As the entertainment industry makes strides toward diversity and inclusion, one blind singer/songwriter reminds the music business that people with disabilities also matter.
Meet Lachi, the founder and President of RAMPD, the new disability advocacy group for the music industry. An acronym for the Recording Artists and Music Professionals with Disabilities, RAMPD is a growing coalition dedicated to making disability inclusion and access a reality in the mainstream music industry.
Composed of the industry’s top talent with disabilities, RAMPD sat down with leaders from top music firms, labels, and nonprofits to forge partnerships with the Recording Academy, WomenInMusic.org, NIVA, and others.
“Because RAMPD consists of established, accredited and competitive creators, we aim to achieve our mission by serving as a body, a collective voice for inclusion,” Lachi told BLACK ENTERPRISE.
As part of a recent partnership with the NYC Mayor’s Office, the Music Inclusion Coalition, and Blonde Records, RAMPD helped make the inaugural WAVY Awards inclusive. The WAVY’s will now be the first-ever award show ceremony with fully-integrated self-descriptions.
One of RAMPD’s biggest goals is to make accessibility ramps visible on television during award shows to normalize disability in the entertainment industry.
“With 1 in 4 Americans have some form of disability, but 70% of music professionals with disabilities conceal the fact due to fear of damaging a relationship,” Lachi said. “We’re losing out on those stories and the freedom, growth, and beauty that comes with hearing and sharing those stories.”
“I founded RAMPD to kill that silence and to amplify disabled voices, as a service to the music industry, because the next generation absolutely deserves it.”
Through RAMPD, Lachi, co-founder Gaelynn Lea, and others work toward breaking stigmas around disability culture.
“A prime example of amplifying disability culture is this notion of ‘say the word’ Disability,” Lachi said.
“Euphemizing the word to “differently-abled” or “special needs” posits disability as a wrongness that needs to be softened. But there is nothing wrong with identifying as disabled.”
As inclusion makes advances in mainstream media and popular culture, Lachi sees a light at the end of the tunnel for the plight of the disabled community.
“I do see a change a-brewing as more and more disabled creators, and leaders take the reins, stand up for their stories and narratives, and advocate for authenticity in the media,” Lachi said. “We’re seeing disabled-owned firms and agencies promoting disabled talent, alongside equitable pay and other such fair practices.”
The award-winning singer/songwriter explained how intersectionality plays a role in her career as a musician.
“I’m not just disabled. I am a Black female with a disability,” Lachi said. “And as such I swim against three currents of oppression, one amplified by the other.”
“There are not enough voices, advocates, and activists in this space—due to the aforementioned currents—so when asked about intersectionality, I tend to drop the playfulness.”
“As a Black disability advocate, I have been asked by Caucasian disabled colleagues, “everyone’s focused on the Black movement, and disability constantly takes a backseat or is not even included.” Here’s my answer to that. Let’s stop fretting over the space other oppressed groups take up, and go take up our own space!”
“If you feel you’re waiting for the Black movement in America to end, well then you may not understand the makeup of a cultural movement. Until you respect Blackness as a culture, and until you see disability as a culture, you will have trouble recognizing that these two cultures can coexist and fight together to improve humanity.”