top of page's New York City Debut

A recap of our team's trip to NYC to film some of the city's most inspiring producers

by Shaunna Heckman and Naomi Westwater

Shaunna Heckman (she/her) is an American singer, songwriter and producer based in Duluth, MN and is the BBG Duluth chapter lead. Naomi Westwater (she/they) is a queer, Black-multiracial singer-songwriter and producer from Massachusetts, and leads the newly-formed Boston chapter for Beats by Girlz. The two are part of the production team for and traveled to New York in July '22 to film the next iteration of this series.

The production team. Top, left to right: Shaunna Heckman, Nan Macmillan, Krithi Rao, Carley Santori, Adele Fournet, Felipe Wurst. Bottom: Rosana Cabán (artist), Naomi Westwater.

The Backstory was launched in 2020 as a virtual, livestream series that was recorded from home during the heart of the pandemic. Our vision for is to showcase women and gender-expansive people of color in our Beats By Girlz community, as well as empower our viewers by displaying how people like them are using music, production, and technology to live and work.

For the second season we wanted to elevate and refocus by working with a videographer and bringing artists into a studio to create a series of videos to highlight producers and artists in our community. We decided to start this new iteration of in New York City since we have a strong connection to the music community there (the first Beats by Girlz chapter was formed at the Lower Eastside Girls Club!) We worked with local NYC videographer Adele Fournet. She is a musician, producer and engineer whose aesthetic was really appealing to us.

Adele Fournet and artist Lamb in the production suite at SAE Institute.

Lessons from the Artists

Some of our goals for this new series were to highlight artists that are BIPOC gender minorities, who have a diversity in career background, expression, genre and ethnicity. Many of the artists we worked with are people who have already interacted with Beats By Girlz in some way, or people we admire. Each artist we worked with was profound in their own unique way, providing both inspiration and truth about the joys and challenges of the music industry. As artists who work in music technology and production, we ourselves found it incredibly valuable to hear their stories and witness their careers. While everyone’s path is so different, all artists seem to share the belief that there is no one way to become an artist, producer or engineer. They are deeply connected to their craft through their identities, and their identities help shape their craft.

This industry can be very challenging, and it’s inspiring to see how these artists are innovating and creating. All artists seemed to acknowledge that making changes in the industry takes time. We have to continue to move the needle and be a part of this movement just as these artists beautifully portrayed.

Shaunna Heckman and artist JWords, plus film crew, in the production suite.

Next Steps

It was a busy couple of days with many moving parts while filming and capturing audio, but we had a great team and found the overall experience a success and incredibly rewarding. We believe that this series will showcase our goals of wanting to promote the visibility of music producers and creatives from marginalized gender communities and capture the raw emotion and hard work that goes into music production. We are currently in the editing phase with hopes of releasing a couple of the videos in the series this fall. Our hope is that since we are a global organization, we can take to many cities around the globe in the future. We are excited to share these videos with our community soon!


The artists we featured are Dani Murcia, Ushka, JWords, Lamb, and Rosana Cabán. More info on these artists is coming soon, and will release an episode on each artist.

article edited by Nan Macmillan

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