Robert Fisher ’79 spent two days lobbying on Capital Hill for musician’s rights! In this post, he will talk about day one on the hill!

Wednesday April 25, 2012 – Washington, D.C.

Arrive at the Liasion Hotel for Party check in:

I flew into Reagan International Airport on Saturday, April 21st from Los Angeles to meet my daughter, Toni Fisher, (originally from Los Angeles and currently singing in a band in Washington called the Rites of Ash). We both felt at home at the Grammy on the Hill awards party in the heart of Washington, D.C. Many familiar faces from the LA chapter made us feel like we were in good company including Marty Kraft, Kelly Milionis, Linda Mensch, and Neil Portnow, President of the National Academy of the Recording Arts and Sciences (NARAS), whom attends consistently every year. Toni and I quickly took some touristy shots of us in front of the Capital lawn before the sun went down. We took a quick peek of the awards banquet ballroom with all its decorated purple glitter and tinsel.


Toni and I arrived at the check-in tables and were greeted by photographers eager to find out who was arriving at this year’s stellar Grammy event coordinated by Crystal Hypolite. We then proceeded inside the reception party in the Art and Soul Lounge that quickly started to fill up with artists and guests.  I always look forward to meeting old friends from past Grammy on the Hill Lobbying events, but it’s equally exciting to meet new faces that are there to make a difference by being a true American activist, some whom were experiencing the calling for the very first time. It is so patriotic to get involved with the political process and actually physically make a difference by talking directly to a Senator in their office. You walk away feeling like, “I no longer have anything to complain about,“ because you can do something about it!  We are actually getting American musicians voices heard by going directly to the politicians. We celebrated victorious that night before we even walked up the hill. We had lots of faith in our past work because this time around Capital Hill was waiting for us! We just had to show up. We were so grateful for all the overwhelming support we get from the Hill. That night we had a chance to award the front line advocates for musicians performance rights like Congressman Henry Berman and also John Mayer for his work with the returning care for U.S. soldiers.

8:10 pm

Luke Russert (son of late Tim Russert) Master of Ceremonies took the podium and introduced the key note speakers, Secretary of Health and Human Services, Kathleen Sebelius, Neil Portnow (NARAS), Pat Collins (SESAC), Daryl P. Friedman, Chief Advocacy and Industry Relations Officer of the Recording Academy (Organizer), and DJ and advocate Jimmy Jam. Guitarist Rick Nielson of Cheap Trick opened the event with a melody and chordal version of our National Anthem that was a solo instrumental.


Awards presented to Congressman Howard Berman and finally John Mayer who spoke so eloquently on how he helps returning soldiers adjust to civilian life after combat (post combat traumatic stress syndrome) PTSD experiences. John says it helps to ask soldiers about their experiences and just listen. “Yellow ribbons for returning veterans are just IOU’s to help our veterans adjust to civilian life once they return home”


Senator Orrin Hatch surprised all of us with a song he had co-written with a songwriting team about his beloved State of Utah. The song was performed live on stage for the Grammy on the Hill audience and was received with a heartfelt emotional response. The Senator stood up and acknowledged the warm reception of his own music with a standing ovation for “High Country”.


Then the explosive musical fireworks were delivered on stage with blues guitar icon (who will always be John Mayer’s and any musicians mentor) the great Buddy Guy rocked Capital Hill at night! Whether you are Democrat or Republican, music always melts the hearts with the labor of its love. John Mayer then joined forces with Buddy and musical history was created in front of our ears. To hear those two musical geniuses exchanging blues guitar lead licks as if they were having a conversation was extraordinary. Every Congressman and Senator we met during the evening’s afterglow and at the next day Capital Hill meetings and speeches, all opened with a musical appreciate for Buddy and John’s performance.

*As a side note and behind the scenes to all the festivities, my daughter and I videotaped a cover song of Jewel’s “You Were Meant for Me” on Monday at the Rites of Ash recording studio in Annandale, VA. Posted on YouTube Tuesday and went viral by Wednesday night. By Thursday morning it doubled in hits. It was quite the buzz last night and again at the breakfast tables this morning with the Grammy on the Hill participants. Big surprise for all of us!