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Zac Efron Returns to East High, Prompting ‘HSMTMTS’ Cameo Rumors



Could this be the start of something new for High School Musical: The Musical: The Series? Fans seem to think so after Zac Efron shared an Instagram photo from his HSM alma mater.

“Don’t you… Forget about me,” the actor quoted The Breakfast Club in his caption, alongside a photo of himself raising his fist in front of the school in Salt Lake City, Utah.

Bart Johnson, who played Efron’s dad in the Disney Channel Original Movie, sweetly commented on the post, “Warms coaches ole heart to see this. Welcome home, son. WHAT TEAM!?”

Troy Bolton’s return to East High comes just a month after Vanessa Hudgens, who played Gabriella Montez in the film series, also shared a video in front of the high school. “Do you remember in kindergarten how you’d meet a kid and know nothing about them, then 10 seconds later you’re playing like you’re best friends because you didn’t have to be anything but yourself?” she quoted her character in the caption.

Efron’s visit to the iconic HSM filming location had fans on Twitter speculating that he might be making a cameo in an upcoming season of High School Musical: The Musical: The Series. “I hope this means you and Vanessa are guest starring on [High School Musical: The Musical: The Series],” one person commented on the post.

A potential cameo on the Disney spinoff series wouldn’t be too much of a stretch, as Corbin Bleu, who played Chad Danforth alongside Efron and Hudgens, appeared as a fictional version of himself in a guest starring role on season three of HSMTMTS, marking the series’ third appearance by an East High alum, following Lucas Grabeel and Kaycee Stroh, who both popped up during season one.

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Michelle Branch Arrested for Domestic Assault



Michelle Branch was arrested for domestic assault, the Nashville police department confirmed to Variety. The arrest took place following the announcement that Branch was splitting from her husband of three years, “The Black Keys” drummer Patrick Carney. TMZ first reported the arrest, adding that court documents revealed Branch had slapped Carney in the face “one to two times.” Branch’s bail was set at $1,000.

Branch and Carney married in 2019. Branch said in a statement to TMZ while announcing the split: “To say that I am totally devastated doesn’t even come close to describing how I feel for myself and for my family. The rug has been completely pulled from underneath me and now I must figure out how to move forward. With such small children, I ask for privacy and kindness.”

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Pro Tips On How To Join the Recording Academy From Six Membership Managers



Over the last several years, the Recording Academy has increased its efforts to make its membership more inclusive. In 2018, the Academy switched to a community-driven model that introduced a peer-review process requiring two professional recommendations. And in 2019, the organization’s Task Force on Diversity and Inclusion released a report that found the Academy could improve its outreach to underrepresented communities. That same year, the Academy announced its aim to double female voters by 2025 — it is 60% to that goal.

“All of us have seen a push in making sure communities are reflected,” says Ashley Thomas, director of member and outreach systems for the Academy. She and Kelley Purcell, the Academy’s vp of membership & industry relations, oversee six membership managers, who are tasked with supporting — and expanding — their assigned chapters and musical genres. “We’re actively seeking women, we’re actively seeking different genres and different disciplines,” Thomas says. “And so when the outreach managers are doing this work, it’s always at the forefront of what they’re doing.”

The Recording Academy’s current membership includes more than 12,000 voting members and an additional 3,000 non-voting, “professional” members. It has increased the number of invitees each year — from 1,300 in 2019, 2,300 in 2020 and 2,700 in both 2021 and 2022 — and looking ahead, Thomas says, there is an emphasis on global membership.  “This year, we’ve invited over 200 music makers from the global music community. Our outreach team works on finding global music makers and professionals within all of their genres. This is a big priority.”

Below, Billboard asked each membership manager about their specific genres and chapters. Their answers are condensed for clarity and space.

Janette Becerra / Membership Manager
Latin, Visual Media, Music Video/Film
Chapters: Florida, Atlanta

Becerra started at the Academy as an intern in 2015. She previously worked at Sony/ATV Latin, Magnus Media and

Janette Becerra

University of Miami

The Academy stated 56 percent of the invitees were from underrepresented communities. How did that play into your outreach efforts?

As a Latina, I am very passionate about reaching underrepresented communities, and ensuring that these folks feel that they have a place at the Academy is a priority for both me and the organization. Personally, it’s been useful for me to work alongside the Chapter teams to recruit and identify creatives and professionals that represent all corners of the music industry. Working collectively with our internal team and alongside our members helps drive continued progress toward diversifying our membership.

The Grammy Awards added a best score soundtrack for video games and other interactive media category this year. What opportunities does that open up for increasing membership in that sector since they now have their own category as opposed to being part of Best Score Soundtrack for Visual Media?

The global shift towards recognizing video games as a mass cultural movement is here to stay. By paving this pathway to recognition specifically for the global Gaming/Interactive media industry, we’re able to connect with and recognize a vast community of creatives and professionals. It allows for more visibility for them in this space and I feel strongly that it will encourage membership growth.

Laura Crawford / Sr. Membership Manager
Country, American Roots, Gospel/CCM
Chapter: Nashville

Crawford worked as a publicist in both the contemporary Christian and country genres before joining the Recording Academy 11 years ago. The Nashville native moved into membership in 2014.

Laura Crawford

Laura Crawford

Greg Travis

Brandi Carlile and Kacey Musgraves both expressed unhappiness over their entries being moved out of the Americana and Country categories in which they were submitted for the most recent Grammy Awards. Was that a concern among Americana and Country artists when you were recruiting new members from that community?

In having membership conversations with artists in these communities, we get a lot of questions about how the Awards process works. When new members have concerns, I make sure they are aware that the process is fluid and there’s an opportunity to lend their voice to changes each year. I think members find it encouraging that they can submit proposals if they feel that adjustments or changes need to be made to the Awards process.

The Academy said 56% of the invitees were from underrepresented communities. How did the efforts to diversify the membership play into your country outreach, which is predominantly a white genre? What are the challenges there?

Like many genres, the face of country music is evolving, and I anticipate in the coming years we’ll see a more inclusive space within this community. Our membership model is peer-driven, so I work closely with key genre stakeholders on our membership committees who constantly introduce us to emerging artists and future industry leaders.

Amanda Garcia Davenport / Membership Manager
Pop, EDM
Chapters: Texas, Memphis

Davenport previously handled public relations for a mental health and addiction recovery non-profit as well as did music marketing for Visit Austin before joining the Academy in 2020.

Amanda Garcia Davenport

Amanda Garcia Davenport

LeChoyce Photography

The Academy says 56% of the new invitees were from underrepresented communities. How did that play into your outreach efforts?

As a Latina from Texas, reaching underrepresented communities is always top of mind for me. I’ve found that often prospective members don’t realize they already meet our membership qualifications, so our initial conversations are simply providing information about our process. Nine times out of ten, once someone realizes they qualify, they automatically mention people within their own circles that also qualify. It’s truly a ripple effect and further proves how we all must work together to build a more inclusive membership.

The organization has a goal of adding 2,500 female voting members by 2025. How does that play into your EDM recruiting efforts in a heavily male-dominated genre?

I see this as a challenge a lot of genres are facing and constantly remind myself of the various disciplines that qualify for voting membership – producer, engineer, songwriter, etc. — this way I don’t get stuck only thinking of one profession. We’re also leaning on our membership’s peer-to-peer model (each member can recommend two new members per year) and tapping into existing [ally]organizations with a similar focus like Key of She, Sound Girls, and Girls Make Beats.

Maurice Kalous / Sr. Membership Manager
Rock, Alternative, Spoken Word, Children’s Music
Chapters: Chicago, Philadelphia, Washington, D.C.

A 13-year veteran of the Academy, Kalous had already been supported the Chicago chapter and last year, his role shifted to focus on outreach within the rock, alternative, spoken word, and children’s music communities while supporting membership efforts for the Chicago, Philadelphia, and D.C. chapters

Maurice Kalous

Maurice Kalous

Roger Jansen

The Academy added Best Spoken Word Poetry Album category this year. How has that helped in recruiting artists in that genre?

The addition of the Best Spoken Word Poetry Album category is a monumental achievement for the Spoken Word Poetry community. Some of the strongest voices in Spoken Word Poetry advocated for the category addition, including Grammy-nominated artist J. Ivy. Throughout the process of proposing this category, J. and his peers put in the work to ensure recognition for the community by connecting with artists in the genre, leading to an overwhelmingly positive response from their fellow creators.

Of the genres that you cover, which one presents the biggest challenge in recruiting new members?

Right now, I’d love to see more artists in metal engage with the Academy, lead some of our member-facing programs, and take on leadership roles within their respective chapters. We have fantastic voices in our new membership class that I can see leading those discussions…Broadly speaking, I believe our biggest challenge is ensuring all artists working in music understand what the Recording Academy has to offer outside of the Grammy Awards recognition. We are an organization working to better the lives of everyone working in music, and everything we do is powered by our members.

Brittany Presley / Membership Manager
R&B, Rap, Reggae, Global Music
Chapter: Los Angeles

Presley held several positions at nationally syndicated radio stations and production companies before starting with the Academy in 2013 and moving to membership manager four years ago.

Brittany Presley

Brittany Presley

Brittany Presley

What are the challenges in recruiting members from the rap community when some have a still lingering belief in that community that rap isn’t fairly represented in the big four categories?

We’re working hard to continue building relationships and trust with the artists that call this genre home, and we’ve made great strides thanks to the intentional efforts made on behalf of Harvey, Valeisha and so many other leaders here at the Academy. I often find that connecting with these artists directly and uncovering what we do outside of the awards show related to creators’ rights, the Black Music Collective (BMC), and MusiCares helps paint a full picture of what Academy membership can offer them. There is still much progress to be made, and we’re committed to putting in the work that needs to be done to break barriers and build more trust with the rap community.

What areas do you see the greatest potential for growth in the genres that you cover and in the chapter that you oversee? What are the biggest challenges?

I see great potential for growth within the Global music genre. For example, there are so many incredible artists coming out of Africa, and we’re only seeing a subset of that here in the states. I strongly feel that Global music will soon become the music of our time.

Lewis Robertson / Membership Manager
Jazz, Comedy, New Age, Ambien or Chant, Contemporary Instrumental
Chapters: San Francisco, Pacific Northwest

A music professional who worked as a studio musician, tour and studio manager and professor, Robertson started at the Recording Academy three years ago.

Lewis Roberston

Lewis Roberston

Ryan Bates

The Academy says 56% percent of the new invitees were from underrepresented communities. How did that play into your outreach efforts?

I would estimate that over 80% of my outreach efforts this year were dedicated to identifying and supporting music people in underrepresented communities. Our hope is to not just defend against existing industry biases, but to ultimately help affect positive change that will reverberate throughout the world of music.

What areas do you see the greatest potential for growth in the genres and regions that you cover?

The UK Jazz scene is exploding with innovation, Colorado and Seattle have become quite large music hubs, the comedy genre at large is an untapped gold-mine of creativity, ideas, and artists pushing boundaries. Music from the Bay Area is filled with important calls to action, Contemporary Instrumental music is continuing to breed some of the greatest musicians of our time, and New Age, Ambient and Chant music is becoming more and more important as our lives get busier and more stressful.

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‘White Lotus’ Music Supervisor Explores the Series’ (Mostly) Hawaiian Needle Drops



Emmy nominee Janet Lopez, the music supervisor for “The White Lotus,” notes that the show’s creator, Mike White, didn’t script any songs.

The idea was to establish the location, which took her into listening to beautiful and important music from Hawaii, that she found through researching the music available from the region’s publishers and record labels.

Lopez’s goal was to thread together a musical journey that resonated with the characters while enhancing the exotic location of the show. “We wanted the music to travel with the emotion in the scene, instead of feeling like pure needle drops on top of it,” she says.

To achieve that, it was down to the show’s editors to connect those moments. Lopez says, “That allowed for flexibility to explore a variety of songs and pursue authentic tracks that were special to Mike.”

Lopez explored some key music selections from the show’s first season for Variety.

“He Hawai’i Au” by the Sunday Manoa

“Like so many songs in ‘The White Lotus,’ this song was a favorite of Mike White. … Everything about this song and the Sunday Manoa is authentic, so having it play beautifully over a new day in Hawaii as our characters wake up to the possibilities was perfect. It was so organic that letting it simmer and play as the source in the lobby is what we did.”

“Hawai’i Aloha” by the Rose Ensemble

“The end of this episode marks the first song use by the Rose Ensemble. Their thoughtful and soulful sound is heard often throughout the season, and playing them over Armond’s internal conflict into Quinn’s (Fred Hechinger) first pure appreciation of nature felt honest and real.

“Their songs just worked and by the end of the season, they too felt like a sort of theme that we were grateful for.”

“Hukia Mai” by APM Music

“A common misconception about production library music is that it’s affordable and therefore not valuable. This is just not true.

“APM Music is a perfect example of how important and credible library songs can be. Kapono Beamer is a beloved and respected, Grammy-nominated and 12-time Nā Hōkū Hanohano Award winner (Hawaii’s premier music award), and along with Mac Prindy and Grahame Roy Maclean, he is a co-writer on the song ‘Hukia Mai.’

“‘Hukia Mai’ was not an alternative to a more expensive song, but rather a proud first pick for what worked best in the scene.”

“Jesu, Joy of Man’s Desiring” (aka “Herz und Mund und Tat und Leben, BWV 147:X. Jesu bleibet meine Freude”) by Eugene Ormandy & the Philadelphia Orchestra

“Mike White loved this particular arrangement of Bach’s ‘Jesu, Joy of Man’s Desiring.’ And while it was very different than anything we’d heard in the season, it also felt 100% right.

“In any other show, this could have been a scored moment, but Mike’s vision was spot-on and we used this recording as well as a gorgeous version by the Dominican Sisters over various sequences of Armond unraveling.

“Mike’s openness and exploration for what works is part of the magic and fun in the music.”

“Island Style” by John Cruz

“This song plays over the end credits in the final episode and was an important song for Mike. Its performance by Grammy and Nā Hōkū Hanohano Award-winner John Cruz is genuine and a beautiful final reminder of our show.”

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