Meet The First Woman In 15 Years To Get A Grammy Producer Of The Year Nomination

Producer Linda Perry aims to make producing and engineering more accessible for young women artists through her label and management company, We Are Hear. (Kristin Burns)

No woman has ever won a Grammy for Producer of the Year. It's been 15 years since a woman was even nominated. Linda Perry is the first female producer nominated since Lauren Christy of The Matrix production team back in 2004.

It's not going to be easy — she faces A-list competition including Kanye West and Pharrell. But she has a chance.

You might know Perry from her band 4 Non Blondes and their hit song "What's Up?" She made an impact writing and producing a string of pop hits in the early 2000s including P!nk's "Get The Party Started."

Part of the problem with female representation in production and engineering fields is the lack of role models for young women, according to Perry.

"It's just not sexy," Perry said. "You know what I mean? They're not going, 'Oh mommy, daddy, I wanna be like her.' So what we need to do is establish more of the women that are doing more of the technical side."

The Grammys aren't the sole barometer for industry practices, as there are women who produce their own music — Grimes, for instance. But for Perry, it's the difference between having command of a live studio environment versus a computer program.

"So there's producers or engineers that engineer in Pro Tools, and then there's engineers like me — I move microphones around, I know how to mic a drum set," Perry said. "We don't come from that world right now. We're getting samples."

Perry's nomination for Producer of the Year follows a prolific 2018 in which she wrote and produced music with Dolly Parton for the Netflix movie Dumplin', singer-songwriter Willa Amai, and L.A. rock outfit Dorothy. She also produced the soundtrack for the documentary Served Like a Girl, which examines the issues faced by women veterans. It includes 12 Perry-produced tracks by artists like Pat Benatar, P!nk, Gwen Stefani, and others.

Perry operates out of her workspace in Studio City, which is called We Are Hear. It's a label and publishing company co-founded with music manager Kerry Brown, and it's a space where she can foster new talent.

"Nowadays, these kids don't have this opportunity at all. They don't know what it's like being in a rehearsal room," Perry said.

But as she mentors young songwriters like Willa Amai, she's also learning from the younger generation.

"I didn't want to be Linda Perry, this old producer that comes in and tells this little kid that has a fresher perspective than I do at this point," Perry said. "So my job was to just help her and nurture her."

With any luck — and with hard work from the likes of Linda Perry — the Grammys will recognize more women in the years to come.