?
My sisters are a phone call away. Career navigation and personal growth often go hand and hand. Having people that see you and continually uplift you is not something you can take for granted. The Deltas who have helped me are endless but I will shout out a few. First and foremost my Mother us my best friend, Chiquita Lockley she is a big sister and confidant and film partner, our first documentary was Eggs Over Easy: Black Women & Fertility, Joi Brown founder of Culture Creators, KJ Rose performance coach to the stars, Joni Bird Jefferson my LS and best friend, she is brilliant doctor (I make her diagnose me for everything lol), Latasha Gillespie Global Head of DEI at Amazon Studios and my line-sister Pia Days founder of Chocolate Tenders who really helped me acclimate when I moved to LA.
As a mentor and role model, what advice would you give to young individuals aspiring to break into the music industry, especially those from HBCUs?
Networking is a unique term but there is something to be said about looking to the left and right before going straight to the top for advice. Build a tribe and a chat group that can grow and evolve with you. The reward is in sharing wins with people you love and that is for any industry. The music business is truly musical chairs. Having a seat rest in your ability to navigate with integrity and purpose and understanding that the industry is immersive.
As a powerplayer in the music industry you must have a lot of people reach out asking to have you as their mentor. What is your best advice for those looking to find a mentor?
I think mentorship is about persistence and evolution and understanding that is not just about getting you a job. Trust has to be established because to truly mentor you become vulnerable. Sharing my lessons to arm someone is an exchange that builds over time. Getting the best from a mentor is not about getting to the top the fastest it’s about knowing how to stay there.
How are you using your position at Amazon Music to help the community?
My team, alongside the DEI, HR and policy teams at Amazon have come together this Homecoming to support the HBCU communities at Morehouse, Spelman, Howard and beyond with programming, panels and donations to support our community. I can shout out Frankie Yaptinchay on my team who has been at the forefront of creating a standard scholarship program from HBCU’s across the Amazon family tree. I will do all I can to make sure the HBCU experience is one that Amazon Music cherishes.
Why do you think Watch The Yard is important for Black college culture?
Your platform is not only positive but a constant reminder of Black excellence. Life is a series of challenges and the memories of my HBCU experience that I can see on your IG is like a warm hug.
We at Watch The Yard would like to thank Phylicia Fant doing this interview with us. We would like to point out all of the activations and work that Phylicia Fant and her team at Amazon Music including Frankie Yaptinchay have created specifically to reach HBCU students and alumni this 2023 homecoming season which include the following events:
- Virginia Union:
- 10/20: Amazon Music worked together with Virginia Union to sponsor the HBCU’s annual Greek Step Show, and is bringing rising hip-hop powerhouse and Amazon Music Breakthrough Artist, Lola Brooke, to the university perform.
- Morehouse Activities*:
- 10/23: Amazon Music alongside MusiCares will host “Hip-Hop and Mental Health: Healing a Culture,” a panel at the Ray Charles Performing Arts Center at Morehouse. Part of MusiCares’ Humans of Hip Hop campaign, the panel will feature insights from Killer Mike, Phylicia Fant, Young Dro and David Banner.
- 10/25: 10/25: Amazon Music will host a live taping of their weekly Twitch show Rotation Roundtable from Morehouse with special guests Waka Flocka Flame and EarthGang (9pm EST) Watch HERE
- 10/27: Amazon Music is sponsoring the annual Greek Step Show at Morehouse, which will include special guest performances from some of the biggest names in hip-hop.
- 10/28: Amazon Music will sponsor Morehouse’s Homecoming Tailgate.
- Howard University:
- 10/5: Amazon Music hosted a watch party at Howard University celebrating Lil Durk’s performance on Amazon Music Live. All proceeds from Lil Durk’s performance on Amazon Music Live were donated to Neighborhood Heroes, the nonprofit organization founded by Lil Durk that has awarded students from Chicago with scholarships toward their enrollment at Howard.
- Pensole Lewis College:
- 9/28: The Integrated Marketing, Culture Collaborations, and DEI teams from Amazon Music came together to sponsor the 3rd annual Black Footwear Forum, which was hosted at Pensole Lewis College in Detroit, Michigan. Together with The Recording Academy’s Black Music Collective, Amazon Music donated $10,000 for music equipment.
- Your Future Is Now:
- Ongoing: For a third year, the Recording Academy’s Black Music Collective and Amazon Music have collaborated to provide an exciting scholarship opportunity for students at Historically Black Colleges and Universities who are the next generation of music industry power players. Five students enrolled at an HBCU will be awarded $10,000 each and have the unique opportunity to participate in an immersive rotational program with Amazon Music and Recording Academy department leads. In addition, the BMC and Amazon Music will award two HBCUs $10,000 grants each for equipment for their music programs.
- The Roots of Music:
- 10/10: Amazon Music and TNF For Good came together to donate $25,000 to The Roots of Music, an organization that empowers the youth of New Orleans through music education, academic support, and mentorship. Amazon Music and TNF For Good also brought New Orleans musical legend Mannie Fresh, Saints punter Lou Hedley, and defensive lineman Malcolm Roach out to the event to meet and collaborate with the students involved in The Roots of Music.
- 10/20: Amazon Music is releasing “Homecoming SZN,” a new playlist of music created specifically to soundtrack HBCU Homecoming Weekends.
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