The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (the group behind the annual Oscar ceremony) has announced that it has invited a record-breaking 928 people to become new members in 2018. Among those invited are music artists Kendrick Lamar, Melissa Etheridge and Sufjan Stevens.
According to Variety, the Academy invited 774 new members in 2017, 683 new members in 2016 and 322 new members in 2015.The increase in the number of membership invitations is the Academy's effort to improve diversity in its membership since many of the invitees are women and people of color. Of the 928 people invited to be new Academy members in 2018, 49 percent are women and 38 percent are people of color. The Academy faced immense backlash and criticism in 2015 and 2016, when all of the actors and actresses who received Oscar nominations were white, which led to the #OscarsSoWhite hashtag on social media. According to Variety, if all of the new invitees accept, the Academy's membership will total more than 9,200 members, and the Academy's demographics for the year 2018 will change to 31 percent women (compared to 28 percent in 2017) and 16 percent people of color (compared to 13 percent in 2017).
The people invited into the music branch of the Academy are those who have experience contributing to original film music. Most of them are film composers and music editors, but a few are known as hitmaking artists on the pop charts. Lamar co-wrote all the songs and is a performer and a producer of several of the songs on the 2018 Black Panther soundtrack. He was also a writer and performer of the song "Backwards" from the 2014 film "Divergent."
Etheridge won an Oscar for Best Original Song for "I Need to Wake Up" from the 2004 documentary "An Inconvenient Truth." She also wrote and performed the song "I Take You With Me," which was on the soundtrack to the 1995 film "Boys on the Side."
Stevens received an Oscar nomination for Best Original Song for "Mystery of Love" from the 2017 film "Call Me by Your Name," whose soundtrack also features Stevens' songs "Visions of Gideon" and "Futile Devices."
Wendy Melvoin and Lisa Coleman, who are best known as former members of Prince's The Revolution band, are also among those invited to join the Academy's music branch. Melvoin and Coleman have composed the scores of several films, including 2010's "Just Wright," 1997's "Soul Food" and 1995's "Dangerous Minds."
Other notable music people who have been invited to join the Academy this year include longtime Fox film music editor/songwriter Ted Caplan, whose movie credits include 2017's "Logan" and "The Greatest Showman" and 2016's "Deadpool"; composer Lee Byung-woo (2006's "The Host" and 2009's "Mother"); and music editor Jeanette Surga, whose filmography includes 2018's "Aquaman," 2017's "Transformers: The Last Knight" and 2015's "Avengers: Age of Ultron."