From graduation to the GRAMMYs: Meet Cameron Parsons '18

Written byElizabeth Rose-Arcuri

"I've never believed in just waiting for an opportunity. You cannot be afraid to chase your dreams. Put yourself where you see yourself."

University of Louisiana at Lafayette music graduate Cameron Parsons
Cameron Parsons
Graduation Year
Class of 2018
Shreveport, La.

Where I'm From

I'm from Shreveport and came to UL Lafayette as a first-generation college student.

Where I Am

I live in Los Angeles and work in operations and special projects for The Recording Academy and GRAMMY Awards. I also perform as a gigging musician and freelance with music label street teams and partnerships.

Where I'm Going

I'm going to release my first EP this year and continue advocating for musicians and mental health through my work.

Just two months after graduating from UL Lafayette, music business alum Cameron Parsons found himself living in Los Angeles and working for The Recording Academy — a.k.a. The GRAMMYs.

"I graduated at 22, and within, like, six months, I was helping run some of the biggest events during GRAMMY Week," he said.

Networking with Music Industry Leaders

Moving to California was always part of Cameron's plan, but landing a job with The Recording Academy wasn't.

So how did he end up working for one of the most prominent music organizations in the world?  Through constant networking, starting when he was a freshman.

Cameron Parsons and a group of University of Louisiana at Lafayette friends outdoors
Cameron Parsons (center right) with friends from the University of Louisiana at Lafayette

"I've never believed in just waiting for an opportunity. I would ask all my professors to set me up with people in California," he said. "Some of my mentors are becoming the most influential people in music. I've gotten amazing opportunities based solely off of reaching out."

"I got into these spaces because I have absolutely no problem stepping outside of my comfort zone and asking people, 'Hey, how did you get here? How did you get from where you were to right here?' What does it take to break the ceiling of this particular role?"

Scott Durbin, an assistant professor in the School of Music and Performing Arts and the coordinator for the music business program with decades of experience in the music industry, became Cameron's mentor. Durbin coached Cameron through finding internships, jobs, and other opportunities in Lafayette that could help him travel to and stand out in Los Angeles.

"I saved all the money I could. Then I would just fly out to L.A. and meet with these people that Professor Scott Durbin would put me in contact with," Cameron said. "I was a sophomore and a junior, and I'm speaking into existence: I'm about to move to L.A. I didn’t know anybody, I don't know how, but I'm gonna find a way."

With the support of his professors and his mom — who always reminded him that his dreams would come true if he continued to work hard — he moved to Los Angeles to start his career.

Working for The GRAMMYs

On campus, Cameron made connections through GRAMMY U, a program through The Recording Academy that pairs college students with leaders in the music industry. That organization led Cameron to his first role at The Recording Academy.

"I had never even thought about applying to the GRAMMYs, because I didn't think they did anything other than the one show," Cameron recalled. "But I checked the website, I applied for a job."

While he didn't get the job he initially applied for, his application stood out, and he immediately secured a job as the Operations Coordinator for The Recording Academy.

After working in that role for almost three years, he was promoted to Office Services and Special Projects Assistant. He ensures the building operations run smoothly while also working with The Recording Academy's different departments on special projects.

Those special projects included the company artist showcase series, where Cameron helped with sound-check and logistics for artists including Ari Lennox, Lucky Day, and Ella Mai.

He also works with the Salute to Music Legends series, the MusiCares philanthropic arm of the GRAMMYs, and a range of other musical programs and installations throughout the year.

And, of course, there are the annual GRAMMY Week events.


A post shared by Muse (@january_muse)

"We're constantly busy, we're constantly on the go, and I just love being able to jump in on some of these projects," he said.

"I've always felt that my role on this earth is to amplify Black and creative voices," he said. "It's not to create the greatness but to amplify that greatness in others around me, and help them cultivate and figure out what's important — and push that forward."

Life as a Musician in Los Angeles

If working full time for The Recording Academy weren’t enough, Cameron also has his own projects — including writing and recording his upcoming neo-soul EP called “#Breathe.”

"It's about just overcoming all your insecurities, all your fears, and pushing yourself into that new level of life into that next phase," he explained, "and being okay with not being okay all the time."

Cameron's primary instrument is the violin, and he also plays guitar and piano.


A post shared by Muse (@january_muse)

"My inspiration comes from my experiences," he explained. "Being from Louisiana, and, you know, facing those battles of breaking generational curses, finding my way out of the South, fighting racism, being a young Black man in society — I'm finding my niche in all these different realms. It's a lot to pull from."

Even though Cameron's inspiration is personal, his EP is about universal experiences.

"The biggest thing about music — and life in general — is that we all go through the same things. Whether we talk about it or not — that's the difference," he said. "So, what I like to do in my music is talk about it. Let's have the conversation. Let's put it on the table."

Creating Opportunities Everywhere

Cameron's biggest piece of advice for music majors is to create opportunities: join organizations, build your network, and give back.

As a first-generation college student, Cameron knew that he needed to take advantage of every possible opportunity, and there were plenty at UL Lafayette – creating the launchpad he needed to start his career in music.

While he was at UL Lafayette, Cameron joined the Delta Sigma Pi business fraternity, which taught him how to have a business mindset. He also joined Student Orientation Staff, which taught him how to communicate, work with different people, and be confident about who you are.

That mentality has given Cameron more opportunities than he imagined — including working with his idol John Legend and appearing in one of his music videos.

See Cameron Parsons at the 1:23 mark in John Legend's "Bigger Love" music video.

"Everybody knows I love John Legend. I want to be just like him," Cameron said. "We had an event a couple of years ago, and the coordinators for the event knew that I wanted to meet him. So, they made me, like, his escort for that night. I had the opportunity to talk to him and help him navigate that event for the night."

Now, Cameron's making sure other music students at UL Lafayette have similar opportunities. He guest lectures in the School of Music and Performing Arts, he's strengthening the GRAMMY U presence at UL Lafayette, and he mentors other up-and-coming music business students.

He does all of it because he wants to see musicians succeed and thrive, which starts with making connections.

"You cannot be afraid to chase your dreams," he said. "Put yourself where you see yourself."

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