Photo: Timothy Norris/Getty Images for The Recording Academy
5 Things We Learned At "An Evening With Chuck D" At The GRAMMY Museum
The GRAMMY Museum celebrated Chuck D's debut fine art book, 'Livin' Loud,' and new PBS/BBC documentary "Fight The Power" with an insightful conversation filled with wisdom from the Public Enemy founder.
Chuck D is one of the great storytellers of our time, and a true hip-hop OG with a scholarly knowledge of the genre. A polymath creative, Chuck first came on the scene in 1985 when he and fellow Long Islander Flava Flav formed Public Enemy, signing with Def Jam the following year, and releasing their critically acclaimed debut album, Yo! Bum Rush the Show, in 1987.
Public Enemy would go on to release many important rap records with hard-hitting, poignant lyrics, like 1989’s "Fight The Power." Chuck has remained an active and uncompromising voice in hip-hop and social justice, offering his deeply resonant voice and far-reaching wisdom to rock and rap collaborations, documentaries, books and more.
In 2017, he shared his extensive expertise in his engaging rap bible, This Day In Rap And Hip-Hop History. Chuck's recently released debut fine art book, Livin' Loud: ARTitation, reveals another element of his creative power, with over 250 of his paintings, sketches and drawings along with a reflection on his creative journey.
Chuck also just dropped a four-part PBS and BBC docu-series called "Fight The Power: How Hip-Hop Changed The World," featuring interviews with a star-studded list of rappers, DJs, graffiti artists and more. The powerful series reexamines the history of hip-hop in the aftermath of the United States' racial and social justice movements of 2020, looking at injustice and resistance in the country through the experiences of its Black and Brown communities.
To celebrate the new documentary and book, Los Angeles' GRAMMY Museum held "An Evening With Chuck D," moderated by the GRAMMY Museum Education Coordinator Schyler O'Neal. The event opened with a screening of the first episode of "Fight The Power," which led into a conversation about the episode, series, and power of hip-hop and telling its stories thoughtfully, with Chuck and the show's Co-Executive Producer, Lorrie Boula. While Chuck dropped enough wisdom throughout the evening to fill another book, we've selected five big takeaways from the impactful and inspiring evening. The GRAMMY Museum conversation will be streamed online from Feb. 16 - 26, and tickets can be purchased here.
“Everybody has art in them, but not everybody can get art out of them. There’s no bad move, but you have to be able to get it out of you…today…people listen with their eyes,” Chuck said during the in-depth conversation, underscoring the importance of art in the visual age we live in. “Art is who you are. It’s your pulse. You have art in you, just be you. You can never get more perfect than a machine….The art is the human error, the mistake.”
Hip-Hop Was Born Out Of A Deeply Collaborative & Resilient Energy
The first episode of "Fight The Power: How Hip-Hop Changed The World" transports viewers back to New York City — the birthplace of hip-hop and its various cultural expressions — in the ‘60s through ‘80s, where challenging social and environmental factors proved to be fertile creative ground.
In 1975, New York was on the verge of bankruptcy. As quality of life declined, a sizable portion of the wealthier population fled to the suburbs, and more working-class people migrated to the Big Apple in search of opportunity. Residents of the Bronx, who were primarily people of color, suffered the worst from the city's qualms, including austerity cuts and harmful policies.
Amidst the dire circumstances, young people found ways to express themselves and come together. Because there were fewer cops patrolling the Bronx in the '70s, the city became the canvas for graffiti artists, and parties wouldn't get shut down. And this was how hip-hop was born; the early hip-hop parties were discos in the streets. "Hip-hop was disco's bastard child," one of the artists in the episode says with a laugh, explaining that turntables were the only instruments they had access to, since music programs were cut from schools.
“There were no constraints at this time, it was like a pot of cultural get down,” Chuck said of these foundational years of hip-hop, later adding, "As you see in episode one, it’s a collective movement…so we have more people than the usual suspects in our show.”.
Boula added that it was important to them to not only focus on the struggles, but to also show the side of the Bronx that wasn't televised. "We didn’t want to just focus on the oppression… You can try to oppress people, but they will find their f—ng joy. And we wanted to tell that story too."
Chuck D Was An Illustrator & Never Meant To Be A Rapper…
“1960, I was born and raised to make art,” Chuck said in one of many smile-inducing, mic drop moments. Chuck always drew, and entered the New York-wide student art contest every year — and always won or placed. He went to Adelphi University in Long Island to study design and brush up on his illustration skills, and was the school's political cartoonist as a freshman.
Unfortunately, he got kicked out of school because he only attended his art classes. He appealed, and got permission from all of his professors to take their classes again, and got the chance to give it another go. He said that the reason he stuck with it was because of his vision to run a hip-hop arts department. He was unimpressed by the art on most rap records, and wanted to be the one to change it. In fact, Chuck didn't write his first poem until he was 20 years old.
…But Rick Ruben Eventually Convinced Him To Rap With Def Jam
Chuck had a show at Adelphi’s radio station WBAU and rapped to fill the air time between records. In 1984, he recorded a promo tape with himself and Flavor Flav rapping, and it became a station favorite known as "Public Enemy No. 1." Rick Ruben heard the tape and spent two years trying to get Chuck to record with the then-new Def Jam Records.
Yet it was Def Jam's eye-catching logo that made Chuck actually take the offer seriously. “In 1986 I surrendered and signed my contract to become a damn recording artist,” Chuck said.
Chuck didn't make much visual art for the next 30 years, only revisiting it when his father passed away seven years ago. "The arts led me to cover up the silence [left by my father]."
"I have so much art coming out of me, but I don’t want to just do art for art's sake," he explained. "If I see something crazy, I’m going to illustrate it," he asserted.
A War Was Stopped For A Public Enemy & Ice-T Concert
When asked by O'Neal how hip-hop has changed the world, Chuck responded: “Hip-hop has made people change their languages around…to bring them together.” Hip-hop fashion over the years and rap vernacular continue to dominate pop culture, and rap music has become the most popular genre.
Chuck then told an incredible story about how fighting during the Balkans war in Eastern Europe was paused so that Public Enemy, Ice-T (who was in the audience), and Ice Cube could bring their AmeriKKKa's Most Wanted World Tour to war-torn Croatia. For one night in 1994, locals of different beliefs and religions came together to find solace at a hip-hop show. Once the rappers and their crew crossed the border, the bombing continued, but officials felt that the concert was important enough to call for a temporary cease fire.
Chuck D Is Launching A "TikTok For Hip-hop x35"
One of the highlights of the 2023 GRAMMY Awards was the epic GRAMMY Tribute to 50 Years of Hip-Hop, a powerhouse 15-minute medley featuring some of rap’s greatest, including Chuck and Flava, who performed Public Enemy’s "Rebel Without a Pause." When O'Neal asked how it happened, Chuck responded, "Questlove called everybody," which worked because "he's like the Quincy [Jones] of hip-hop."
Speaking about the magic of all those artists spending time together, Chuck noted that he built online mp3 depository RapStation in 2001 (before MySpace!) to expand listeners’ horizons and expose them to talented rappers. RapStation still exists, offering rap news and internet radio shows, but Chuck revealed]that he will be launching a new rap app called Bring The Noise, which he described as "TikTok for hip-hop x35."
Bringing together all his epic stories, threads and themes of the evening like only Chuck D can, he said: "We curate man. That’s what I’ve always wanted to do, curate art."
"We learn how to be spectacular. Spectacle gets you in the building, but spectacular keeps you in the building," Chuck said to close things out on an inspirational note, and to a standing ovation. "Spectacular keeps you coming back from more…so that when you disappear there’s a mark left that’s missed…so make your mark, take it seriously."
Image courtesy of the Recording Academy
GRAMMY Museum Announces 'Hip-Hop America: The Mixtape Exhibit' Programming Schedule
Presented by Google Pixel, the exhibit opens Oct. 7 celebrating the 50th anniversary of hip-hop through an expansive and interactive exploration of the global impact of the genre and culture.
The GRAMMY Museum announces its Hip-Hop America: The Mixtape Exhibit initial programming schedule consisting of in-person and virtual events to supplement the exhibit celebrating the 50th anniversary of hip-hop.
Opening Oct. 7, the 5,000-square foot installation delves deep into the multifaceted world of hip-hop through expansive exhibits on hip-hop music, dance, graffiti, fashion, business, activism, and history, providing visitors with an immersive experience that explores the profound impact and influence of hip-hop culture.
On display will be an incredible array of artifacts including the Notorious B.I.G.'s iconic red leather pea jacket, LL Cool J's red Kangol bucket hat, and more. Newly announced artifacts include Lil Wayne’s GRAMMY for Best Rap Album, The Carter III, Lil Wayne's handwritten letter from prison to his fans and his family, custom Saweetie acrylic nail sets created by her nail artist Temeka Jackson, plus exclusive interviews with MC Lyte, Cordae and other artists about their creative process.
Additionally, a Sonic Playground features five interactive stations that invite visitors of all ages to unleash their creativity through DJing, rapping and sampling and is made possible thanks to a grant from The Kenneth T. & Eileen L. Norris Foundation.
The exhibit is made possible with the generous support of Google Pixel, and several integrations within the space are powered by Google Pixel's innovative capabilities. This includes the Google Pixel Boombox Throne, an interactive photo experience.
The Rap City Experience, part of the Sonic Playground, is a freestyle interactive featuring Darian "Big Tigger" Morgan, host of BET's "Rap City: Tha Basement." Visitors can freestyle over beats by producers Hit-Boy, PERFXN and Schyler O'Neal, and trade bars with hip-hop artists Reason, Nana and Nilla Allin. As part of the museum's ongoing community and education programming, BET and Mass Appeal will screen the first two installments of their upcoming documentary Welcome to Rap City on Oct. 9. More details below.
Additionally, the GRAMMY Museum is partnering with The Debut Live to present their multi-part event series highlighting iconic hip-hop albums and the artists who created them, including DJ Khaled, Joey Bada$$, Rick Ross, T.I., and more. The intimate conversations are hosted by Billboard's Deputy Director of R&B and Hip-Hop, Carl Lamarre, in partnership with the GRAMMY Museum/Recording Academy + Soho House, and will be available to view beginning Oct. 6 exclusively on the GRAMMY Museum's streaming platform COLLECTION:live.
The exhibit launches on Sat, Oct. 7 and will run through Sept. 4, 2024. A special opening event will take place on Oct. 6 at 8 p.m. Tickets are available to purchase here. Additional programming to be announced at a later date. More information listed below.
Sat, Oct. 7:
EVENT: Careers in Music: The Nelson George Mixtape, Volume 2
WHAT: A conversation and book signing with acclaimed author, producer and director, Nelson George, as we discuss his career chronicling the birth of hip-hop in America and his work in the entertainment industry.
WHEN: 1 p.m.
WHERE: Clive Davis Theater
REGISTER: Click here.
Mon, Oct. 9:
EVENT: Careers in Music: "Welcome to Rap City" Screening
WHAT: In partnership with BET and Mass Appeal, the GRAMMY Museum is proud to host a screening of the first two installments of their new documentary "Welcome to Rap City" followed by a panel discussion featuring Rap City hosts and more.
WHEN: 12 p.m.
WHERE: Clive Davis Theater
REGISTER: Click here.
Thurs, Oct. 26:
EVENT: Backstage Pass: "Road to the Latin GRAMMYs" Mellow Man Ace
WHAT: To celebrate the 24th Annual Latin GRAMMY Awards, the GRAMMY Museum is thrilled to have Afro-Cuban rapper and Los Angeles native Mellow Man Ace discuss his career and his accomplishments as one of the pioneers of Latin rap, followed by a performance.
WHEN: 11 a.m.
WHERE: Clive Davis Theater
REGISTER: Click here.
Sat, Dec. 2:
EVENT: Love Your Amazing Self
WHAT: An interactive family program featuring hip-hop musician, meditation teacher and author, Ofosu Jones-Quartey, reading from his latest book Love Your Amazing Self followed by a performance. Support for this program was provided through funding from Councilman Curren Price Jr. and the New 9th.
WHEN: 11 a.m.
WHERE: Clive Davis Theater
REGISTER: Click here.
October 2023 - June 2024
WHAT: Hip-Hop Education Workshops
WHAT: In Celebration of the 50 years of hip-hop from its origin to where the genre is today. Highlighting the golden age of hip-hop, these lessons will provide students with a deeper understanding of the struggles and triumphs of the genre.
WHEN: 2023-2024 School Year
WHERE: Clive Davis Theater
REGISTER: Click here.
For more information regarding advanced ticket reservations for the exhibit, please visit www.grammymuseum.org.
Image courtesy of the GRAMMY Museum
GRAMMY Museum To Celebrate 50 Years Of Hip-Hop With 'Hip-Hop America: The Mixtape Exhibit' Opening Oct. 7
The new exhibit honors the 50th anniversary of hip-hop through an expansive and interactive exploration that features artifacts from legendary artists including the Notorious B.I.G., Tupac Shakur, LL Cool J, and more.
The GRAMMY Museum is celebrating the 50th anniversary of hip-hop this fall with the newly announced Hip-Hop America: The Mixtape Exhibit, an immersive, interactive, 5,000-square foot experience celebrating the multifaceted world of hip-hop and the global impact and influence of the genre and culture. Launching Saturday, Oct. 7, and running through Wednesday, Sept. 4, 2024, the exhibit will feature expansive exhibits exploring hip-hop music, dance, graffiti, fashion, business, activism, and history as well as artifacts from hip-hop pioneers like Tupac Shakur, the Notorious B.I.G., LL Cool J, and many more.
Additionally, the exhibit features a one-of-a-kind Sonic Playground, featuring five interactive stations that invite visitors of all ages to partake in DJing, rapping and sampling, all essential elements comprising hip-hop culture. Additional virtual and in-person education and community engagement programs will be announced at a later date.
Exploring the countless ways hip-hop music and culture has dominated popular culture over the last 50 years, Hip-Hop America: The Mixtape Exhibit was curated by a team of four co-curators who bring a deep knowledge of hip-hop, academic rigor and creativity to the project. They include:
Felicia Angeja Viator, associate professor of history, San Francisco State University, author of ‘To Live And Defy In LA: How Gangsta Rap Changed America,’ and one of the first women DJs in the Bay Area hip-hop scene
Adam Bradley, Professor of English and founding director of the Laboratory for Race and Popular Culture (the RAP Lab) at UCLA, and co-editor of ‘The Anthology of Rap’
Jason King, Dean, USC Thornton School of Music and former chair of the Clive Davis Institute of Recorded Music at NYU
Dan Charnas, Associate Arts Professor, NYU Clive Davis Institute of Music, and author of ‘Dilla Time: The Life And Afterlife Of The Hip-Hop Producer Who Reinvented Rhythm’
The co-curators worked in conjunction with GRAMMY Museum Chief Curator and Vice President of Curatorial Affairs Jasen Emmons as well as a 20-member Advisory Board.
Hip-Hop America: The Mixtape Exhibit is an educational journey through several key themes:
Innovation: Explore how hip-hop artists have innovatively used technology, from transforming turntables into musical instruments to pioneering sampling techniques.
Sounds of Hip-Hop: Experience the diverse sounds of hip-hop in four themed studios, showcasing the evolution of production, the intersection of hip-hop and car culture, the craft of hip-hop lyrics, and the influence of R&B.
Fashion: Dive into the world of hip-hop fashion, featuring iconic clothing, jewelry and style.
Regionalism: Discover 14 hip-hop scenes across the United States, showcasing the importance of local and regional contributions.
Entrepreneurialism: Learn about the transformation of hip-hop from a back-to-school party in the Bronx to a multi-billion-dollar global industry.
Media: Discover the role of media in shaping hip-hop's development, from radio stations to pioneering shows like "Yo! MTV Raps."
Community: Explore how hip-hop has brought people together over the last 50 years, with an interactive ‘Hip-Hop America’ playlist featuring 200 songs that trace the genre's evolution.
Highlights from Hip-Hop America: The Mixtape Exhibit include:
The Notorious B.I.G.'s iconic 5001 Flavors custom red leather peacoat he wore in Junior M.A.F.I.A.'s music video "Players Anthem"
Kurtis Blow's original handwritten lyrics for his 1980 hit single, "The Breaks," the first gold-certified rap song
Tupac Shakur's handwritten essay "Give Me Liberty or Give Me Death," circa 1992
Two outfits designed by Dapper Dan, Harlem fashion icon: 1) a half-length black leather jacket worn by Melle Mel (Melvin Glover, b. 1961) in performance at the 1985 GRAMMY Awards; and a black-and-yellow leather bucket hat and jacket worn by New York hip-hop artist Busy Bee (David James Parker)
Egyptian Lover's gold Roland 808, the beat-making tool
LL Cool J's red Kangol bucket hat
Hip-Hop America: The Mixtape Exhibit is a key event taking place as the world is celebrating 50 years of hip-hop this year. The origins of hip-hop can be traced back to Aug. 11, 1973, when DJ Kool Herc DJed a birthday party inside the recreation room of an apartment building located on 1520 Sedgwick Avenue in the South Bronx, New York City. This history-making date marks the birth of hip-hop and is the reason why we're celebrating hip-hop's 50th anniversary this year. The 50th anniversary of hip-hop means artists, fans, and the music industry at-large are celebrating the momentous milestone via hip-hop concerts, exhibits, tours, documentaries, podcasts, and more around the globe across 2023.
Visit the GRAMMY Museum website for more information regarding advanced ticket reservations for Hip-Hop America: The Mixtape Exhibit.
Photo: Courtesy of the Recording Academy/Photo by Rebecca Sapp, Getty Images 2023
6 Things To Know About Charlie Puth, From His Unusual Inspirations To His Teaching Aspirations
On the heels of his last U.S. tour stop, Charlie Puth wowed fans at a special GRAMMY fundraising brunch in Los Angeles. Take a look at six takeaways from the intimate event.
Just after Charlie Puth wrapped his North American tour on July 11, the pop hitmaker treated 150 fans to the ultimate fan experience: brunch with a side of Puth.
Part of The GRAMMY Museum's Sunday Brunch With… series, the event — a fundraiser for the organization's GRAMMY In The Schools program that was sponsored by City National Bank and Porsche — invited fans to enjoy a three-course brunch followed by an intimate 45-minute acoustic set from Puth.
From the stage at his friend (and 17-time GRAMMY Award-winning mixer) Manny Marroquin's restaurant, VERSE LA in Toluca Lake, California, Puth told stories about his days at Berklee College Of Music and his journey to stardom. He also let attendees in on his songwriting process, performing some of his most beloved tracks in the process.
For those who weren't able to make it to the sold-out event, here are six takeaways from Sunday Brunch With Charlie Puth.
He May Just Become A Music Teacher In The Future
Early on in the show, Puth made a point of shouting out one of his old Berklee professors from the stage. Turns out it was Prince Charles Alexander, a multi-GRAMMY Award winning mixer and engineer who has worked with Mary J. Blige, Destiny's Child, P. Diddy, Usher, and Aretha Franklin.
Puth said he'd often pop into Alexander's office to run ideas by him, with Alexander offering up tips in return. Puth told the crowd he still thinks about Alexander's advice when he's making his own records all these years later, and shouted out not just his professor but all music educators, saying that he's a firm believer in the value of music in our schools. He even joked that he'd like to become a music teacher himself "if this whole music thing doesn't work out."
One Of His Songs Was Inspired By A Rainy Walk…
When Puth wrote "How Long" back in 2017, it was on a long walk. He was strutting around the town wondering why there weren't more tracks written at a perfect walking tempo when it started to rain. The sound of his feet combined with the wet concrete and suddenly, he told the crowd, "it was like the chords fell out of the sky."
Puth then kicked into a smooth and resonant performance of the song — which sounded excellent on whatever sound system Marroquin installed in his restaurant — prompting one attendee to shout out in glee, "ooh, you better sing!"
…And Another Was Inspired By Ed Sheeran
Puth says he started writing "We Don't Talk Anymore" when he was on the road in Osaka, Japan. He'd fallen in love with the percussive guitar on Ed Sheeran's song "Bloodstream" and wanted to use that same sort of tone on his own track.
Puth says he also wanted to write what he called "the worldliest sounding record," or "a record that would take me around the world." Given that "We Don't Talk Anymore" hit the top 10 in 20 different countries and the video has more than three billion views on YouTube to date, it's fair to say he did just that.
He Likes To Use "Light Switch" To Inspire Up-And-Coming Musicians
When the freshly signed Puth was first in LA in the early 2010s, a producer suggested they take his newly recorded tracks to a club, where they'd play them for the crowd and see what hit. It was a novel idea for Puth at the time, but something he's adapted a bit for the modern age, when he throws bits of songs and ideas up on his TikTok, hoping to see what flies.
That's exactly how his 2022 hit "Light Switch" came to be: The simple percussive sound that you hear when you turn the lights on and off.
In videos he's posted on TikTok, he's tried to show fans that, like that song, music can come from anywhere. "You don't need a multi-million dollar recording studio to make a record," he told the crowd, reminding everyone that Soulja Boy's "Crank That" was self-produced on the rapper's home computer before breaking big on social media.
Anyone, Puth said, can make and release their own music, even if they're not currently in possession of the dream recording set-up. It's just about passion and perseverance, and a desire to make something new.
He Likes To Blend Classical Riffs With Perfect Pop Melodies
When Puth started to write "Attention," it was with a little classical riff he was fooling around with on the piano. He decided to take the classical bars and throw them into a pop song, reminding the room that it's not all that uncommon. For instance, he said, Toni Wine and Carole Bayer Sager's "A Groovy Kind Of Love" contains the Rondo from Muzio Clementi's Sonatina, Opus 36, No. 5. In Puth's view, classical music and pop can live in perfect harmony, feeding off each other and building toward something even bigger than the sum of their parts.
He's Proof Of The Power Of Being Yourself
In 2012, at the height of "weight for the drop" style EDM hits, Puth felt discouraged as he was trying to break into music himself. As he recalled, he'd moved home to his parents house and was laser focused on the pop charts, tailoring his songs to whatever was No. 1 at the moment — but they were all getting turned down by labels. Finally, he said, an A&R person gave him a piece of advice, saying, essentially, "We've heard all this before. We want to hear something from you."
That's how, on his way to record a dance track at some studio in LA, Puth decided to lay down a piano ballad instead. He says it was like "See You Again" fell into his lap and attributes its success to the fact that he wasn't trying to be anyone but himself.
"See You Again changed my life," he told the brunch crowd, noting that he'll be proud and lucky if he gets to perform it for the rest of his life. As he played it live, the whole room joyfully sang along — hinting that Puth may have crafted a lifelong hit.
Photo: Rob Kim/Getty Images for The Recording Academy
6 Things To Know About Margo Price: Her Struggles, Writing Process & Unforgettable Success Story
Country-adjacent singer Margo Price is a craftswoman with gallons of candor. At a special GRAMMY Museum event, she got real about her new album, 'Strays,' and memoir, 'Maybe We'll Make It.'
The adjective "vulnerable" is something of a music press cliché. Margo Price is capital-v. Because before she released her 2022 memoir, Maybe We'll Make It, she was in a state of abject terror over how her family would react to her confessions therein.
"I was having panic attacks, thinking about all of this being out there," Price told The Guardian. "I know what people do on the internet, and I was imagining the names they were gonna call me. They're gonna say I'm a horrible mother, that I'm a drunk."
But then, there's that word again: "I also [hope] that people are going to appreciate my vulnerability."
This attribute — married to sterling craft — has launched Price into the stratosphere; none other than Willie Nelson provided a blurb for Maybe We'll Make It's front cover. ("Margo's book hits you right in the gut — and the heart," he wrote. "Just like her songs.")
As she details in the book, the masterful Nashville singer/songwriter knocked around town for more than a decade in search of a record deal, and dealt with poverty, alcohol abuse and numberless other calamities. But Price was stubborn and persistent; her ascent began with her exceptional 2016 solo debut Midwest Farmer's Daughter, released on Third Man Records.
She continued her winning streak in 2017 with All American Made; the following year, she was nominated for a GRAMMY for Best New Artist. That streak continued with 2020's That's How Rumors Get Started, produced by Sturgill Simpson. In 2023, she released another excellent album, the Jonathan Wilson-produced Strays, which she's promoting alongside Maybe We'll Make It.
At a recent edition of the GRAMMY Museum's "A New York Evening With…" interview and performance series at the Greene Space at WNYC and WQXR in New York City, Price sat down with moderator Craig Finn of the Hold Steady. Together, they discussed the counterbalances of Strays with Maybe We'll Make It, and her wild, tragic, joyful story that's contained in both; the result was a window into Price's psychology.
Here are six takeaways about this GRAMMY-nominated master of words and melodies.
Her Album And Memoir Influenced Each Other
Early in the conversation, Finn inquired about the dynamic between a book and an album, as the publishing process typically takes much longer than the writing and recording process.
"They definitely ended up kind of influencing each other, because I was working on them in tandem," Price said. "I did kind of lose myself in it for a moment. My husband would say things like, 'You haven't written a song in months.' I was like, 'I'm an author now.'"
Price Finished Her Memoir Through Routine
In 2018 — upon getting pregnant and coming off the road — Price needed to keep her mind busy.
Despite not having a book deal, she and her husband, fellow musician Jeremy Ivey, would take their son to school, go to an East Nashville coffee shop and write from "about 8 in the morning until maybe noon or 1. And I just did that for maybe five or six months." By her telling, there were "many, many, many drafts" prior to the one we can hold in our hands today.
Observing Herself From The Outside Proved Beneficial
In reading about her experiences in the way a consumer of her memoir would, Price identified a seam of compassion for herself that she didn't realize she had.
"You can suddenly give yourself a break. I feel like I'm my own worst critic," she said. "There was always a breadcrumb to keep us going — and then there was something to knock us back down." However, "if there wasn't a struggle, I wouldn't be Margo Price."
Patti Smith's Memoir Influenced Her Own
"I had heard some of her songs and things before, but I think once I really devoured her written works, I started digging into her albums," Price said of Smith. "And I just thought it was incredible the way that she used poetry and just felt unafraid to throw it all in the pot and mix it all up."
On the literary front, one cue Price took from Smith was her use of descriptive detail for everyday scenes: "She talks about living off of tomato soup," she says, connecting that to the $2 frozen tilapia filets and bags of edamame she and Ivey used to subsist on.
"When you can taste what's going on, it puts you there in the kitchen with us," she said. "You can starve with the artist."
Price Is Becoming More Open To Collaborating — Judiciously
Price is skeptical of some of the team-ups she sees in the music industry. "Sometimes, I see a collaboration happening," she says, and I'm like, 'That looks forced. I don't know, man. I feel like they're just doing that for the Spotify plays.' So, I really try to only do it if it's meaningful."
Somebody in her camp presented a list of potential writing partners; she didn't bite. But when her manager suggested GRAMMY-winning guitar great Mike Campbell, she changed her tune.
"I'm like, 'Duh, of course. We're trying to write Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers songs over here anyway, so if we can get him in on it, then it legitimizes the whole thing… he sang on ["Light Me Up" on] my record, and it was just very natural."
She Might Join Your Band
"I'd love to play more drums," Price said during a brief audience Q&A before performing tunes like All American Made's "Pay Gap" and Strays' "Country Road" for the crowd. "Just drums in a band sometime, where I'd just be in the pack. It'd be so much less pressure.
"I need to find a gig," she added mirthfully. "If anybody knows something, let me know after the show."