Photo: Craig Barritt/Getty Images for Something in the Water
Photo: Craig Barritt/Getty Images for Something in the Water
Photo: Theo Wargo/Getty Images for Pandora
Between the nominees and performers for the 63rd GRAMMY Awards, female artists are an undeniable force to be reckoned with this year. Pandora LIVE's Countdown To The GRAMMY Awards on Thursday, March 12, was further proof of the abundant girl power, honoring GRAMMY nominees CHIKA, Brittany Howard and HAIM. Hosted by Chair & Interim President/CEO of the Recording Academy Harvey Mason jr., the virtual GRAMMY Week event featured dynamic performances and an insightful interview with all of the above women.
Before the performances began, everyone spoke on the releases that resulted in their GRAMMY nominations. CHIKA remarkably earned her first nod following her debut project with Warner Records, Industry Games (the rapper/singer is nominated for Best New Artist). Perhaps even more notable, the album arrived just as COVID-19 hit last year. "I haven't gotten the normal experience that an artist has once they put out their first project to see the reaction," she said. "So, to get this acknowledgment in such a high regard off of my first year out is incredible to me, but also still something I'm processing."
Howard touched on the doubts that arise when making a new record but ultimately had one way to describe her five nominations: "I'm shooketh." HAIM, who told Howard they can relate to the uncertainty artists often feel, discussed how the process of their album Women In Music Pt. III—up for Album of the Year—aligns with the isolation the world has seen in the pandemic.
"When we wrote this record in particular, we were all collectively in a depressive spiral," Este Haim, the group's bassist, said. "I think we all felt really isolated, so a lot of the subject matter on Women in Music Pt. III is about feeling alone. And then, lo and behold, we put out this record in the middle of a pandemic, where everyone collectively feels some version of loneliness. We're just really happy that it resonated with people during this really insane, crazy time in our lives. We just want to make people not feel so lonely."
The women bonded over several things in their conversation, with the most significant commonality being how much they all miss touring. "That's what we're so excited about," Danielle Haim said. "People are going to want to see live music so bad that I hope we're going to just be playing our asses off." Echoed Este, "It's going to be the Roaring '20s 100 years later."
"Music is such an energy exchange that making it is ... if you're doing it right, you feel exhausted afterward," CHIKA added. "The way that humans typically recharge is being in an electrifying room with people who genuinely support you … But there is no recharge unless you've begun to pivot and adapt to the circumstances that we're all under right now."
It was easy to see that all three artists are itching to get back in front of an audience, as they each gave their performances their all. CHIKA was up first, delivering a captivating medley of her tracks "My Power" and "On My Way." She closed with a sultry song titled "FWB," the lead single from her latest EP, Once Upon a Time, which arrived just hours after the performance.
Another topic everyone agreed upon was their desire not to be defined by one genre. Howard's GRAMMY nods particularly prove that she really is genreless: Her album Jaime spawned nominations in the Rock, Alternative, R&B, and American Roots Music categories.
"I love everything, I like everything," Howard explained of her boundary-pushing sound. "I find life to be really suspenseful. Experiences, emotions, colors—it's just musical to me. All of that belongs in my music. I'm just putting out what I'm experiencing. The fact that I'm nominated across all of these genres makes perfect sense to me. That's how I absorb sounds, whatever it is."
Howard flexed her versatility with her four-song performance, playing Jaime tracks "Stay High," "Baby," "Goat Head," and "13th Century Metal." Her stage setup transported viewers to the venue, as she had a full backing band and a draped curtain backdrop illuminated by blue and pink lighting. The bridge of "13th Century Metal" felt like Howard was leading a congregation as she chanted, "We are all brothers and sisters!" and tromped around the stage with strobe lights flashing around her.
HAIM closed out the show with four effervescent tunes. Although they opted not to play their Best Rock Performance honoree "The Steps," the sisters did stick to tracks from Women In Music Pt. III, including "Summer Girl," "Gasoline" and "I've Been Down." For the final song, HAIM's lead singer Danielle tackled "Man From the Magazine" solo with an acoustic guitar, making for a powerful finish to the female-dominated event.
Before signing off, the women teased that this might not be the last time fans see them all in one place. "I'll produce beats for you, CHIKA," Howard offered, to which Haim's Este yelled, "I'll play bass!" CHIKA excitedly urged, "We need to trade contact info." If the night's performances were any indication, that would be one heck of a collaboration.
Photo: Kevin Mazur/Getty Images for Live Nation
Global Citizen, a movement seeking to end extreme poverty by 2030, and HeadCount, a voter registration non-profit, are teaming up to get Americans registered to vote for the upcoming presidential election on Nov. 3. To do so, they are tapping in some major names in hopes they can help thousands of voters register.
Billie Eilish, Taylor Swift, Nicky Jam, DJ Khaled are some of the big names joining the non-partisan Just Vote campaign targeting young voters, according to Rolling Stone. The campaign is offering eligible voters who check their status or who register experiences, memorabilia and performances donated by participating artists.
City Girls, Julianne Hough, FINNEAS, Quavo and Usher are among other artists supporting the voter registration drive. Rolling Stone reports that people who check their registration status may be up for “a virtual dance lesson with Usher and his choreographer, a never-before-seen performance from Nicky Jam, a happy hour meet and greet with Quavo, or a virtual get together with DJ Khaled." A Taylor Swift signed guitar, and merch from FINNEAS as well as Eilish, who began partnering with HeadCount in June 2019, are also up to giveaway.
Global Citizen and HeadCount hope to register 50,000 voters before the November election, a statement said.
Photo: Valerie Macon/AFP via Getty Images
The Recording Academy has today (Sept. 3) announced the creation of its Black Music Collective (BMC), a group of prominent Black music creators and professionals who share the common goal of amplifying Black voices within the Academy and the wider music community.
As part of the Recording Academy's commitment to evolving hand-in-hand with its membership, BMC will serve as a space for members to speak openly about new and emerging opportunities in Black music across all genres and identify ways to drive more representation.
The launch of BMC follows the Recording Academy's recent partnership with Color Of Change, the nation's largest online racial justice organization, in July, which set forth to create a Black music advisory group. The BMC fulfills this promise and is bringing together creators and business leaders to create a pipeline of future industry trailblazers. Leaders will meet regularly and initiate programs that will encourage participation and accelerate Black membership in the Recording Academy.
Jeffrey Harleston, Jimmy Jam, Quincy Jones, Debra Lee, John Legend, and Sylvia Rhone will serve as honorary chairs of the BMC. A distinguished leadership committee will be confirmed in the coming weeks and will work in sync with the honorary chairs to propel the collective's mission. Recording Academy Trustee Riggs Morales and Washington, D.C., Chapter Executive Director Jeriel Johnson will lead the initiative internally.
"The Black Music Collective is necessary to help drive the Recording Academy into a new era. Creating an open space for Black music creators can only benefit our membership as a whole," Harvey Mason jr., Chair and Interim President/CEO of the Recording Academy, said. "Through the past few months, I've been personally invested in propelling this collective along with Chapter leadership within the Academy. Together, we will elevate Black music creators within our organization and the industry at large."
"As Black music continues to drive culture, it is essential we grow and maintain representation within the Academy and the music industry," Valeisha Butterfield Jones, Chief Diversity & Inclusion Officer of the Recording Academy, said. "We're thrilled to help develop the leaders of tomorrow with impactful educational and experiential programs that we will announce in coming weeks."
In March 2018, the Recording Academy established a third-party task force to examine issues of diversity and inclusion within the Academy and the broader music community. The Academy has since taken action on the Task Force's initial assessment and recommendations and has made additional strides to facilitate a culture of belonging while recognizing the need to focus on underrepresented communities. Recent initiatives include the hiring of a Chief Diversity & Inclusion Officer, a $1 million donation to Color Of Change, alignment with #TheShowMustBePaused movement created by Jamila Thomas (Atlantic Records) and Brianna Agyemang (Platoon), and the development of an industry Inclusion Rider and Toolkit to be released later this year.
Stay up to date on the Recording Academy's progress, future announcements and recent initiatives on diversity and inclusion.
Tarriona Tank Ball
Photo: Tabatha Fireman/Redferns via Getty Images
Tank and the Bangas' Tarriona Tank Ball, Waxahatchee, The War on Drugs, Robin Pecknold, and others will perform at Vote Ready, a virtual music livestream event aiming to register people to vote, on Aug. 14.
Grizzly Bear's Daniel Rossen and Christopher Bear, TV on the Radio's Kyp Malone and Jaleel Bunton, Kam Franklin (of the Suffers), Kevin Morby, Hand Habits, Ciggy, Our Native Daughters' Allison Russell and Leyla McCalla, as well as The Building will be other acts performing at the event. Voter registration non-partisan organization HeadCount, Fort William and Live From Out There have partnered to organize the concert.
On August 14th, we are partnering with Live From Out There for Fort William Artist Mgmt x HeadCount present: VOTE READY Live Stream!— HeadCount (@HeadCountOrg) July 30, 2020
The virtual fest is FREE if you check your voter registration in advance at 👉 https://t.co/y1L0Hzo2II 👈 pic.twitter.com/yip7GyC49B
The festival is free for music fans who check their voter registration status. Beyond their online voting registration, HeadCount typically registers people at music festivals and concerts, but due to COVID-19 can no longer do that.
"This is a first of its kind event," said executive director of HeadCount Andy Bernstein in a statement. "We love the idea of serving up original performances to anyone who checks their voter registration status. We applaud the artists and Fort William Management for their leadership, and we hope it inspires many more similar events in the future."
The concert's efforts come as the upcoming 2020 presidential election is set to happen Nov. 3.
For more information, visit the HeadCount website.