Amy Ray Talks New Indigo Girls Music & Achieving Equality In The Music Industry | Newport Folk 2019

Amy Ray

Photo: Daniel Mendoza/The Recording Academy


Amy Ray Talks New Indigo Girls Music & Achieving Equality In The Music Industry | Newport Folk 2019

"[Newport] s probably 50% women performers; that's a big deal. That's not happening at Bonnaroo and Coachella and all these other festivals, and it needs to happen everywhere," the contemporary folk figurehead tells the Recording Academy

GRAMMYs/Jul 28, 2019 - 11:10 pm

Amy Ray has a long history with Newport Folk Festival. In addition to attending the fest with her family as a kid, the singer and solo artist played Newport a number of times with her GRAMMY-winning contemporary folk band, Indigo Girls, in the '90s. 

Nowadays, Ray has six solo albums under her belt, including her most recent release, 2018's Holler, and she's playing Newport for the first time under her own name. The revered artist sat down with the Recording Academy on-site at Newport to talk about her admiration for the fest, new Indigo Girls music out early next year, what it was like to meet Bob Dylan at the GRAMMYs and what we have left to do in terms of achieving true equality in the music industry.  

Is this your first Newport?

Yeah, with Indigo Girls I played here about 10 times, probably, in the '90s.

Is it first with the Amy Ray Band, though?

Yeah, yeah. First time. We're green.

What makes this festival special for you?

Just being around all the other artists, honestly, the community vibe, meeting new people, and doing collaborations. It's a very engaging event so you leave feeling inspired by writers that you meet and people that maybe have been around forever.

For me, because we played back in the '90s so much, The Indigo Girls did. We did a long stretch of probably like eight years in a row at one point. Some of the older people that are here working security and crew, I knew them from then and that's cool to me. So, there's a continuation and a thread. I like that. It's all volunteers and there's a lot of people working here that are young 18 year olds, all the way to people that are in their 70s.

It's kind of a family environment.

Yeah, my family used to always come here with me, my mom and dad and my siblings. Last time I was here, my dad was alive and he's not alive anymore and it's cool to remember him and how he was very into music. It was always great to be here with them.

You mentioned meeting other artists and collaborators, and one thing that struck me about about your latest solo album, Holler, was that you had a lot of great guests.

I got lucky, to be honest. Well, my band is great. We had Kofi Burbridge from Tedeschi Trucks, who is passed away now, but he came in and played keys for the record and was part of the band for a couple of weeks. He's a good friend and that was a treasure to have had that experience with him. Now he's gone, but he was a great man.

Alison Brown came in and played banjo. She's a virtuoso. I had the Wood Brothers, Vince Gill, Brandi Carlile, Ruth May Harris, Justin Vernon, Phil Cook. People did me favors. I just can't believe they would be willing to [do that] kind of thing. 

It's been 30 years since the Indigos won their first GRAMMY. What do you remember about that moment for you to be recognized in that way?

We were so excited. Honestly, just being at the GRAMMYs was enough for us. Winning was like icing on the cake, but just getting to go. I met Bob Dylan. I met Flava Flav. I was sitting next to, I think, Patrick Stewart. Jean Luc Picard was sitting behind me. I was like, "This is crazy." Judy Collins was there. I was sitting at a table and I had on this hat, and Judy Collins had a similar hat on. Dylan leaned over and goes, "Judy, is that you?" I'll never forget that because I was like, "No. My name's Amy. I'm in a band called the Indigo Girls." He just goes, "Oh, yeah. Okay." And he walked away.

What's next for you in your band? You've got six solo albums now. Are you working on new music?

Indigo Girls are getting ready to put a record out in January or February. We have a record coming out that we're just about to finish mixing and master. My band and I, at this point, we've got like five more shows to play and then I'll go do some stuff with Indigos and I'll just go back and forth kind of between the two.

We just had The Highwomen in here and we were talking about gender equality in music. You've been playing in this industry for a long time, and I'm just curious if you're up for talking about what changes you've seen happen, and maybe what's left to be done in terms of achieving equality in the music industry.

There's a lot left to be done. There's a lot of progress though. Just this festival this, like Newport this year. It's probably 50% women performers. That's a big deal. That's not happening at Bonnaroo and Coachella and all these other festivals, and it needs to happen everywhere.

I think Brandy's doing a good job of pushing that and generally, she's doing a lot of different projects right now that push that agenda in a good way. That's important. I think we've come a long way, and I think people coming up, they have no concept of that kind of intolerance. They are going to be... We just need the old people to die off, honestly. Even me. We need to go away. I just mean the people that have old ideas, who are the gatekeepers still, some of them. They need to get out of the way for all the new people that have great ideas and are doing great things. There's still a lot of great old timers that were always open-minded that are good mentors and we need to honor them. There's a lot of work to do still. We still have a lot of racism to deal with. I think sexism and homophobia are one thing. I think racism is even harder. That's my feeling about it.

Backstage At Newport Folk Festival's 60th Anniversary


GRAMMY SoundChecks With Gavin DeGraw

GRAMMYs/Dec 3, 2014 - 05:06 am

On Aug. 28 Nashville Chapter GRAMMY U members took part in GRAMMY SoundChecks with Gavin DeGraw. Approximately 30 students gathered at music venue City Hall and watched DeGraw play through some of the singles from earlier in his career along with "Cheated On Me" from his latest self-titled album.

In between songs, DeGraw conducted a question-and-answer session and inquired about the talents and goals of the students in attendance. He gave inside tips to the musicians present on how to make it in the industry and made sure that every question was answered before moving onto the next song.


Juan Gabriel named 2009 Latin Recording Academy Person Of The Year


Juan Gabriel named 2009 Latin Recording Academy Person Of The Year

Annual star-studded gala slated for Nov. 4 in Las Vegas during 10th Annual Latin GRAMMY Week celebration

GRAMMYs/May 15, 2017 - 01:36 pm

 Internationally renowned singer/songwriter/performer Juan Gabriel will be celebrated as the 2009 Latin Recording Academy Person of the Year, it was announced today by The Latin Recording Academy. Juan Gabriel, chosen for his professional accomplishments as well as his commitment to philanthropic efforts, will be recognized at a star-studded concert and black tie dinner on Nov. 4 at the Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas, Nev. 

The "Celebration with Juan Gabriel" gala will be one of the most prestigious events held during Latin GRAMMY week, a celebration that culminates with the 10th Annual Latin GRAMMY Awards ceremony. The milestone telecast will be held at Mandalay Bay Events Center in Las Vegas on Nov. 5 and will be broadcast live on the Univision Television Network at 8 p.m. Eastern/7 p.m. Central. 

"As we celebrate this momentous decade of the Latin GRAMMYs, The Latin Recording Academy and its Board of Trustees take great pride in recognizing Juan Gabriel as an extraordinary entertainer who never has forgotten his roots, while at the same time having a global impact," said Latin Recording Academy President Gabriel Abaroa. "His influence on the music and culture of our era has been tremendous, and we welcome this opportunity to pay a fitting tribute to a voice that strongly resonates within our community.

Over the course of his 30-year career, Juan Gabriel has sold more than 100 million albums and has performed to sold-out audiences throughout the world. He has produced more than 100 albums for more than 50 artists including Paul Anka, Lola Beltran, Rocío Dúrcal, and Lucha Villa among many others. Additionally, Juan Gabriel has written more than 1,500 songs, which have been covered by such artists as Marc Anthony, Raúl Di Blasio, Ana Gabriel, Angelica María, Lucia Mendez, Estela Nuñez, and Son Del Son. In 1986, Los Angeles Mayor Tom Bradley declared Oct. 5 "The Day of Juan Gabriel." The '90s saw his induction into Billboard's Latin Music Hall of Fame and he joined La Opinion's Tributo Nacional Lifetime Achievement Award recipients list. 

At the age of 13, Juan Gabriel was already writing his own songs and in 1971 recorded his first hit, "No Tengo Dinero," which landed him a recording contract with RCA. Over the next 14 years, he established himself as Mexico's leading singer/songwriter, composing in diverse styles such as rancheras, ballads, pop, disco, and mariachi, which resulted in an incredible list of hits ("Hasta Que Te Conocí," "Siempre En Mi Mente," "Querida," "Inocente Pobre Amigo," "Abrázame Muy Fuerte," "Amor Eterno," "El Noa Noa," and "Insensible") not only for himself  but for many leading Latin artists. In 1990, Juan Gabriel became the only non-classical singer/songwriter to perform at the Palacio de Bellas Artes in Mexico City and the album release of that concert, Juan Gabriel En Vivo Desde El Palacio De Bellas Artes, broke sales records and established his iconic status. 

After a hiatus from recording, Juan Gabriel released such albums as Gracias Por Esperar, Juntos Otra Vez, Abrázame Muy Fuerte, Los Gabriel…Para Ti, Juan Gabriel Con La Banda…El Recodo, and El Mexico Que Se Nos Fue, which were all certified gold and/or platinum by the RIAA. In 1996, to commemorate his 25th anniversary in the music industry, BMG released a retrospective set of CDs entitled 25 Aniversario, Solos, Duetos, y Versiones Especiales, comprised appropriately of 25 discs.   

In addition to his numerous accolades and career successes, Juan Gabriel has been a compassionate and generous philanthropist. He has donated all proceeds from approximately 10 performances a year to his favorite children's foster homes, and proceeds from fan photo-ops go to support Mexican orphans. In 1987, he founded Semjase, an orphanage for approximately 120 children, which also serves as a music school with music, recreation and video game rooms. Today, he continues to personally fund the school he opened more than 22 years ago.   

Juan Gabriel will have the distinction of becoming the 10th Latin Recording Academy Person of the Year honoree, and joins a list of artists such as Gloria Estefan, Gilberto Gil, Juan Luis Guerra, Julio Iglesias, Ricky Martin, and Carlos Santana among others who have been recognized. 

For information on purchasing tickets or tables to The Latin Recording Academy Person of the Year tribute to Juan Gabriel, please contact The Latin Recording Academy ticketing office at 310.314.8281 or

Set List Bonus: Bumbershoot 2013
Grizzled Mighty perform at Bumbershoot on Sept. 1

Photo: The Recording Academy


Set List Bonus: Bumbershoot 2013

GRAMMYs/Dec 3, 2014 - 04:22 am

Welcome to The Set List. Here you'll find the latest concert recaps for many of your favorite, or maybe not so favorite, artists. Our bloggers will do their best to provide you with every detail of the show, from which songs were on the set list to what the artist was wearing to which out-of-control fan made a scene. Hey, it'll be like you were there. And if you like what you read, we'll even let you know where you can catch the artist on tour. Feel free to drop us a comment and let us know your concert experience. Oh, and rock on.

By Alexa Zaske

This past Labor Day weekend meant one thing for many folks in Seattle: Bumbershoot, a three-decade-old music and arts event that consumed the area surrounding the Space Needle from Aug. 31–Sept. 2. Amid attendees wandering around dressed as zombies and participating in festival-planned flash mobs to Michael Jackson's "Thriller," this year the focus was on music from the Pacific Northwest region — from the soulful sounds of Allen Stone and legendary female rockers Heart, to the highly-awaited return of Death Cab For Cutie performing their 2003 hit album Transatlanticism in its entirety.

The festival started off on day one with performances by synth-pop group the Flavr Blue, hip-hop artist Grynch, rapper Nacho Picasso, psychedelic pop group Beat Connection, lively rapper/writer George Watsky, hip-hop group the Physics, and (my personal favorite), punk/dance band !!! (Chk Chk Chk). Also performing on day one was Seattle folk singer/songwriter Kris Orlowski, who was accompanied by the Passenger String Quartet. As always, Orlowski's songs were catchy and endearing yet brilliant and honest.

Day one came to a scorching finale with a full set from GRAMMY-nominated rock group Heart. Kicking off with their Top 20 hit "Barracuda," the set spanned three decades of songs, including "Heartless," "Magic Man" and "What About Love?" It became a gathering of Seattle rock greats when, during Heart's final song, Pearl Jam guitarist Mike McCready joined for 1976's "Crazy On You."

Day two got off to an early start with performances from eccentric Seattle group Kithkin and Seattle ladies Mary Lambert and Shelby Earl, who were accompanied by the band Le Wrens. My highlight of the day was the Grizzled Mighty — a duo with a bigger sound than most family sized bands. Drummer Whitney Petty, whose stage presence and skills make for an exciting performance, was balanced out by the easy listening of guitarist and lead singer Ryan Granger.

Then the long-awaited moment finally fell upon Seattle when, after wrapping a long-awaited tour with the Postal Service, singer/songwriter Ben Gibbard returned to Seattle to represent another great success of the Pacific Northwest — Death Cab For Cutie. The band celebrated the 10-year anniversary of their album Transatlanticism by performing it from front to back. While a majority of attendees opted to watch the set from an air-conditioned arena, some of us recognized the uniqueness of this experience and enjoyed the entire set lying in the grass where the entire performance was streamed. 

Monday was the day for soul and folk. Local blues/R&B group Hot Bodies In Motion have been making their way through the Seattle scene with songs such as "Old Habits," "That Darkness" and "The Pulse." Their set was lively and enticing to people who have seen them multiple times or never at all.

My other highlights of the festival included the Maldives, who delivered a fun performance with the perfect amount of satirical humor and folk. They represent the increasing number of Pacific Northwest bands who consist of many members playing different sounds while still managing to stay cohesive and simple. I embraced the return of folk/pop duo Ivan & Alyosha with open arms and later closed my festival experience with local favorite Stone.

For music fans in Seattle and beyond, the annual Bumbershoot festival is a must-attend.

(Alexa Zaske is the Chapter Assistant for The Recording Academy Pacific Northwest Chapter. She's a music enthusiast and obsessed with the local Seattle scene.)

Neil Portnow Addresses Diversity & Inclusion, Looks Ahead During Speech At 2019 GRAMMYs

Neil Portnow and Jimmy Jam

Photo: Michael Kovac/Getty Images


Neil Portnow Addresses Diversity & Inclusion, Looks Ahead During Speech At 2019 GRAMMYs

Jimmy Jam helps celebrate the outgoing President/CEO of the Recording Academy on the 61st GRAMMY Awards

GRAMMYs/Feb 11, 2019 - 10:58 am

As Neil Portnow's tenure as Recording Academy President/CEO draws to its end, five-time GRAMMY winner Jimmy Jam paid tribute to his friend and walked us through a brief overview of some of the Academy's major recent achievements, including the invaluable work of MusiCares, the GRAMMY Museum, Advocacy and more.

Portnow delivered a brief speech, acknowledging the need to continue to focus on issues of diversity and inclusion in the music industry. He also seized the golden opportunity to say the words he's always wanted to say on the GRAMMY stage, saying, "I'd like to thank the Academy," showing his gratitude and respect for the staff, elected leaders and music community he's worked with during his career at the Recording Academy. "We can be so proud of what we’ve all accomplished together," Portnow added.

"As I finish out my term leading this great organization, my heart and soul are filled with gratitude, pride, for the opportunity and unequal experience," he continued. "Please know that my commitment to all the good that we do will carry on as we turn the page on the next chapter of the storied history of this phenomenal institution."

Full Winners List: 61st GRAMMY Awards