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Ben Platt On 2022 GRAMMYs Tribute To Stephen Sondheim: "He Really Shaped My Worldview"
'Dear Evan Hansen' nominee Ben Platt grew up listening to Stephen Sondheim's classic musicals. In addition to vying for Best Compilation Soundtrack For Visual Media at the 2022 GRAMMYs, Platt will perform in a special tribute to the late composer/lyricist
At the 64th GRAMMY Awards on Sunday, April 3, Ben Platt, Cynthia Erivo, Leslie Odom Jr. and Rachel Zegler will pay tribute to the artists who have passed away in the last year during the in memoriam section of the ceremony. Among the honorees is the late composer Stephen Sondheim, who passed away on Nov. 26, 2021.
"He's meant so much to me. When I was a kid, I grew up listening to his musicals," Platt, an actor, singer and songwriter, told GRAMMY.com by phone. "He really shaped my worldview about how to be a person from his writing."
Prior to his death at the age of 91, Sondheim, won seven GRAMMY Awards and was nominated 17 times during his long and celebrated career. Sondheim's last win was for the 1994 musical theater album Passion, though he had been heavily in the spotlight at the time of his death.
In 2021, the prolific composer and lyricist was featured in the movie, tick, tick..Boom!; a revival of his Broadway show "Company" (for which Sondheim took home a GRAMMY for Best Score From An Original Cast Show Album in 1970) was in previews; and a second film version of West Side Story, which he wrote the lyrics to in 1957, was days away from its glitzy New York City premiere.
In addition to performing in Sunday's Sondheim tribute, Platt is part of the Dear Evan Hansen team nominated for Best Compilation Soundtrack For Visual Media. (The actor reprised his Tony Award-winning role as Evan Hansen in the 2021 film adaptation.) A Dear Evan Hansen win would mark Platt’s second GRAMMY Award for the same show — the original "Dear Evan Hansen" Broadway cast recording won Best Musical Theater Album 2018.
GRAMMY.com spoke with Platt all about his nomination, what the tribute to Sondheim will look like and how he's continuing to honor Sondheim’s legacy by filming a movie of another one of his GRAMMY-nominated musicals, "Merrily We Roll Along."
What was your reaction when you were asked to perform this special tribute?
It was one of those universe things of feeling like you're in the right place at the right time. The flashiness of being on the GRAMMYs is exciting no matter what, but there's something deeply honoring and humbling about doing it in this way.
I saw Cynthia five times in "The Color Purple." We all saw Leslie in "Hamilton." I love the West Side Story film. It's a special concoction of theater people. You'll never get a group that truly represents the theater community and I’m proud this is the crew to carry out this particular message.
What can you tell us about the performance?
I don’t know what I am allowed to reveal or not reveal. Leslie, Cynthia, Rachel and myself are all representing different songs, and presenting different motifs. They all blend together in this really beautiful medley. I think it's really beautiful this year that it gets to be both for him in particular, and for the entire in memoriam section at large.
Are you able to reveal what song of his you're singing on Sunday?
I'm not supposed to. But I will say they're all from different shows. And they're all very familiar, beautiful, popular tunes that I hope many people will know.
Have you gotten the music yet?
We all gave our two cents about what we wanted it to feel like and sound like. Leslie and his really brilliant arranger Bruce Healey put it in motion and created this great arrangement. We've all been learning it separately. We get together on Friday and rehearse together off site. Then we rehearse again on Saturday. Then there’s a dress rehearsal and then we do it.
Who picked the songs?
It's a collaboration. We gave a list and [the producers] told us which ones that they were particularly interested in. We all expressed which ones fit our voices and then we all found a happy medium together.
What does Sondheim mean to you?
When I was a kid, I felt a little bit different than a lot of my peers in the sense that my mind was sometimes elsewhere.
In "Sunday in the Park with George" [which Sondheim won a GRAMMY Award for Best Cast Show Album in 1984], which is my favorite musical of all time, [Sondheim writes] a lot about that mindset — what it's like to be an artist and what you have to sacrifice to really love what you do and be passionate about what you do. How sometimes relationships and other aspects of your life have to really take a backseat when you're devoting yourself to your art. Hearing that expressed in such a beautiful way was so moving to me.
What’s your favorite Sondheim lyric? Mine is "Let Me Entertain You."
I would say it's a tie between "anything you do/let it come from you/that it will be new" from "Sunday in the Park with George" and "if life were only moments/ that you'd never know you had one" from "Into The Woods."
Did you ever meet Sondheim?
He came to see "Dear Evan Hansen" but he didn’t come backstage. I auditioned for him once for a revival of "A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum" that James Corden was going to do that never came together. I got to sing "Love, I Hear" for him. Of course, I hated the audition. It wasn't nearly good enough for me because it was for Sondheim. But I did get to look him in the face and wave and say hello.
We were meant to sit down and have dinner with Rick Linklater, Beanie [Feldstein] and Jonathan Mark Sherman to talk about our Merrily We Roll Along project. But we didn’t get it together in time before we lost him.
How much of the movie have you shot already?
Just the first sequence.
When is the next time you film?
It’s incredible how different it must feel to go from shooting Dear Evan Hansen in such a short time to filming this movie, which takes place over the course of 20 years.
This is a very special once in a lifetime situation that is definitely a leap of faith for all involved. I think everybody, particularly those that know and love "Merrily," what a particularly special opportunity it is to make this piece work in a way that it never has before.
Vicente Fernandez performs at the 2002 Latin GRAMMY Awards
Photo: M. Caulfield/WireImage
Vicente Fernández Posthumously Wins GRAMMY For Best Regional Mexican Music Album | 2022 GRAMMYs
The late Mexican legend, who died in December at 81, won the GRAMMY for Best Regional Mexican Music Album (Including Tejano) for his 2020 album, 'A Mis 80's'
Nearly four months after his death, Vicente Fernández 's legacy lives on.
The Mexican icon’s album, A Mis 80's, won Best Regional Mexican Music Album (Including Tejano). The posthumous win marks Fernández 's fourth career GRAMMY.
The 2023 GRAMMY nominations are officially here. See the complete list of nominees across all 91 GRAMMY categories.
Aida Cuevas' Antología De La Musica Ranchera, Vol. 2, Mon Laferte's Seis, Natalia Lafourcade's Un Canto Por México, Vol. II and Christian Nodal's Ayayay! (Súper Deluxe) were the other albums nominated in the category.
Check out the complete list of winners and nominees at the 2022 GRAMMYs.
GRAMMY trophies at the 59th GRAMMY Awards in 2017
Photo: ROBYN BECK/AFP via Getty Images
The Recording Academy Announces Major Changes For The 2022 GRAMMY Awards Show
Process amendments include the elimination of nominations review committees and the addition of two new GRAMMY Award categories, including Best Global Music Performance and Best Música Urbana Album
The Recording Academy announced today that it has made significant changes to its Awards process that reflect its ongoing commitment to evolve with the musical landscape and to ensure that the GRAMMY Awards rules and guidelines are transparent and equitable. Among the changes are the elimination of Nominations Review Committees, a reduction in the number of categories in which voters may vote, two GRAMMY Award category additions, and more. These updates are a result of extensive discussions and collaboration over the course of the last year among a special subcommittee of Recording Academy members and elected leaders, and were voted on by the Academy's Board of Trustees. These changes go into effect immediately for the 2022 GRAMMY Awards show, officially known as the 64th GRAMMY Awards, taking place Sunday, April 3. The eligibility period for the 64th GRAMMY Awards is Sept. 1, 2020, through Sept. 30, 2021.
Additional rule amendment proposals will be discussed and voted on at an upcoming Recording Academy meeting and the full rulebook for the 64th GRAMMY Awards will be released in May.
The 2023 GRAMMY nominations are officially here. See the complete list of nominees across all 91 GRAMMY categories.
"It's been a year of unprecedented, transformational change for the Recording Academy, and I'm immensely proud to be able to continue our journey of growth with these latest updates to our Awards process," Harvey Mason jr., Chair & Interim President/CEO of the Recording Academy, said. "This is a new Academy, one that is driven to action and that has doubled down on the commitment to meeting the needs of the music community. While change and progress are key drivers of our actions, one thing will always remain — the GRAMMY Award is the only peer-driven and peer-voted recognition in music. We are honored to work alongside the music community year-round to further refine and protect the integrity of the Awards process."
APPROVED RULE AMENDMENTS INCLUDE:
Voting Process Changes
Elimination Of Nominations Review Committees In General And Genre Fields
- Nominations in all of the GRAMMY Award general and genre fields will now be determined by a majority, peer-to-peer vote of voting members of the Recording Academy. Previously, many of the categories within these fields utilized 15-30 highly skilled music peers who represented and voted within their genre communities for the final selection of nominees. With this change, the results of GRAMMY nominations and winners are placed back in the hands of the entire voting membership body, giving further validation to the peer-recognized process. To further support this amendment, the Academy has confirmed that more than 90 percent of its members will have gone through the requalification process by the end of this year, ensuring that the voting body is actively engaged in music creation. Craft committees remain in place (see below for craft category realignment.)
Reduction In Number Of Categories Voter May Vote
- To ensure music creators are voting in the categories in which they are most knowledgeable and qualified, the number of specific genre field categories in which GRAMMY Award Voters may vote has been reduced from 15 to 10. Additionally, those 10 categories must be within no more than three fields. All voters are permitted to vote in the four General Field categories (Record Of The Year, Album Of The Year, Song Of The Year, and Best New Artist). Proposed by a special voting Task Force who brought forth the recommendation, this change serves as an additional safeguard against bloc voting and helps to uphold the GRAMMY Award as a celebration of excellence in music, with specific genre field categories being voted on by the most qualified peers.
Craft Category Realignment
To better reflect the overlapping peer groups within the voter membership body, six existing craft fields will be consolidated into two fields: Presentation Field and Production Field. In either newly consolidated field, voters would have the ability to choose how many categories they feel qualified to vote in, respecting category vote limits, without being excessively limited by the three-field restriction. This benefits the integrity of these Awards by embracing and utilizing the specializations of the voters, without restricting their choice or contributions due to the field limits imposed by the recent reduction of the number of categories voters may vote in. Field updates are as follows:
Package Field, Notes Field and Historical Field renamed and consolidated to Presentation Field
Production, Non-Classical Field; Production, Immersive Audio Field; and Production, Classical Field renamed and consolidated to Production Field
New Categories Added
Two new categories have been added, bringing the total number of GRAMMY Award categories to 86:
Best Global Music Performance (Global Music Field)
Best Música Urbana Album (Latin Music Field)
"The latest changes to the GRAMMY Awards process are prime examples of the Recording Academy's commitment to authentically represent all music creators and ensure our practices are in lock-step with the ever-changing musical environment," said Ruby Marchand, Chief Industry Officer at the Recording Academy. "As we continue to build a more active and vibrant membership community, we are confident in the expertise of our voting members to recognize excellence in music each year."
"As an Academy, we have reaffirmed our commitment to continue to meet the needs of music creators everywhere, and this year's changes are a timely and positive step forward in the evolution of our voting process," said Bill Freimuth, Chief Awards Officer at the Recording Academy. "We rely on the music community to help us to continue to evolve, and we’re grateful for their collaboration and leadership."
The Recording Academy accepts proposals from members of the music community throughout the year. The Awards & Nominations Committee, comprised of Academy Voting Members of diverse genres and backgrounds, meets annually to review proposals to update Award categories, procedures and eligibility guidelines. The above rule amendments were voted on and passed at a Recording Academy Board of Trustees meeting held on April 30, 2021. For information on the Awards process, visit our GRAMMY Voting Process FAQ page.
The Recording Academy will present the 2022 GRAMMY Awards show on Sunday, April 3, live from the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas, on the CBS Television Network and stream live and on demand on Paramount+ from 8–11:30 p.m. ET / 5–8:30 p.m. PT. Prior to the telecast, the GRAMMY Awards Premiere Ceremony will be streamed live on GRAMMY.com and the Recording Academy's YouTube channel. Additional details about the dates and locations of other official GRAMMY Week events, including the GRAMMY Awards Premiere Ceremony, <a href="https://www.musicares.org/person-year "https://www.musicares.org/person-year"">MusiCares' Person of the Year, and the Pre-GRAMMY Gala, are available here.
Photo: Thaddaeus McAdams/WireImage.com
2018 GRAMMYs: Who's Performing?
Find out which of your favorite artists are performing on the 60th GRAMMY Awards on Sunday, Jan. 28
The 60th GRAMMY Awards celebration in New York is quickly approaching. From rolling out the red carpet to tuning the guitars and adjusting the lights at Madison Square Garden, the Recording Academy is getting ready for the big milestone installment of Music's Biggest Night. But how about the performers?
Spanning multiple genres, including pop, rock, hip-hop, R&B, country, and more, this year's lineup of GRAMMY performers — many of them current nominees or past winners — will make for three-and-a-half hours of must-see television.
Without further ado, here is the list of performers for the 60th GRAMMYs.
- Alessia Cara, Khalid and Logic
- Brothers Osborne, Maren Morris and Eric Church (Route 91 Harvest Festival tribute)
- Childish Gambino
- Gary Clark Jr. and Jon Batiste (Chuck Berry and Fats Domino tribute)
- Luis Fonsi and Daddy Yankee with Zuleyka Rivera
- Emmylou Harris and Chris Stapleton
- Elton John and Miley Cyrus
- Lady Gaga
- Kendrick Lamar
- Little Big Town
- Patti LuPone and Ben Platt (Broadway tribute)
- Rihanna, DJ Khaled and Bryson Tiller
- Bruno Mars and Cardi B
- Sam Smith
Hosted by James Corden, the 60th GRAMMY Awards will take place at Madison Square Garden in New York on Jan. 28, airing live on CBS from 7:30–11 p.m. ET/4:30–8 p.m. PT.
Graphic by the Recording Academy
Announcement: 2022 GRAMMYs Postponed
After careful consideration and analysis with city and state officials, health and safety experts, the artist community and our many partners, the Recording Academy and CBS have postponed the 64th Annual GRAMMY Awards Show
The following is a Joint Statement from the Recording Academy and CBS:
“After careful consideration and analysis with city and state officials, health and safety experts, the artist community and our many partners, the Recording Academy and CBS have postponed the 64th Annual GRAMMY Awards Show. The health and safety of those in our music community, the live audience, and the hundreds of people who work tirelessly to produce our show remains our top priority. Given the uncertainty surrounding the Omicron variant, holding the show on January 31st simply contains too many risks. We look forward to celebrating Music’s Biggest Night on a future date, which will be announced soon.”