Grammy Week is madness. Before “Music’s Biggest Night of the Year” even happens, the Producers & Engineers Wing Celebration, Entertainment Law Initiative Luncheon, Grammy In Schools Live!, MusiCares Person of the Year Gala and Fundraiser, the Grammy Nominees Reception and Clive Davis’ and Recording Academy’s Pre-Grammy Gala all take place.
There’s the set-up, the logistics, the media, the musicians and celebrities.
Then, the red carpet rolls out, the music fills the Staples Center and gilded gramophones are handed out.
“Lots of coffee, little sleep and you run on adrenaline,” said alumna Lourdes Lopez Patton ’01 (Journalism), vice president of communications for the Recording Academy. “The stress level is through the roof, but it’s a good stress.”
Lopez Patton is in the eye of the hurricane that spins rapidly and furiously before, during and after the Grammy Awards. She has been with the Recording Academy since 2003, when she took a temp job. In July, she was promoted to VP and now oversees media relations, public relations, corporate communications and reputation management for an organization that represents, celebrates and advocates for musicians through the Grammy and Latin Grammy Awards, the Los Angeles-based Grammy Museum and MusiCares — the Recording Academy’s charity that provides assistance to musicians in need.
Lopez Patton’s wisdom, energy, fluency in Spanish (she is from Mexico) and hard work have led to her rise in the Recording Academy. CSUN was also there to help provide a foundation.
“When I first started looking at CSUN and its [journalism/public relations] program, it was really one that competed with the UCLAs and USCs of the world,” Lopez Patton said. “CSUN is multifaceted and can help people from different backgrounds. There are people like me who needed to work [and go to school], and it was a school that could offer amazing classes and also help [me]. Very inspirational, and I think they take a vast interest in the students. CSUN provided me that opportunity to graduate, to get that good job and position me to get a good start in my career.”
Lopez Patton grew up in Sylmar. She worked for a company that sold home audio equipment and simultaneously went to college — first Los Angeles Mission College, then CSUN. She initially wanted to study law and earned an associate’s degree in administration of justice from Mission College, but craved a career where she could be creative. Public relations was the right fit.
Once she was in the program, she excelled. Lopez Patton said she had extraordinary professors who made her feel prepared and confident about what would follow graduation. She singled out former CSUN journalism professor Lori Baker-Schena.
“She was one of those teachers [where] you were excited to go to the classroom,” Lopez Patton said. “She wasn’t just a teacher, she did PR. She was also practicing it at the same time. So you’re like, ‘Yes, this is what I want to do.’”
Baker-Schena fondly remembers Lopez Patton.
“Lourdes was always an extraordinary student. She went above and beyond the classwork to get the most out of her CSUN experience,” Baker-Schena said. “I remember she applied, and landed, some extraordinary internships that helped her on her career path. Lourdes is an excellent example of how important it is to invest in education and take advantage of all opportunities available as a CSUN student. And whatever the assignment in my classroom, she gave it her all.”
After CSUN, Lopez Patton sought work in corporate communications. Her first step was through a temp agency, and they informed her that the Recording Academy was looking for a Spanish speaker to work in their special events department.
Specifically, they wanted someone to work on their Person of the Year event, which that year honored one of her favorite artists — legendary Mexican singer Vicente Fernández. When a job opened up in the Recording Academy’s communications department, Lopez Patton applied for the job, got it and has been there ever since.
Lopez Patton said being bilingual helped tremendously.
“I don’t know if I would have gotten that [temp] job at that organization had they not needed somebody who spoke Spanish,” Lopez Patton said. “And that was extremely important, especially in today’s society, where everywhere you go is English and Spanish. Everywhere you look, people are looking for someone who speaks a second language, whether that’s Spanish or whether it’s Mandarin, or something else. It completely puts you over the top.”
Lopez Patton added that she had management at the Recording Academy who invested in and believed in her along the way, and because of that, she worked constantly to give back to the job. She rose to senior manager of communications and media relations, then to senior director of marketing communications, and then to her most recent promotion to vice president of communications.
“She is a proven leader who has demonstrated unbridled passion, creativity and professionalism, all while possessing an impressive growth mindset,” Neil Portnow, former president and CEO of the Recording Academy, told Variety in an article about Lopez Patton. “Having worked with Lourdes for many years, I am delighted to have her join our senior management team. I know she has the right skills, relationships and experiences in place to help the Academy continue to grow.”
Baker-Schena said Lopez Patton is symbolic of so many Matadors.
“The CSUN experience is what you make of it. If you work hard and dedicate yourself to excellence and success, you can go far,” Baker-Schena said. “I earned my B.A. in journalism and my MBA from CSUN, and this education has allowed me great success in my business and in my life. And as a professor, I have taught students who are [now] working in the higher echelons of public relations throughout Los Angeles and, indeed, the country. Lourdes is a tremendous example of what talent, hard work and a great education can lead to in a career. I am super proud of her.”