meta-scriptInside Ben Platt's 'Honeymind': How Queer Love, Live Performance & More Led To His Most Authentic Album Yet | GRAMMY.com
Singer and actor Ben Platt seated and posing
Ben Platt

Photo: Vince Aung

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Inside Ben Platt's 'Honeymind': How Queer Love, Live Performance & More Led To His Most Authentic Album Yet

Ben Platt's expansive artistry has taken him from Broadway to the recording studio, and his new album continues this evolution. 'Honeymind' shows Ben Platt at his most honest and vulnerable, embracing a new sound.

GRAMMYs/Apr 18, 2024 - 01:47 pm

Ben Platt has never allowed the world to dictate his fate. The GRAMMY, Tony, and Emmy-winner's artistic outpouring has been relentless, and he's still early in his career. 

The 30-year-old actor and singer has performed in Broadway musicals like "Parade" and "Dear Evan Hansen," sold out Madison Square Garden and the Hollywood Bowl as a solo artist, and starred and co-wrote the film Theater Camp. Each project has marked a step into a new direction, but none more so than Honeymind — an album that captures what it's like to chase tender and safe intimacy in partnership, and the ecstasy that follows once found. 

His professional growth between 2021's Reverie and Honeymind is apparent not just thematically, but sonically and in production. This latest album sounds natural and lush, with input from GRAMMY-winning producer Dave Cobb and producer/songwriter/multi-instrumentalist Alex Hope. While  Honeymind shows a version of Platt some listeners may not be accustomed to, he's never sounded more comfortable in his own skin. 

To celebrate the release of Honeymind, Platt will headline a three-week residency in New York City's Palace Theatre and a subsequent nationwide summer tour and serve as the keynote speaker at this year’s GRAMMY U Conference. He spoke with GRAMMY.com about his latest album, upcoming residency, and the beautiful and, at times, tricky trappings of romantic love.

This interview has been edited for clarity. The 2024 GRAMMY U Conference is presented by Amazon Music. Mastercard is also a participating sponsor of the conference.

Honeymind shifts away from the '80s electro-pop of Reverie and your Broadway roots. What made you gravitate towards a more tender, folky sound that exudes warmth and serenity?

The biggest catalyst was that I wanted to go and write Nashville because I admired so many songwriters there. When I started with my first round of writing sessions for this record — which was back in the spring of 2022 — what just very naturally started coming out was this super unadorned, very storytelling-forward type of music. 

When I made my first record [2019], it was very close after I had been on Broadway for a long time, and it was theatrically linked. Then, I experimented with leaning into pop and this Peter Gabriel vibe, but it felt like a landing pad this time. I closed my eyes and went, What's the most natural way to communicate in terms of what is specific to me? This seemed to fit really nicely. 

You worked with renowned producers like Dave Cobb on this album. There are times when the producer’s work stands out most, but Honeymind sounds like you. How did you ensure that all tracks sounded distinctly like you versus a Dave Cobb song?

​​I loved the idea of working with Dave! His specialty is unadorned things that are as essential as they can be. When it comes to my own sound, my priority is always obviously storytelling and songwriting, but certainly, to have the vocal performance be very much the focus. Dave was very amenable to that. 

I went and wrote the songs with my co-writers before starting work with Dave, and I sort of came in with all of his songs completed. He did a beautiful job of preserving the integrity of the songs I’d written. [He wanted] to present them in as organic and straightforward a way as possible, as opposed to trying to sort of put a secondary sound onto it. 

Your previous work has been personal to varying degrees, but your lead single, "Andrew," feels particularly candid.

I wrote that song with Alex Hope, one of my favorite longtime collaborators, and I had a session earlier in the week with someone else who was also wonderful. [This first songwriter] was talking to me about her son, who was 10 or 11, and how he had his best friend, a boy he loved so much. She shared that she had an inclination that more love was going towards this friend and was coming back to him [than] he could even really communicate. 

It reminded me so deeply and immediately of so many different experiences growing up: having straight friends in high school and middle school, who you just love and who aren't doing anything wrong, but just by virtue of chemicals and how we're born, you develop feelings that just can't be reciprocated. [That's] such a special kind of melancholy. It's no one's fault, and I hadn't heard that strain of unrequited love and that particular type of melancholy expressed in a song. 

The next day, I went in with Alex and pitched them a song, and they're queer as well and understood the perspective, so it came out very quickly.

What about queer love do you find most challenging to articulate?

Developing feelings for people that just don't have it in their blood to feel the same way is a uniquely queer experience, [as is] boundarylessness both positively and negatively. It's very particular to queer love in the sense that there are a lot less societal examples, and sort of prerequisites, for what queer relationships look like or shouldn't be. Which is so freeing and wonderful and makes for a really beautiful, honest relationship. Still, it's also a little scary because you're flying blind in a way that is very particular to being a queer person. 

There's an inherent sort of rebellion and statement that you have to be making every day when you're out in the world with your partner as a queer person because there remain so many people who are intolerant, don't understand, and are still fearful and judgmental. It requires an extra bit of courage just to engage in the relationship.

You have a three-week residency at New York City's Palace Theatre, where legends like Elvis Presley, Diana Ross, and Judy Garland performed and will tour afterward.  How are you feeling as you prepare for these concerts?

When I finish the record and sit on it, it exists in limbo; I start to second-guess it, feel like I'm losing my connection to it, or forget. I don't feel like I'm in the same place as I was when I wrote these things because they're so intimate. 

But for me, the whole shebang has always been getting to perform live, and that's just my greatest joy. The songs are the most mine when I'm singing them live. I also love sharing music with people, and hearing in person and online conversations, about how it applies to their lives, how it reminds them of things, and how they use it. The tour is always the part where I'm the most in love with the album, and when the tour ends, I'm ready to let it out into the world and say goodbye for a minute.

Beyond the risk of trying something new in your career, what roles do failure, trial, and error play in your creative process or other parts of your life?

For every song I've written that I love or even come out, there are eight to 10 that I never want to see in the light of day. 

It's hard to find the good things until you throw everything at the wall, and if you're too afraid to fall, then you'll never really try in the first place. And I was privileged because I started working quite young; things went from A to B to C in the sense that they went steadily. As I get older, I learn that a career is more about this longer journey that is not at all linear. Now that I have some hindsight, it's easy to appreciate the down moments and the valleys because that's the only way you recognize when something is going well. I try to be grateful for those moments of failure or misstep when they come because it's an essential part of being an artist — not the funnest part always, but necessary. 

You'll be the keynote speaker at the 2024 GRAMMY U Conference for young professionals. What do you want to share most with conference attendees?

I must share my transparency and experiences and try to help learn by failure and success. I've found, in all facets, that specificity begets universality, and I'm trying to be as specifically honest about my role in how I approached songwriting in my own artistry — whether that's something someone will directly connect to, create a tangential connection to something else, or be an example of something that doesn't work for someone. 

Art is so tailor-made, so it's just about sharing ideas and seeing what sticks.

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Tori Kelly
Tori Kelly

Photo: Sarah Morris/Getty Images for The Recording Academy

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Tori Kelly Gets “Unwrapped” For 'TORI' At GRAMMY U Event Showcasing Production & Recording Techniques From Her New Album

The singer stepped out for GRAMMY U's first "Unwrapped" event to give fans a look deep inside her new record, TORI. Joined by producer and collaborator Tenroc, the pair walked guests through the making of several tracks including "missin u" and "oceans."

GRAMMYs/May 21, 2024 - 10:11 pm

GRAMMY U members got a special treat from Tori Kelly when the singer (and Sing-er) took the stage for the first ever GRAMMY U "Unwrapped" event on May 15. Held at The Novo in downtown Los Angeles, the event brought together fans, music industry professionals, and students for a night that dove deep into the creative process behind Kelly’s brand new record, TORI. Amazon Music and Mastercard were presenting sponsors for this event. 

Joined on stage by producer and collaborator Tenroc, Kelly took fans through a journey of several tracks from her new record, from inception to completion. Kelly discussed each track, aided by a video presentation and using stems to highlight special production techniques, musical intricacies, and cool little Easter eggs. The showcase was followed by a round of live questions from the audience, where Kelly dished about everything from her voiceover work to her pre-studio rituals, before grabbing a guitar and performing two new tracks: "High Water" and "Oceans." 

Here’s a glimpse into all the songs Kelly and Tenroc featured, from "Missin' U" to "Spruce."

"thing u do”

When it came time to make Tori, Kelly told the audience that she wanted to focus on "songs that make [you] wanna dance," and "songs that [anyone] can belt out in the car." Mainly collaborating just with Tenroc, Bellion, Clyde Lawrence, and Jordan Cohen, Kelly put together a record that's strongly influenced by late '90s and early '00s pop, with references to chirping Sidekick phones and plenty of nostalgic vocal effects. 

"missin u" in particular is interesting, not just because it was inspired by Craig David and the U.K. Garage sound — with Kelly taking special care to pronounce "garage" in true British fashion at the live event — but also because it was released in both its original form and as an R&B edit. The latter version is the one Kelly and Tenroc highlighted at the event, going through Kelly's vocal tracks, and really digging in on the remix's bridge, which Kelly wrote just for that track and recorded in her home studio.

Getting to see Tenroc's Logic Pro work on the big screen seemed to mesmerize everyone in attendance, with most marveling at the ease he seemed to have flicking through the dozens of stems, layers, and plug-ins. 

"missin u"

When it came time to make TORI, Kelly told the audience that she wanted to focus on "songs that make [you] wanna dance," and "songs that [anyone] can belt out in the car." Mainly collaborating just with Tenroc, Bellion, Clyde Lawrence, and Jordan Cohen, Kelly put together a record that's strongly influenced by late '90s and early '00s pop, with references to chirping Sidekick phones and plenty of nostalgic vocal effects.

In particular, "missin u" is interesting, not just because it was inspired by Craig David and the U.K. Garage sound — with Kelly taking special care to pronounce "garage" in true British fashion at the live event — but also because it was released in both its original form and as an R&B edit. The latter version is the one Kelly and Tenroc highlighted at the event, going through Kelly's vocal tracks, and really digging in on the remix's bridge, which Kelly wrote just for that track and recorded in her home studio.

Getting to see Tenroc's Logic Pro work on the big screen seemed to mesmerize everyone in attendance, with most marveling at the ease he seemed to have flicking through the dozens of stems, layers, and plug-ins. 

"shelter"

Talking about "shelter," Kelly described a sort of shorthand she'd developed with Tenroc, after working closely together over the past few years. She said they're at the point where they can communicate with "sounds" and "telepathy," a benefit she attributes to not switching producers throughout the making of her record.

Tenroc and Kelly used "shelter" to talk about the comping process, or the act of combining the best parts of different takes into a single track. Kelly said she typically does about five takes of a vocal track, all in different personas: one normal, one shyer, one wild, one with a lot of vocal runs, and one that's sort of a wild card. She can keep each take separate in her mind that way, remembering how she recorded a vowel slightly better in one take or gave a line a little grittier vocal texture in another. It's not something everyone can do, though, and Tenroc said it's truly amazing to witness in person — a fact the live audience could attest to. 

For Kelly, a lot of making TORI, was about exploring different tones and textures of her voice, she said. She'd sometimes start by doing an impression of a singer like Rihanna and Willow in one run, and then blend the inspired version with her own, stretching herself vocally. She demonstrated that kind of thing live at the show, doing off-the-cuff runs of bits of "Shelter" to talk about how they changed the way the word "plate" in the chorus. 

Tenroc also showed off how he used the Little Alterboy plug-in to alter Kelly's voice, turning the rap in "shelter," as well as the "you, you, you, you, you" bit into what sounds like a deep masculine voice, even though those lines were originally laid down by Kelly herself. 

"spruce"

When "spruce" was first being envisioned by Kelly and co-writer Casey Smith, it was a song called "truce" about making up with your loved one before going out on the town. Kelly had been wanting to make a "getting ready, girly song," though, and Bellion came into the studio one day with the idea of merging the two ideas in what became "spruce." 

Written over a loop made by Tenroc, "spruce" — featuring Kim Chaewon of K-Pop group LE SSERAFIM — is emblematic, Kelly said, of her effort to let go, change, and try new things in the studio. The production was inspired by Jai Paul and uses sidechain compression, which is when the level of one instrument or sound triggers a compressor to control the level of another sound. The crowd clearly seemed taken with the sound when Tenroc played examples of how it was used in the track, which he said he made in part with the Serum plugin. Kelly said the result feels fully "3-D," like you're "inside" the track rather than just listening along.

"same girl"

The last — and most personal —song on the record, "same girl," was mostly written by Kelly while she was on a plane. She wanted something that felt like it could close the record, and she recorded it live with Tenroc in her studio, where he also played piano. 

Kelly said the song was inspired by her love of various music styles and genres. She explained, "Coming up as an artist, I always felt a little insecure about trying to stay in one lane and be in one box. I love so many different genres. I'm inspired by so many different things." She continued, "And so finding my sound I always thought that was a bad thing... But I'm grateful for all these different genres I've been able to dabble in. This song was me being overwhelmed by people's opinions and letting it get to me a little bit while thinking of my career as a whole."

Kelly said that while she worried when she was writing that the lyrics would be too personal and too specific, she's had great feedback about the track, something that reminds her that, "Anytime you write about your own experience, someone else out there is going to be able to relate to it." 

5 Takeaways From The 2024 GRAMMY U Conference In New York City

grammy u monthly member playlist updated look

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Press Play On GRAMMY U Mixtape: In Bloom Monthly Member Playlist

The GRAMMY U Mixtape is a monthly, genre-spanning playlist to quench your thirst for new tunes, all from our talented members. This month's mix of pop, indie and jazz-influenced tracks are the perfect jams to turn on as spring takes full bloom.

GRAMMYs/May 8, 2024 - 12:50 pm

Did you know that among all GRAMMY U members, songwriting and performance are some of the most sought after fields of study? This playlist dedicates a space to hear what these members are creating today!

The GRAMMY U Mixtape, now available for your listening pleasure, highlights the creations and fresh ideas that members are bringing to this industry directly on the Recording Academy's Spotify, Apple Music, and Amazon Music pages. Our goal is to celebrate GRAMMY U members, as well as the time and effort they put into making original music — from the songwriting process to the final production of the track.

Each month, we accept submissions and feature 15 to 25 songs that match each month’s theme. This month, we’ve crafted the perfect mix of pop, indie, and jazz-inspired tunes to jam to as the sun comes out and spring takes full bloom. Highlighting our Nashville Songwriter Showcase Finalists, alongside lively songs from our members, we're confident you'll discover a new track to freshen up your current rotation. So, what’s stopping you? Press play on GRAMMY U’s Mixtape and listen now on Spotify, Apple Music and Amazon Music.

Want to be featured on the next playlist? Submit your songs today! We are currently accepting submissions for songs of all genres for consideration for our summer playlist. Whether you write pop, rock, hip-hop, jazz, or classical, we want to hear from you. Music must be written and/or produced by the member (an original song) and you must be able to submit a Spotify, Apple Music and/or Amazon Music link to the song. Artists must be a GRAMMY U member to submit.

About GRAMMY U:

GRAMMY U is a program that connects aspiring professionals and creatives ages 18-29 with the music industry's brightest and most talented minds. We provide a community for emerging professionals and creatives in addition to various opportunities and tools necessary to start a career in music. Throughout the program year, events and initiatives touch on all facets of the industry, including business, technology, and the creative process.

As part of the Recording Academy's mission to ensure the recorded arts remain a thriving part of our shared cultural heritage, GRAMMY U establishes the necessary foundation for music’s next generation to flourish.

Not a member, but want to submit to our playlist? Apply for GRAMMY U Membership here.

Former GRAMMY U Reps Heather Howard and Sophie Griffiths contributed to this article.

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Billy Porter at the GRAMMY U conference in New York City
Beanie Feldstein with keynote speaker Ben Platt at the GRAMMY U Conference

Photo: Rob Kim/Getty Images for the Recording Academy

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5 Takeaways From The 2024 GRAMMY U Conference In New York City

GRAMMY U’s 2024 Conference presented an action-packed, motivating slate panels on everything from Broadway to studio albums with Ben Platt, a performance workshop with Billy Porter, and live music production on late night television with Remi Wolf.

GRAMMYs/Apr 30, 2024 - 02:45 pm

On April 20th, GRAMMY U members and industry professionals gathered at the Times Center in New York City for the 2024 GRAMMY U Conference presented by Amazon Music. 

The GRAMMY U team prepared an action-packed and motivating day of panels "Live From New York," focusing on topics from live performances to the business behind Broadway productions. Keynote speaker Ben Platt talked about the transition from a Broadway star to recording his solo studio album, followed by a performance workshop with Billy Porter, and live music production on late night television with Remi Wolf.

Once members arrived, they took advantage of professional development opportunities and mingled with other GRAMMY U members before attending the conference panels. Attendees visited the robust Career Center which included a professional headshot station, resume review station, and a dedicated speed networking hour with industry professionals within the Recording Academy, Amazon Music and more. These collaborations allowed for the next generation of music creatives and professionals to gain first-hand experience with mentors across various business sectors and musical genres.

Below are five impactful takeaways from the 2024 GRAMMY U Conference.

Shed Your Armor To Embrace Vulnerability 

After a two-year performance run on Broadway starring in "Dear Evan Hansen", Ben Platt shifted his priority toward making original music and sharing personal storylines.

In "Live! With Ben Platt," moderated by actor and long-time best friend of Platt's, Beanie Feldstein discussed Platt's bold choice of stepping back from portraying fictional characters on stage, to now releasing original music with his upcoming album Honeymind

"The gratification of connecting with your own experiences and seeing people really use the songs in their lives is so infinitely beyond the worries," Platt shared. 

Crossing over from a Broadway stage to pop music, Platt suggested that a key to success is trusting one's vocal technique and individual sound to translate your perspective.  

Beanie Feldstein and Ben Platt on stage at the GRAMMY U conference

Beanie Feldstein with keynote speaker Ben Platt at the GRAMMY U Conference | Photo: Rob Kim/Getty Images for The Recording Academy

Consistently Perfect The Fundamentals 

During the performance workshop "Standing in the Spotlight with Billy Porter," GRAMMY, Emmy, and two-time Tony Award-Winner Billy Porter sat down with SiriusXM Program Director Julie James. They discussed the importance of performance critique in helping artists perfect their craft and captivate audiences, as well as strategies for maintaining overall health while on tour.

Porter mentioned that while critiques are important for artists to continue improving their vocal abilities, knowing how to meet personal needs and goals is just as important.

"As you sift through [critiques], you have the right to choose what's right for you and what isn't," Porter said before posing the question, "What notes are good for your vision, and which aren't?"

Billy Porter stands to deliver advice to the audience at the GRAMMY U conference

Left to Right: GRAMMY U Performer Roy Gantz, Billy Porter and moderator Julie James | Photo: Rob Kim/Getty Images for The Recording Academy

This marked the first time GRAMMY U included a performance workshop in its programming, and it provided a fresh perspective from the best in the business. GRAMMY U National Membership Representative Roy Gantz sang "Someone to Watch Over Me," accompanied on piano by Tedd Firth, and received real-time feedback from Billy Porter in front of a live audience. 

"From the minute you hit the stage, to when you get to that mic[rophone], it's about your presence. Keep connecting with us [the audience]," Porter told Gantz.

Porter emphasized the importance of mastering the original melody and musical notations of a song before incorporating riffs and embellishments of popular pieces, and praised Gantz for his advanced technique and interpretation.

"Believe in what you have to offer. In honoring your authenticity, you teach people on the outside how to receive you," Porter advised the audience. 

Stay Vocal, Relationships Are Everything

"On the Screen: Performing On Live TV" featured panelists Yeji Cha-Beach, the Music Associate Producer on NBC's Late Night with Seth Meyers Show, Marnie Stern, former member of the 8G Band on the Seth Meyers Show, and pop recording artist Remi Wolf. Moderated by Siobhan Schanda, the panelists discussed the intricacies of playing on a live TV set including lighting, sound, and design choices. Wolf mentioned her preference for performing with her touring musicians and a live band. 

"Put the music first and try to develop your own style," Wolf said. "The most I've ever felt proud of my work was when I followed my gut." 

Stern remarked that although socializing and navigating the music industry network did not always come naturally, connecting and playing with other musicians was vital to her success as a live TV musician. She described one of the biggest differences between playing on live television and working on her own recording artistry.

"You're selling a commercial product and your job is to entertain," Stern said. "With your own work, your job is to present your feelings and emotions. Everyone is working to further not only the artist but the network." 

Cha-Beach offered guidance for aspiring TV music producers, stating, "Be curious, try as many things as you possibly can. Knowing when to say yes is just as important as knowing when to say no."

The “Sounds of the Stage” panel at the GRAMMY U conference

 Left to Right: Siobhan Schanda (moderator), Yeji Cha-Beach, Marnie Stern, Remi Wolf; Close-up photo of Remi Wolf | Photos: Rob Kim/Getty Images for The Recording Academy

A Great Musical Takes Time 

The "Sounds of the Stage" panel conducted a candid conversation about the behind-the-scenes process of composing and writing music for musicals. Kurt Deutsch (Senior Vice President at Warner Music Entertainment and Theatrical Ventures) was joined by David Lai (Co-Founder Park Avenue Artists), Kathy Sommer (Composer, Conductor, Producer), and moderator Thomas Winkler (Head of Publisher, Songwriter, and Society Relations at Amazon Music). 

These panelists conducted a candid conversation about the behind-the-scenes process of composing and writing music for musicals. They focused on how Broadway theater experience translated into the process of recording live studio albums.

"You can't bring it to the stage until the bones are set, until things are solidified," Lai said. It's worth spending the time to use the resources we have to work on your material."

Deutsch described the nuances of recording a pop album versus a cast performance record which has quick turnaround times. Often, they are recorded in a single day-long session due to budgeting costs for the orchestra and cast members involved. 

The main goal of a cast album is to allow audiences to relive the emotional experience they had in the theater setting, and for newcomers to still be able to relate to the show's characters and themes through a sonic medium. 

Left to Right: Thomas Winkler (moderator), David Lai, Kurt Deutsch and Kathy Sommer | Photo: Rob Kim/Getty Images for The Recording Academy

'Content Is Queen': Prioritize Meaningful Storytelling

"Side Stage: The Team Behind the Curtain" featured Erich Bergen (Producer, Actor, Director, 6W Entertainment); Pete Ganbarg (President of A&R, Atlantic Records); Adam Hess (Executive Producer, DR Theatrical Management); Christen James (Tony Award-Nominated Broadway Producer); and Michael Kushner (Founder and Creator of Michael Kushner Photography & Dear Multi-Hyphenate).

Together, these creatives explored the business of Broadway and discussed the roles of producers and managers who bring the shows to life. James spoke about what she's most drawn to when beginning a new theatrical project.

"Meaningful storytelling is key [and] music absolutely makes the difference. Content is queen, the story as well as the music," she said. "Art is supposed to change what you're doing to the point where you're thinking about it, it's influencing you." 

Left to Right: Michael Kushner (moderator), Erich Bergen, Pete Ganbarg, Adam Hess and Christen James | Photo: Rob Kim/Getty Images for The Recording Academy

Presented by Amazon Music and with participating sponsorship from Mastercard, GRAMMY U's 2024 conference "Live From New York" engaged members through an exhilarating two-day summit.

From the Friday showcase with GRAMMY U performers to Saturday's slew of panels covering all things show business, the GRAMMY U Conference in the Big Apple helped inform, connect, and inspire GRAMMY U members across the nation. 

Relive the experience and watch all the panels again here

5 Takeaways From GRAMMY U's Masterclass With Andrew McMahon: Be Bold, Build Bonds & Embrace Your Fears

Beanie Feldstein (L) and Ben Platt (R) speak onstage during the GRAMMY U Conference.
Beanie Feldstein (L) and Ben Platt (R) speak onstage during the GRAMMY U Conference.

Photp: Rob Kim/Getty Images for The Recording Academy

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Recording Academy & Amazon Music Host 2024 GRAMMY U Conference In New York Featuring Ben Platt

The two-day conference included a showcase of GRAMMY U performers and Infinity Song, as well as panels and workshops geared toward live television and Broadway musical performances, in addition to a thought-provoking keynote from Ben Platt.

GRAMMYs/Apr 22, 2024 - 06:57 pm

GRAMMY U hosted a two-day conference presented by Amazon Music for GRAMMY U members in New York City on April 19 and 20. The event, spearheaded by GRAMMY U Senior Director Jessie Allen, offered an immersive experience designed to enrich and empower emerging talents within the music industry. 

An emerging artist showcase took place on Friday, April 19, followed by a day-long series of panels and breakout sessions on Saturday, April 20, highlighting the live performance industries of Broadway and television talk shows, featuring GRAMMY, Tony, and Emmy-winning artist and actor Ben Platt as the keynote speaker.

The summit marks the beginning of a new cornerstone collaboration between GRAMMY U and Amazon Music, in which Amazon Music will play an integral role in the growth of GRAMMY U’s year-round programming, development and impact. Mastercard was also a participating sponsor of the conference.

“We were all thrilled to bring the GRAMMY U Conference to the heart of New York City. It’s a testament to the dedication of Jessie Allen, whose leadership has elevated this event year after year,” said Ruby Marchand, Chief Awards Officer of the Recording Academy. “I extend heartfelt gratitude to the Amazon Music Team for supporting GRAMMY U; this marks the genesis of an extraordinary collaboration, and together, we look forward to crafting an array of programs that will empower our GRAMMY U members throughout the year.”

The emerging artist showcase featured dynamic performances by GRAMMY U members Kayla Erhardt, Kühlname, Serena Laurel, Nicknames, Liv Paris, and Your Future Is Now scholar Jawan Audè. The evening concluded with a captivating performance by New York soft rock sibling ensemble, Infinity Song.

Saturday’s programming kicked off with keynote speaker Ben Platt. In a thought-provoking keynote discussion moderated by actor Beanie Feldstein, Platt delved into his musical journey spanning Broadway, film and television, inspiring attendees with his insights. The day continued with a performance workshop led by GRAMMY, Emmy, and Tony-winner Billy Porter. Moderated by SiriusXM Program Director Julie James, attendees immersed themselves in a captivating session aimed at honing their live performance skills. 

Read more: Inside Ben Platt's 'Honeymind': How Queer Love, Live Performance & More Led To His Most Authentic Album Yet

The conference included a panel featuring “Late Night with Seth Meyers” Music Associate Producer Yeji Cha-Beach, former member of the “Late Night with Seth Meyers” 8G Band, Marnie Stern, and musician Remi Wolf. Titled “On Screen: Performing on Live TV,” the panel covered the challenges and nuances of delivering live musical performances on television, and was moderated by Siobhan Schanda, Co-Executive Producer of “SHERRI.” 

Programming continued with a panel titled “Sounds of the Stage,” moderated by Thomas Winkler, Head of Publisher, Songwriter and Society Relations at Amazon Music, featuring SVP of Warner Music Entertainment and Theatrical Ventures Kurt Deutsch, Co-Founder of Park Avenue Artists David Lai, and composer, conductor and producer Kathy Sommer, where they explored sound production on stage and cast recordings.

Additional panels included “Side Stage: The Team Behind the Curtain,” featuring industry executives moderated by Michael Kushner, founder of Michael Kushner Photography and Dear Multi-Hyphenate, featuring producer, actor and director Erich Bergen, President of A&R of Atlantic Records Pete Ganbarg, Executive Producer of DR Theatrical Management Adam Hess, and Tony-nominated Broadway producer and vocalist Christen James, where they detailed the business of Broadway and how teams bring shows to life every night.

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