"We started SITM to increase the number of women working in music — songwriters, engineers, producers, artists and industry professionals," the "Good Job" singer tells PEOPLE in the 2020 Beautiful Issue

By Dana Rose Falcone
April 29, 2020 02:50 PM
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When Alicia Keys learned early last year that the number of women in pop music reached a six-year low in 2017, the 15-time Grammy winner knew she wanted to do something about that.

“It was a huge wake-up call to see those statistics so clearly before us,” Keys, 39, tells PEOPLE in the 2020 Beautiful Issue.

So the “Good Job” singer teamed up with Universal Music Publishing Group Chairman and CEO Jody Gerson, Head Of WME-East Coast Music Division Sam Kirby and Ann Mincieli, Chief Engineer of AKW and Founder of Jungle City Studios, to start She Is the Music.

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Alicia Keys at an all-women songwriters camp that SITM and American Express hosted in December.
| Credit: Courtesy Alicia Keys

“Myself and these three other amazing women knew we couldn’t sit back and do nothing,” Keys says. “So we started SITM to increase the number of women working in music — songwriters, engineers, producers, artists and industry professionals. We are a first-of-its-kind collaboration spanning the music industry, powered by creators, publishers, record labels, talent agencies, industry groups, media companies, streaming services and more.”

RELATED VIDEO: Alicia Keys Reveals Her Secret Struggles In Emotional New Book: ‘I was Building My Life Around an Image of Perfection’

Though the initiative just launched last year, “We have made tremendous progress, creating three pillars, which include mentorship, songwriting camps and a database,” Keys says. “We have multiple committees on the ground in various states, as well as many of the individuals stated above chairing or co-chairing a committee, which is some of the most incredible, most successful women in our industry really paying it forward.”

The organization quickly pivoted to respond to the coronavirus outbreak. “We are donating our money and efforts to MusiCares and also a UCLA ICU doctor who is personally funding meals for the ICU staff,” says the mother of two, who announced that she’d postpone the release of her next album due to the ongoing pandemic.

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Keys with female songwriters at the December camp.
| Credit: Courtesy Alicia Keys

She Is the Music also continues to provide resources for the next generation of females in the music industry. “We are figuring out all the ways to keep momentum during this time by having virtual meetings, writing sessions and mixers,” Keys says. “We are excited for what’s ahead once this pandemic has subsided.”

For more from Alicia Keys, pick up the May 4 issue of PEOPLE, on newsstands now.