Photo courtesy of the Recording Academy
A Look At The Nominees For Album Of The Year At The 2023 GRAMMY Awards
The 2023 GRAMMY Award nominees for Album Of The Year span the landscape of pop, R&B, rap, reggaeton, and more. Here are the nominees — by ABBA, Harry Styles, Beyoncé, Adele, Bad Bunny, Mary J. Blige, Brandi Carlile, Coldplay, Kendrick Lamar, and Lizzo.
For what seems like ages, people have been portending the album's extinction as a viable format. To which we ask: when, exactly?
The GRAMMY for Album Of The Year is a precious honor among many — partly because it celebrates excellence in that timeless format. Ever since at least 1955, when Frank Sinatra released one of the earliest concept albums, the long-player has been a vehicle for transformative — and often world-changing — artistic expressions and achievements.
A big component of that is how songs talk to each other, which is what you lose when considering songs as single releases. And this ineffable commingling of ideas, emotions and narratives is apparent throughout the nominations for Album Of The Year at the 2023 GRAMMYs.
What happens when you meditate on the confluence between Adele's "Easy On Me" and "I Drink Wine"? Or Kendrick Lamar's "We Cry Together" and "Mother I Sober"? Or Coldplay's "Let Somebody Go" and "Coloratura"? And those are just a few examples — live with these albums for a while, and numberless other spiritual links appear.
To absorb how songs can live together — and fight, and make up, and everything else — is one of the true joys of music. And in a transparent, peer-to-peer process, the Recording Academy's voting members decided that these 10 nominees wove together albums that became far more than the sum of their inspired parts.
The 2023 GRAMMY nominations are officially here. See the complete list of nominees across all 91 GRAMMY categories.
ABBA — Voyage
Talk about a satisfying return for a band that seemed to never go away — even though ABBA did for a whopping 40 years. And what a comeback, by way of their new album, Voyage — which shared a title with their innovative, virtual concert residency.
The LP reminded the world of why legions of fans fell in love with "Dancing Queen," "Mamma Mia" and the like. While they were unabashedly pop, the palindromic quartet of Anni-Frid Lyngstad, Björn Ulvaeus, Benny Andersson, and Agnetha Fältskog were forward-thinking enough to bend Pete Townshend and John Lennon's ears.
Reunion albums after so much time away can raise suspicions, but Voyage put them all to bed. Like fellow pop tinkerers Electric Light Orchestra, the new material (like "Keep an Eye on Dan," "No Doubt About It" and "Don't Shut Me Down") could have been beamed from 1975.
This GRAMMY nomination for Album Of The Year follows their 2022 GRAMMY nomination for Record Of The Year — by way of "I Still Have Faith In You," the lead track from the album.
ABBA have stated that this is their last hurrah; if so, what a magical finale. Because Voyage hits just like the… well, hits.
Adele - 30
A new Adele album, with titles like "Cry Your Heart Out," "Oh My God" and "I Drink Wine" — casual onlookers might envision a soundtrack to an extended ugly-crying session. Well, it can be that if you want it to be.
But Adele is no one-dimensional artist — far from it. And her stunning latest, 30, is a cornucopia of wildly variable moods, production styles and flavors of ear candy.
This is partly due to the inspired production of Greg Kurstin, Max Martin, Shellback, Ludwig Göransson, and other leading lights — and mostly due to Adele hurtling forward as a prime communicator and expresser.
Adele has long been a sturdy presence at the GRAMMYs, earning 15 golden gramophones and 18 nominations up to this point. The 2023 GRAMMY nominations mark another chapter in her musical life.
And it goes beyond 30's GRAMMY nomination for Album Of The Year and Best Pop Vocal Album. The majestic lead single "Easy On Me" was nominated for golden gramophones for Best Pop Solo Performance and Best Music Video. (Additionally, Adele: One Night Only is in the running for a GRAMMY for Best Music Film.)
Is 30 a work of bracing catharsis, in a very on-brand sense? Of course — this is Adele we're talking about. But the album maintains a pep in its step, and plenty of surprises in every song.
Here's just one, from before it even came out: "Is that really a feature from Erroll Garner, a jazz pianist who died in 1977?" Only you, Adele.
Bad Bunny — Un Verano Sin Ti
Un Verano Sin Ti may have been one of the hottest pop albums of the year — of any regional genre or national origin. It's the kind of work that bridges international markets, that sells out Yankee Stadium two nights in a row, that debuts at the top of the Billboard 200. (It was the second Spanish-language album to ever do that, to boot.)
And from a GRAMMYs standpoint, the Puerto Rican rapper and singer born Benito Antonio Martínez Ocasio has the wind in his sails. Not only has he previously won two golden gramophones and been nominated for six; at the 2023 GRAMMYs, Un Verano Sin Ti is up for a GRAMMY for Best Música Urbana Album, and "Moscow Mule" is up for another for Best Pop Solo Performance.
All that being said, Bad Bunny's latest bears a quality rare in offerings from artists of his caliber — it magically maintains a handmade, personal quality that sticks out among the pack.
Loosened-up, tropical-inflected tunes like "Me Porto Bonito," "Yo No Soy Celoso" and "Aguacero" don't chew the scenery to impress you; they seem as natural as breathing, which belies the level of craft involved in each song's construction, and the subtle emotional incisiveness of his messaging.
All of it adds up to a long-player that feels relaxed yet focused feels vaporous without being ephemeral. Un Verano Sin Ti is a summer dream — and an unforgettable one.
Beyoncé - Renaissance
The sociocultural shifts of the past few years have led to a reassessment of music history through the lens of identity. And one big win was the realization that disco, in fact, did not suck — thank you very much.
Not only was the lion's share of the music great, but the discotheque provided a haven for free expression among any number of marginalized groups, in regard to skin color, sexual orientation and gender identity.
The engine of RENAISSANCE, Beyoncé's first album in six and a half years, is the eternal power of the dancefloor — both in sound and spirit. Of course, this has been a throughline of her past work, for which she's picked up an astounding 28 GRAMMYs. But never before has it been contained and consolidated on one album like this.
This aesthetic doesn't render RENAISSANCE a mere throwback, but a future-forward addition to the dance/pop lineage. "Cozy" and "Thique" speak to radical self-acceptance; cornerstone track "Plastic Off the Sofa" is cinematic and immersive; despite the title, closer "SUMMER RENAISSANCE" is an on-ramp to revel in these sounds in fall, winter, and spring.
On the 2023 GRAMMYs nominations list, Beyoncé can be found all over the place: on top of this Album Of The Year GRAMMY nomination, RENAISSANCE is up for a GRAMMY for Best Dance/Electronic Album.
And on a track-by-track level, she's represented in the Record Of The Year, Song Of The Year, Best Dance/Electronic Recording, Best R&B Performance, Best Traditional R&B Performance, Best R&B Song, and Best Remixed Recording categories. "BE ALIVE," Beyoncé's tune for the film King Richard, is nominated for a GRAMMY for Best Song Written For Visual Media.
Beyoncé has made clear that RENAISSANCE is the first in a three-part installment: it's anyone's guess as to where this boundary-breaker will venture next. But until then, this dance party is forever.
Mary J. Blige — Good Morning Gorgeous (Deluxe)
The Queen of Hip-Hop Soul returned in 2022 in multiple surprising ways. In February, she released Good Morning Gorgeous, a work of emotional depth with a surprising bite to it. (Would another R&B act of her generation drop a track like "On Top," with the cutting-edge MC Fivio Foreign?)
Thirty years after the release of her debut album, What's The 411, the previously nine-time GRAMMY winner hasn't lost one iota of her clarity of creative vision or cachet as an R&B innovator.
This is reflected not only in the bold, brassy sound throughout Good Morning Gorgeous, but the presence of other high-profile guests, like DJ Khaled on "Amazing," Anderson .Paak on "Here With Me," Dave East on "Rent Money," and Usher on "Need Love."
Two days after the album's release, Mary J. Blige stormed the Super Bowl with Kendrick Lamar, Eminem, 50 Cent, Dr. Dre, and Snoop Dogg, in a celebration of hip-hop as an ever-swelling force four decades in.
That performance made abundantly clear that this world would be unrecognizable without the soul edge Blige has brought and continues to bring.
At the 2023 GRAMMYs, she's not only nominated for golden gramophones for Album Of The Year, but Best R&B Album, Best R&B Performance ("Here With Me"), Best Traditional R&B Performance, and Best R&B Song ("Good Morning Gorgeous").
Clearly, the Queen's reign continues unabated.
Brandi Carlile — In These Silent Days
Brandi Carlile is a known quantity far outside of the singer/songwriter these days. She's swelling in the public sphere as a media personality, and friend and booster to a recovering (and returning!) Joni Mitchell.
And that's for a very good reason: few can weave words and melodies like her, and deliver them with such gravitas.
This was clear at the 2022 GRAMMYs, when two cuts from In These Silent Days — "Right on Time" and "A Beautiful Noise" — earned her four GRAMMY nominations, in the Record Of The Year, Song Of The Year, and Best Pop Solo Performance categories. (She was also nominated for a GRAMMY for Best American Roots Performance, for her featured appearance on Brandy Clark's "Same Devil.")
But, again, it's how all the songs talk to each other — and Recording Academy members were ravished by all 10. Taken as a whole, In These Silent Days imparts a dizzying amount of literary detail, with the immediacy of a blast of Laurel Canyon air.
"You and Me on the Rock," featuring indie-poppers Lucius, brings the heartache and jubilation of Mitchell's Blue into the 21st century; the strummy abandon expertly disguises the next-level craft beneath the hood.
Elsewhere, the Fleetwood Mac-like "Broken Horses" swings like a pendulum — this is a heavyweight artist we're reckoning with. And it's bracing to hear Carlile almost completely unadorned on impassioned closer "Throwing Good After Bad," lifted by the subtlest strains of a string section.
At the 2023 GRAMMYs, Carlile is also represented in the Best Americana Album category; Best Rock Performance and Best Rock Song, for "Broken Horses"; and Best Americana Performance, for "You and Me on the Rock."
On the cover of In These Silent Days, Carlile looks to be casually fixing her collar, as if the contents of the album amounted to a throat-clearing. The album might be partly a letter to the past, but heaven knows what's in her immediate future.
Coldplay — Music Of The Spheres
Coldplay won over the world for writing cleareyed, intimate songs about romantic insecurity and longing; now, they write about everything. Literally everything, transcending the concerns of terra firma and bounding through the celestials.
Everything about Music of the Spheres is a wild swing, which befits a band seemingly destined to carry the torch of the outsized U2.
Frontman Chris Martin said he was inspired by the enormity of the Star Wars universe and the title-track opener — stylized as a Saturn emoji — feels like the Flash Gordon-style opening crawl, an awe-inspiring sci-fi universe whirring to life. And the first single, "Higher Power," reaches for nothing less than the gates of Heaven.
That the Englishmen are able to engage in such space-scraping without sacrificing their core identity is somewhat miraculous. "Humankind" is a Kubrickian update on the anthemic mold they've always adhered to — going all the way back to A Rush of Blood to the Head, which turned 20 in 2022. And "Let Somebody Go," featuring Selena Gomez, feels as pared-down as their intimate, beloved debut, Parachutes.
For a song on the scale of "My Universe," not only guest would do: Martin and company had to tap the arguably biggest pop group on the planet, BTS. The song cycle ends with the 10-minute "Coloratura," which shows how Coldplay manage to stay creatively unpredictable even as their cachet grows heavenward.
On top of Music of the Spheres' GRAMMY nominations for Album Of The Year and Best Pop Vocal Album, "My Universe" is represented in the Best Pop Duo/Group Performance category. But whether or not Coldplay ultimately take home their golden gramophones, they've made an album that belongs to the planets and stars.
Kendrick Lamar — Mr. Morale & The Big Steppers
In the years since his gritty, explosive DAMN., Kendrick Lamar went off the grid and into a period of profound self-examination.
"I spend most of my days with fleeting thoughts. Writing. Listening," Lamar wrote in an August 2021 blog post. "Love, loss, and grief have disturbed my comfort zone, but the glimmers of God speak through my music and family. While the world around me evolves, I reflect on what matters the most."
When the Pulitzer Prize winner and (at the time) 14-time GRAMMY winner finally dropped a new song, "The Heart Pt. 5," it was clear that introspection had resulted in work of a renewed and downright frightening intensity.
"I come from a generation of pain, where murder is minor/ Rebellious and Margielas'll chip you for designer," the MC, who now nicknames himself "Oklama," rapped in the attendant video. "Belt buckles and clout, overzealous if prone to violence/ Make the wrong turn, be it will or the wheel alignment."
As the stark, one-shot video progressed, Lamar's face morphed into deepfake impersonations of O.J. Simpson, Kanye West, Jussie Smollett, Will Smith, Kobe Bryant, and Nipsey Hussle — as the latter, who was murdered in 2019, he rapped about gazing at his family and friends from heaven.
A track like that wouldn't have fit the concept of Mr. Morale and the Big Steppers, and accordingly, wasn't on the album. Because Mr. Morale is foremost an album about fatherhood, fidelity, and destroying old attitudes by fire. "Kendrick made you think about it, but he is not your savior," he reminds us at the outset of "Savior," demolishing his self-mythology.
But that's just the tip of the iceberg. Throughout an exhilarating and exhausting 78 minutes, Lamar ruthlessly interrogates his ingrained attitudes about fatherhood ("Father Time"), relationships with women ("We Cry Together"), and transgender relatives ("Auntie Diaries").
At the 2023 GRAMMYs, "The Heart Pt. 5" was nominated for GRAMMYs for Song Of The Year, Best Rap Performance, Best Melodic Rap Performance, and Best Rap Song.
And the courageous and unflinching Mr. Morale and the Big Steppers picked up GRAMMY nominations for Album Of The Year and Best Rap Album. Its resonance extends past the lyrical subject matter, or the gonzo arrangements where every musical decision seems wildly unorthodox.
Because if you zoom out, it's unlike anything Lamar — or any other rapper, for that matter — has ever made.
Lizzo — Special
In the past few years, Lizzo has enjoyed an expeditious ascent from flute-toting, self-loving charmer to a downright media titan. In her Amazon Prime reality show "Watch Out for the Big Grrrls," plus-sized models compete to become her backup dancer; her eye-popping VMAs dress reflected how her idiosyncratic visual aesthetic is rapidly gaining steam.
And her 2022 was typified by her latest album, Special, which consolidates her musical gifts and ever-evolving messaging in a cohesive blend of funk, disco, hip-hop, and pop. The single "About Damn Time" is practically destined to loom large in her legend; it joins "Good as Hell," "Truth Hurts," and the rest as calling-cards for her meme-friendly, feel-good outlook.
But the singles weren't exactly the point this time around: the matured and restrained Special is a window into Lizzo's particular universe, where the headline is "You matter, just the way you are."
Lizzo has previously picked up three GRAMMYs and three GRAMMY nominations; at the 2023 GRAMMYs, "About Damn Time" is nominated for GRAMMYs for Record Of The Year, Song Of The Year, and Best Pop Solo Performance. Additionally, by way of a Purple Disco Machine remix, said track is represented in the Best Remixed Recording category.
And because of the way that song interacts with vulnerable album tracks like "Naked" and "If You Love Me," Recording Academy membership decreed that Special is in the running for Album Of The Year and Best Pop Vocal Album.
Because when you strip away the memes, the hashtags, and the media appearances, Lizzo makes albums — superb ones. And when it comes to honors like this, it's, well, about damn time.
Harry Styles — Harry’s House
But his third album, Harry's House, ups the ante in a new way; it presents a totally liveable, self contained domicile. Within the LP, can take a load off on the couch, pontificate in the kitchen, or brood on the edge of the bed.
How can an album take on such qualities? That's partly because every song, "Music for a Sushi Restaurant" to "Late Night Talking" to "Love of My Life," is imbued with that charm only Styles possesses — the one that lays waste to Madison Square Garden and gave him a Hollywood star turn in Don't Worry Darling.
And the sheer concision and earworm hook of his titanic single "As It Was" raises even more questions than it does answers. Here's one: which perfect pop songs hasn't he written yet?
At the 2023 GRAMMYs, "As It Was" has been nominated for GRAMMYs for Song Of The Year, Best Pop Solo Performance, and Best Music Video; Harry's House is nominated for GRAMMYs for Album Of The Year and Best Pop Vocal Album. If Styles wins in any of these categories, he will add to his previous GRAMMY win, for Best Pop Solo Performance for Fine Line's "Watermelon Sugar."
Clearly, fans worldwide set up camp at Harry's House, and have no plans to vacate anytime soon. Because amid all the other reasons, it's just too much fun to kick back in there.
The 2023 GRAMMYs, officially known as the 65th GRAMMY Awards, returns to Los Angeles' Crypto.com Arena on Sunday, Feb. 5, 2023, and will broadcast live on the CBS Television Network and stream live and on-demand on Paramount+ at 8-11:30 p.m. ET/5-8:30 p.m. PT.
The eligibility period for the 65th GRAMMY Awards is Friday, Oct. 1, 2021 – Friday, Sept. 30, 2022. All eligible awards entries must be released within this timeframe.
The Recording Academy and GRAMMY.com do not endorse any particular artist, submission or nominee over another. The results of the GRAMMY Awards, including winners and nominees, are solely dependent on the Recording Academy’s Voting Membership.
Watch: Take A Behind-The-Scenes Tour Of The 2023 GRAMMYs
Ahead of the 65th GRAMMY Awards, take a peek behind the curtain on an exclusive tour of Crypto.com Arena. Learn how hundreds of crew members set the scene for thousands of attendees at Music's Biggest Night — in just over a week.
For the 20th time, the 2023 GRAMMYs are back in Los Angeles at the Crypto.com Arena. Ahead of Music's Biggest Night on Feb. 5, GRAMMY U representatives took a behind-the-scenes production tour.
Located in the center of the 4-million-square-foot development, L.A. Live, Crypto.com can host up to 13,000 people. With an expected full crowd for the 65th GRAMMY Awards, hundreds of staff are working behind the curtains to organize the perfect show.
Associate Producer Jody Kolozsvari offered representatives a glimpse of the thousands of moving parts working to the 65th GRAMMY Awards. The tour featured the production room, dressing rooms, loading docks, and arena bowl, a hot set with hundreds of crew members creating a striking set from scratch — all in just over a week. Jody also introduced the Representatives to the department heads in audio, stage management and design, talent support, and executive production.
Check out the video above to follow the representatives on the production tour, and see the action come to life Sunday, Feb. 5. The 2023 GRAMMYs will broadcast live on the CBS Television Network, and stream live and on-demand on Paramount+ at 8-11:30 p.m. ET / 5-8:30 p.m. PT.
Photo: Alberto E. Rodriguez / Stringer / Getty Images
6 Deep Insights From Jacob Collier & Jessie Reyez' GRAMMY U Masterclass Conversation
The GRAMMY U Masterclass powered by Mastercard and hosted by GRAMMY-winner Jacob Collier and GRAMMY-nominee Jessie Reyez was dedicated to excellence in music and the development of talent through the industry.
Ahead of the 2023 GRAMMYs, like every year, GRAMMY U student representatives studying to pursue careers in music have gathered together in Los Angeles for GRAMMY Week, many to attend or help out at the GRAMMY Awards.
On Feb. 2, at the Novo venue in downtown L.A., GRAMMY U hosted its own Masterclass dedicated to excellence in music and the development of talent through the industry. Passion and creativity shined bright at the event powered by Mastercard hosted by GRAMMY-winner Jacob Collier and moderated by GRAMMY-nominee Jessie Reyez.
Collier and Reyez presented a rich and rollicking conversation, as well as a musical demonstration, that showcased their admiration for each other and for music-making. The Masterclass also highlighted the dedication, skill and vision of the GRAMMY U students themselves, who made the event and all its magic happen.
Read on for insights and advice from the GRAMMY U Masterclass.
Collaboration is key
"The GRAMMY U representatives work together to help build the vision of the program, including the featured panelists, conversation topic, venues, and overall vibe,” explained GRAMMY U Director Jessie Allen. “The most rewarding part of the events we produce is seeing the pride each Rep has as they see their vision realized."
And the vision for this Masterclass was impressive. The pairing of past collaborators Collier and Reyez was fantastic (Collier tapped Reyez for "Count The People" on Collier’s GRAMMY-nominated Djesse Vol. 3) and led to a deep, lively and illuminating conversation filled with live music and music theory 101. The musical components, which included a stunning demonstration of the audience choir Collier has been performing on tour, felt organic, spur-of-the-moment, and deeply captivating.
"For this Masterclass, we all knew that including live music was a top priority in how we created the event. Once we had Jacob on board, the program direction became clear pretty quickly and the Reps wrote all of the questions and script for him and Jessie. One of the first things they asked was for Jacob to do an audience choir segment, which was such a special part of the event. I was so proud to see them all soaking in every second, knowing that they helped to create it," Allen added.
In addition to shaping the event itself, other GRAMMY U students prepared great additional questions for the audience Q&A portion of the talk. A vibey selection of R&B, Afrobeats and house grooves, ala Beyoncé, Steve Lacy, Doja Cat and Black Coffee was provided by GRAMMY U student DJ, Anastazja before and after the main event as guests mingled and ate sweet treats of fresh churros, fluffy mini donuts, and paletas. The culmination of these collaborative efforts elevated the energy of the entire event.
Rules (and tools) were meant to be stretched
"I've always been interested in stretching all the rules. I've always felt they're quite arbitrary," Collier said toward the beginning of the chat, rocking a chevron-striped sweater and bright yellow Crocs that serendipitously coordinated the oversized chairs both artists perched in. "That gave me a lot of clarity."
The GRAMMY-winning singer, songwriter and composer took the captive audience back to the beginning of his musical journey, where the creative seeds for his GRAMMY-winning debut album In My Room were planted, with a mic and his first Casio keyboard in his childhood London bedroom. He explained that he loved to take apart classic songs he loved, like those of Stevie Wonder and play with them. He also explored all his keyboard had to offer, relishing in its presets which sounded out waltz and polka and horn instruments he'd never played before. This began when he was 10 and through his teenage years, and was a very inspiring and fun period of musical play, learning and experimentation for him. This was his happy place.
That bedroom musical experimentation was "a crucial part of my learning… What you like is one of the most important questions you can ask [yourself]," he said, emphasizing the importance of following your joy and the things and sounds that excite you.
Intuition is a superpower
Learning to trust and listen to your intuition was a recurring theme that both Reyez and Collier brought up when discussing the creative process and navigating the music industry.
"You have to make sure the little voice in your head is on your side," Reyez stated.
She continued, telling the audience not to accept “no” or let others convince them something won't work when they know there's a way. She stressed the importance of nurturing connections with themselves and their intuition, which is always the best guide.
When Reyez gets a no, she checks in with her intuition. When she gets stuck in indecision, instead of letting time continue to pass her by, she flips a coin. For her, this classic trick is a great gut-check and gives her initial insight into her emotional reaction to any decision. Either way, making a choice and moving forward is always more rewarding than doing nothing.
Photo: Alberto E. Rodriguez / Stringer / Getty Images
Effective leadership creates harmony
Collier led the "presence and effortless flow" of the audience choir, which he demonstrated to powerful effect, a beautiful chorus of angelic voices that he conducted with simple hand motions and vocal demonstrations.
The demonstration sounded flawless and appeared nearly effortless. He expressed that leading the audience choirs has been a great learning experience for him, understanding how to boil it down to the simplest sounds and give instructions with clear and precise hand signals to result in unified sound.
Drawing parallels between conducting a choice and building out his creative and professional team, Collier mused, "How do I lead in a way where everyone's voice feels important when creating a team?"
Collier indulged the audience with one of many “music nerd moments” of the afternoon as he discussed and demonstrated triadic harmony, concluding with "Harmony's my ultimate crush from day one."
"Think about every problem as an unresolved chord"
Collier offered a great piece of advice someone on his team had once shared with him: "Think about every problem as an unresolved chord." For him, finishing a chord is second nature, so if he can "transpose that [knowledge] to other situations," he understands that all challenges have solutions, eventually.
"When you believe that it can happen, the universe does transpire to help you," Collier asserted, adding that the solution doesn’t always have to come through your mind. Striking the balance between head versus heart and learning to listen to both was a point the dynamic pair emphasized.
He related it back to the power of having a good team and openness for collaboration, which can support in making magic happen. "[It's about] reaching into your peripheral vision knowing something will be there," "The Sun Is In Your Eyes" artist said.
Reflect a perspective through song
"I'm longing for all that is already here," Collier said poetically, in one of his many musical demonstrations. "Longing and abundance…how do you express all that with a chord?" he mused from the piano, playing around with expressing that nuanced feeling, which was truly powerful to experience and let wash over you. "I love the feeling of transposing my experience to [song]," he said.
He activated the audience choir once again as he bounced around the stage which had become his musical playground, moving from the big yellow chair to the front of the stage to conduct, and back to the piano. It's clear that Collier thinks (and moves) in musical form. Speaking to the audience, his choir, he reflects: "The feeling of being a note in a chord, it's an interesting state, it's like being a person."
A question from a GRAMMY U student who is a voice major offered more illumination into Collier's music making mastery. Collier explained that when he was younger, he thought that writing lyrics was meant to be a personal monologue, but as he's developed in his songwriting, he sees it as a chance to share a perspective, and not just your own. It could be a dance between two characters, or a chance to explore a viewpoint completely different than your own.
"Embrace the weirdness of your perspective and others' perspectives," he encouraged. "And don't be right…being good is boring… push into the crumbly, strange, dark corners of your imagination." For him, that's the most exciting creative space to be in.
There were so many mic drop moments during the lengthy conversation, and if that wasn't enough, there were two more cherries to top it off. Collier closed out with a big, heavens-gracing performance of the classic "Can’t Take My Eyes Off You" just for the IRL audience (sorry livestream guests!). His interpretation of the song ended with one more audience choir.
Find out if Collier and your other favorite artists will take home a golden gramophone this Sunday, Feb. 5, at the 65th GRAMMY Awards.
Music’s Biggest Night will be broadcast live from Crypto.com Arena in Los Angeles Sunday, Feb. 5 (8:00 - 11:30 PM, live ET/5:00 - 8:30 PM, live PT). It will air on the CBS Television Network, stream live and on demand on Paramount+.
Photo: Maury Philips/Getty Images for The Recording Academy
What Happened At Recording Academy's 2023 Producers & Engineers Wing GRAMMY Week Event: Musical Titans, Transfixing Sound & Undeniable Atmosphere
The mood was particularly buoyant at the 15th annual Producers & Engineers Wing GRAMMY Week event, which featured luminaries from Terri Lyne Carrington and Social Science, to Kronos Quartet.
"It really is all about the music and the positivity that it brings," GRAMMY-winning audio engineer Leslie Ann Jones said during the introductory remarks of the Recording Academy Producers & Engineers Wing GRAMMY Week event held last Wednesday evening at the Village Studios in Los Angeles.
The mood was particularly buoyant at the 15th annual event. After all, noted Mistress of Ceremonies and P&E Wing Vice President Maureen Droney, this was the first time that it was held in person since 2020, and the hundreds of attendees warmed up for the awards ceremony by socializing and sampling specialty cocktails. The hallways and reception areas of the legendary recording studio, host to an astonishing collection of famous artists, provided an evocative backdrop.
At the atmospheric Moroccan Ballroom, 13-time GRAMMY winner Judith Sherman was honored for her extraordinary contribution to the art of recording classical music. "I'm the luckiest woman in the world," she enthused during a video highlighting her collaborations with artists like Rudolf Serkin, Ursula Oppens and the Kronos Quartet.
Invited onstage by Harvey Mason jr., CEO of the Recording Academy, Sherman was particularly self-deprecating in her acceptance speech.
"When I got the call about this honor, I thought it was a hoax," she said, eliciting chuckles from the audience. "I'd like to thank the composers and musicians, who are the point of all this," she added. "I always tell people that I have the best job in the world. I get to know music intimately, but I never have to practice. I'm honored to be honored by such a group of artists."
Sherman then introduced the Kronos Quartet, the ensemble with which she recorded some legendary sessions. Visibly happy to honor their friend with live music, the members of the Quartet launched into an exuberant rendition of Mexican composer Severiano Briseño's "El Sinaloense," from the 2002 album Nuevo – co-produced by Sherman.
The background lights then turned a deep, moody blue for a delicate reading of the mournful "Closing" by Philip Glass, from his timeless 1985 soundtrack for the movie Mishima. As the strings lost themselves in the repetitive melodic patterns — the trademark building blocks of Glass' minimalism, it was impossible not to ponder the power of music to transport listeners into soundscapes of an almost surreal beauty.
Across the hallway, inside the studio's spacious auditorium, Mason jr. introduced three-time GRAMMY-winning drummer, producer and educator Terri Lyne Carrington as "a world changer, an advocate who gives back to the people during so much of the year." A drummer of remarkable verve and technical skill, Carrington has toured and recorded with a long list of iconic artists, including Stan Getz, Herbie Hancock and Wayne Shorter.
"This is surreal," Carrington said upon receiving the award. She then recalled becoming a Recording Academy member in 1989, while she was the house drummer with The Arsenio Hall Show in Los Angeles. "I don't remember a lot about 1989," she quipped, "but I do recall being invited to join, and realizing that a lot of people in this community are interested in being of service."
Carrington also made a case for genre diversity, praising the Academy for honoring artists in the fields of jazz and classical music. "That is a big deal," she emphasized, generating a round of applause. "Fighting for social and racial justice is enough. Fighting for jazz as well would be too tiring."
She then invited the members of her progressive jazz combo Social Science onstage, explaining that some of them had flown from New York, Boston and Washington DC just to play at the event. "I've been pacing and walking around," she said, adding that she's been performing only of couple of dates per month, and asking fellow musicians to be forgiving of her chops.
Carrington had nothing to fear, of course. The extended mini-concert was nothing short of revelatory, combining jazz harmony with fiery polyrhythms, passionate hip-hop, intriguing echoes of psychedelia in the spiraling Hammond lines of keyboardist Aaron Parks, and some outstanding bass work by Morgan Guerin, who also performed an impressive sax solo.
Carrington's gutsy drumming was the focal point, together with the soaring vocalizing of virtuoso singer Debo Ray. Social Science's 2019 double album Waiting Game is the kind of visionary work that can single-handedly move a genre forward. We can only hope that the ensemble will reconvene and record new music in the near future.
As is often the case with the GRAMMY week events, the awards and acceptance speeches were memorable enough. But just on its own, the music brimmed with profound inspiration.
Photo: Dominik Bindl/Stringer via Getty Images
Clive Davis On His Famed GRAMMY Party, The Future Of The Industry & Whitney Houston's Enduring Legacy
As Clive Davis' renowned Pre-GRAMMY Gala returns after a pandemic-induced hiatus, GRAMMY.com spoke with the music industry icon about some of his most unexpected career wins and his thoughts on the 2023 GRAMMY nominees.
One of the most legendary events of GRAMMY weekend is back after a two year break.
Masterminded by Clive Davis, the Pre-GRAMMY Gala & Industry Salute to Icons has enjoyed iconic status as a place where music industry titans, tastemakers, politicians and actors alike rub elbows to toast the year, reflect on the past and look to the future of music. Taking over the Los Angeles' Beverly Hilton, the return of Clive's party for the 2023 GRAMMYs is a show business tradition without parallel.
The event also comes on the heels of a big year for Davis, who not only celebrated his 90th birthday but also hosted the Paramount+ series Clive Davis: Most Iconic Performances, and was portrayed by Stanley Tucci in the big-screen adaptation of Whitney Houston's life in I Wanna Dance With Somebody, which hit theaters in December.
Ahead of the Feb. 4 event, GRAMMY.com caught up with Davis at the Beverly Hilton to preview this year's party, gauge his thoughts on today's favorite artists and reveal the act whose success most took him by surprise.
Your Pre-GRAMMY Gala is back for the first time since 2020 after a COVID-induced break! How does that feel, and how are you feeling?
I feel great that it's back. The demand from day one — maybe since we emailed the invites this year — there's been such eagerness. People are ready and it makes me feel great. I'm getting emails and so much in writing as to what the party has meant for them, somehow it triggers that type of response and it's been touching. It's exciting!
Can you offer us a preview? Who's coming or who may be performing?
Well, you know that that's all a secret. Who's coming is a who's who of music, many more great movie stars are coming whatever the reason. Nancy Pelosi and Paul Pelosi are coming, for example. But the tales about who meets who from past parties [are legendary], from Brandi Carlile meeting Joni Mitchell for the first time and how they've bonded since, or Joni meeting someone like David Hockney.
This year, the Gala is honoring Atlantic Music Group Chairman and CEO Julie Greenwald and Atlantic Records Chairman and CEO Craig Kallman. Can you talk about their impact on the industry?
They have been very gifted competitors as far as I'm concerned. I've obviously competed more with people like Mo Ostin, Joe Smith and Chris Blackwell. But Julie and Criag are incredibly gifted music executives. I greatly admire what they've done and how they're revered by the artists who've worked with them.
In fact, one artist who works with them has asked to present the Icon award to Julie, and normally it's Harvey Mason Jr who's presenting it. So we'll see if that comes about. But if it does, it will be touching.
You bring up Joni Mitchell — in the past year she's had a renaissance of being back in the public eye. What does that mean to you to watch Joni come back?
I felt it starting six, seven or eight years ago. Joni decided she wanted to attend my GRAMMY party. I don't allow schmoozing, so if there's a five-minute or seven-minute gap in between performers, I give shoutouts because it's a big ballroom and people don't often know who's there. But when I gave a shoutout to Joni Mitchell, I mean, it got as much reaction as one for an artist who has conquered the room after a performance. There were cheers and a standing ovation just for a shoutout, so there's a connection there. She influenced so many lives. And she'll be there this year too.
I want to talk to you about Whitney Houston. Her movie came out last month and people are celebrating her again since it's her 75th birthday year. When you look back at your memories of her, do they make you sad or joyful?
There's a certain element of both because I miss her. But, seeing the recognition of her talent and seeing that it's historic — in the film, she's quoted as being the finest of her generation. So, it's a combination.
I'm gratified that she was not a one-hit wonder or a passing fad, but she'lll be a permanent influence and inspiration to young artists forever because she was that unique. So it's been very gratifying.
Speaking of the movie, Stanley Tucci portrayed you. This is a feeling not many people in the world know, to be depicted in a film. How do you think he did?
I felt he did me justice, and if that's his take on me, I'm happy with that take. I was gratified that my character is being portrayed by a really gifted actor who was not hamming it up or inventing a shtick or a persona. The reaction of others is that he captured me too, so it's only been positive. We've also become quite friendly.
I'm interested in your thoughts on the state of the music industry. Where does it stand now?
I'm very excited, most of all, that the industry is healthy — especially having gone through the period that the future of music was questionable. Now, I'm endowing a school in my name at NYU and giving scholarships.
People ask, "Is there a legitimate future in the industry?" And the answer is, music is a necessity and it will be here to stay. So I feel very good that the industry is healthy, and the streaming and digital evolution, and that those entering a career in the industry will take it wherever that goes in the future.
Speaking of the modern industry, are your feelings on the current crop of nominated artists?
I'm a big fan of Beyoncé, I'm a big admirer of what Harry Styles is doing so uniquely. But in the longer future, there hasn't been a new Bob Dylan or Bruce Springsteen. I also want to make sure that with hip-hop dominating, that a new Aretha Franklin or Whitney Houston — a person with a voice who is breathtaking — deserves to have a home.
In your storied career, has anyone's success taken you by surprise?
I have a healthy respect for failure, so the most gratifying thing for a legacy or my career has been the height that so many artists that I've created a home for have reached and influenced as many people have. I'm thinking of someone who was maligned by the critics like Barry Manilow was and now he's still headlining. I recently saw him in Florida at an arena and the fervor in the audience for him was amazing to see.
Does a particular record come to mind?
As far as what record, the record that I helped break personally that the odds were against and became a landmark breakthrough was Kenny G's "Songbird," especially being an instrumental. I wrote a letter to every radio station. He became the best-selling instrumentalist of all time.
But who's' also coming to mind is when I signed Carlos Santana for the second time. It was viewed as Davis' folly. This was a man who did not have a hit in 25 years and was past the age of 50 and wasn't even a lead singer, so the fact he could come back with one of the best-selling albums of all time in Supernatural. I thought he'd have some success or else I wouldn't have signed him, but to be an all-timer is clearly surprising and gratifying.