meta-scriptLove To Love Them, Baby: From Donna Summer To Dua Lipa, Meet The Women Singers Who Shaped (And Continue to Shape) Dance Music | GRAMMY.com
Dua Lipa, Donna Summer, Loleatta Holloway & Aluna

(L-R) Dua Lipa, Donna Summer, Loleatta Holloway & Aluna

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Love To Love Them, Baby: From Donna Summer To Dua Lipa, Meet The Women Singers Who Shaped (And Continue to Shape) Dance Music

Decades before Dua Lipa was born, disco began as a musical movement led by iconic divas like Donna Summer, Gloria Gaynor and Thelma Houston to create a sound for spaces in which Black, Latinx and queer audiences sought refuge and escape

GRAMMYs/Mar 30, 2021 - 10:47 pm

Earlier this month, on Music’s Biggest Night, Dua Lipa teleported us from our living rooms and yearlong quarantine to Studio 2054, her homage to New York City’s legendary Studio 54 nightclub where disco thrived from 1977–1980. In a stunning visual display entailing costume changes and dramatic dance interludes, Lipa performed two songs (“Levitating,” “Don’t Start Now”) from her GRAMMY-winning album, Future Nostalgia.

“I wanted to do something that felt fresh and new,” Lipa told GRAMMY.com last year, “something that touched on a memory, something that always rings so true to me, especially in my childhood.” Her dancefloor inspiration was integral to the perfect storm that was a 2020 disco-pop revival, with artists like Doja Cat and Victoria Monet also trying on the groove for size and dancefloor veterans Jessie Ware, Róisín Murphy and Kylie Minogue showing us how it’s done.

Related: Jessie Ware On Returning To Her Dance Roots And Continuing To Learn

The success of these recent releases is validation for strong women vocalists who make dance hits spanning multiple decades, sounds and perspectives. Though the genre has evolved over the years, women singers remain a constant. And while they’re not always given their due, it’s their voices we remember, their lyrics we sing and their legacies we celebrate.

Decades before Lipa was born, disco began as a musical movement of four-on-the-floor rhythms, deep synthesizers and lush melodies combining to create a sound for spaces in which Black, Latinx and queer audiences sought refuge and escape. What started underground made its way to the top of the charts and radio airwaves, thanks in large part to disco divas and their soul-stirring hooks.

The indisputable queen of them all was Donna Summer, who catapulted to international superstardom in the ‘70s with classics including the erotic epic “Love to Love You, Baby,” siren-like “I Feel Love” and the aptly steamy “Hot Stuff.” Together with GRAMMY-winning Italian producer Giorgio Moroder, she brought the sound of urban counterculture to middle America and beyond by simple musical seduction; her voice was warm and sensual, disguising disco’s radical message of liberation to unsuspecting listeners.

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Read: Kaskade Talks New 'Reset' EP, Executing Epic Fortnite Show, NFTs & More

“This is it, look no further,” Brian Eno reportedly declared to David Bowie after hearing “I Feel Love” for the first time. “This single is going to change the sound of club music for the next 15 years.” It was an accurate prediction of Summer’s impact. A bona fide hit machine, she charted 32 songs on the Billboard Hot 100 (including four No. 1s) over the course of her career and nabbed 18 GRAMMY nominations, winning five.

While “I Feel Love” radiated euphoria, Gloria Gaynor’s “I Will Survive”—the first (and only) winner of the Best Disco Recording GRAMMY—was a timeless anthem for hard times. Its message transcended the era and also spoke to the moment. "The problems that we shared during the day,” Gaynor said, “we came together in the evening, to overcome together, or to get away together, and one of the ways we came together was on the disco dancefloor."

Sister Sledge, Anita Ward, Thelma Houston and Cheryl Lynn each had disco hits of their own, cooing in sultry tones across mirrorball-lit dancefloors. But being a disco diva was about more than being a singer: they were powerful, fabulous and aspirational. Long after disco’s heyday, the legacy of their artistry lives on through new-school chanteuses like Lipa, Ware, Minogue and Murphy.

The party eventually came to an end, as disco’s ubiquity in the ‘70s prompted a racist backlash in 1979 that abruptly led to its mainstream downfall. After some time in obscurity, club hits came back with a vengeance in the ‘90s as dance music’s next evolution: house music.

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Martha Wash was the powerhouse voice behind two of the decade’s biggest hits, Black Box’s “Everybody Everybody” and C+C Music Factory’s “Everybody Dance Now (Gonna Make You Sweat).” Both songs, released in 1990, topped the Billboard Hot 100 and charted in the Top 10 internationally. While these achievements should have boosted Wash’s profile as an artist, the tracks’ producers had used her vocal recorded from studio demos without crediting her. Adding insult to injury, they cast other women to dance and lip-sync in Wash’s place for their music videos and live performances.

Loleatta Holloway, a vocalist best known from her ‘70s disco hits (including “Hit and Run” and “Runaway” with The Salsoul Orchestra), had faced a similar situation the previous year when Black Box sampled her 1980 single “Love Sensation” without permission on their U.K. No. 1, “Ride on Time.” Believing they were entitled to both compensation and credit for their work, regardless of it being a sample or a demo, Wash and Holloway each successfully sued the artists and their respective labels, winning both credit and financial settlement. Wash’s victory was bigger than herself; it set a precedent enshrining that record labels are responsible for assigning proper vocal credit for all releases, regardless of how the vocal recording was made.

As Holloway and Wash were writing new rules for vocalists, a singer/songwriter named Crystal Waters was working a government job by day while writing her own club hits on the side. Her second single, “Gypsy Woman (She’s Homeless),” a socially conscious house track based on a true story, has a deceptively simple hook that burrows itself in your brain. Released in 1991, it was the first of Waters’ twelve No. 1 singles on Billboard’s Dance Club Songs chart, including “100% Pure Love” and “What I Need.” Like fellow dance music singers Ultra Naté and CeCe Peniston, Waters took four-on-the-floor tracks to the next level with pop-structured lyrics that were cathartic, catchy and universally relatable.

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Related: Janet Jackson's Iconic 'Rhythm Nation 1814' Turns 30 Today & We Still Have Work To Do

During this time, Madonna and Janet Jackson approached the dance charts from a pop perspective. Both known for their theatrical performance style and vocal prowess as much as for their versatility, they could drop a ballad one moment and a club-ready track the next, from Madonna’s “Vogue” and “Express Yourself” to Jackson’s “Rhythm Nation” and “Throb.” These expert shapeshifters paved the way for future chameleons like Lady Gaga, Britney Spears and Beyoncé, pop artists who stepped onto the dancefloor with tracks like “Born This Way,” “Till the World Ends” and “Run the World (Girls),” respectively.

Beyoncé dabbled in dance music, but her Destiny’s Child bandmate Kelly Rowland opted for a fully immersive experience, reinventing herself as a solo artist with a fresh, pioneering sound. In 2008, producer David Guetta, a well-established club DJ in his native France, had recently cracked the Billboard Hot 100 for the first time with “Love is Gone” and was looking for a bigger and better sequel.

That summer, Rowland went clubbing in Cannes, France at the club where Guetta was DJing. She became particularly enamored with a track he played during his set, the instrumental version of what would become their 2009 collaboration “When Love Takes Over.” She asked to write and record vocals for it, the final result being a big-room serenade sweetened with his piano melody but commanded by her euphoric, heart-swelling chorus.

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“When I finished producing it, we were like, ‘Wow, we have a monster hit,’” Guetta said in a 2009 interview. “We could feel that it was really, really big.” More than an anthem, “When Love Takes Over” was the launchpad for America’s EDM boom, a neon era of radio-friendly dance-pop that could also bang on club dancefloors and festival stages. The song topped 15 charts across 12 countries, including Billboard’s US Dance Club Songs, and was nominated for Best Dance Recording at the 2010 GRAMMY Awards show.

Rihanna was also looking to take her music up a few BPMs after her 2009 album Rated R. Her first venture into EDM, 2010’s “Only Girl (In the World),” produced by Stargate and Sandy Vee, was a success, eventually winning Best Dance Recording at the 2011 GRAMMY Awards show. For her 2011 album Talk That Talk, Rihanna recruited Calvin Harris, a Scottish producer who had achieved critical acclaim and A-list studio sessions but who had yet to break through with a global hit. Harris produced two singles on the album: the winding, acid-electro house track “Where Have You Been” and “We Found Love,” on which Rihanna bares her vulnerable falsetto. They reunited for Harris’ massive summer hit (penned by Taylor Swift), “This Is What You Came For” in 2016.

Watch: Ellie Goulding Talks Songwriting, Loving Skrillex & Björk & Growing Up On Electronic Music

Rowland’s relationship with Guetta, and Rihanna’s with Harris, was symbiotic. Rowland and Rihanna each became early adopters of a fire-blazing dance-pop phenomenon while Guetta and Harris got to increase their profiles with a new, large and lucrative American audience hungry for more. Hoping to find similar success, pop artists like Ariana Grande, Ellie Goulding and Kelis paired with Guetta, Harris, Zedd, Skrillex and more in the early 2010s. As dance music became more popular, the dynamic between producer and popstar shifted and producers became the popstars themselves, though a vocalist was usually not far behind.

In the current second-wave EDM era, where white men still sit at the top, Aluna has made it her mission to change how dance music perceives and treats women artists, especially Black women artists, asserting their importance even when it isn't obvious. “She’s there in the lyrics, she’s there in the voice, sometimes you see her in a video, but you don’t see her right there in the middle,” she told Billboard last year. “That’s really the shift we need to make.”

Aluna was best known to the world as one-half of electronic-pop outfit AlunaGeorge. Her cherubic vocals are instantly recognizable whether she’s singing on their own songs, such as “You Know You Like It” and “Attracting Flies,” or appearing on Disclosure’s “White Noise.”

In 2020, she made a huge statement by embarking on her solo career and releasing her debut album, Renaissance, that October. Tired of fielding daily requests from people who “wanted [her] voice, not [her] face. Not [her] Blackness,” Aluna made herself the record’s focal point as the main artist and producer rather than simply feature on different producers’ songs.

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Read More: Aluna On New Album 'Renaissance' & Making Dance Music Inclusive Again

Whereas Aluna has beamed across radio airwaves worldwide, Anabel Englund has long been the voice of dance music’s underground. As a member of tech house supergroups Hot Natured and Pleasure State, the singer/songwriter’s smoldering tone and earworm melodies are the centerpiece of songs like “Electricity” and “Reverse Skydiving,” both of which she co-wrote.

Englund released her debut album, Messing With Magic, last October, and landed her first Billboard No. 1 on the Dance/Mix Show Airplay chart that same month with syrupy house chiller “Picture Us.” “Working with a group, I have to share my energy as part of a whole,” she said. “Being on my own, I’m able to harness my energy into what I have to say.” Like Aluna, Englund assumed co-production duties on the album in addition to singing and songwriting. Her former bandmates make appearances throughout while she remains the marquee name, never being overshadowed.

A more recent arrival to the scene, Lipa dabbled in dance music before diving headlong into Future Nostalgia’s disco-inspired sounds, including on her 2017 self-titled debut album (“Hotter Than Hell,” “New Rules”). In 2018, she collaborated with Harris and Silk City (Diplo and Mark Ronson), respectively, on the ‘90s-house-influenced hits “One Kiss” and “Electricity.” The latter song won Best Dance Recording at the 2019 GRAMMY Awards show and in a big look for dance music, Lipa performed “One Kiss” during the main ceremony. To cap the night, she also won the GRAMMY for Best New Artist. Between house and disco, Lipa has provided two of dance music’s foundational genres a massive revitalized platform in the pop world.

Long after disco’s prime, Summer’s captivating artistry lives on in chanteuses like Lipa. Meanwhile, the voices and lyrics of Aluna and Englund pick up where Crystal Waters left off, and Wash and Holloway’s legacy can be heard in a new generation of house music divas like Karen Harding, Alex Mills and Kaleena Zanders. Just like Lipa showed on the GRAMMYs stage, each of these singers proves that the women on dance records are capable and deserving of the spotlight, hopefully always getting brighter than the ones that shone on the many women before them.

The Women Essential To Reggae And Dancehall 

Moby performing on stage
Moby

Photo: Mike Formanski

interview

"Let Yourself Be Idiosyncratic": Moby Talks New Album 'Always Centered At Night' & 25 Years Of 'Play'

"We're not writing for a pop audience, we don't need to dumb it down," Moby says of creating his new record. In an interview, the multiple-GRAMMY nominee reflects on his latest album and how it contrasts with his legendary release from 1999.

GRAMMYs/Jun 11, 2024 - 01:29 pm

Moby’s past and present are converging in a serendipitous way. The multiple-GRAMMY nominee is celebrating the 25th anniversary of his seminal work, Play, the best-selling electronic dance music album of all time, and the release of his latest album, always centered at night. 

Where Play was a solitary creation experience for Moby, always centered at night is wholly collaborative. Recognizable names on the album are Lady Blackbird on the blues-drenched "dark days" and serpentwithfeet on the emotive "on air." But always centered at night’s features are mainly lesser-known artists, such as the late Benjamin Zephaniah on the liquid jungle sounds of "where is your pride?" and Choklate on the slow grooves of "sweet moon." 

Moby’s music proves to have staying power: His early ‘90s dance hits "Go" and "Next is the E" still rip up dancefloors; the songs on Play are met with instant emotional reactions from millennials who heard them growing up. Moby is even experiencing a resurgence of sorts with Gen Z. In 2023, Australian drum ‘n’ bass DJ/producer Luude and UK vocalist Issey Cross reimagined Moby’s classic "Porcelain" into "Oh My." Earlier this year, Moby released "You and Me" with Italian DJ/producer Anfisa Letyago. 

Music is just one of Moby’s many creative ventures. He wrote and directed Punk Rock Vegan Movie as well as writing and starring in his homemade documentary, Moby Doc. The two films are produced by his production company, Little Walnut, which also makes music videos, shorts and the podcast "Moby Pod." Moby and co-host Lindsay Hicks have an eclectic array of guests, from actor Joe Manganiello to Ed Begley, Jr., Steve-O and Hunter Biden. The podcast interviews have led to "some of the most meaningful interpersonal experiences," Moby tells GRAMMY.com. 

A upcoming episode of "Moby Pod" dedicated to Play was taped live over two evenings at Los Angeles’ Masonic Lodge at Hollywood Forever Cemetery. The episode focuses on Moby recounting his singular experiences around the unexpected success of that album — particularly considering the abject failure of his previous album, Animal Rights. The narrative was broken up by acoustic performances of songs from Play, as well as material from Always Centered at Night (which arrives June 14) with special guest Lady Blackbird. Prior to the taping, Moby spoke to GRAMMY.com about both albums. 

'Always centered at night' started as a label imprint then became the title of your latest album. How did that happen? 

I realized pretty quickly that I just wanted to make music and not necessarily worry about being a label boss. Why make more busy work for myself?

The first few songs were this pandemic process of going to SoundCloud, Spotify, YouTube and asking people for recommendations to find voices that I wasn’t familiar with, and then figuring out how to get in touch with them. The vast majority of the time, they would take the music I sent them and write something phenomenal.

That's the most interesting part of working with singers you've never met: You don't know what you're going to get. My only guidance was: Let yourself be creative, let yourself be idiosyncratic, let the lyrics be poetic. We're not writing for a pop audience, we don't need to dumb it down. Although, apparently Lady Blackbird is one of Taylor Swift's favorite singers 

Guiding the collaborators away from pop music is an unusual directive, although perhaps not for you? 

What is both sad and interesting is pop has come to dominate the musical landscape to such an extent that it seems a lot of musicians don't know they're allowed to do anything else. Some younger people have grown up with nothing but pop music. Danaé Wellington, who sings "Wild Flame," her first pass of lyrics were pop. I went back to her and said, "Please be yourself, be poetic." And she said, "Well, that’s interesting because I’m the poet laureate of Manchester." So getting her to disregard pop lyrics and write something much more personal and idiosyncratic was actually easy and really special. 

You certainly weren’t going in the pop direction when making 'Play,' but it ended up being an extremely popular album. Did you have a feeling it was going to blow up the way it did?

I have a funny story. I had a date in January 1999 in New York. We went out drinking and I had just gotten back the mastered version of Play. We're back at my apartment, and before our date became "grown up," we listened to the record from start to finish. She actually liked it. And I thought, Huh, that's interesting. I didn't think anyone was going to like this record. 

You didn’t feel anything different during the making of 'Play?'

I knew to the core of my being that Play was going to be a complete, abject failure. There was no doubt in my mind whatsoever. It was going to be my last record and it was going to fail. That was the time of people going into studios and spending half a million dollars. It was Backstreet Boys and Limp Bizkit and NSYNC; big major label records that were flawlessly produced. Play was made literally in my bedroom. 

I slept under the stairs like Harry Potter in my loft on Mott Street. I had one bedroom and that's where I made the record on the cheapest of cheap equipment held up literally on milk crates. Two of the songs were recorded to cassette, that's how cheap the record was. It was this weird record made by a has-been, a footnote from the early rave days. There was no world where I thought it was going to be even slightly successful. Daniel Miller from Mute said — and I remember this very clearly — "I think this record might sell over 50,000 copies." And I said, "That’s kind of you to say but let's admit that this is going to be a failure. Thank you for releasing my last record."  

Was your approach in making 'Play' different from other albums? 

The record I had made before Play, Animal Rights, was this weird, noisy metal punk industrial record that almost everybody hated. I remember this moment so vividly: I was playing Glastonbury in 1998 and it was one of those miserable Glastonbury years. When it's good, it's paradise; it's really special. But the first time I played, it was disgusting, truly. A foot and a half of mud everywhere, incessant rain and cold. I was telling my manager that I wanted to make another punk rock metal record. And he said the most gentle thing, "I know you enjoy making punk rock and metal. People really enjoy when you make electronic music." 

The way he said it, he wasn't saying, "You would help your career by making electronic music." He simply said, "People enjoy it." If I had been my manager, I would have said, "You're a f—ing idiot. Everyone hated that record. What sort of mental illness and masochism is compelling you to do it again?" Like Freud said, the definition of mental illness is doing the same thing and expecting different results. But his response was very emotional and gentle and sweet, and that got through to me. I had this moment where I realized, I can make music that potentially people will enjoy that will make them happy. Why not pursue that? 

That was what made me not spend my time in ‘98 making an album inspired by Sepultura and Pantera and instead make something more melodic and electronic. 

After years of swearing off touring, what’s making you hit stages this summer? 

I love playing live music. If you asked me to come over and play Neil Young songs in your backyard, I would say yes happily, in a second. But going on tour, the hotels and airports and everything, I really dislike it.  

My manager tricked me. He found strategically the only way to get me to go on tour was to give the money to animal rights charities. My philanthropic Achilles heel. The only thing that would get me to go on tour. It's a brief tour of Europe, pretty big venues, which is interesting for an old guy, but when the tour ends, I will have less money than when the tour begins. 

Your DJ sets are great fun. Would you consider doing DJ dates locally? 

Every now and then I’ll do something. But there’s two problems. As I've become very old and very sober, I go to sleep at 9 p.m. This young guy I was helping who was newly sober, he's a DJ. He was doing a DJ set in L.A. and he said, "You should come down. There's this cool underground scene." I said, "Great! What time are you playing?" And he said "I’m going on at 1 a.m." By that point I've been asleep for almost five hours.

I got invited to a dinner party recently that started at 8 p.m. and I was like, "What are you on? Cocaine in Ibiza? You're having dinner at 8 p.m.  What craziness is that? That’s when you're putting on your soft clothes and watching a '30 Rock' rerun before bed. That's not going out time." And the other thing is, unfortunately, like a lot of middle aged or elderly musicians, I have a little bit of tinnitus so I have to be very cautious around loud music.

Are you going to write a third memoir at any point? 

Only when I figure out something to write. It's definitely not going to be anecdotes about sobriety because my anecdotes are: woke up at 5 a.m., had a smoothie, read The New York Times, lamented the fact that people are voting for Trump, went for a hike, worked on music, played with Bagel the dog, worked on music some more went to sleep, good night. It would be so repetitive and boring. 

It has to be something about lived experience and wisdom. But I don't know if I've necessarily gotten to the point where I have good enough lived experience and wisdom to share with anyone. Maybe if I get to that point, I'll probably be wrong, but nonetheless, that would warrant maybe writing another book.

 Machinedrum's New Album '3FOR82' Taps Into The Spirit Of His Younger Years 

 

 

Billie Eilish performs at Lollapalooza Chile 2023.
Billie Eilish performs at Lollapalooza Chile 2023

Photo: Marcelo Hernandez/Getty Images

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The Environmental Impact Of Touring: How Scientists, Musicians & Nonprofits Are Trying To Shrink Concerts' Carbon Footprint

"It’s not just [about] a single tour, it’s every tour," singer Brittany Howard says of efforts to make concerts more sustainable. From the nonprofit that partnered with Billie Eilish, to an MIT initiative, the music industry aims to curb climate change.

GRAMMYs/Jun 10, 2024 - 01:30 pm

Beloved by fans around the globe, yet increasingly unaffordable for many artists, concert tours are central to the world of entertainment and local economies. After the pandemic-era global shuttering of concert venues large and small, tours are back, and bigger than ever.  

Taylor Swift’s Eras Tour is smashing records, selling more than four million tickets and earning more than $1 billion. But that tour made headlines for another reason: as reported in Business Insider and other outlets, for a six-month period in 2023, Swift’s two jets spent a combined 166 hours in the air between concerts, shuttling at most a total of 28 passengers. 

Against that backdrop, heightened concerns about the global environmental cost of concert touring have led a number of prominent artists to launch initiatives. Those efforts seek both to mitigate the negative effects of touring and communicate messages about sustainability to concertgoers. 

A 2023 study sponsored by Texas-based electricity provider Payless Power found that the carbon footprint of many touring bands was massive. In 2022, concert tours in five genres — country, classic rock, hip-hop/rap, metal and pop — were responsible for CO2 emissions totaling nearly 45,000 metric tons. A so-called greenhouse gas, carbon dioxide contributes to climate change by radiative forcing; increased levels of CO2 also contribute to health problems.  

No serious discussion of climate issues suggests a worldwide halt to live music touring, but there exists much room for improvement. Both on their own and with the help of dedicated nonprofit organizations, many artists are taking positive steps toward mitigating the deleterious effects that touring exerts upon the environment.  

Smart tour planning is one way to lessen an artist’s carbon footprint. Ed Sheeran’s 2022 European run minimized flights between concert venues, making that leg of his tour the year's most environmentally efficient. Total carbon dioxide emissions (from flights and driving) on Sheeran’s tour came to less than 150 metric tons. In contrast, Dua Lipa’s tour during the same period generated 12 times as much — more than 1800 metric tons — of CO2 

In July, singer/songwriter and four-time GRAMMY nominee Jewel will embark on her first major tour in several years, alongside GRAMMY winner Melissa Etheridge. During the planning stage for the 28-city tour, Jewel suggested an idea that could reduce the tour’s carbon footprint.

"I always thought it was so silly and so wasteful — and so carbon footprint-negative — to have separate trucks, separate lighting, separate crews, separate hotel rooms, separate costs," Jewel says. She pitched the idea of sharing a backing band with Etheridge. "I’ve been trying to do this for 25 years," Jewel says with a laugh. "Melissa is the first person who took me up on it!" 

The changes will not only reduce the tour’s carbon footprint, but they’ll also lessen the cost of taking the shows on the road. Acknowledging that there are many opportunities to meet the challenges of touring’s negative impact upon the environment, Jewel emphasizes that “you have to find [solutions] that work for you.”

Sheeran and Jewel aren’t the only popular artists trying to make a difference. A number of high profile artists have become actively involved in creating the momentum for positive change. Those artists believe that their work on sustainability issues goes hand in hand with their role as public figures. Their efforts take two primary forms: making changes themselves, andadvocating for action among their fans.  

The Climate Machine 

Norhan Bayomi is an Egypt-born environmental scientist at Massachusetts Institute of Technology and a key member of the Environmental Solutions Initiative, a program launched to address sustainable climate action. She’s also a recording artist in the trance genre, working under the name Nourey 

The ESI collaborates with industry heavyweights Live Nation, Warner Music Group and others as well with touring/recording acts like Coldplay to examine the carbon footprint of the music industry. A key component of the ESI is the Climate Machine, a collaborative research group that seeks to help the live music industry reduce carbon emissions. "As a research institution, we bring technologies and analytics to understand, in the best way possible, the actual impact of the music industry upon climate change," says John Fernández, Director of the ESI.  

"I’m very interested in exploring ways that we can bridge between environmental science, climate change and music fans," Bayomi says. She explains that the tools at the ESI’s disposal include "virtual reality, augmented reality and generative AI," media forms that can communicate messages to music fans and concertgoers. Fernández says that those endeavors are aimed at "enlisting, enabling and inspiring people to get engaged in climate change." 

The Environmental Solutions Initiative cites Coldplay as a high-profile success. The band and its management issued an "Emissions Update" document in June 2024, outlining its success at achieving their goal of reducing direct carbon emissions from show production, freight, band and crew travel. The established target was a 50 percent cut in emissions compared to Coldplay’s previous tour; the final result was a 59 percent reduction between their 2022-23 tour and 2016-17 tour.  

A significant part of that reduction came as a result of a renewable-energy based battery system that powers audio and lights. The emissions data in the update was reviewed and independently validated by MIT’s Fernández.  

Change Is Reverberating 

Guitarist Adam Gardner is a founding member of Massachusetts-based indie rockers Guster, but he's more than just a singer in a rock band. Gardner is also the co-founder of REVERB, one of the organizations at the forefront of developing and implementing climate-focused sustainability initiatives.  

Founded in 2004 by Gardner and his wife, environmental activist Lauren Sullivan, REVERB  began with a goal of making touring more sustainable; over the years its focus has expanded to promote industry-wide changes. Today, the organization promotes sustainability throughout the industry  in partnership with music artists, concert venues and festivals.  

REVERB initiatives have included efforts to eliminate single-use plastics at the California Roots Music & Arts Festival, clean energy projects in cooperation with Willie Nelson and Billie Eilish, and efforts with other major artists. Gardner has seen sustainability efforts grow over two decades 

"It’s really amazing to see the [change] with artists, with venues, with fans," Gardner says. "Today, people are not just giving lip service to sustainable efforts; they really want to do things that are real and measurable."  

The Music Decarbonization Project is one tangible example of REVERB’s successes. "Diesel power is one of the dirtiest sources of power," Gardner explains. "And it’s an industry standard to power festival stages with diesel generators." Working with Willie Nelson, the organization helped switch the power sources at his annual Luck Reunion to clean energy. At last year’s festival, Nelson’s headlining stage drew 100 percent of its power from solar-powered batteries. "We set up a temporary solar farm," Gardner says, "and the main stage didn’t have to use any diesel power."  

Billie Eilish was another early supporter of the initiative. "She helped us launch the program," Gardner says. Eilish’s set at Lollapallooza 2023 drew power from solar batteries, too.  

With such high-profile successes as a backdrop, Gardner believes that REVERB is poised to do even more to foster sustainable concerts and touring. "Our role now," he says, "isn’t just, ‘Hey, think about this stuff.’ It’s more how do we push farther, faster?"  

Adam Gardner believes that musicians are uniquely positioned to help make a difference where issues of sustainability are concerned. "When you’re a musician, you’re connecting with fans heart-to-heart. That’s what moves people. And that’s where the good stuff happens."  

Small-scale, individual changes can make a difference — especially when they’re coordinated and amplified among other concertgoers. Gardner provides real-world examples. "Instead of buying a plastic bottle, I brought my reusable and filled it up. Maybe I carpooled to the show." Conceding that such steps might seem like drops of water in a giant pool, he emphasizes the power of scale. "When you actually multiply [those things for] just one summer tour, it adds up," he says. "And it reminds people, ‘You’re not alone in this; you’re part of a community that’s taking action."  

Gardner understands that REVERB’s arguments have to be framed the right way to reach concertgoers. "Look," he admits, "It’s a concert. We’re not here to be a buzzkill. Our [aim] now is making sure people don’t lose hope." He says that REVERB and its partners seek to demonstrate that, with collective action and cultural change, there is reason for optimism.  

"There’s a wonderful feedback loop between hope and action," Gardner says with a smile. "You can’t really have one without the other."  

Sustainable Partnerships 

Tanner Watt is Director of Partnerships at REVERB; he works directly with touring artists to develop, coordinate and implement initiatives that bring together his organization’s objectives and the specific personal concerns of the artists. "I get to come up with all the fun, big ideas," he says with a wide smile.  

Watt acknowledges that like every concertgoer, each touring artist has a certain level of responsibility where sustainability is concerned. "And everyone can be doing something," he says, noting a number of straightforward actions that artists can put in place while on tour. "They can eliminate single-use waste. They can donate hotel toiletries that [would otherwise] hit the landfill."  

Watt stresses that artists can lead by example. "Nobody wants to listen to an artist telling them what to do if they’re not doing it themselves," he says. "But we believe that everybody cares about something." He suggests that if an artist has cultivated a following, "Why not use [that platform] to be that change you want to see in the world?"  

Each artist has his or her own specific areas of concern, but Watt says that there’s a base level of "greening" that takes place on every REVERB-affiliated tour. Where things go from there is up to the artist, in coordination with REVERB. Watt mentions Billie Eilish and her tour’s sustainability commitment. "The Venn diagram of food security, community health, access to healthy food, and the impact on the planet is a big cause for her," he says. "So there’s plant-based catering for her entire crew, across the entire tour." 

Speaking to Billboard, Eilish's mother Maggie Baird said championing sustainability starts with artists. "If artists are interested, it does really start with them telling their teams that they care and that it’s foremost in their thoughts." In the same conversation, Eilish called the battle for sustainability "a never-ending f–king fight."  

Watt acknowledges that with so many challenges, it’s important for a concerned artist to focus on the issues that move them the most, and where they can make the biggest difference. "Jack Johnson is a great example," he says. While Johnson is a vocal advocate for many environmental issues, on tour he focuses on two (in Watt’s words) "cause umbrellas": single-use plastics solutions and sustainable community food systems. Each show on the tour hosts tables representing local nonprofit organizations, presenting concertgoers with real-world, human-scale solutions to those specific challenges.  

Four-time GRAMMY winner Brittany Howard is another passionate REVERB partner. "Knowing that I wanted to make my tours more sustainable was a start," she tells GRAMMY.com, "but working with REVERB really helped me bring it to life on the road. REVERB has helped us with guidelines and a green rider to keep our stage, greenrooms and buses more sustainable." 

After listing several other specific ways that her tour supports sustainability, Howard notes, "By supporting these efforts, I am helping ensure future generations have access to clean water, fish, and all that I love about the outdoors." A dollar from every ticket sold to a Brittany Howard concert goes toward support of REVERB’s Music Decarbonization project. "I’m also excited to see industry-wide efforts that are reducing the carbon pollution of live music," Howard continues. "Because it’s not just [about] a single tour, it’s every tour." 

There’s a popular aphorism: "You can’t manage what you can’t measure." From its start, REVERB has sought not only to promote change, but to measure its success. "As long as I’ve been at REVERB, we’ve issued impact reports," says Tanner Watt. "We include data points, and give the report to the artists so they understand what we’ve done together." He admits that some successes are more tangible than others, but that it’s helpful to focus on the ones that can be quantified. "We’re very excited that our artists share those with their fans."  

Watt is clear-eyed at the challenges that remain. "Even the word ‘sustainable’ can be misleading," he concedes, suggesting that the only truly sustainable tour is the one that doesn’t happen. "But if folks don’t step it up and change the way we do business in every industry — not just ours — we’re going to get to a place where we’re forced to make sacrifices that aren’t painless." Getting that message across is REVERB’s aim. "We can’t stop the world," Watt says. "So we find ways to approach these things positively."  

Watt says that the fans at concerts featuring Jack Johnson and the Dave Matthews Band — both longtime REVERB partners — are already on board with many of the sustainability-focused initiatives which those artists promote. "But there are lots of artists — and lots of fan bases — out there that aren’t messaged to, or have been mis-messaged to," he says. "I’m really excited to find more ways to expand our reach to them, beyond mainstream pop music. Because these are conversations that are meaningful for everyone, regardless of political affiliation or other beliefs."  

Reimagining The Planet’s Future 

Singer, songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Adam Met does more than front AJR, the indie pop trio he founded in 2005 with brothers Jack and Ryan. Met has a PhD in sustainable development and is a climate activist; he's also the founder/Executive Director of Planet Reimagined, a nonprofit that promotes sustainability and activism through its work with businesses, other organizations and musicians.  

"I’ve spent years traveling around the world, seeing the direct impact of climate change," Met says. He cites two recent and stark examples. "When we pulled up to a venue in San Francisco, the band had to wear gas masks going from the bus into the venue, because of forest fires," he says. AJR’s road crew had to contend with a flash flood in Athens, Greece that washed out their hotel. "And in Rome, some of our crew members fainted because of the heat."  

Encouraged by representatives from the United Nations, Met launched Planet Reimagined. Met’s approach focuses on tailored, city-specific actions to empower fans and amplify diverse voices in the climate movement. Through social media and live shows, Met strives to galvanize climate activism among AJR fans. And the methods he has developed can be implemented by other touring artists.  

Met points out that one of the most climate-unfriendly parts of the entire concert tour enterprise is fans traveling to and from the concerts. And that’s something over which the artist has little or no control. What they can do, he says, is try to educate and influence. Working closely with Ticketmaster and other stakeholders, Met’s nonprofit initiated a study — conducted from July to December 2023, with results published in April 2024 — to explore the energy that happens at concerts. "In sociology," he explains, "that energy is called collective effervescence." The study’s goal is to find ways to channel that energy toward advocacy and action.  

Polling a quarter million concertgoers across musical genres, the study collected data on attitudes about climate change. "Seventy-three percent of fans who attend concerts believe that climate change is real, and that we need to be doing more about it," Met says. "Seventy-eight percent have already taken some sort of action in their lives." He believes that if his organization can activate even a fraction of the estimated 250 million people annually who attend concerts around the globe, "that’s the ballgame."  

Met’s goal is to do more than, say, get concertgoers to switch from plastic to paper drinking straws. "At scale those things make a difference. But people want to see actions where there’s a track record," he says; a return on investment.  

AJR will be putting a plan into action on the second half of their upcoming arena tour. Part of the initiative is encouraging concertgoers to register to vote, and then actually vote. Beyond that, Met has specific actions in mind. "At every single stop, we’re putting together materials around specific policies that are being debated at the local level," he explains. "We give people a script right there, so they can call their elected representative and say, ‘I want you to vote [a certain way on this issue].’"  

He believes the initiative will lead to thousands of people contacting – and hopefully influencing – their representatives. With regard to sustainability issues, Met is convinced that "the most impact that you can have as an artist is when you give fans ways to pick up the mantle themselves." 

Artists Who Are Going On Tour In 2024: The Rolling Stones, Drake, Olivia Rodrigo & More 

 

Michael Sticka, President/CEO of the GRAMMY Museum, Lauryn Hill, and Jimmy Jam
(L-R): Michael Sticka, President/CEO of the GRAMMY Museum, Lauryn Hill, and Jimmy Jam

Photo: Sarah Morris/Getty Images for The Recording Academy

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6 Key Highlights From The Inaugural GRAMMY Hall of Fame Gala Honoring Lauryn Hill, Donna Summer, Atlantic Records & Many More

The Recording Academy and GRAMMY Museum celebrated music's legacy with tributes to Charley Pride, Wanda Jackson, Buena Vista Social Club, and more, featuring performances by Andra Day, The War and Treaty, and other musical greats.

GRAMMYs/May 23, 2024 - 12:34 am

Many years ago, veteran CBS journalist Anthony Mason lost his entire record collection when it disappeared in transit as he moved from one place to another. Mason was inconsolable, and you could still hear a tinge of sadness in his voice when he recounted this painful story at the inaugural GRAMMY Hall of Fame Gala, held on May 21 at the Novo Theater in Los Angeles. The evening’s eloquent and entertaining host, Mason was making a point with his personal anecdote of lost records: music is priceless, one of our most treasured possessions — both as individuals and as a community. Preserving its legacy is essential.

It’s been over 50 years since the GRAMMY Hall of Fame was established by the Recording Academy's National Trustees to honor records of deep historical significance that are at least 25 years old. This year, the Recording Academy and the GRAMMY Museum paid tribute to 10 newly inducted recordings (four albums and six singles) by artists including De La Soul, Lauryn Hill, Buena Vista Social Club, Donna Summer, Guns 'N Roses, Charley Pride, Kid Ory’s Creole Orchestra, the Doobie Brothers, William Bell, Wanda Jackson, and Atlantic Records, the annual Gala's inaugural label honoree. 

The first Hall of Fame Gala was a dazzling event presented by City National Bank, complete with guest speakers and performances by Andra Day, The War and Treaty, William Bell, Elle King, and HANSON covering some of the inducted works. The event underscored the sumptuous variety that continues to define popular music, spanning the sounds of hip-hop, rock, country, R&B, disco, and even the venerable Cuban dance music of decades past.

Here are six takeaway points from an evening marked by celebration and transcendent musical memories.

Donna Summer’s “I Feel Love” Has Lost None Of Its Edge

Studious music fans are well aware that “I Feel Love” — written by Donna Summer with visionary Italian producer Giorgio Moroder and British songwriter Pete Bellotte — is a shimmering disco gem, a futuristic precursor to the entire EDM genre. What was stunning about the Gala performance of the track by singer and actress Andra Day is how edgy and fresh the 1977 track still sounds today. Day’s ethereal reading was appropriately hypnotic, with live drums, nebulous synth textures and glorious, three-part vocal harmonies.

The Future Of American Music Is In Good Hands With The War and Treaty

Formed by husband and wife Michael Trotter Jr. and Tanya Trotter, The War and Treaty were rightfully nominated for Best New Artist at the 2024 GRAMMYs earlier this year. The duo’s electrifying combination of Americana, gospel, and rock is especially effective on a live stage, and the pair delivered a memorable rendition of Charley Pride's inducted Hall Of Fame country hit, “Kiss an Angel Good Mornin’,” recorded in 1971. The War and Treaty also received a standing ovation later in the evening for their performance of Ray Charles' classic, "What'd I Say," released in 1959.

26 Years Later, The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill Is Still Ahead Of Its Time

Released in August 1998, The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill sold more than 10 million copies in the U.S. alone, and became the first hip-hop artist to win Album Of The Year at the 1999 GRAMMYs. At the Gala, Andra Day delighted the audience — including Lauryn Hill and her family — with a soulful version of hidden track “Can’t Take My Eyes Off You,” originally a Frankie Valli hit from 1967. Day's performance was marked by brassy accents and funky bass lines, creating an unapologetically lush rendition that mirrored the sonic richness of Hill's original take.

Read more: Revisiting 'The Miseducation Of Lauryn Hill': Why The Multiple GRAMMY-Winning Record Is Still Everything 25 Years Later

Atlantic Records Transformed The Face Of Global Culture

Celebrating 75 years of inaugural label honoree Atlantic Records in the span of a few minutes loomed like an impossible task, but the Gala producers paid tribute to the legacy label well. Beginning with a short video, the event segment highlighted the miraculous roster assembled by Ahmet Ertegun and Herb Abramson that included Ray Charles, Aretha Franklin, Led Zeppelin, ABBA, Phil Collins, and Bruno Mars — to name just a few. But it was the actual performances that highlighted the label’s hold on pop culture: Ravyn Lenae’s breathy take on Roberta Flack’s “Killing Me Softly With His Song” made a case for considering the 1973 hit as one of the most vulnerable recordings of all time. On the other side of the dynamic spectrum, the epic rendition of Led Zeppelin’s “Stairway to Heaven” by alt-rock quartet Shinedown was appropriately intense.

The Wondrous Legacy Of Stax Records Should Not Be Underestimated

The home of such legendary artists as Otis Redding, The Staple Singers and Carla Thomas, Memphis-based Stax Records developed a rich, ragged sound with gospel, blues, R&B and luminous pop as its foundational pillars. Currently the subject of an HBO documentary series, "Stax: Soulsville USA," the record label defined American music during the ‘60s and ‘70s. Memphis singer/songwriter William Bell was one of its most prolific artists, and he regaled guests with a performance of his Hall of Fame inducted debut 1961 single, “You Don’t Miss Your Water.” At 84 years of age — and the winner of a Best Americana Album at the 2017 GRAMMYs — Bell was in rare form, and the band backed him up seamlessly, reproducing the sinuous organ lines of the original.

Read more: 1968: A Year Of Change For The World, Memphis & Stax Records

Future Editions Of The Gala Will Continue To Surprise And Delight

The inaugural GRAMMY Hall of Fame Gala set a high standard for future celebrations of iconic recordings. The event proved to be fertile ground for the creation of indelible music moments, showcasing the beauty and authority of music across genres and generations. Other honored Hall of Fame inducted recordings including De La Soul’s 3 Feet High And Rising, Guns’N’Roses Appetite For Destruction, the Buena Vista Social Club’s debut, Wanda Jackson’s “Let’s Have A Party,” Kid Ory’s Creole Orchestra’s “Ory’s Creole Trombone” and The Doobie Brothers’ “What A Fool Believes.”  

As we look ahead, the excitement for future Galas grows, with each event promising to honor more historic recordings, and uphold the tradition of celebrating excellence in music's rich legacy.

Explore The 2024 GRAMMY Hall Of Fame Inducted Recordings: Lauryn Hill, Guns N' Roses, De La Soul, Donna Summer & Many More

Explore The 2024 GRAMMY Hall Of Fame Inductees

The Recording Academy revealed the 2024 inducted recordings to the distinguished GRAMMY Hall Of Fame on its 50th anniversary. Graphic shows all of the 10 recordings newly inducted into the GRAMMY Hall of Fame.
The GRAMMY Museum's inaugural GRAMMY Hall Of Fame Gala and concert presented by City National Bank on May 21, 2024 at the NOVO Theater in Los Angeles.

Image courtesy of the GRAMMY Museum

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Explore The 2024 GRAMMY Hall Of Fame Inducted Recordings: Lauryn Hill, Guns N' Roses, De La Soul, Donna Summer & Many More

Learn more about the 2024 GRAMMY Hall of Fame inducted recordings, including iconic works by Buena Vista Social Club, Charley Pride, Wanda Jackson, and more. The inaugural GRAMMY Hall of Fame Gala takes place May 21 at the Novo Theater in Los Angeles.

GRAMMYs/May 21, 2024 - 12:46 am

As the GRAMMY Hall of Fame celebrates its 50th anniversary, the Recording Academy and GRAMMY Museum are proud to honor the 2024 inductees with the inaugural GRAMMY Hall of Fame Gala, presented by City National Bank, taking place Tuesday, May 21, at the Novo Theater in Los Angeles. This year, the GRAMMY Hall of Fame will induct 10 recordings: four albums and six singles.

This year's class of inductees highlights the diversity and historical significance of recordings that have shaped the musical landscape. From Lauryn Hill's groundbreaking album The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill to the electrifying Appetite For Destruction by Guns N' Roses, the selected recordings span genres and eras and showcase the lasting impact of these timeless works. Other notable inductees include De La Soul's 3 Feet High and Rising, Buena Vista Social Club's self-titled album, and singles by Donna Summer, Charley Pride, Wanda Jackson, Kid Ory's Creole Orchestra, the Doobie Brothers, and William Bell.

The GRAMMY Hall Of Fame Gala promises an unforgettable night, featuring performances that pay tribute to the newly inducted recordings. Artists such as Andra Day, William Bell, Elle King, and HANSON will bring these iconic songs to life while celebrating the rich heritage of the music honored this year. Hosted by veteran CBS journalist Anthony Mason, the evening will also recognize the contributions of Atlantic Records and feature an online auction benefiting the GRAMMY Museum.

The GRAMMY Hall Of Fame was established by the Recording Academy's National Trustees in 1973 to honor recordings of lasting qualitative or historical significance that are at least 25 years old. The inducted recordings are selected annually by a special member committee of eminent and knowledgeable professionals from all branches of the recording arts with final ratification by the Recording Academy's National Board of Trustees. There are currently 1,152 inducted recordings in the GRAMMY Hall Of Fame. Explore the full list of all the GRAMMY Hall Of Fame inducted recordings.

Join us as we honor the 2024 GRAMMY Hall of Fame inductees and celebrate the recordings that continue to resonate with listeners around the world by exploring the newly inducted works in depth below.

Tickets for the inaugural GRAMMY Hall of Fame Gala are available now.

Explore The 2024 GRAMMY Hall Of Fame Inductees

De La Soul, 3 Feet High And Rising

Tommy Boy Records, 1989

Celebrating its 35th anniversary in 2024, 3 Feet High and Rising is the debut studio album from Long Island, New York-born hip-hop trio De La Soul. Released on Tommy Boy Records in 1989 — considered one of the years during hip-hop’s "Golden Age" — and produced by legendary DJ and hip-hop producer Prince Paul, the album was a critical and commercial success. Featuring samples that draw on a vast array of genres — from doo-wop and psychedelic rock to children’s music — the album was unlike any hip-hop album that came before it. Melding inventive production with clever and humorous wordplay and samples from artists as diverse as Johnny Cash (the title of the album is derived from the Cash song "Five Feet High and Rising"), Hall & Oates, Steely Dan, and the Turtles, 3 Feet High And Rising is often considered the beginning of 1990s alternative hip-hop. De La Soul’s use of skits/comedy sketches as interludes also had a huge influence on future generations of rappers. In a review of the album for The Village Voice in 1989, music critic Robert Christgau wrote, "An inevitable development in the class history of rap, [De La Soul is] new wave to Public Enemy’s punk."

Featuring the singles "The Magic Number," "Buddy," "Eye Know," and the GRAMMY-nominated "Me Myself and I," 3 Feet High and Rising spent five weeks at No. 1 on the Billboard Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums chart. "Buddy" is one of the album’s hallmark songs and features cameos from Q-Tip, Phife Dawg, Jungle Brothers, Queen Latifah, and Monie Love — who are collectively known as the Native Tongues (along with Black Sheep, the Beatnuts and Chi Ali). 

The platinum-certified record consistently places on lists of the greatest albums of all time, including in 2023 when Paste magazine featured it at No. 4 on their list of the Greatest Debut Albums of the 1980s. In 2010 it was selected by the Library of Congress for preservation in the National Recording Registry. 3 Feet High and Rising has influenced countless artists, from the Roots and Yasiin Bey to OutKast and Common. With the album's undeniably trailblazing release, Posdnuos, Trugoy the Dove and Pasemaster Mase of De La Soul have cemented themselves as one of the best rap groups of all time. 



Kelvin "Posdnuos" Mercer – Artist/Songwriter

David "Trugoy the Dove" Jolicoeur – Artist/Songwriter

Vincent "Maseo" Mason – Artist/Songwriter

"Prince Paul" Huston – Producer/Engineer/Songwriter

Alan Watts – Engineer/Mixer


Guns N’ Roses, Appetite For Destruction

Geffen, 1987

Guns N’ Roses’ Appetite For Destruction LP will go down in history as one of the most iconic and influential rock albums ever made. But when it was released in the summer of 1987, Appetite didn’t initially garner much mainstream attention. Once the band hit the road in support of the album, singles "Welcome to the Jungle", "Paradise City" and "Sweet Child O' Mine" started getting significant airplay. By the summer of 1988, the band found themselves with a No. 1 album on the Billboard 200. Appetite For Destruction became the best-selling album of all time in the U.S. and the best-selling debut album. In a review for Pitchfork, Maura Johnston said, "The debut from Guns N' Roses was a watershed moment in '80s rock that chronicled every vice of Los Angeles led by the lye-voiced Axl Rose and a legendary, switchblade-sharp band."


Produced by Mike Clink, Appetite for Destruction is widely considered a near perfect album where the deep cuts are just as good as the hits. From the opening roar of "Welcome to the Jungle" and the iconic "Sweet Child O’ Mine," to "It's So Easy," "Nightrain," "You're Crazy," and "Mr. Brownstone," the album is an artistic triumph in sound, songwriting and production, earning its place at No. 62 on Rolling Stone’s list of the 500 Greatest Albums of All Time. In many ways, the album changed the world. In a 2018 article for Revolver, Dan Epstein noted that Appetite ushered in a new wave of bands like the Black Crowes with its "blues-based music played by an unflashy yet hard-swinging rhythm section, a rock-solid rhythm guitarist, a flashy-but-soulful lead player and a charismatic vocalist who exuded danger and decadence." It also paved the way for Nirvana and the arrival of grunge as rock fans’ "ears were primed for more raw, real and rebellious hard rock." Now, nearly 40 years since its release, Appetite for Destruction has sold over 30 million copies worldwide and is without a doubt one of the most successful debut albums of all time.

Axl Rose – Artist/Songwriter

Slash – Artist/Songwriter

Duff McKagan – Artist/Songwriter

Steven Adler – Artist/Songwriter

Izzy Stradlin – Artist/Songwriter

Mike Clink – Engineer/Producer

Steve Thompson – Mixer


Buena Vista Social Club, Buena Vista Social Club

World Circuit/Nonesuch, 1997 

In 1996, a group of veteran Cuban musicians was assembled to record an album that would pay tribute to Cuba’s "musical golden age" of the 1930s to 1950s. Showcasing styles of music that were popular at the time, such as son, bolero and danzón, the group became known as the Buena Vista Social Club, named after a 1940s-era members-only music club that was located in the Buenavista quarter of Havana. Organized by British music producer and executive Nick Gold and produced by GRAMMY-winning American guitarist Ry Cooder and Cuban director Juan de Marcos Gonzalez, Buena Vista Social Club recorded their eponymous 14-track debut album in just six days. Released in September 1997, the album featured 20 of Cuba’s most prominent musicians, including vocalist Ibrahim Ferrer (1927–2005), pianist Rubén González (1919–2003), and vocalist/guitarist Compay Segundo (1907–2003). Buena Vista Social Club was an instant hit with tracks such as the four-chord song "Chan Chan," written by Segundo, and a rendition of the romantic criolla "La Bayamesa." Everything fell into place at the right time for this album — from the chemistry between the musicians to the rich music history of Havana — to create one of the moments that can only be described as pure musical magic. Buena Vista Social Club sold more than 1 million copies, earned a spot on the Billboard 200, and won the GRAMMY Award for Best Tropical Latin Performance. 

In 1998 the ensemble held performances in Amsterdam and New York that were captured on film by German director Wim Wenders. Along with interviews with musicians that were conducted in Havana, a documentary, titled Buena Vista Social Club, was released in 1999 and earned an Oscar nomination for Best Documentary (Feature). In 2003, Buena Vista Social Club was named on Rolling Stone’s list of the 500 Greatest Albums of All Time, and in 2022, it was selected by the Library of Congress for preservation in the National Recording Registry. Further cementing its place in the music history books, Buena Vista Social Club was recognized by Guinness World Records as the best-selling album of world music with more than 8 million copies sold worldwide.

Ry Cooder – Leader/Producer

Juan Demarcos Gonzalez – Director

Larry Hirsch – Engineer

Jerry Boys – Engineer/Mixer


Donna Summer, "I Feel Love"

Casablanca, 1977

When the Queen of Disco, Donna Summer, released her hit single "I Feel Love" in 1977, it propelled Brian Eno (who was in the studio with David Bowie at the time) to rush in and declare, "This single is going to change the sound of club music for the next 15 years." Now, more than 40 years after its release, "I Feel Love" definitely changed something – it changed pop music forever. Recorded with producers Giorgio Moroder and Pete Bellotte, the goal was to create a song that signified the future — and it did. "I Feel Love" was the first song to pair repetitive synthesizer loops with four-on the-floor bass drum and an off-beat hi-hat, helping to forge the path for synth pop, New Romantics, Italo disco, Hi-NRG, electro, house, techno, and more. Along the way, the global smash influenced countless artists, including Blondie, who became one of the first punk-associated groups to embrace disco, releasing "Heart of Glass" the following year.

Upon its release, "I Feel Love" reached No. 1 in several countries, including the UK, and peaked in the Top 10 on the Billboard 200. In 2012, the Library of Congress selected it for preservation in the National Recording Registry. Many of today’s biggest artists have paid tribute to Summer’s groundbreaking track with covers or samples, including Madonna, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Bronski Beat, and Beyoncé, the latter of whom samples "I Feel Love" on "Summer Renaissance," the closing track on her 2022 GRAMMY-winning album Renaissance. To this day, "I Feel Love" is considered the No. 1 greatest dance song of all time (Rolling Stone).

The song's impact on the LGBTQ+ community is equally as great as its impact on the dance community. GRAMMY-winning artist Sam Smith, who released a cover of "I Feel Love" in 2019, wrote on X: "As a queer person, ‘I Feel Love’ has followed me to every dance floor in every queer space from the minute I started clubbing. This song, to me, is an anthem of our community." In 2023, Pride Life Global ranked the track as one of the best gay anthems. 

Donna Summer – Artist/Songwriter

Giorgio Moroder – Producer/Songwriter

Pete Bellotte – Producer/Songwriter

Jürgen Koppers – Artist/Songwriter


Charley Pride, "Kiss An Angel Good Mornin'"

RCA Victor, 1971

"Kiss An Angel Good Mornin’" is GRAMMY winner Charley Pride’s biggest hit of his career. Released in 1971 as the first single from his GRAMMY-winning album Charley Pride Sings Heart Songs, the song peaked at No. 21 on the Billboard Hot 100, his only single to break the Top 40. Considered one of Pride’s signature songs, the track marked his eighth single to top the Billboard Hot Country Songs chart and became one of the biggest country hits of the decade. "Kiss An Angel Good Mornin’" was produced by Cowboy Jack Clement (Waylon Jennings, Willie Nelson, Dolly Parton) and written by Ben Peters, who got the inspiration for the song after he and his wife Jackie welcomed their daughter Angela. It’s a song purely about love and a slight departure from Pride’s other hits, such as "I’m Just Me" and "I’d Rather Love You." In a 2021 article for CMT, Marcus K. Dowling writes, "The achievement of conveying life's simple joys with a magnificent voice over complex countrypolitan rhythms and melodies — instead of discussing complex emotions over those same types of tracks — is the greatest victory of Pride's signature song." The single also earned Pride a GRAMMY nomination for Best Country Vocal Performance, Male. Since its release, "Kiss An Angel Good Mornin’" has been covered by countless artists, including George Jones, Conway Twitty, Gene Stuart, and Roy Clark — all of whom released the song in 1972 — along with Percy Sledge, Alan Jackson and Heather Myles. 

When he signed with RCA in 1964, Pride became the first Black country music singer to get a major record label deal. He went on to have 29 No. 1 hits on the Billboard Hot Country Songs chart, selling more than 70 million records. When it comes to sales for RCA, he is second only to Elvis Presley. Though he passed away in December 2020, Pride’s impact on country music, especially Black country music artists, remains. His influence can be heard in the music of up-and-coming artists such as Brittney Spencer, Mickey Guyton and Shy Carter. As country music’s first Black superstar, Pride and his warm baritone captivated audiences, broke racial and cultural barriers, and earned him an induction into the Grand Ole Opry in 1993.

Charley Pride – Artist

Jack Clement – Producer

Ben Peters – Songwriter

Ray Butts – Artist

Mike Shockley – Producer


Wanda Jackson, "Let's Have A Party"

Capitol, 1960

Originally recorded by Elvis Presley for the 1957 musical/romance film Loving You, "Let’s Have a Party" was recorded by Wanda Jackson and released on her eponymous debut album in 1958. After Jackson’s version of "Let’s Have a Party" was discovered by an Iowa disc jockey and received an increase in interest from radio listeners, Capitol Records encouraged Jackson to release the song as a single two years later in 1960. The song became a hit, making the Top 40 in the U.S. and topping the chart in the U.K. The success of "Let’s Have a Party" inspired Jackson to rename her band the Party Timers and Capitol subsequently released the compilation album, Rockin’ With Wanda that same year. As one of the first women to have a career in rock and roll, Jackson recorded a series of singles in the 1950s that helped earn her the nickname of The Queen of Rockabilly. It was Elvis, with whom she toured with in 1955, who encouraged her to record in the rockabilly style. 

 In 2005, Jackson received the Fellowship Award from the National Endowment for the Arts, becoming the first female country and rock artist to receive the honor. In 2009, after several artists advocated on her behalf — including Elvis Costello, Bruce Springsteen and Cyndi Lauper — Jackson was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Lauper has cited Jackson as one of her earliest influences, recording a cover of "Funnel of Love" for her 2016 album Detour. Other artists who have listed Jackson as an influence include Adele and Elle King. 

 Lauper told Rolling Stone in 2016: "I think for country you look at Patsy Cline or Loretta Lynn who played a guitar, or sang the songs she wrote, and Dolly Parton. But Wanda Jackson was a rocker, and so, of course, I was going to listen and learn from her because I was a rocker and that's what we did."

Jackson is also a member of the Rockabilly Hall of Fame, the Iowa Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, the Oklahoma Hall of Fame, and the Oklahoma Country Music Hall of Fame. In 2010, she was the recipient of the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Americana Music Honors. 



Wanda Jackson – Artist

Ken Nelson – Producer/Engineer

Jesse Mae Robinson – Songwriter


Kid Ory’s Creole Orchestra (As Spike’s Seven Pods Of Pepper Orchestra), "Ory's Creole Trombone"

Nordskog, 1922 

Louisiana-born composer, trombonist and bandleader Edward "Kid" Ory put New Orleans jazz on the map. Kid Ory’s 1922 hit "Ory’s Creole Trombone" was the first recording of Black/Creole New Orleans jazz. Recorded in Los Angeles, the single features Ory on trombone, along with Thomas "Papa Mutt" Carey on cornet, Oliver "Dink" Johnson on clarinet, Fred Washington on piano, Ed "Montudie" Garland on bass, and Ben Borders on drums. Upon release, the entire first pressing of 5,000 records sold out, leading to gigs for Ory and his band down the California coast in San Diego and Tijuana.

Born on Christmas Day in LaPlace, Louisiana, Ory led a band early on in his career in New Orleans that featured music legends such as Joe "King" Oliver, Johnny Dodds, Johnny St. Cyr and, later, Louis Armstrong. Ory relocated to Los Angeles after the prohibition of alcohol in 1919 changed the landscape for jazz musicians performing in New Orleans nightclubs. Many of the musicians who played on his L.A. sessions had also recently relocated from New Orleans. After moving to Chicago in 1925, where jazz was just starting to gain traction, Ory worked and recorded with artists such as Armstrong, Jelly Roll Morton, Bessie Smith, Ma Rainey, and many others. He was an original member of Louis Armstrong and His Hot Five, with whom he would later re-record "Ory’s Creole Trombone" in 1927. As demonstrated on "Ory's Creole Trombone," Ory was an early adapter of the glissando technique, now a central element of New Orleans jazz. While he might not have been the first to play a glissando on a trombone, he was certainly the most influential.

In 2005, "Ory’s Creole Trombone" was selected by the Library of Congress for preservation in the National Recording Registry. In an essay written upon the recording's selection by the Library of Congress, GRAMMY-nominated musician and jazz historian David Sager wrote, "‘Ory’s Creole Trombone’ offers a rare glimpse into the origins of New Orleans jazz and a remarkable insight to this music’s durability and universal appeal." A pioneering record and one of the most essential jazz recordings, "Ory’s Creole Trombone" helped define the New Orleans style of jazz and served as the prototype for future musicians of that genre.

Edward "Kid" Ory – Artist/Songwriter


Lauryn Hill, The Miseducation Of Lauryn Hill

Ruffhouse Records / Columbia Records, 1998 

Widely considered one of the greatest albums of all time, The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill is the debut album and only solo studio set released by GRAMMY-winning singer and rapper Lauryn Hill. The album debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard 200 and sold more than 422,000 copies in its first week, breaking the record for first-week sales by a female artist. Credited for bringing hip-hop and neo-soul to the forefront of popular music, the album earned Hill 10 GRAMMY nominations, which now has her tied with Beyoncé for the Guinness World Record for most GRAMMY nominations in a single year for a female artist. Hill turned half of those nominations into wins, taking home the awards for Album Of The Year, Best New Artist, Best R&B Album, and Best Rhythm & Blues Song and Best Female R&B Vocal Performance for "Doo Wop (That Thing)." With lyrics that present arguably the most poignant of female perspectives on life, love and relationships, while also touching on the turmoil within her former group the Fugees, three of the album’s singles — "Everything Is Everything, "Ex-Factor" and "Doo Wop (That Thing)" — peaked in the Top 40 on the Billboard 200, with the latter claiming the top spot. 

The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill was partially recorded at Bob Marley’s studio Tuff Gong Studios in Kingston, Jamaica, while Hill was pregnant with her first son, Zion. Speaking about that time, Hill told Rolling Stone, "When some women are pregnant, their hair and their nails grow, but for me it was my mind and ability to create. I had the desire to write in a capacity that I hadn't done in a while. I don't know if it's a hormonal or emotional thing ... I was very in touch with my feelings at the time." The album’s track "To Zion," which features Carlos Santana on guitar, is a song about her son. 

In 1999, Hill became the first hip-hop artist to appear on the cover of TIME magazine. Now, more than 25 years since its release and with more than 20 million copies sold, The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill continues to be one of the most influential albums ever made. 

Lauryn Hill – Artist/Producer/Songwriter

Gordon "Commissioner Gordon" Williams – Engineer

Tony Prendatt – Engineer


The Doobie Brothers, "What A Fool Believes"

Warner Bros. Records, 1978

One of the few non-disco songs to hit No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 in 1979, the Doobie Brothers’ "What a Fool Believes" is featured on their 1978 eighth studio album, the Album Of The Year-nominated Minute by Minute. Co-written by Michael McDonald and Kenny Loggins, "What a Fool Believes" won the Doobie Brothers two GRAMMY Awards, including Record Of The Year. Stylistically speaking, the song is unlike anything the Doobie Brothers had done before.

 

"What a Fool Believes" started off as a piano piece idea McDonald had. Producer Ted Templeman heard what he was working on and encouraged him to put some lyrics down with a co-writer. It turns out that McDonald and Loggins had talked about working together for some time. When they got together at McDonald’s house in Los Angeles to write, Loggins had already come up with the song’s hook — "she had a place in his life." Telling the story of a man who attempts to rekindle a romantic relationship, "What a Fool Believes" is about the lies we sometimes tell ourselves about past romances. When the protagonist in the song attempts to reconnect with an old love, he realizes that he barely registers in the woman’s mind. The Doobie Brothers and Templeman recorded numerous takes of its rhythm track over five or six days, but they couldn’t land on a version they all liked. Templeman eventually decided to cut up the master tape of a recording into sections. "In those days when you cut the tape, you’re over – that’s the master of your recording," recalled Templeman in an interview with The Guardian in 2022. "But we got lucky and I put it together on the spot." McDonald completed the rest of the arrangement, adding keyboards, vocals and strings. Before it was released by the Doobie Brothers, Loggins released his own jazzier and experimental version of the song on his 1978 album Nightwatch. 

"What a Fool Believes" was rated as the Doobie Brothers’ all-time greatest song by Ultimate Classic Rock critic Michael Gallucci and listed on Rolling Stone’s Top 500 Greatest Songs of All Time list. Today, "What a Fool Believes" is considered a "foundational yacht rock classic," as Tom Breihan wrote in a review for Stereogum in 2020.

Jeff "Skunk" Baxter – Artist

John Hartman – Artist

Keith Knudsen – Artist

Michael McDonald – Artist/Songwriter

Tiran Porter – Artist

Patrick Simmons – Artist

Ted Templeman – Producer

Kenny Loggins – Songwriter

Donn Lander – Engineer


William Bell, "You Don’t Miss Your Water"

Stax Records, 1961

As the first male solo act signed to the legendary Stax Records, Memphis-born GRAMMY-winning singer/songwriter William Bell released his solo debut with the melancholy "You Don’t Miss Your Water" in 1961. Recorded as a demo with members of the Mar-Keys and MG’s, "You Don’t Miss Your Water" was originally released as a B-side of his single "Formula of Love" and gained steam after DJs flipped the record over and started playing "You Don’t Miss Your Water." The song became the first hit for Stax Records, charting on the Billboard Hot 100 in 1962. It was later released on Bell’s 1967 album The Soul of a Bell and remains his best-known recording to this day.

 "The message is universal: appreciate what you have," said Bell in a 2022 interview with Uncut magazine. "Back then I didn’t realize what I was writing, but after I got a little older, I realized that although the world changes physically, every generation has the same wishes, desires and aspirations. If you just write truthfully about life and write things you think will help people, it will resonate."

And indeed, the song did resonate. More than six decades since its release, "You Don’t Miss Your Water" has gone on to become a Southern classic. Countless artists have recorded covers of it, including Otis Redding, Percy Sledge, Taj Mahal, Jerry Lee Lewis, the Black Crowes, Sturgill Simpson, Peter Tosh & the Wailers, Brian Eno, and, most notably, the Byrds, on their seminal 1968 country-rock album Sweetheart of the Rodeo.

In 2013, Bell performed "You Don’t Miss Your Water" before President Barack Obama during "In Performance at the White House: Memphis Soul." The following year, Bell was featured in the documentary Take Me to the River, reflecting upon American music's soul. He was inducted into the Memphis Music Hall of Fame in 2016. In 2020, the National Endowment for the Arts celebrated him as a Heritage Fellow. Bell was instrumental in ushering in the Southern soul music genre, which is now known as the globally influential "Memphis Sound."

William Bell – Artist/Songwriter

Chips Moman – Producer

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