meta-script10 Smaller Music Festivals Happening In 2024: La Onda, Pitchfork Music Fest, Cruel World & More | GRAMMY.com
Berlin lead singer Terri Nunn performs in the middle of the crowd at the Lost Boys stage at Cruel World Festival at Brookside at the Rose Bowl, on Sat., May 20, 2023.
Berlin lead singer Terri Nunn performs at Cruel World Festival in 2023.

Photo: Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times via Getty Images

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10 Smaller Music Festivals Happening In 2024: La Onda, Pitchfork Music Fest, Cruel World & More

Beyond Coachella and Lollapalooza are a wealth of well-produced American festivals that keep people coming back for their down-home vibes and stacked lineups. Read on for 10 beloved smaller festivals that offer an alternative to major events.

GRAMMYs/Apr 8, 2024 - 01:21 pm

Music festival season doesn’t begin or end with Coachella. Festival fever brings millions of revelers to and across the United States annually for events that cater to every taste, style, and budget.

While Coachella, with its big-name lineups and a magnet for celebrities and influencers, often takes the lion's share of press and social media attention, plenty of smaller festivals equally capture the hearts of attendees who make it a tradition to return year after year.

2024 introduces an exciting array of new music festivals across the U.S., many highlighted in our guide below. Whether you want to see your long-time favorites or discover fresh music acts, there’s a ton of talent to consider. Beyond the music, these festivals offer top-notch people watching and other experiential joys that make this kind of creative and communal culture important to people across generations and backgrounds.

Sol Blume

May 3-5, Sacramento, California

California’s state capital is home to the now three-day Sol Blume, a festival so laid back that its mascot is a skeleton chilling on its side, throwing up a peace sign. This year’s Sol Blume is headlined by Snoh Aalegra, SZA and Kaytraminé (producer Kaytranada and singer Aminé). 

It’s still at Discovery Park, but now Sol Blume is a day longer than last year’s event, the stages are bigger and there are more food and drink options. There’s also a dedicated wellness area, with daily yoga classes, meditation sessions, and tension release workshops — should you get a little bit too worked up by the whole mass musical experience.

Lovers & Friends

May 4, Las Vegas, Nevada

Once again, Lovers & Friends is set to bring a monster lineup representing the heights of ‘90s R&B, hip-hop, pop, and boy bands to Las Vegas for the third time. It’s hard to overstate the megawatt, dream team, TRL-like quality of this festival. After all, headliners Janet Jackson, Usher, Backstreet Boys and Gwen Stefani have all carried arena tours on their own.

Like many of its single-day festival colleagues around the country, the Lovers & Friends lineup appears to fit what could be at least a couple days of performances into just one, so there may be schedule conflicts that prevent attendees from seeing all of the sets that they might want to enjoy.

Cruel World

May 11, Pasadena, California

A family-friendly, all-ages music festival with a predilection for nostalgia with a dark edge, Cruel World returns to the world-famous Rose Bowl’s Brookside golf course for the third year. This year’s fest features a top billing performance from Duran Duran, plus appearances by Interpol, Blondie, Simple Minds, Placebo, Soft Cell and Adam Ant. The latter rescheduled from last year’s canceling due to a health matter, so he’s just as anticipated as the top acts this year.

Speaking of 2023, a freak electrical storm cut several performances short last year, and a bonus makeup event was held the next night with Iggy Pop and Siouxsie Sioux. The skies should be kinder this year, and those who don’t get their musical fill can return to the same spot the following weekend for a festival called Just Like Heaven with The Postal Service, Death Cab for Cutie, Phoenix and more.

Movement

May 25-27, Detroit, Michigan

Launched in 2000 as the Detroit Electronic Music Festival and renamed in 2003, Movement remains the world’s pre-eminent event dedicated to techno music, a style created in Detroit and imitated all over the world. This year’s event features VIP pop-ups, classic record label showcases and veteran artists from Detroit and beyond such as Kevin Saunderson, Stacey Pullen, Delano Smith, Masters At Work, Richie Hawtin, Fatboy Slim and. . . Ludacris? Sure, why not — there’s always a hip-hop twist or three happening here, too.

Movement is still the best time to be in Detroit each year in order to celebrate the musical innovations of the city. Beyond the festival, there are a host of official and unofficial afterparties and alternatives to check out. Some people travel to the area to party and never even make it to the main festival, for all the other events happening at all hours.

La Onda

June 1-2, Napa, California

This year, a brand new festival La Onda will debut the weekend after the annual BottleRock festival at Napa Valley Expo with the same event producers. La Onda’s music headliners are Maná, Fuerza Regida, Alejandro Fernández and Junior H. The other acts booked represent a wide variety of Latinx sounds, including regional Mexican, Spanish rock, Latin pop, reggaetón, mariachi, rap, norteño and cumbia.

Read more: 11 New Music Festivals To Attend In 2024: No Values, We Belong Here & More

The Napa Valley Expo is big enough to hold such a large festival with different stages, but it’s not too exhausting to walk back and forth between the areas. And BottleRock amenities like the silent disco, spa treatments, and adult refreshments will be there for La Onda guests to check out as well. 

Roots Picnic

June 1-2 Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

The annual Roots Picnic takes place in Philadelphia, the original home of The Roots, and is always a passionate tribute to the City of Brotherly Love (see last year’s highlights). This year, there will also be a big tribute to New Orleans performed by Lil Wayne, Trombone Shorty, PJ Morton and more. 

The festival lineup, which is curated by the band, features musical friends like Jill Scott, Nas, and Victoria Monét as well as a special performance by André 3000, who has been touring the country playing improvisational, flute-led music inspired by his recent solo album New Blue Sun. Tickets to that show alone have been tough to get on other dates, and it’s part of the glorious Roots Picnic.

Pitchfork Music Festival

July 19-21, Chicago, Illinois

Chicago’s Union Park has been home to the three-day Pitchfork Music Festival since its inception in 2011. The annual event, an extension of the acclaimed music publication, attracts about 60,000 people — see the standout sets from last year to get a good idea of the diversity of this mainstay. Artists bringing the heat this year include Black Pumas, Jamie XX, Alanis Morissette, De La Soul, Brittany Howard, Grandmaster Flash and Carly Rae Jepsen

Pitchfork Music Festival is a scorching experience for more than its hot lineup — you can also expect high summer temperatures in the Windy City. Pitchfork’s editorial staff was recently reduced and merged into the men’s magazine GQ by Condé Nast, so the festival’s future shouldn’t be taken for granted.

Fool in Love

Aug. 31, Inglewood, California

Like Lovers & Friends, people questioned whether this new one-day fest’s heavy-hitting R&B and old-school soul lineup was fake when it was first released. Lionel Richie and Diana Ross take the top tier of the flier, followed by Nile Rodgers & Chic, Al Green, Santana, Charlie Wilson and Gladys Knight. And this festival has more levels of enduring talent booked, including stages headlined by George Clinton and Parliament-Funkadelic and Clinton’s hero, Smokey Robinson

It’s been criticized on social media for booking bands that may not have many or any surviving original members, but that has been a very standard part of certain touring legacy acts for decades. Both the multi-generational lineup and the people-watching promise to be legendary.

Bumbershoot

Aug. 31- Sept. 1, Seattle, Washington

An all-ages event that began back in 1973, Bumbershoot is one of the country’s staple music and arts festivals. After beginning as an independently-produced fest, AEG Live ran it for four years until 2019. Bumbershoot was relaunched in 2023 by Third Stone and New Rising Sun with Seattle Center, the expansive indoor/outdoor venue where it still takes place.

Last year’s 50th anniversary event brought music acts like Brittany Howard, Sleater-Kinney, Jawbreaker and the Descendents. This year’s music lineup will be announced in May, and a full slate of visual programming and activities such a half pipe skateboard program, roller skating and even pole dancing are on the official website now.

Music at the Intersection

Sept. 14-15, St. Louis, Missouri

Music at the Intersection in St. Louis celebrates the lineage that exists between blues, jazz, soul, rap, R&B and rock, and where that takes us into the future. Hosted by Kranzberg Arts Foundation, this year’s edition of the ambitious two-day, all-ages festival features a stacked lineup of talent including Chaka Khan, Big Boi, Black Pumas, Esperanza Spalding and Samara Joy. There’s even a Gospel Brunch on Sunday in partnership with the Gospel Music Hall of Fame.

As you may have noticed now, music festivals are thriving around the country in 2024! Wherever your flavor of fest takes you this year, may it be safe, fun, and offer the thrills of familiarity, discovery, and friendship.

Music Festivals 2024 Guide: Lineups & Dates For Lollapalooza, Coachella, Bonnaroo & Much More

Bonnaroo 2024 Recap Hero
Ethel Cain performs at Bonnaroo 2024.

Photo: Ashley Osborn for Bonnaroo 2024

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9 Epic Sets From Bonnaroo 2024: Ethel Cain, Melanie Martinez, Megan Thee Stallion & More

With an exciting mix of rising stars and big-name performers, Bonnaroo 2024 brought another year of showstopping performances to Manchester, Tennessee. Revisit some of the most intriguing sets from The Japanese House, Interpol and more.

GRAMMYs/Jun 18, 2024 - 06:40 pm

The 2024 iteration of Tennessee's Bonnaroo Music & Arts Festival was an absolute scorcher — even without the 95-degree highs.

The weekend brought some of the hottest names in music for a stacked lineup of buzzy newcomers and hitmaking veterans. From the Red Hot Chili Peppers' spectacular return to touring with John Frusciante, to Dashboard Confessional's star-studded Emo Superjam, to Billy Strings joining Post Malone for "rockstar," to Chappel Roan singing to a wig, there was no shortage of unforgettable moments at The Farm. 

While this year was the literally hottest that Bonnaroovians had seen in a few years, sweating through shirts (or lack thereof) proved completely worth it as some of the biggest iconoclasts came together and brought their all. It was electrifying, whimsical and at times emotional — and the bright, sunny skies served as the perfect backdrop for it all. 

If anything, the blistering — and briefly thundery — weather was a testament to the enduring nature of music fans; folks from all over the globe will never miss a chance to watch their favorite artists. Relive the magic with nine of the most exciting sets from Bonnaroo 2024.

The Foxies Took Technical Mishaps In Stride

The Foxies performing at Bonnaroo

The Foxies | Yvonne Gougelet for Bonnaroo 2024

Nashville's premier glitterpunk exports the Foxies delivered a fun, crowd-pleasing set Thursday night on the Who stage, even despite a flurry of audio issues and technical hiccups. The Roo crowd was forgiving, though, and the band rewarded us with some of the best songs from their catalog — plus a cover of Sheryl Crow's "If It Makes You Happy."

"Summer Never Dies," "Timothee Chalamet," and "Little Monsters" all landed perfectly, but the group's personality shone brightest during their newest release, "Natural Disaster." It couldn't have been a more apt song for Bonnaroo's carefree setting — an ode to feeling free and accepting the wildest parts of yourself. 

"A huge theme while we were writing ['Natural Disaster'], for me, was when I was 20 living in Brooklyn, how I was, all the cringey stuff that I did as a young adult," The Foxies frontwoman Julia Bullock told GRAMMY.com backstage. "I wish I wouldn't have shied away from it, or been embarrassed by it — I wish I'd leaned into the cringiness. This is an anthem for that: if I could do it all over again I would just embrace the fact that we are all just weird." Indeed we are, Julia.

The Japanese House Brought Love And Light

The Japanese House performing at Bonnaroo

The Japanese House | Yvonne Gougelet for Bonnaroo 2024

Since its 2015 inception, The Japanese House has always been in the zeitgeist. Where Amber Bain's heavily layered, mournful music was inescapable during the pale-grunge Tumblr era, it now occupies a much lighter space. Coming off of a banner year and a critically acclaimed album, In the End it Always Does, Bain has been embracing her pop side like never before.

Her set was a cornucopia of new and old sounds, the most exciting part of which was her new song, "Smiley Face." Written a year ago when Bain met her current fiancée on a dating app, "Smiley Face" is bright, soft, and sploshy, fraught with the energy of someone falling deliriously in love. "[When we first met] she lived in Detroit and I lived in London, and I would stay awake until she fell asleep," Bain tells GRAMMY.com of the song. "We were in different time zones. I was running on nothing — I felt a bit high." 

Like the rest of her discography, the song held the audience in the palm of its hand, this time enveloping us in a warm, flickering glow. "I could be losing my mind but something's happening," Bain sang, naturally, with a smile on her face. 

TV Girl Delivered A Masterclass In Melodrama

"I have a bit of stage fright," revealed TV Girl singer Brad Petering before the group's second to last song. Even if he felt it, stage fright wasn't apparent during the indie pop band's hour-long performance. Their set felt like a dream; onlookers got lost in the moment, spinning, swaying and dancing in the refreshingly cool breeze. 

It fell serendipitously near the 10th anniversary of their debut, French Exit, an album that launched them into the limelight as stalwarts of indie pop. Songs like "Louise" and "Lovers Rock" felt almost nostalgic 10 years on, and newer cuts like "99.5" and "The Nighttime" blended right in. Backed by a full band — including backup singers Kiera and Mnya, whose powerhouse vocals could've made for their own show — TV Girl turned already dynamic songs like "Birds Don't Sing" and "Not Allowed" into even fuller, radiant versions of themselves. 

Ethel Cain Took Us To Church

Ethel Cain performing at Bonnaroo

Ethel Cain | Ashley Osborn for Bonnaroo 2024

Despite its small size, there was no more perfect space for an Ethel Cain set than the reserved, remote That Tent in the quiet corner of Bonnaroo. Her performance saw the quaint venue packed to the brim, 1000-odd people staring back at Cain in dumbstruck awe, as her band played through songs inspired by Christian music and Gregorian chant.

Beginning with unreleased song "Dust Bowl" and the haunting "A House in Nebraska," Cain's performance was an intense, resounding 40 minutes that traversed between peace and emotional turmoil, much like all of the songs from her breakthrough album, Preacher's Daughter. The euphoric response from her overflowing audience left little doubt that her songwriting can break down walls; she's a timeless act, and her Bonnaroo set proved it.

​​Neil Frances Set Themselves Apart

There are a number of artists with variations of the name Neil Frances — or at least that's what it looked like from this year's Bonnaroo bill. One difference in letters, and you may have found yourself at the Other Stage at 6:15pm on Saturday, seeing Neil Frances instead of Neal Francis. But, whether you've been a fan of Neil Frances for years, or you wound up there by mistake, the indie-dance duo would not have let you leave disappointed. 

Backed by a live full band, their set felt like a psychedelic ode to the club, to dancing, and to feeling free. And their live production is every bit an artistic endeavor as is being in the studio. 

"We've always preferred to play with a live band; there are so many things that we do live that are completely different from the record," the duo's Marc Gilfry told GRAMMY.com. "It's fun, it's dramatic, and we have really great musicians."

Read More: NEIL FRANCES Just Want To Have Fun & Get 'Fuzzy'

Melanie Martinez Gave Us A Peek Inside Her Mind

Melanie Martinez performing at Bonnaroo

Melanie Martinez | Dusana Risovic for Bonnaroo 2024

Adorned with bows, horns, over-the-top dresses, and a multi-eyed, alien-like prosthetic mask, Melanie Martinez was dressed exactly how you'd think she would. With a stage setup of greenery, giant mushrooms, nymphs, and various mythical elements that seemed to revel in its own kitchiness, the details of Martinez's intricately-woven performance art unfolded around the audience, song by song, immersing everyone in a world of weird, elaborate fun.

Her dancers wove through a delicately choreographed, three-act narrative, taking the crowd through her three albums in chronological order, telling the story of the Cry Baby character, who first appears in her debut album, Cry Baby. The character transforms from baby to child to young adult, and finally, to a fully grown, pink-skinned being in the third act. Martinez's set was artistry in every sense of the word, taking fans through the ups and downs of youth and coming-of-age through rich metaphor and lyrical imagery — and prompting delighted sing-alongs as a result.

Interpol Were A Quiet Gem

Interpol performing at Bonnaroo

Interpol | Ismael Quintanilla III for Bonnaroo 2024

More than 25 years into their career, there's still something very disarming about Interpol. Maybe it's their effortless, NYC cool, or that they still know how to build the type of tension that gives you chills. Or maybe it's that they're men of very few onstage words — and when they do speak, you feel as though you've been given a gift.

Three things can be true, and they were for Interpol's Bonnaroo set Friday Night. Not ones to waste time talking, the three-piece rock band played an unbelievably tight 75-minute set, mostly sticking to a reliable selection of early hits, largely from their 2004 album, Antics. The crowd didn't seem put-off by the lack of chatter, as everybody had some singing along to do — because it was impossible not to.

Milky Chance Never Stopped Dancing

Milky Chance performing at Bonnaroo

Milky Chance | Douglas Mason for Bonnaroo 2024

Milky Chance wants you to dance. The German duo-turned-quad may have steadily transformed since their early folk days, but they've never abandoned their ability to make every beat danceable and each chorus undeniable. And on stage, they were having a ball.

With a set that included both 2012 hit "Stolen Dance" and their latest, "Naked and Alive,'' their evolution from folk renegades to breezier, disco-pop pundits is on full display — and we're glad they brought us all along for the ride. 

Speaking to GRAMMY.com backstage, bassist Philipp Dausch discussed their journey: "It was quite a process to become the band we wanted to be. Our music has always been in-between electronic and folky, so we put a lot of work into becoming that band on stage as well. We love rhythms and beats. We like when music moves you."

Megan Thee Stallion Declared This A "Self-Love Summer"

Megan Thee Stallion performing at Bonnaroo

Megan Thee Stallion | Pooneh Ghana for Bonnaroo 2024

No one is doing it like Meg. A highlight of day four — and perhaps the entire weekend — was Megan Thee Stallion's riotous, yet charming Sunday night set. Clad in a yellow-ombre bodysuit and welcomed by a crowd chanting her name, the Houston hottie commanded the What stage in a manner that suggested it won't be too long until she's in the headlining slot.

"Real hot girl s—," she screamed at the crowd, who didn't hesitate to scream back. It was clear she was on a high; not only was it her first Bonnaroo set, but it also followed back-to-back sold-out shows in her hometown of Houston, making it an absolutely monumental weekend for the rapper. 

Her and her dancers shook, twerked, and rolled through each hit without ever losing breath control — even during what she deemed the "personal section" of her set. And that portion was aptly-named; beneath the ass-shaking and thumping beats, "Cobra" brought about an air of sadness during an otherwise infectiously playful and positive performance. 

The lyrics chronicle her mental health struggles over the years amidst personal traumas and virulent online abuse. "Man, I miss my parents," she sang of her late parents, on what happened to be Father's Day. But shortly after the poignant moment, Megan quickly returned to her signature body-moving, sex-positve calling cards, "WAP," "Savage," and "Body," during which she declared this summer a "Self-Love Summer." That's some Real Hot Girl S— we can get behind.

15 LGBTQIA+ Artists Performing At 2024 Summer Festivals

Billie Eilish performs at Lollapalooza Chile 2023.
Billie Eilish performs at Lollapalooza Chile 2023

Photo: Marcelo Hernandez/Getty Images

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The Environmental Impact Of Touring: How Scientists, Musicians & Nonprofits Are Trying To Shrink Concerts' Carbon Footprint

"It’s not just [about] a single tour, it’s every tour," singer Brittany Howard says of efforts to make concerts more sustainable. From the nonprofit that partnered with Billie Eilish, to an MIT initiative, the music industry aims to curb climate change.

GRAMMYs/Jun 10, 2024 - 01:30 pm

Beloved by fans around the globe, yet increasingly unaffordable for many artists, concert tours are central to the world of entertainment and local economies. After the pandemic-era global shuttering of concert venues large and small, tours are back, and bigger than ever.  

Taylor Swift’s Eras Tour is smashing records, selling more than four million tickets and earning more than $1 billion. But that tour made headlines for another reason: as reported in Business Insider and other outlets, for a six-month period in 2023, Swift’s two jets spent a combined 166 hours in the air between concerts, shuttling at most a total of 28 passengers. 

Against that backdrop, heightened concerns about the global environmental cost of concert touring have led a number of prominent artists to launch initiatives. Those efforts seek both to mitigate the negative effects of touring and communicate messages about sustainability to concertgoers. 

A 2023 study sponsored by Texas-based electricity provider Payless Power found that the carbon footprint of many touring bands was massive. In 2022, concert tours in five genres — country, classic rock, hip-hop/rap, metal and pop — were responsible for CO2 emissions totaling nearly 45,000 metric tons. A so-called greenhouse gas, carbon dioxide contributes to climate change by radiative forcing; increased levels of CO2 also contribute to health problems.  

No serious discussion of climate issues suggests a worldwide halt to live music touring, but there exists much room for improvement. Both on their own and with the help of dedicated nonprofit organizations, many artists are taking positive steps toward mitigating the deleterious effects that touring exerts upon the environment.  

Smart tour planning is one way to lessen an artist’s carbon footprint. Ed Sheeran’s 2022 European run minimized flights between concert venues, making that leg of his tour the year's most environmentally efficient. Total carbon dioxide emissions (from flights and driving) on Sheeran’s tour came to less than 150 metric tons. In contrast, Dua Lipa’s tour during the same period generated 12 times as much — more than 1800 metric tons — of CO2 

In July, singer/songwriter and four-time GRAMMY nominee Jewel will embark on her first major tour in several years, alongside GRAMMY winner Melissa Etheridge. During the planning stage for the 28-city tour, Jewel suggested an idea that could reduce the tour’s carbon footprint.

"I always thought it was so silly and so wasteful — and so carbon footprint-negative — to have separate trucks, separate lighting, separate crews, separate hotel rooms, separate costs," Jewel says. She pitched the idea of sharing a backing band with Etheridge. "I’ve been trying to do this for 25 years," Jewel says with a laugh. "Melissa is the first person who took me up on it!" 

The changes will not only reduce the tour’s carbon footprint, but they’ll also lessen the cost of taking the shows on the road. Acknowledging that there are many opportunities to meet the challenges of touring’s negative impact upon the environment, Jewel emphasizes that “you have to find [solutions] that work for you.”

Sheeran and Jewel aren’t the only popular artists trying to make a difference. A number of high profile artists have become actively involved in creating the momentum for positive change. Those artists believe that their work on sustainability issues goes hand in hand with their role as public figures. Their efforts take two primary forms: making changes themselves, andadvocating for action among their fans.  

The Climate Machine 

Norhan Bayomi is an Egypt-born environmental scientist at Massachusetts Institute of Technology and a key member of the Environmental Solutions Initiative, a program launched to address sustainable climate action. She’s also a recording artist in the trance genre, working under the name Nourey 

The ESI collaborates with industry heavyweights Live Nation, Warner Music Group and others as well with touring/recording acts like Coldplay to examine the carbon footprint of the music industry. A key component of the ESI is the Climate Machine, a collaborative research group that seeks to help the live music industry reduce carbon emissions. "As a research institution, we bring technologies and analytics to understand, in the best way possible, the actual impact of the music industry upon climate change," says John Fernández, Director of the ESI.  

"I’m very interested in exploring ways that we can bridge between environmental science, climate change and music fans," Bayomi says. She explains that the tools at the ESI’s disposal include "virtual reality, augmented reality and generative AI," media forms that can communicate messages to music fans and concertgoers. Fernández says that those endeavors are aimed at "enlisting, enabling and inspiring people to get engaged in climate change." 

The Environmental Solutions Initiative cites Coldplay as a high-profile success. The band and its management issued an "Emissions Update" document in June 2024, outlining its success at achieving their goal of reducing direct carbon emissions from show production, freight, band and crew travel. The established target was a 50 percent cut in emissions compared to Coldplay’s previous tour; the final result was a 59 percent reduction between their 2022-23 tour and 2016-17 tour.  

A significant part of that reduction came as a result of a renewable-energy based battery system that powers audio and lights. The emissions data in the update was reviewed and independently validated by MIT’s Fernández.  

Change Is Reverberating 

Guitarist Adam Gardner is a founding member of Massachusetts-based indie rockers Guster, but he's more than just a singer in a rock band. Gardner is also the co-founder of REVERB, one of the organizations at the forefront of developing and implementing climate-focused sustainability initiatives.  

Founded in 2004 by Gardner and his wife, environmental activist Lauren Sullivan, REVERB  began with a goal of making touring more sustainable; over the years its focus has expanded to promote industry-wide changes. Today, the organization promotes sustainability throughout the industry  in partnership with music artists, concert venues and festivals.  

REVERB initiatives have included efforts to eliminate single-use plastics at the California Roots Music & Arts Festival, clean energy projects in cooperation with Willie Nelson and Billie Eilish, and efforts with other major artists. Gardner has seen sustainability efforts grow over two decades 

"It’s really amazing to see the [change] with artists, with venues, with fans," Gardner says. "Today, people are not just giving lip service to sustainable efforts; they really want to do things that are real and measurable."  

The Music Decarbonization Project is one tangible example of REVERB’s successes. "Diesel power is one of the dirtiest sources of power," Gardner explains. "And it’s an industry standard to power festival stages with diesel generators." Working with Willie Nelson, the organization helped switch the power sources at his annual Luck Reunion to clean energy. At last year’s festival, Nelson’s headlining stage drew 100 percent of its power from solar-powered batteries. "We set up a temporary solar farm," Gardner says, "and the main stage didn’t have to use any diesel power."  

Billie Eilish was another early supporter of the initiative. "She helped us launch the program," Gardner says. Eilish’s set at Lollapallooza 2023 drew power from solar batteries, too.  

With such high-profile successes as a backdrop, Gardner believes that REVERB is poised to do even more to foster sustainable concerts and touring. "Our role now," he says, "isn’t just, ‘Hey, think about this stuff.’ It’s more how do we push farther, faster?"  

Adam Gardner believes that musicians are uniquely positioned to help make a difference where issues of sustainability are concerned. "When you’re a musician, you’re connecting with fans heart-to-heart. That’s what moves people. And that’s where the good stuff happens."  

Small-scale, individual changes can make a difference — especially when they’re coordinated and amplified among other concertgoers. Gardner provides real-world examples. "Instead of buying a plastic bottle, I brought my reusable and filled it up. Maybe I carpooled to the show." Conceding that such steps might seem like drops of water in a giant pool, he emphasizes the power of scale. "When you actually multiply [those things for] just one summer tour, it adds up," he says. "And it reminds people, ‘You’re not alone in this; you’re part of a community that’s taking action."  

Gardner understands that REVERB’s arguments have to be framed the right way to reach concertgoers. "Look," he admits, "It’s a concert. We’re not here to be a buzzkill. Our [aim] now is making sure people don’t lose hope." He says that REVERB and its partners seek to demonstrate that, with collective action and cultural change, there is reason for optimism.  

"There’s a wonderful feedback loop between hope and action," Gardner says with a smile. "You can’t really have one without the other."  

Sustainable Partnerships 

Tanner Watt is Director of Partnerships at REVERB; he works directly with touring artists to develop, coordinate and implement initiatives that bring together his organization’s objectives and the specific personal concerns of the artists. "I get to come up with all the fun, big ideas," he says with a wide smile.  

Watt acknowledges that like every concertgoer, each touring artist has a certain level of responsibility where sustainability is concerned. "And everyone can be doing something," he says, noting a number of straightforward actions that artists can put in place while on tour. "They can eliminate single-use waste. They can donate hotel toiletries that [would otherwise] hit the landfill."  

Watt stresses that artists can lead by example. "Nobody wants to listen to an artist telling them what to do if they’re not doing it themselves," he says. "But we believe that everybody cares about something." He suggests that if an artist has cultivated a following, "Why not use [that platform] to be that change you want to see in the world?"  

Each artist has his or her own specific areas of concern, but Watt says that there’s a base level of "greening" that takes place on every REVERB-affiliated tour. Where things go from there is up to the artist, in coordination with REVERB. Watt mentions Billie Eilish and her tour’s sustainability commitment. "The Venn diagram of food security, community health, access to healthy food, and the impact on the planet is a big cause for her," he says. "So there’s plant-based catering for her entire crew, across the entire tour." 

Speaking to Billboard, Eilish's mother Maggie Baird said championing sustainability starts with artists. "If artists are interested, it does really start with them telling their teams that they care and that it’s foremost in their thoughts." In the same conversation, Eilish called the battle for sustainability "a never-ending f–king fight."  

Watt acknowledges that with so many challenges, it’s important for a concerned artist to focus on the issues that move them the most, and where they can make the biggest difference. "Jack Johnson is a great example," he says. While Johnson is a vocal advocate for many environmental issues, on tour he focuses on two (in Watt’s words) "cause umbrellas": single-use plastics solutions and sustainable community food systems. Each show on the tour hosts tables representing local nonprofit organizations, presenting concertgoers with real-world, human-scale solutions to those specific challenges.  

Four-time GRAMMY winner Brittany Howard is another passionate REVERB partner. "Knowing that I wanted to make my tours more sustainable was a start," she tells GRAMMY.com, "but working with REVERB really helped me bring it to life on the road. REVERB has helped us with guidelines and a green rider to keep our stage, greenrooms and buses more sustainable." 

After listing several other specific ways that her tour supports sustainability, Howard notes, "By supporting these efforts, I am helping ensure future generations have access to clean water, fish, and all that I love about the outdoors." A dollar from every ticket sold to a Brittany Howard concert goes toward support of REVERB’s Music Decarbonization project. "I’m also excited to see industry-wide efforts that are reducing the carbon pollution of live music," Howard continues. "Because it’s not just [about] a single tour, it’s every tour." 

There’s a popular aphorism: "You can’t manage what you can’t measure." From its start, REVERB has sought not only to promote change, but to measure its success. "As long as I’ve been at REVERB, we’ve issued impact reports," says Tanner Watt. "We include data points, and give the report to the artists so they understand what we’ve done together." He admits that some successes are more tangible than others, but that it’s helpful to focus on the ones that can be quantified. "We’re very excited that our artists share those with their fans."  

Watt is clear-eyed at the challenges that remain. "Even the word ‘sustainable’ can be misleading," he concedes, suggesting that the only truly sustainable tour is the one that doesn’t happen. "But if folks don’t step it up and change the way we do business in every industry — not just ours — we’re going to get to a place where we’re forced to make sacrifices that aren’t painless." Getting that message across is REVERB’s aim. "We can’t stop the world," Watt says. "So we find ways to approach these things positively."  

Watt says that the fans at concerts featuring Jack Johnson and the Dave Matthews Band — both longtime REVERB partners — are already on board with many of the sustainability-focused initiatives which those artists promote. "But there are lots of artists — and lots of fan bases — out there that aren’t messaged to, or have been mis-messaged to," he says. "I’m really excited to find more ways to expand our reach to them, beyond mainstream pop music. Because these are conversations that are meaningful for everyone, regardless of political affiliation or other beliefs."  

Reimagining The Planet’s Future 

Singer, songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Adam Met does more than front AJR, the indie pop trio he founded in 2005 with brothers Jack and Ryan. Met has a PhD in sustainable development and is a climate activist; he's also the founder/Executive Director of Planet Reimagined, a nonprofit that promotes sustainability and activism through its work with businesses, other organizations and musicians.  

"I’ve spent years traveling around the world, seeing the direct impact of climate change," Met says. He cites two recent and stark examples. "When we pulled up to a venue in San Francisco, the band had to wear gas masks going from the bus into the venue, because of forest fires," he says. AJR’s road crew had to contend with a flash flood in Athens, Greece that washed out their hotel. "And in Rome, some of our crew members fainted because of the heat."  

Encouraged by representatives from the United Nations, Met launched Planet Reimagined. Met’s approach focuses on tailored, city-specific actions to empower fans and amplify diverse voices in the climate movement. Through social media and live shows, Met strives to galvanize climate activism among AJR fans. And the methods he has developed can be implemented by other touring artists.  

Met points out that one of the most climate-unfriendly parts of the entire concert tour enterprise is fans traveling to and from the concerts. And that’s something over which the artist has little or no control. What they can do, he says, is try to educate and influence. Working closely with Ticketmaster and other stakeholders, Met’s nonprofit initiated a study — conducted from July to December 2023, with results published in April 2024 — to explore the energy that happens at concerts. "In sociology," he explains, "that energy is called collective effervescence." The study’s goal is to find ways to channel that energy toward advocacy and action.  

Polling a quarter million concertgoers across musical genres, the study collected data on attitudes about climate change. "Seventy-three percent of fans who attend concerts believe that climate change is real, and that we need to be doing more about it," Met says. "Seventy-eight percent have already taken some sort of action in their lives." He believes that if his organization can activate even a fraction of the estimated 250 million people annually who attend concerts around the globe, "that’s the ballgame."  

Met’s goal is to do more than, say, get concertgoers to switch from plastic to paper drinking straws. "At scale those things make a difference. But people want to see actions where there’s a track record," he says; a return on investment.  

AJR will be putting a plan into action on the second half of their upcoming arena tour. Part of the initiative is encouraging concertgoers to register to vote, and then actually vote. Beyond that, Met has specific actions in mind. "At every single stop, we’re putting together materials around specific policies that are being debated at the local level," he explains. "We give people a script right there, so they can call their elected representative and say, ‘I want you to vote [a certain way on this issue].’"  

He believes the initiative will lead to thousands of people contacting – and hopefully influencing – their representatives. With regard to sustainability issues, Met is convinced that "the most impact that you can have as an artist is when you give fans ways to pick up the mantle themselves." 

Artists Who Are Going On Tour In 2024: The Rolling Stones, Drake, Olivia Rodrigo & More 

 

Teezo Touchdown performing
Teezo Touchdown

Photo: Astrida Valigorsky/WireImage 

list

10 Acts You Can't Miss At Bonnaroo 2024: Four Tet, Teezo Touchdown, Chappell Roan & More

From acts that embody the classic jam band spirit like Joe Russo’s Almost Dead to fan favorites like Idles, read on for 10 must-see sets at Bonnaroo 2024.

GRAMMYs/Jun 10, 2024 - 01:25 pm

Anyone who’s been to the Bonnaroo Music and Arts Festival, which returns June 13-16 for its 21st edition, will know that the Manchester, Tennessee festival can be a marathon.  

High summer temperatures and humidity, often some rain and mud, and more than 100 artists to navigate over four full days — three of which extend with late-night sets that run until nearly 4 a.m. But, veteran Roo attendees also know that it’s well worth enduring. 

Of the myriad fests held each year, few have the sense of community felt at Bonnaroo. Perhaps it’s due to the fact that the majority of the roughly 90,000 attendees are camping, meaning that no matter what happens, they’re all in it together. Or maybe it has to do with the fest’s self-generated “Bonnaroovian code,” which implores festgoers to “radiate positivity” throughout.

During the early aughts, a huge part of the bonding experience arrived during cross-generational legacy artist sets — often classic rock legends or big time jam bands closing out the fest’s final day — including Elton John, Paul McCartney, Tom Petty, Billy Joel, Phish, Widespread Panic and the String Cheese Incident. As primary ticket buyer age demographics shifted, so did the lineups, particularly with regard to headliners, who began leaning more prominently toward pop, hip-hop and EDM. This year’s finale sets feature Pretty Lights (playing two full back-to-back sets on June 13 plus a sunrise set two nights later), Post Malone, Fred again.. and Red Hot Chili Peppers (the one top-line exception as they’re arguably a legacy act at this point). 

Of course, there are plenty of performers amongst the lineup’s incredibly diverse undercard that still embody the classic jam band spirit, and even more newcomers or rising stars that encompass a mind boggling range of musical styles. Read on to get the inside line on 10 must-see artists who fall into the latter category. 

Say She She

If you’re angling to find a dance party to get your blood pumping on the first day of the fest, look no further than Brooklyn-based Say She She. Fronted by three women — Piya Malik (formerly of Chicano Batman), Sabrina Mileo Cunningham and Nya Gazelle Brown — Say She She produce flawless harmonies over what they describe as “discodelic soul.”

At their core, they sound like Nile Rogers and Chic, who they’ve candidly owned as chief influences (to the point where Rogers reached out to personally give them a nod). There’s sometimes bits of ABBA vibes sprinkled in, but all that said, their sound is hardly a rip-off. The music certainly pays tribute to classic disco, but with elements of 90s R&B and neo-soul, it comes across as fresh, unfiltered and — on the strength of three voices harnessing incredible range — capable of moving in countless other sonic directions. They’re two albums in (sophomore full-length Silver was released last year) and already garnering shining reviews; now’s the time to catch an act in a small tent before they assuredly graduate to bigger stages.

Read more: Say She She's Big Year: How The NYC Disco Funk Group Made Sure The World Wouldn't Forget Them 

Abby Holliday

Indie rock is a fine general description for the music of singer/songwriter Abby Holliday, but it’s difficult to put her style in one box. Sure, a lot of the music on her 2023 sophomore album I’M OK NO I’M NOT sounds quite a bit like boygenius, but it dares to go further. Holliday incorporates unexpected elements like autotune vocals, which often resonate like Bon Iver and at other times more closely resemble the hooks from popular hip-hop songs.

Amid the gentle melodies and distinctly emotional lyrics are bursts of heaviness and exuberant energy, which in all likelihood will translate to a magnetic set to help kick off the Roo roster on June 14. One can only imagine how triumphant it might feel to play an essentially hometown fest of this magnitude (Holliday is based in Nashville, about an hour’s drive west). It’s almost a sure bet it will be a milestone moment worth witnessing.  

Joe Russo’s Almost Dead

The first Bonnaroo in 2002 was headlined by Trey Anastasio, moe. and Widespread Panic (among others), and slowly but surely, Bonnaroo has veered away from those jam band-heavy roots. But there’s always something in the mix harkening back to those origins, and this year it’s unmistakably Joe Russo’s Almost Dead.

The five-piece group was conceived in 2013 by its namesake drummer / singer along with another jam rock veteran, Ween bassist Dave Dreiwitz, and has since established itself as one of the foremost Grateful Dead tribute bands (they play other tunes, but the Dead are the main focus). The last Grateful Dead-oriented performance at Roo was Dead and Company’s back-to-back double sets in 2016, so if you’re looking to experience some long-awaited old school Roo vibes among the fest’s veteran fans, make sure to pop by JRAD’s show on June 14. 

Gary Clark Jr.

With the March release of latest album JPEG raw, Austin, Texas-bred guitar hero and four-time GRAMMY winner Gary Clark Jr. seems intent on breaking out of the blues mold — a common blanket description for his catalog spanning nearly two decades. On his fourth full-length, he delves deep into hip-hop, classic R&B (notably with a feature from living legend Stevie Wonder on “What About the Children”) and even traditional African music. If you’ve listened closely to Clark’s music all along, you’d know that he’s always incorporated a slew of styles, but his recent recordings represent the most overt effort to exude his sonic diversity.

One thing that hasn’t changed over the years — which will doubtless be on full display during his Bonnaroo appearance — is Clark’s penchant for superb shredding. You already know this if you’ve seen him live, and for all the newcomers, get ready for your jaw to drop for the duration of his hour-long set on June 14.

Read more: Gary Clark, Jr. On 'JPEG RAW': How A Lockdown Jam Session, Bagpipes & Musical Manipulation Led To His Most Eclectic Album Yet

Cage the Elephant

Kentucky-bred outfit Cage the Elephant delivers one of the most riveting rock shows around. With his Iggy Pop-esque antics — never not running and writhing from end to end and often standing atop the audience — frontman Matt Shultz’s stage presence alone is enough to rile up thousands of fest fans at any time of day.

That’s been the standard since they put out their 2008 self-titled debut, and based on the decidedly anthemic indie-rock sonics of just-released sixth full-length Neon Pill (plus the fact that they’ll be only a little more than a month into touring and imbued with a fresh burst of boisterousness), there’s every chance the band’s June 15 main stage set will manifest as an explosive Roo moment not-to-be-missed. 

Teezo Touchdown

Hailing from the small, unsuspecting East Texas city of Beaumont, rapper, singer/songwriter and producer Teezo Touchdown (born Aaron Lashane Thomas) only launched his professional career eight years ago. But within the past four years, he’s become a household name among contemporary rappers. His 2023 debut album How Do You Sleep at Night? notably featured 10-time GRAMMY nominee Janelle Monáe; in the years preceding, he’d already collaborated with Travis Scott, Tyler, the Creator, and Lil Yachty. He performed to his largest audience as a guest at this year’s Coachella during Doja Cat’s headlining sets to perform their single “MASC.”

Yet, his impressive set of credentials isn’t the main reason you should include him on your Bonnaroo schedule. He’s an enigmatic performer: sporting his signature wig of nails and flower bouquet-enshrouded microphone, he switches seamlessly from sharp raps to ear worm singing. There’s never a lapse in his on-stage energy, assurance that his early evening set on June 15 will provide a surefire pick-me-up to help push through the remainder of the marathon fest.

Read more: Teezo Touchdown, Tiana Major9 & More Were In Bloom At The 2024 GRAMMYs Emerging Artist Showcase 

Jake Wesley Rogers

Jake Wesley Rogers has come a tremendously long way from his first spotlight at age 15 on "America’s Got Talent" in 2012 (where he was eliminated). He supported Kesha on her Only Love Tour in 2023, and now he’s opening the main stage on the final day of Bonnaroo. 

The Missouri native’s rise to budding star, built upon four EPs and a handful of standalone singles, is well deserved. On stage, Rogers absolutely belts a soulful, goosebumps-inducing tenor, and he performs with all the glamorous energy of a young Elton John (even sporting similarly flamboyant sunglasses and climbing atop his piano while banging on the keys). Muster the energy to get on the field early after three days, or you might regret missing a pivotal moment for an artist who’s likely on his way to fest headliner status.

Read more: Tour Diary: See Jake Wesley Rogers' Favorite Photos & Memories From Touring With Panic! At The Disco 

Idles

For the past decade or so, post-punk has seen a significant resurgence, and on the surface it may appear that England’s Idles are one of the bands leading the charge, but they’ve staunchly rejected the descriptor. Vocalist Joe Talbot said it directly in a recent interview with British daily newspaper the Times: “We’re not a punk band.”

There’s ample evidence of that on their fifth album, 2023’s Tangk, which delves into new sonic territory with songs like “Dancer,” where the band mixed in elements of art-pop via collaboration with LCD Soundsystem's James Murphy and Nancy Whang. Backtrack to third album Ultra Mono (released in 2020 at the height of the pandemic) and you’ll hear that they were already veering away from the punk rock mold with distinct elements of hip-hop and other styles on songs like “Grounds.”

All that said, their shows resonate with the in-your-face energy of punk rock, yet they stand out significantly among other bands of the genre by exuding an overwhelmingly positive, unifying spirit. Many fans have described their show as something akin to church, and with the group at the top of their game and at a festival that already historically proliferates such a mindset, their Bonnaroo appearance on June 15 is certain to be one for the books. 

Read more: IDLES Chatter With Joe Talbot: How The British Rockers Get Personal, Political & Festival Filthy 

Chappell Roan

Chappell Roan is having a major moment. The 26-year-old electro-pop singer/songwriter (real name: Kayleigh Rose Amstutz) immediately became a viral sensation when she dropped her song “Die Young” on YouTube at age 17. Now — after releasing debut album The Rise and Fall of a Midwest Princess (a nod to her Missouri origins) in 2023 and opening for Olivia Rodrigo on her Guts World Tour earlier this year — she’s become one of the most anticipated artists at 2024 festivals nationwide.

Roan, which Amstutz equates to a sex-positive drag persona, performs with supreme professionalism, and her ability to deliver pristine vocals while exhibiting unerring athleticism (high kicks aplenty) proliferates non-stop audience engagement. Her fans are diehards who belt out every word, and with a relatively small platform at Bonnaroo in a tent on June 16, she’s sure to draw one of the most overflowing audiences of the weekend. If you wanna get anywhere close to the stage (and you should), make sure to arrive early.

Read more: Chappell Roan's Big Year: The 'Midwest Princess' Examines How She Became A Pop "Feminomenon" 

Four Tet

It’s almost a disservice that electronic musician/producer Four Tet is slated for a late afternoon/early evening set at Bonnaroo, a couple of hours before sunset. His hypnotic and experimental yet highly danceable compositions lend themselves to a late-night performance packed with spellbinding lights cutting through the darkness to illuminate the pulsating crowd. 

On the other hand, he boasts a legendary reputation for live sets, plus a prolific catalog that spans more than 20 years and 12 studio albums, including this year’s Three. As a whole, it's a discography that can cater to not only electronica fanatics, hip-hop heads (note his many collaborations with Madlib) and experimental enthusiasts. To boot, there’s potential for some special moments during his appearance on June 16. Four Tet has previously played alongside the final night’s headliner Fred again.., so the potential for that guest spot alone might make it even more worth it to prioritize his performance. 

Music Festivals 2024 Guide: Lineups & Dates For Lollapalooza, Coachella, Bonnaroo & Much More 

 

Tanner Adell Press Photo 2024
Tanner Adell

Photo: Chase Foster

interview

Tanner Adell's Big Year: The Country Newcomer Talks Stagecoach, "BLACKBIIRD," & Meeting Her Childhood Idols

As Tanner Adell continues making waves in country music, she shares some of the most monumental moments from her career so far — from featuring on Beyoncé's critically acclaimed 'COWBOY CARTER' to making space for Black women at the CMT Music Awards.

GRAMMYs/Jun 6, 2024 - 02:48 pm

With one bold tweet, Tanner Adell's life changed.

"As one of the only Black girls in the country music scene, I hope Bey decides to sprinkle me with a dash of her magic for a collab," she wrote, minutes after Beyoncé premiered "TEXAS HOLD 'EM" and "16 CARRIAGES" during this year's Super Bowl in February.

At first, Adell was mocked for her pitch. "You're trying too hard, love," one user said. Another chimed in, "Baby, that album is finished with all the songs cleared. I don't know about this one. Maybe, open for the tour," another user remarked.

But she wasn't bothered by the chatter: "Those people said I look desperate, I'm like, 'You must not know me, b—!" Adell reveals to GRAMMY.com with a hearty laugh. 

Confidence is the inner core of the Tanner Adell ethos. And her boldness paid off because shortly after when Beyoncé approached her to feature on COWBOY CARTER.

In Adell's first music release of 2024, she appeared alongside Brittney Spencer, Tiera Kennedy, and Reyna Roberts in Beyoncé's cover of "BLACKBIIRD" by The Beatles. It was a full-circle moment for Adell in more ways than one, as her father used to sing the song to her as a child. Little did she know, decades later, she would popularize the track's backstory — the plight of Black women in the American South — alongside one of her heroes.

But before Adell became one of Beyoncé's songbirds, she was also the Buckle Bunny. On the 11-track mixtape, Adell traced the provocative tales of an acrylic nail-wearing, lasso-wielding heartbreaker. But for every Black girl that listens, it's more than a country project. It's also a reminder that it's okay to be feminine and girly, just like Shania Twain, Carrie Underwood or Taylor Swift.

Among her rodeo of exciting firsts, Adell tacks another on June 8, when she makes her debut at Nashville's Nissan Stadium during CMA Fest. She'll perform on the Platform Stage at the stadium; the next day, she'll play a set at the Good Molecules Reverb Stage outside of Bridgestone Arena.

Below, hear from Adell about her most memorable firsts thus far, from having her debut daytime television performance on "The Jennifer Hudson Show" to bonding with Gayle King behind the scenes at Stagecoach Music Festival.

Seeing Her Breakthrough Single, "Buckle Bunny," Have A Second Life

I released "Buckle Bunny" on the Buckle Bunny EP in July 2023. I actually teased it on social media first. Almost nine months before that, I had gone super viral with it. It was doing incredibly well, so my plans were to release it in January or February of last year. But, I ended up signing a record deal in December of 2022. There were plans for it at that time, but the timeline kept getting pushed back. It turned into a fight to get that song back into my hands, which was what prompted me to go independent. Eventually, I was able to work with my label, shake hands, and mutually part ways.

I started this year as an independent artist with this song that everybody loves. It's become a huge part of my brand, but it's really my life story. People might think it's a dumb song that was easy to write, but I was called a "buckle bunny." As a teenager growing up between Los Angeles and Star Valley, Wyoming, I was into glam country, and "Buckle Bunny" is the pinnacle of that. 

"Buckle Bunny" was my first single that charted. I felt like I finally had broken through that invisible box that Nashville put me in as a country musician. It was me saying, I'm not going to follow any rules. I'm going to be as true to myself as possible.

We, as Black women, have been fighting our whole lives. We've been fighting for space. I'm purposely trying to bring softness into the picture, allowing women who listen to my music to know that it's okay to feel that way. We don't always have to have our walls up.

"Buckle Bunny" is aggressively confident, but I think that's the door to softness. You have to be self-assured to let your walls down. My newest single, "Whiskey Blues," is my next step into that. I have another song on my social media, "Snakeskin," that people want me to release. "Buckle Bunny" is like the girl who protects those softer moments.

In a way, I look at all of this as a relationship between Tanner Adell, the artist, and Tanner, the person. For me, Tanner Adell is the buckle bunny. Then, you have Tanner, who's on the inside, writing all of these songs.

Serving A Bold Fashion Statement On Her First Major Red Carpet

I wore Bantu knots! I've always loved Bantu knots in all styles, the really small ones and the larger ones. There were ideas about whether I should do a certain number of them that was significant to me in some way.

I work very closely with Bill Wackermann, who was the CEO of Wilhemina Models. He does a lot of styling and has a close relationship with my manager. So, my manager was like, "You would love him!" At the time, I was trying to hone in on what myself is. What's the message I'm trying to convey through my fashion, hair, and beauty? 

Bill sat down with me, and I told him I wanted Natalia Fedner to do my dress, which is that stretchy chain metal dress. Originally, I thought I would do my long blonde hair, but Bill was the one who told me, "This is your first major red carpet as an invited artist. Think about what you want your hair to say." As a Black woman, our hair tells 1,000 stories with whatever it is, and the lightbulb went off in my head.

I knew I wanted my hair to say everything I needed to say without having to say anything at all. I also knew there would be a lot of people who didn't know the significance behind it or just thought it was some extreme hairstyle.

I've looked very deeply into my heritage. It turns out I have a bit of Bantu heritage in my DNA. I thought that was so cool because I do love the knots so much.

The CMT Awards were a big thing at my school, Utah Valley University. Everyone would get together in the dorms and watch the show. It's crazy that a couple years ago, I was watching it, and I'm here now. I feel very respected and loved. People I've looked up to would come up to me, and I was like, "I'm a huge fan." And they're like, "No! I listened to you."

I got to meet Gayle King, who I absolutely love. I remember watching her from afar while she was doing "CBS Mornings." She saw me from across the room, and I kid you not, in the middle of her interview, she started walking towards me. She was like, "I just want to tell you that you're so beautiful. The Bantu knots are stunning." That was my favorite moment of the night.

I also had the chance to see Tiera Kennedy. She's so sweet. We got matching blackbird tattoos before that. Being on the red carpet for the first time, it was comforting to see a familiar face. It really reinforces that idea that I belong here.

Being A Part Of COWBOY CARTER

So, I'm adopted. I have four siblings. We're all biracial, but our adoptive parents are both white. Obviously, my dad is a white man with five Black children. My parents always wanted me to understand that I am a Black woman, and he was very educational when it came to music. He taught me about the Black female power players and the buzz in the industry. But The Beatles were his favorite. So, when I finally told them the news, my dad immediately got choked up. He told me that "Blackbird" was one of his favorite Beatles songs.

My dad isn't the best with words when it comes to expressing his emotions, especially in front of people. He's a quiet, reserved dude. So, he eventually texts me, sending me screenshots about the meaning behind "Blackbird." The reason why it was his favorite song was because he had Black girls, and he told me, "This is special. This is not a burden to carry, but it might be a bit of weight on your shoulders. Keep your head up high and walk knowing that this is why he wrote this song."

I can remember going to a recital as a kid and being so nervous, but my dad was so confident and excited about my abilities. Was that strategic? Was it quiet strength? Maybe. It feels like this song has been a part of my whole life. So, to be on it, on such a massive album, feels very divine.

The whole process was a surprise. It took a few weeks to set in. But I always knew I would work with [Beyoncé], and I always said it's a matter of "when," not if. 

On the day of the Super Bowl, I saw that black-and-white picture of her, and I thought it looked a lot like a photoshoot that I took the week before. Let me make a tweet, just to put it out there. I don't know — she's magical! She has her way of knowing everything that's going on all the time. 

I think that tweet has almost 10 million views. It was fun to go back to that tweet to see the people who were supporting me. And also getting to say "I told you" to the people who didn't. It kicked off a Renaissance — pun intended.

Performing At Her First Stagecoach Music Festival

I have bad social anxiety, and I get nervous in front of crowds and people. So, festivals were never something that interested me, but Stagecoach was always one I felt like I could go to. And I was not disappointed.

I had the first slot of the day, which is a s—ty slot for anyone, but you have to pay your dues in country music. It's how you build your cred with these festivals, to show you're a hard worker and will perform like you're at a sold-out show in Madison Square Garden. And I did.

Mentally, I prepared for no one. I told myself it was okay if nobody came, and I'll perform like I always do. I'll figure out where the camera is and perform it for the jumbotron, so if no one comes to the pit, the people watching the livestream will have a great show. 

Well, I didn't have an empty pit! People showed the f— up and out. I heard people in line thought they were going to miss it because the gates opened late. Within the first 10 minutes, the VIP pit was half-filled with people screaming and running in their sweet little cowboy boots and hats. That never happens at Stagecoach or Coachella, but it's a testament to the relationship I built within my listeners. It was eye-opening for me. I don't think I'm ever going to play to a dead crowd again.

Before, Levi's reached out and said I was the first artist they wanted to collaborate with for Stagecoach. So, they custom-made my outfit. I told them I have these ribbons, inspired by my mom, who was a rodeo queen. I also told them if they can't incorporate them, I probably won't do it. But they loved it! And it was special because it came back to my mom. She was a winner, so when I wear the ribbons, I'm also a winner.

My mom has competed in over 1,000 competitions and probably places in half of those. In Wyoming, we had a big wall, covered in those IQHA (International Quarter Horse Association) ribbons. She gave me a strong sense of competition.

Making Her Debut On Daytime TV

I have overcome very serious, debilitating stage fright. I don't get nervous anymore, and performing live is my favorite thing. But I was not prepared for what a television show taping looks like.

We had a soundcheck, and there were a bunch of suits in groups of threes and fours standing everywhere. There were all these cameras and lights. Then, I start realizing I'm about to meet J. Hud, who I made little custom Crocs for. It was a dream come true.

I know a lot about her story. We have very different upbringings, but we're similar in the sense of trying to stand on ground that isn't steady. I see her as someone who is a great example. She's reached so many different avenues. For me to be able to sit down with an EGOT winner is a great honor. 

I kind of like to keep my manifestations as quiet as possible. I don't tell anybody anything, but an EGOT is something I wouldn't mind having, you know?

I look at her as a woman who exceeded greatness. So, it was just amazing — and for my first television debut. I felt like this is right for me.

Why 2024 Is The Year Women In Country Music Will Finally Have Their Moment