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Brazilian Pop Star Pabllo Vittar Talks New Album '111' And Life As Music's Premier Drag Queen

Pabllo Vittar

Photo: Ernna Cost

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Brazilian Pop Star Pabllo Vittar Talks New Album '111' And Life As Music's Premier Drag Queen

With the release of the biggest album of her career, Vittar discusses how she proudly represents her native Brazil and her queer identity in Latin music, plus chats Coachella and beyond

GRAMMYs/Apr 12, 2020 - 11:56 pm

On the cover of her new album 111, Brazilian pop star Pabllo Vittar is a goddess of multiplicity. The Pabllo in the center fiercely stares down the camera, suspended midair while posing in a leather-boot-legged leap. Much like Vittar's multifaceted drag persona, the surrounding Pabllos show her many sides: A playful Pabllo blows a pink bubblegum bubble, a sexy Pabllo strikes a sensual pose on her knees. In one shot, she's putting her country on the map and serving fierce runway-ready looks along the way.

Phabullo Rodrigues da Silva, who goes by her drag name Pabllo Vittar, reached music superstardom in a short period of time. After first dressing in drag for her 18th birthday in 2011, inspired by watching episodes of "RuPaul's Drag Race," she scored a viral hit in 2015 with her debut single "Open Bar," a Portuguese version of Major Lazer's and DJ Snake's "Lean On." Shortly after, she went from local celebrity to global phenomenon in 2017 when Diplo invited her to collaborate on Major Lazer's "Sua Cara," alongside fellow Brazilian pop star, Anitta.

One year later, in 2018, Vittar made history as the first drag queen to receive a Latin GRAMMY nomination when "Sua Cara" was nominated for Best Urban Fusion/Performance. "I thought to myself as a child watching TV and seeing my favorite artists being nominated for a GRAMMY and winning," she tells the Recording Academy. "Maybe it wasn't my time, but next time I hope to be a winner of the night." 

Vittar's pop culture references are diverse, and they've been important in solidifying her as a force in the industry. She's leveraged her global crossover appeal as a go-to artist for collaborations. British pop futurist Charli XCX tapped Vittar for her 2017 mixtape, Pop 2. The following year, Vittar featured on tracks with Argentine pop princess Lali Espósito, electronic duo Sofi Tukker and Australian rapper Iggy Azalea.

"I love to meet other artists and share my work with them," Vittar says. "I love to do collaborations. I love to work with different types of music and mix everything up to end up with something new."

With all eyes on Vittar, she's now basking in the spotlight with her third album, 111, released last month (March 24). The trilingual album—she sings in Portuguese, Spanish and English—sees Vittar taking on electropop, inspired by the global Pride parades at which she performs, on "Flash Pose" with Charli XCX and tackling a fully Spanish club banger alongside Mexican icon Thalía on the sensual "Tímida." Centerstage on 111 are the sounds of her native Brazil, which are often overlooked in the grand scheme of Latin pop. On "Amor De Que," Vittar gives her motherland's storied forró genre a pop edge. Elsewhere, she embraces the emerging rasteirinha music scene, which filters Brazilian baile funk through an EDM lense, on "Rajadão" and "Parabéns," the latter featuring local group Psirico. 

Fewer than 10 years after donning her first drag look, Vittar now outnumbers, in Instagram followers, one of her main inspirations and the most famous drag queen on the planet: RuPaul. "I would love to meet RuPaul because, for me, she's a big inspiration for my job and my drag," Vittar says. "I feel grateful to be living in the same moment as her." Following in the high-heeled footsteps of her idol, Vittar today lives a fabulous existence that's resistance to homophobia and those not taking the art of drag seriously. 

Vittar spoke with the Recording Academy about her incredible career in the fast lane, her new birthday-inspired album and her now-rescheduled performance at Coachella 2020.

What are some of the inspirations behind your music?

Everything inspires me: my friends, my family and my fans. I love to work with rhythms from Brazil because I'm a Brazilian and I love my country.

Speaking of Brazil, how do you feel about representing your country in the Latin music scene?

I feel so hugely honored to speak about my community. I feel honored to be one of the Brazilian voices in the Latino community with my music. I'm singing in Portuguese. In the Latin scene, I hope to sing more in Spanish and be more involved in that type of music.

Another big pop star from Brazil is Anitta. How was it to work with her on Major Lazer's "Sua Cara"?

She's a star. She's a pop star. She's a queen. I love her and her contributions to Brazilian music and to pop music. I need to do another collaboration with her. We've talked about it. I think by next year we'll have another collaboration.

Thanks to your involvement in "Sua Cara," you made history in 2018 as the first drag queen to be nominated for a Latin GRAMMY. How did that make you feel when you found out the news?

In that moment, I freaked out because it's a dream come true. I feel so blessed. I want to inspire all the girls, all the drag queens and other people in the queer community to believe in your dreams and never forget them because you can do anything.

This month, you were scheduled to perform at Coachella. The event was postponed to October due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Are you still planning to perform at Coachella this year?

For sure! Last year, I was a special guest for Major Lazer's set. I said to the world, "Next year, I'm coming here with my own show and my tour." And bch, boom! I'm here! For sure, I'm going. I'm super excited to do it.

Anitta is also one of the confirmed artists at Coachella this year. Will you two perform together during your set?

Maybe yes, maybe no. Right now I don't know the scheduling of the performances. I wish to do something with her at Coachella.

Read: Breaking Down The Coachella 2020 Lineup: Rage Against The Machine, Frank Ocean, Calvin Harris & More Announced

In your music videos, you serve spectacular and sexy looks. Do you see a link between music and fashion?

Yes, I do see a link, because you need to send a message. I send a message with my music. When I put on all my colors and my outfits, I'm also sending a message with that. I feel so grateful because I love fashion and I love music and I get to put them together.

Pabllo Vittar | Photo: Ernna Cost

What would you say is the message of your new album, 111?

The concept of this album is my birthday. I was born on November 1 [11/1]. I'm a Scorpio. Yasss, hunty! This album is like a birthday playlist. I played all these songs on my birthday. I hope, from the bottom of my heart, that when my fans listen to this album that they feel confident, sexy [and] happy and dance a lot to it at home.

One of the big collaborations on 111 is "Tímida" with Mexican pop icon Thalía. Can you tell me about how she got involved with the song and what it was like to work with her?

Thalía is a queen. Her image is amazing. Last year, I sent her a demo of "Tímida," and she loved the song, put her vocals on it and sent it back to me. I told her, "I can't believe that you did this for me and I thank you so much." This album wouldn't be the same without her. The first time I met her, she told me, "Finally, two Latina queens working together." I was like, "Oh my God!"

Who are some artists you would want to collaborate with next?

I really want to collaborate with ROSALÍA. I love her so much. She's an amazing artist. I would also like to collaborate with Bad Bunny, Maluma and Karol G, for sure. I love so many Latin music artists.

Speaking of Bad Bunny, what did you think when you saw him dressed in drag in his recent music video for "Yo Perreo Sola"?

The video was so sexy. I was feeling it. I love Bad Bunny because he always embraces the queer community. He also does everything with a lot of respect, and we embrace that. He looked stunning! The legs, the nails, the makeup. Everything! The boobs! I love to do my boobs, too. Baby, let's shake our boobs together sometime. It's my dream to work with him. I love him and his new album [YHLQMDLG].

READ: Bad Bunny's 'YHLQMDLG' Breaks Records, Is The Highest-Charting Spanish Language Album Ever

What's one of your favorite moments in your career so far?

My favorite moment, for sure, was last year at the MTV Europe Music Awards [EMAs]. I was the first Brazilian to perform at the EMAs and the first drag queen to win an award there. Yasss!

People are saying music doesn't have to be in English anymore to be successful. What do you think about that?

When you do music with your heart, with positive energy, no matter the language, everyone embraces [it], dances to it and feels your energy. I can speak in English or sing in Italian, but if I don't put love into what I do, then that doesn't matter.

You use your platform as a performer to represent the LGBTQ+ community, especially in Brazil with President Jair Bolsonaro, who has been described as anti-LGBTQ+. How important is it for you to use your platform as an activist?

It's very important for me to give some voice to the community in this country. I'm not alone. I have some friends who are embracing the rainbow flag and the community. I feel so happy because I'm here, I'm Brazilian, and we are staying in this fight together. We are not letting anyone cancel that. We are putting our heads together and fighting.

What are your plans for the rest of the year?

I will work more with my album in a deluxe version. I have some collaborations that I'm recording. I'm so excited to share them with my fans. I will start my new tour. I'm so excited to hug my fans and put on my wig again and dance on the stage. Oh my god! I'm freaking out.

Bad Bunny, Rosalia, Juanes & More: 5 Unforgettable Moments From The 2019 Latin GRAMMYs

Find Out Who's Nominated For Best Rap Album | 2020 GRAMMY Awards

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Find Out Who's Nominated For Best Rap Album | 2020 GRAMMY Awards

Dreamville, Meek Mill, 21 Savage, Tyler, The Creator, and YBN Cordae all earn nominations in the category

GRAMMYs/Nov 20, 2019 - 06:28 pm

The 2020 GRAMMYs are just around the corner, and now the nominations are in for the coveted honor of Best Rap Album. While we'll have to wait until the 62nd GRAMMY Awards air on CBS on Jan. 26 to find out who will win, let's take a look at which albums have been nominated for Best Rap Album.

Revenge of the Dreamers III – Dreamville                                                                        

 
This star-studded compilation album from 11-time GRAMMY nominee J. Cole and his Dreamville Records imprint features appearances from some of the leading and fastest-rising artists in hip-hop today, including label artists EARTHGANG, J.I.D, and Ari Lennox, plus rappers T.I, DaBaby, and Young Nudy, among many others. Recorded in Atlanta across a 10-day recording session, Revenge of the Dreamers III is an ambitious project that saw more than 300 artists and producers contribute to the album, resulting in 142 recorded tracks. Of those recordings, 18 songs made the final album, which ultimately featured contributions from 34 artists and 27 producers.

Dreamers III, the third installment in the label’s Revenge of the Dreamers compilation series, debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard 200 chart and achieved gold status this past July. In addition to a Best Rap Album nod, Dreamers III is also nominated for Best Rap Performance next year for album track “Down Bad,” featuring J.I.D, Bas, J. Cole, EARTHGANG, and Young Nudy.

Championships – Meek Mill

In many ways, Championships represents a literal and metaphorical homecoming for Meek Mill. Released in November 2018, Championships is the Philadelphia rapper’s first artist album following a two-year prison sentence he served after violating his parole in 2017. Championships, naturally, sees Meek tackling social justice issues stemming from his prison experience, including criminal justice reform. The album debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard 200, his second chart-topper following 2015’s Dreams Worth More Than Money, and reached platinum status in June 2019. Meek Mill's 2020 Best Rap Album nod marks his first-ever GRAMMY nomination.

i am > i was – 21 Savage

Breakout rapper and four-time GRAMMY nominee 21 Savage dropped i am > i was, his second solo artist album, at the end of 2018. The guest-heavy album, which features contributions from Post Malone, Childish Gambino, J. Cole, and many others, has since charted around the world, topped the Billboard 200 – a first for the artist – in the beginning of 2019, and achieved gold status in the U.S. As well, nine songs out of the album’s 15 original tracks landed on the Hot 100 chart, including multi-platinum lead single “A Lot,” which is also nominated for Best Rap Song next year. 21 Savage’s 2020 Best Rap Album nomination, which follows Record of the Year and Best Rap/Sung Performance nods for his 2017 Post Malone collaboration, "Rockstar,” marks his first solo recognition in the top rap category.

IGOR – Tyler, The Creator

The eccentric Tyler, The Creator kicked off a massive 2019 with his mid-year album, IGOR. Released this past May, IGOR, Tyler’s fifth solo artist album, is his most commercially successful project to date. The album debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard 200, marking his first time topping the coveted chart, while its lead single, "Earfquake,” peaked at No. 13, his highest entry on the Hot 100. Produced in full by Tyler and featuring guest spots from fellow rap and R&B stars Kanye West, Lil Uzi Vert, Solange, and Playboi Carti, among many others, IGOR follows the rapper’s 2017 album, Flower Boy, which received the Best Rap Album nod that same year.

The Lost Boy – YBN Cordae

Emerging rapper YBN Cordae, a member of the breakout YBN rap collective, released his debut album, The Lost Boy, to widespread critical acclaim this past July. The 15-track release is stacked with major collaborations with hip-hop heavyweights, including Anderson .Paak, Pusha T, Meek Mill, and others, plus production work from J. Cole and vocals from Quincy Jones. After peaking at No. 13 on the Billboard 200, The Lost Boy now notches two 2020 GRAMMY nominations: Best Rap Album and Best Rap Song for album track “Bad Idea,” featuring Chance the Rapper.

Brittany Howard, Brandi Carlile, Leon Bridges, 2 Chainz & More Join Small Business Live Benefit Livestream

Brittany Howard

Photo: C Brandon/Redferns/Getty Images

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Brittany Howard, Brandi Carlile, Leon Bridges, 2 Chainz & More Join Small Business Live Benefit Livestream

Proceeds from the event will be go toward loans to small businesses founded by people of color, with additional support to women-owned and immigrant-owned businesses, via Accion Opportunity Fund

GRAMMYs/Jun 16, 2020 - 04:13 am

This Saturday, June 20, artists including Brittany Howard, Brandi Carlile, Leon Bridges, 2 Chainz and more will come together for Small Business Live, a livestream fundraiser event for small businesses facing challenges from the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Proceeds from the livestream will go to Accion Opportunity Fund to support small businesses founded by people of color, with additional support to women-owned and immigrant-owned businesses.

“Entrepreneurs of color are denied credit more often and charged higher rates for money they borrow to fund their businesses. We need to accelerate support to underserved businesses in order to reach our full potential,” Accion Opportunity Fund CEO Luz Urrutia said. “We have to decide what we want our Main Streets to look like when this is over, and we must act decisively to keep small businesses alive and ready to rebuild. This is a fun way to do something really important. Everyone’s support will make a huge difference to small business owners, their families and employees who have been devastated by this pandemic, the recession, and centuries of racism, xenophobia and oppression.”

Tune in for Small Business Live Saturday, June 20 from 4:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m. EDT on smallbiz.live. The site also provides a full schedule of programs and links to watch the livestream on all major digital platforms. To learn more about Accion Opportunity Fund, visit the organization's website.

Ivan Barias On Silence As Complicity, Holding Major Labels Accountable & How To Be A Non-Black Latinx Ally

Taylor Swift Plots 2020 World Tour With U.S. Dates For Lover Fest East & West

Taylor Swift

Photo: Dimitrios Kambouris/VMN19/Getty Images

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Taylor Swift Plots 2020 World Tour With U.S. Dates For Lover Fest East & West

Following dates in Europe and South America, Swift will land in the U.S. for Lover Fest East and West, where the pop star will open Los Angeles' brand new stadium

GRAMMYs/Sep 18, 2019 - 02:38 am

Taylor Swift  will be spreading the love in support of her hit album Lover.in 2020, but it may or may not be in a city near you. The GRAMMY winner announced plans for her summer 2020 tour in support of her seventh studio album, including two shows each in Foxborough, Mass. and Los Angeles for Lover Fest East and West respectively as the only four U.S. dates announced so far.

The tour kicks off in Belgium on June 20 and hits festivals in seven European countries before heading to Sao Paulo, Brazil on July 18 then heading to U.S. Swift will then present Lover Fest West with back-to-back Los Angeles July 25 and 26 at the newly named SoFi Stadium. The concerts will serve as the grand opening of the much-anticipated NFL venue. The tour will wrap a double header at Gillette Stadiuim in Foxborough July 31 and Aug 1

"The Lover album is open fields, sunsets, + SUMMER. I want to perform it in a way that feels authentic," she tweeted. "I want to go to some places I haven’t been and play festivals. Where we didn’t have festivals, we made some. Introducing, Lover Fest East + West!" 

Lover was released Aug. 23 and debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard 200. Her sold-out tour for her previous album, 2017's Reputation, was the highest grossing U.S. tour ever, breaking her own record.

Tickets for the new dates go on sale to the general public via Ticketmaster on Oct. 17. 

DJ Khaled, Nipsey Hussle And John Legend Win Best Rap/Sung Performance For "Higher" | 2020 GRAMMYs

DJ Khaled, Samantha Smith and John Legend

Photo: Kevin Winter/Getty Images

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DJ Khaled, Nipsey Hussle And John Legend Win Best Rap/Sung Performance For "Higher" | 2020 GRAMMYs

DJ Khaled, Nipsey Hussle and John Legend take home Best Rap/Sung Performance at the 62nd GRAMMY Awards

GRAMMYs/Jan 27, 2020 - 09:05 am

DJ Khaled, featuring Nipsey Hussle and John Legend, has won Best Rap/Sung Performance for "Higher" at the 62nd GRAMMY Awards. The single was featured on DJ Khaled's 2019 album Father of Asahd and featured Hussle's vocals and Legend on the piano. DJ Khaled predicted the track would win a GRAMMY.

"I even told him, 'We're going to win a GRAMMY.' Because that's how I feel about my album," DJ Khaled told Billboard. "I really feel like not only is this my biggest, this is very special."

After the release of the song and music video -- which was filmed before Hussle's death in March -- DJ Khaled announced all proceeds from "Higher" will go to Hussle's children.

DJ Khaled and co. beat out fellow category nominees Lil Baby & Gunna ("Drip Too Hard"), Lil Nas X ("Panini"), Mustard featuring Roddy Ricch ("Ballin") and Young Thug featuring J. Cole & Travis Scott ("The London"). Hussle earned a second posthumous award at the 62nd GRAMMYs for Best Rap Performance for "Racks In The Middle." 

Along with Legend and DJ Khaled, Meek Mill, Kirk Franklin, Roddy Ricch and YG paid tribute to Hussle during the telecast, which concluded with "Higher."

Check out the complete 62nd GRAMMY Awards nominees and winners list here.