The Recording Academy Memphis Chapter played host for GRAMMYs On The Road At The Beale Street Music Festival, held May 4–6 as part of the Memphis in May International Festival. The Chapter conducted exclusive backstage interviews with artists performing at the festival, including GRAMMY-winning rock band Evanescence and GRAMMY-nominated blues/rock guitarist Kenny Wayne Shepherd.
Evanescence frontwoman Amy Lee discussed the creative versus the corporate side of the music business, social media and winning a Best New Artist GRAMMY.
"It was kind of surreal," Lee said regarding winning two GRAMMY Awards with Evanescence in 2003. "Our first album had just come out that year and it was kind of just like a whirlwind, but a huge honor. … I'm very proud of my GRAMMYs."
Formed in Little Rock, Ark., Evanescence emerged as one of the most popular post-alternative bands of the '00s on the strength of their major label debut, 2003's Fallen. The album cracked the Top 5 on the Billboard 200 and spawned the Top 5 Billboard Hot 100 hit "Bring Me To Life." Fallen garnered the group their first two GRAMMY wins for Best New Artist and Best Hard Rock Performance for "Bring Me To Life," and also earned an Album Of The Year nomination. After several shifts in the band's lineup, The Open Door followed in 2006, peaking at No. 1 on the Billboard 200 and earning a GRAMMY nomination for Best Hard Rock Performance for "Sweet Sacrifice." The band's most recent release, 2011's Evanescence, climbed to No. 1 on the Billboard 200, Evanescence's third consecutive album to crack the Top 5.
Shepherd discussed his musical journey, being nominated for a GRAMMY and his most recent release, 2011's How I Go.
"When I signed my first record deal at 16 … I had no idea what to expect," said Shepherd. "Just the fact that people were showing up to see me play was good enough for me. … It was just about getting to play music. The fact that I've been doing this now [for] over 20 years and still have a career that's thriving [is] a real testament to our fans and the kind of music that I do."
Born in Shreveport, La., Shepherd began playing guitar at age 7. At 13 he was invited to perform onstage with New Orleans bluesman Brian Lee. Shepherd subsequently formed his own band and performed at local clubs at conventions. At 16 he earned a record deal with Giant Records and released his debut album, 1995's Ledbetter Heights, which topped Billboard's Blues Albums chart. Shepherd released Trouble Is… with the Kenny Wayne Shepherd band in 1997; it also peaked at No. 1 on the Blues Albums chart and earned Shepherd his first GRAMMY nomination for Best Rock Instrumental Performance for the title track. Shepherd has continued to top the Blues Albums chart with albums including Live On (1999), 10 Days Out (Blues From The Backroads) (2007), Live! In Chicago (2010), and How I Go (2011). Shepherd's most recent GRAMMY nomination came in 2010 for Best Contemporary Blues Album for Live! In Chicago.
Come back to GRAMMY.com tomorrow for more exclusive backstage interviews from GRAMMYs On The Road At The Beale Street Music Festival.