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GRAMMY Hall Of Fame Class Of 2015

The Hall adds 27 new recordings, including selections by ABBA, Bob Dylan, Kraftwerk, Lou Reed, Bonnie Raitt, Otis Redding, and Sex Pistols

GRAMMYs/Dec 18, 2014 - 10:11 am

Continuing the tradition of preserving and celebrating timeless recordings, The Recording Academy has announced the newest additions to its legendary GRAMMY Hall Of Fame. With 27 new titles, the list currently totals 987 and is on display at the GRAMMY Museum in downtown Los Angeles.

List of 2015 GRAMMY Hall Of Fame recordings

"With recordings dating as early as 1909 through the late '80s, this year's GRAMMY Hall Of Fame entries not only represent a diverse collection of influential and historically significant recordings but also reflect the changing climate of music through the decades," said Neil Portnow, President/CEO of The Recording Academy. "These memorable, inspiring and iconic recordings are proudly added to our growing catalog — knowing that they have become a part of our musical, social and cultural history."

Representing a great variety of tracks and albums, the 2015 GRAMMY Hall Of Fame inductees range from Autobahn by Kraftwerk to Lou Reed's controversial hit "Walk On The Wild Side." Also added to the highly regarded list are the 4 Seasons' "Big Girls Don't Cry," ABBA's "Dancing Queen," Neil Young's 1972 album Harvest, Chic's disco classic "Le Freak," the Sex Pistols' album Never Mind The Bollocks, Here's The Sex Pistols, and Alice Cooper's "School's Out." Other inductees include recordings by Harry Belafonte, Leonard Cohen, Bob Dylan, Willie Nelson, Bonnie Raitt, Otis Redding, and Hank Williams, among others.

Spotify Playlist: 2015 GRAMMY Hall Of Fame

This latest round of inducted recordings continues to highlight diversity and recording excellence, and acknowledges both singles and album recordings of all genres at least 25 years old that exhibit qualitative or historical significance. Recordings are reviewed annually by a special member committee comprised of eminent and knowledgeable professionals from all branches of the recording arts, with final approval by The Recording Academy's National Board of Trustees. 

Additionally, The Recording Academy has continued its partnership with FX Group to publish a 120-page collector's edition book. GRAMMY Hall Of Fame 2015 Collector's Edition features in-depth insight into the 27 titles inducted into the GRAMMY Hall Of Fame class of 2015. The full-color book also highlights the work of the GRAMMY Foundation's GRAMMY Camp program and preservation and archiving initiatives, and offers a colorful look at other music halls of fame across the United States dedicated to preserving and honoring music's legacy. The book will be available online at the official GRAMMY store, at retailers such as Barnes & Noble, Target and Walmart, as well as on newsstands nationwide and at the GRAMMY Museum in downtown Los Angeles.

For more information on the GRAMMY Hall Of Fame, visit GRAMMY.org.

The 57th Annual GRAMMY Awards will take place on Sunday, Feb. 8, 2015, at Staples Center in Los Angeles and will be broadcast live in high-definition TV and 5.1 surround sound on CBS from 8–11:30 p.m. (ET/PT). For updates and breaking news, visit The Recording Academy's social networks on Twitter and Facebook.

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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GRAMMY Hall Of Fame 2024 Inductees Announced: Recordings By Lauryn Hill, Guns N' Roses, Donna Summer, De La Soul & More

The GRAMMY Museum's inaugural GRAMMY Hall Of Fame Gala and concert, presented by City National Bank, takes place Tuesday, May 21, at the NOVO Theater in Los Angeles.

GRAMMYs/Mar 20, 2024 - 11:59 am

The Recording Academy has announced 10 recordings to be newly inducted to the distinguished GRAMMY Hall Of Fame as part of its 2024 inductee class and in celebration of its 50th anniversary this year. This year's GRAMMY Hall of Fame additions, the first inductions since 2021, include four albums and six singles that exhibit qualitative or historical significance and are at least 25 years old. The inducted recordings, which will be added to the iconic catalog residing at the GRAMMY Museum, will be honored at GRAMMY Museum's inaugural GRAMMY Hall Of Fame Gala and concert, presented by City National Bank, taking place Tuesday, May 21, at the NOVO Theater in Los Angeles. Tickets for and performers at the Gala will be announced at a later date. 

The 2024 GRAMMY Hall Of Fame inducted recordings range from Lauryn Hill's The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill to Guns N' Roses' Appetite For Destruction. Others include recordings by De La Soul, Buena Vista Social Club, Donna Summer, Charley Pride, Wanda Jackson, Kid Ory's Creole Orchestra, the Doobie Brothers, and William Bell. Eligible recipients will receive an official certificate from the Recording Academy. With these 10 newly inducted titles, the GRAMMY Hall Of Fame currently totals 1,152 inducted recordings.

See below for a full list of the 2024 recordings inducted into the GRAMMY Hall Of Fame, and see the full list of all past GRAMMY Hall Of Fame inducted recordings.

Full list of 2024 GRAMMY Hall Of Fame Inducted Recordings:

3 FEET HIGH AND RISING
De La Soul
Tommy Boy (1989)
(Album)
Inducted: 2024

APPETITE FOR DESTRUCTION
Guns N' Roses
Geffen (1987)
(Album)
Inducted: 2024

BUENA VISTA SOCIAL CLUB
Buena Vista Social Club
World Circuit/Nonesuch (1997)
(Album)
Inducted: 2024

“I FEEL LOVE”
Donna Summer
Casablanca (1977)
(Single)
Inducted: 2024

“KISS AN ANGEL GOOD MORNIN'“
Charley Pride
RCA Victor (1971)
(Single)
Inducted: 2024

“LET'S HAVE A PARTY”
Wanda Jackson
Capitol (1960)
(Single)
Inducted: 2024

THE MISEDUCATION OF LAURYN HILL
Lauryn Hill
Ruffhouse/Columbia (1998)
(Album)
Inducted: 2024

“ORY'S CREOLE TROMBONE”
Kid Ory's Creole Orchestra (As Spike's Seven Pods of Pepper Orchestra)
Nordskog (1922)
(Single)
2024

“WHAT A FOOL BELIEVES”
The Doobie Brothers
Warner Bros. (1978)
(Single)
Inducted: 2024

“YOU DON'T MISS YOUR WATER”
William Bell
Stax (1961)
(Single)
Inducted: 2024

Explore The 2024 GRAMMY Hall Of Fame Inductees

"We're proud to unveil the diverse mix of recordings entering the GRAMMY Hall Of Fame in its 50th year," Recording Academy CEO Harvey Mason jr. said in a statement. "The music showcased here has played a pivotal role in shaping our cultural landscape, and it's a true honor to recognize these albums and recordings, along with the profound influence each has had on music and beyond."

"The artists, songwriters, producers, and engineers who composed this year's inducted recordings are a reflection of the sheer talent and hard work that goes into creating such seminal music," GRAMMY Museum President/CEO Michael Sticka said in a statement. "It's a privilege to be able to welcome these new additions into our distinguished catalog and celebrate the recordings at our inaugural gala on May 21."

The GRAMMY Hall Of Fame was established by the Recording Academy's National Trustees in 1973. 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.

This year, the GRAMMY Hall Of Fame Gala will be the first of what will become an annual event and includes a red carpet and VIP reception on the newly opened Ray Charles Terrace at the GRAMMY Museum, followed by a one-of-a-kind concert at the NOVO Theater in downtown Los Angeles. 

The inaugural gala and concert is produced by longtime executive producer of the GRAMMY Awards, Ken Ehrlich, along with Chantel Sausedo and Ron Basile and will feature musical direction by globally renowned producer and keyboardist Greg Phillinganes. For sponsorship opportunities, reach out to halloffame@grammymuseum.org.

Explore the history of the GRAMMY Hall Of Fame

Gary Clark, Jr.
Gary Clark, Jr.

Photo: Mike Miller

interview

Gary Clark, Jr. On 'JPEG RAW': How A Lockdown Jam Session, Bagpipes & Musical Manipulation Led To His Most Eclectic Album Yet

Gary Clark, Jr.'s latest record, 'JPEG RAW,' is an evolution in the GRAMMY-winning singer and guitarist's already eclectic sound. Clark shares the process behind his new record, which features everything from African chants to a duet with Stevie Wonder.

GRAMMYs/Mar 18, 2024 - 01:10 pm

Stevie Wonder once said "you can’t base your life on people’s expectations." It’s something guitarist and singer Gary Clark, Jr. has taken to heart as he’s built his own career. 

"You’ve got to find your own thing," Clark tells GRAMMY.com.

Clark recently duetted with Wonder on "What About The Children," a song on his forthcoming album. Out March 22, JPEG RAW sees Clark continue to evolve with a mixtape-like kaleidoscope of sounds.

Over the years, Clark has ventured into rock, R&B, hip-hop blues, soul, and country. JPEG RAW is the next step in Clark's eclectic sound and sensibility, the result of a free-flowing jam session held during COVID-19 lockdown. Clark and his bandmates found freedom in not having a set path, adding elements of traditional African music and chants, electronic music, and jazz into the milieu.

"We just kind of took it upon ourselves to find our own way and inspire ourselves," says Clark, a four-time GRAMMY winner. "And that was just putting our heads together and making music that we collectively felt was good and we liked, music we wanted to listen to again."

The creation process was simultaneously freeing and scary.

"It was a little of the unknown and then a sense of hope, but also after there was acceptance and then it was freeing. I was like, all right, well, I guess we’re just doing this," Clark recalls. "It was an emotional, mental rollercoaster at that time, but it was great to have these guys to navigate through it and create something in the midst of it."

JPEG RAW is also deeply personal, with lyrics reflecting on the future for Clark himself, his family, and others around the globe. While Clark has long reflected on political and social uncertainties, his new release widens the lens. Songs like "Habits" examine a universal humanity in his desire to avoid bad habits, while "Maktub" details life's common struggles and hopes. 

Clark and his band were aided in their pursuit by longtime collaborator and co-producer Jacob Sciba and a wide array of collaborators. Clark’s prolific streak of collaborations continued, with the album also featuring funk master George Clinton, electronic R&B/alt-pop artist Naala, session trumpeter Keyon Harrold, and Clark’s sisters Shanan, Shawn, and Savannah. He also sampled songs by Thelonious Monk and Sonny Boy Williamson.

Clark has also remained busy as an actor (he played American blues legend Arthur "Big Boy" Crudup in Baz Luhrmann’s Elvis) and as a music ambassador (he was the Music Director for the 23rd Annual Mark Twain Prize for American Humor).

GRAMMY.com recently caught up with Clark, who will kick off his U.S. tour May 8, about his inspirations for JPEG RAW, collaborating with legendary musicians, and how creating music for a film helped give him a boost of confidence in the studio. 

This interview has been edited for clarity.

You incorporated traditional African music on JPEG RAW. How did it affect your songwriting process?

Well, I think traveling is how it affected my songwriting process. I was over in London, and we played a show with Songhoy Blues, and I was immediately influenced. I was like, "dang, these are my musical brothers from all the way across the world." 

I always kind of listened to West African funk and all that kind of stuff. So, I was just listening to that in the studio, and just kind of started messing around with the thing. And that just kind of evolved from there. I was later told by Jacob Sciba that he was playing that music trying to brainwash me into leaning more in that direction. I thought we were just genuinely having a good time exploring music together, and he was trying to manipulate me. [Laughs.]

I quit caring about what people thought about me wanting to be a certain thing. I think that being compared to Jimi Hendrix is a blessing and a curse for me because I'm not that. I will never be that. I never wanted to imitate or copy that, no disrespect. 

You’ve got to find your own thing. And my own thing is incorporating all the styles of music that I love, that I grew up on, and [was] influenced by as a pre-teen/teenager. To stay in one space and just be content doing that has never been my personality ever…I do what I like.

I read that you play trumpet at home and also have a set of bagpipes, just in case the mood strikes. 

I used to go collect instruments and old cameras from thrift stores and vintage shops and flea markets. So, I saw some bagpipes and I just picked them up. I've got a couple of violins. I don't play well at all — if you could consider that even playing. I've got trumpet, saxophone, flutes, all kinds of stuff just in case I can use these instruments in a way that'll make me think differently about music. It'll inspire me to go in a different direction that I've maybe never explored before, or I can translate some of that into playing guitar. 

One of my favorite guitarists, Albert Collins, was really inspired by horn players. So, if you can understand that and apply that to your number one instrument, maybe it could affect you. 

Given recent discussions about advancements in AI and our general inundation with technology, the title of your album is very relevant. What about people seeing life through that filter concerns you? Why does the descriptor seem apt?

During the pandemic, since I wasn't out in the world, I was on my phone and the information I was getting was through whatever social media platforms and what was going on in certain news outlets, all the news outlets. I'm just paying attention and I'm just like, man, there's devastation

I realized that I don't have to let it affect me. Just because things are accessible doesn't mean that you need to [access them].  It just made me think that I needed to do less of this and more of being appreciative of my world that's right in front of me, because right now it is really beautiful.

You’ve said the album plays out like a film, with a wide range of emotions throughout. What was it like seeing the album have that film-like quality?

I had conversations with the band, and I'd expressed to them that I want to be able to see it. I want to be able to see it on film, not just hear it. Keyboardist Jon Deas is great with [creating a] sonic palate and serving a mood along with [Eric] "King" Zapata who plays [rhythm] guitar. What he does with the guitar, it serves up a mood to you. You automatically see a color, you see a set design or something, and I just said, "Let's explore that. Let's make these things as dense as possible. Let's go like Hans Zimmer meets John Lee Hooker. Let's just make big songs that kind of tell some sort of a story." 

Also, we were stuck to our own devices, so we had to use our imagination. There was time, there was no schedule. So, we were free, open space, blank canvas.

The album opens with "Maktub," which is the Arabic word for fate or destiny. How has looking at different traditions given you added clarity with looking at what's happening here in the U.S.?

I was sitting in the studio with Jacob Sciba and my friend Sama'an Ashrawi and we were talking about the history of the blues. And then we started talking about the real history of the blues, not just in its American form, in an evolution back to Africa. You listen to a song like "Maktub," and then you listen to a song like, "Baby What You Want Me to Do" by Jimmy Reed…. 

The last record was This Land, but what about the whole world? What about not just focusing on this, but what else is going on out there? And we drew from these influences. We talked about family, we talked about culture, we talked about tradition, we talked about everything. And it's like, let's make it inclusive, build the people up. Let's build ourselves up. It’s not just about your small world, it’s about everybody’s feelings. Sometimes they're dealt with injustice and devastation everywhere, but there's also this global sense of hope. So, I just wanted to have a song that had the sentiment of that.

I really enjoyed the song’s hopeful message of trying to move forward.

Obviously, things are a little bit funky around here, and I don't have any answers. But maybe if we got our heads together and brainstorm, we could all figure something out instead of … struggling or suffering in silence. It's like, let's find some light here. 

But part of the talks that I had with Sama'an and his parents over a [video] call was music. He’s from Palestine, and growing up music was a way to connect. Music was a way to find happiness in a place where that wasn't an everyday convenience, and that was really powerful. That music is what brought folks together and brought joy and built a community and a common way of thinking globally. They were listening to music from all over the world, American music, rock music, and that was an influence.

The final song on the album, "Habits," sounds like it was the most challenging song to put together. What did you learn from putting that song together?

Well, that song originally was a bunch of different pieces, and I thought that they were different songs, and I was singing the different parts to them, and then I decided to put them all together. I think I was afraid to put them all together because we were like, "let's not do these long self-indulgent pieces of music. Let's keep it cool." But once I put these parts together and put these lyrics together, it just kind of made sense. 

I got emotional when I was singing it, and I was like, This is part of using this as an outlet for the things that are going on in life. We went and recorded it in Nashville with Mike Elizondo and his amazing crew, and it's like, yep, we're doing it all nine minutes of it.

You collaborated with a bunch of musicians on this album, including Naala on "This Is Who We Are." What was that experience like?

Working with Naala was great. That song was following me around for a couple of years, and I knew what I wanted it to sound like, but I didn't know how I was going to sing it. I had already laid the musical bed, and I think it was one of the last songs that we recorded vocals on for the album. 

Lyrically, it’s like a knight in shining armor or a samurai, and there's fire and there's war, and this guy's got to go find something. It was like this medieval fairytale type thing that I had in my head. Naala really helped lyrically guide me in a way that told that story, but was a little more personal and a little more vulnerable. I was about to give up on that song until she showed up in the studio. 

"What About the Children" is based on a demo that you got from Stevie Wonder. You got to duet with him, what was that collaboration like?

Oh, it was great. It was a life-changing experience. The guy's the greatest in everything, he was sweet, the most talented, hardworking, gracious, humble, but strong human being I've been in a room with and been able to create with. 

I was in shock when I left the studio at how powerful that was and how game changing and eye-opening it was. It was educational and inspiring. It was like before Stevie and after Stevie.

I imagine it was also extra special getting to have your sisters on the album.

Absolutely. We got to sing with Stevie Wonder; we used to grow up listening to George Clinton. They've stuck with us throughout my whole life. So, to be able to work with him and George Clinton — they came in wanting to do the work, hardworking, badass, nice, funny — it was a dream. 

Stevie Wonder and George Clinton are just different. They're pioneers and risk takers. For a young Black kid from Texas to see that and then later to be able to be in a room with that and get direct education and conversation…. It's an experience that not everybody gets to experience, and I'm grateful that I did, and hopefully we can do it again.

In 2022, you acted in Elvis. What are the biggest things you've learned from expanding into new creative areas?

I really have to give it up to a guy named Jeremy Grody…I went to his studio with these terrible demos that I had done on Pro Tools…and this guy helped save them and recreate them. I realized the importance of quality recordings. Jeremy Grody was my introduction to the game and really set me up to have the confidence to be able to step in rooms like that again.

I played some songs in the film, and I really understood how long a film day was. It takes all day long, a lot of takes, a lot of lights, a lot of big crews, big production.

I got to meet Lou Reed [while screening the film] at the San Sebastian Film Festival, and I was super nervous in interviews. I was giving away the whole movie. And Lou Reed said, "Just relax and have fun with all this s—." I really appreciated that.

Do you have a dream role?

I don't have a dream role, but I do know that if I was to get into acting, I’d really dive into it. I would want to do things that are challenging. I like taking risks. I want to push it to the limit. I would really like to understand what it's like to immerse yourself in the character and in the script and do it for real.

You're about to go out on tour. How will the show and production on this tour compare with the past ones?

We're building it currently, but I'm excited about what we got in store as far as the band goes. There are a few additions. I've got my sisters coming out with me. It's just going to be a big show.There's a new energy here, and I'm excited to share that with folks. 

The Black Crowes' Long Flight To New Album 'Happiness Bastards': Side Projects, Cooled Nerves & A Brotherly Rapprochement

The GRAMMY Hall Of Fame returns to celebrate its 50th anniversary with an inaugural gala and concert taking place Tuesday, May 21, at the NOVO Theater in Los Angeles
The GRAMMY Hall Of Fame returns to celebrate its 50th anniversary with an inaugural gala and concert taking place Tuesday, May 21, at the NOVO Theater in Los Angeles

Image courtesy of the GRAMMY Museum

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The GRAMMY Hall Of Fame Returns To Celebrate 50th Anniversary: Inaugural Gala & Concert Taking Place May 21 In Los Angeles

Following a two-year hiatus, the GRAMMY Hall Of Fame returns to celebrate its 50th anniversary with an inaugural gala and concert on Tuesday, May 21, at the NOVO Theater in Los Angeles. Ten recordings will be newly inducted into the Hall this year.

GRAMMYs/Mar 5, 2024 - 02:00 pm

Following a two-year hiatus, the GRAMMY Museum and Recording Academy are reinstating the GRAMMY Hall Of Fame on its 50th anniversary. The momentous event will be celebrated with an inaugural gala and concert on Tuesday, May 21, at the NOVO Theater in Los Angeles; tickets and performers for the event will be announced at a later date. As part of the return, 10 recordings, including four albums and six singles, will be newly inducted into the GRAMMY Hall Of Fame later this year.

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. Inductees 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. View the full list GRAMMY Hall Of Fame past inductees.

This year, the GRAMMY Museum’s GRAMMY Hall Of Fame Gala will be the first of what will become an annual event, and includes a red carpet and VIP reception on the newly opened Ray Charles Terrace at the GRAMMY Museum, followed by a one-of-a-kind concert at the NOVO Theater in Downtown Los Angeles.

The inaugural gala and concert is produced by longtime executive producer of the GRAMMY Awards, Ken Ehrlich, along with Chantel Sausedo and Ron Basile and will feature musical direction by globally renowned producer and keyboardist Greg Phillinganes. For sponsorship opportunities, reach out to halloffame@grammymuseum.org.

Keep watching this space for more exciting news about the GRAMMY Hall Of Fame!

2024 GRAMMYs: See The Full Winners & Nominees List

Billy Strings
Billy Strings

Photo: Christopher Morley

interview

Billy Strings On His Three GRAMMY Nominations, Working With Dierks Bentley & Willie Nelson

When Willie Nelson asked Billy Strings for instructions in the studio, he thought, 'I'm nobody, dude; you're Willie Nelson. You're asking me?' But Strings is certainly somebody: he's up for three golden gramophones at the 2024 GRAMMYs.

GRAMMYs/Jan 18, 2024 - 04:44 pm

Is it possible to write someone else's song for them? Which isn't the same as being an outside writer: it's writing something that spiritually belongs to your influence. That's the sensation that came over guitar and banjo picker Billy Strings, when he wrote "California Sober."

"California Sober" had the lilt and thematic ring of something like Willie Nelson and Merle Haggard's 1983 hit "Reasons to Quit"; in fact, it felt like it emanated from Nelson entirely. Which makes sense, given that Strings had just hit the road with the country patriarch.

"I don't think I would've recorded the song if Willie wouldn't have wanted to do it with me," Strings tells GRAMMY.com. "It's like, I'm not even going to cut this unless Willie wants to do it. It would just be like ripping off Willie's sound."

Exhilaratingly, the Red-Headed Stranger accepted — and their resultant duet of "California Sober" is nominated for Best American Roots Song at the 2024 GRAMMYs. And that's just the beginning of his prospects at Music's Biggest Night, coming up on Feb. 4.

At the 2024 GRAMMYs, Strings also picked up a nomination for Best Bluegrass Album for Me/And/Dad — his album with his bluegrass old-timer father, Terry Barber. And Dierks Bentley's "High Note," featuring Strings, is up for Best Country Duo/Group Performance.

Read on for an interview with Strings about how these albums and songs came to be, and what he learns from Nelson, Bentley, and Béla Fleck, and much more.

This interview has been edited for clarity.

Tell me about your relationship with the Recording Academy, and the GRAMMYs.

Well, the last few years, let's see: we were nominated for Best Bluegrass Album for Home, and we won that [in 2021]. And the next year we were nominated for two different things. Can't really remember, but we didn't win anything. [Editor's note: Strings received nominations for Best Bluegrass Album (Renewal) and Best American Roots Performance ("Love And Regret").]

That was when I went out there and checked it out, and had a great time being on the red carpet and seeing all the crazy outfits and stuff. And it's kind of crazy because although we didn't win, my friend Béla Fleck won.

I played on [his] record [2021's My Bluegrass Heart]. I was so honored to play with Béla Fleck and all those amazing musicians on that record, and it's been like 20 years since Bela made a bluegrass record — it's like, man, he deserves it.

And that was a big moment in my life — being in the studio with those guys, making that record. I still look back and I'm grateful to Béla for giving me the opportunity to do that because it gave me so much more confidence in myself. I still get almost emotional when I think about Béla actually asking me to be on his record because it just means so much to me. It's just always been kind of crazy. I'm just completely flabbergasted and honored because I never thought I'd be nominated for a GRAMMY or anything — let alone we won one already.

[Me/And/Dad] is probably the most important record I'll ever make because it's with my dad. And I think it's an important record for bluegrass too, just because of the songs and kind of the way we played those songs. And there's an old style that, as time goes on, the guys who sing and play like that are kind of dying off.

My dad's one of that older guard, and he just has this beautiful voice and amazing guitar playing, and he taught me everything I know about bluegrass music and it's deep in my heart and soul. It was so cool to be able to call my dad and say, hey man, guess what? Our record got nominated for a GRAMMY," and he's like, "Holy s—."

Can you drill deeper into why it's the most important thing you'll ever make?

Because everything I know about music, and bluegrass, I learned from my dad.

He started me off really young in my childhood; it was so based around the music. All the sweet memories that I have from when I was a boy were based around bluegrass music, and it seeps into your heart and soul and gets under your skin in a way that I guess only bluegrassers could really know.

It's music that can make me cry and make me laugh, and it gives me déjà vu, and it's almost a portal directly to my childhood back before I knew anything dirty about the earth. It was back, simpler times, just hanging around the campfire, picking music, and with my family and just beautiful times. 

And whenever I get together with my dad and play, it brings me back to just being a little boy.

And can you speak more to the importance of Béla Fleck? I interviewed him at Newport Folk, and he couldn't have been kinder nor gentler, with a fraction of the ego he could rightfully have.

He's the best man. He's become a good friend of mine. Obviously, he was my hero first. And so that's always good when you meet your heroes and they're really cool people. It means a lot.

And he's just like any of us; he's constantly just playing and trying to write and get better. He said to me one time, "We're all just trying to keep our heads above water," 'cause maybe I was feeling down about my playing or whatever, he's like, man, we're all doing the same thing.

What he's done for new acoustic music is incredible. The things that he's done with the five string banjo, and not only him, but his bands like the Flecktones and New Grass Revival with Sam Bush and John Cowan and those guys just, that's a big inspiration to us up and comers that are playing bluegrass music but like a little bit more progressive side.

I listen to everything from heavy metal to hip-hop and jazz and everything, so it's kind of sweet when you can take bluegrass instruments and play any kind of fusion music. And Béla is a huge innovator in that world.

One thing he told me was, "There is no best." I'm sure that resonates with you in some way.

Yeah, absolutely. Everybody's kind of the best at what they do. I'll never be as good as Tony Rice, ever — not if I practice eight hours a day for the rest of my life. I'll never touch him. But if I just kind of focus on what I'm doing and try to invent my own voice, maybe I'll be the best one at that.

How would you characterize that voice you've developed?

Well, I was raised playing bluegrass music — pretty traditional bluegrass. And then in my teenage years, I veered off and played heavy metal and got into more writing songs and just lots of different music other than bluegrass.

But when I came back to bluegrass, some of those things kind of stuck, particularly the stage performance thing. A lot of bluegrass bands, I feel like just stand there and play, 'cause they don't really have to do anything else. I can't help but move around and jump around and bang my head and stuff like I used to in a heavy metal band, 'cause that's how I learned to perform.

I've seen people be like, man, this is not headbanging music. And I'm like, "Well, hell yeah, it is."

Can you talk about Dierks Bentley, and "High Note," and the road to the nomination for Best Country Duo/Group Performance?

Dierks is a good buddy. He's just a real dude. I met him a few years ago. I was walking down the street, I was going to lunch with [flatpicker] Bryan Sutton and this white pickup truck pulled up, and Brian's like, "Oh, hey, what's up, man?"

We started talking. I didn't even know who it was. And the inside of his pickup truck was a mess. It was just like, s— everywhere, tapes and old, just like my car. So I'm like, okay, well, who's this guy? And then I realized he's a big country star, and I liked that he was a big country star and drove around with a messy truck.

Are you a messy truck guy too?

I try to keep it pretty nice nowadays, but yeah, usually my s— gets trashed. There's like fishing lures and just bulls— everywhere.

So I don't know, that made an impression on me for some reason — the inside of the cab of his truck. But after that, we became buddies and we had picked a couple times. He's a good buddy of [mandolinist] Sam Bush as well and so that's kind of a mutual friend of ours.

And there had been a couple times on stage where me and Sam were playing with Dierks, and he can play some bluegrass, man. He knows a lot of bluegrass songs and stuff.

So when he hit me up to do this song with him, I was like, of course, but especially when I heard it on a high note, he knows I like to smoke a lot of weed and stuff, so it was kind of like the perfect song for me. And it had that bluegrass flavor so I could jump on guitar and sing the tenors and stuff, sing the harmonies and stuff.

How popular is weed in the bluegrass community?

Well, I mean, in our scene it's pretty popular, but there's also folks that don't like to see me up there smoking or anything… maybe the more old-school kind of conservative types. But I just do my thing, man. I'm not trying to hurt nobody.

Speaking of, we have "California Sober" with Willie Nelson.

Man, so, Willie Nelson, holy f—.

Yeah, dude.

Wow, I love him so much. My grandpa loved him a lot, and my mom. When I grew up, my dad would, he'd be singing "Blue Eyes Crying In The Rain" and all them songs, and a lot of songs off Red Headed Stranger, I heard growing up — my dad singing those, and my grandpa playing the records, and stuff.

Willie was a big deal, especially to my grandpa, and he's been dead since 2001. So I always think about my grandpa when I think of Willie too, 'cause he loved him so much. If my grandpa was around to hear this song, he would just lose it.

And the way that it came about was, I went on tour with Willie on his road show, The Outlaw Tour, and we were one of the bands on there. And during that tour, Willie invited me up on his bus, and we hung out for a little while and just shot the s— and told jokes, and he told me how he got Trigger and everything, and talked about Django Reinhardt and Doc Watson.

I just had a great time. It was like hanging out with my grandpa or something, and I had a great time on the tour. And when I got home from that tour, I was sitting out by my burn pile and I ripped off this piece of cardboard, and I just had this tune going in my head, "I'm California sober, as they say / Lately, I can't find no other way."

I just wrote it down on this piece of cardboard. And then I went inside and kind of started writing a song — and I realized that I was writing a Willie Nelson song. I was so inspired by being on the road with Willie that I came home and I wrote this song — it's like I wrote it, but it was such a Willie song.

So what happened next?

I had my manager reach out to his manager, or whatever, and say, "Hey, here's this song that I wrote. Would you want to do it with me? And the answer was a resounding, 'Hell yes.'"

We made the track here in Nashville with me and the band, and then I went down to Luck, to his studio down there at his home in Texas, and Willie came in and we just hung out for a while, man. He sat down in front of the mic and he said, "Well, what do you want me to do?" And I was like, What the hell? I'm nobody, dude; you're Willie Nelson. You're asking me?

But he was like, "Well, do you want me to sing a verse?" I was like, "Tell, try to sing harmonies on the chorus and then take a crack at that second verse." So he put the harmonies on the chorus just fine. And when he got to this verse, it seemed like he was kind of just still learning the words a little bit, and I don't know if something [happened] like, he got frustrated on one take or something.

The next time, he just nailed it, and it was like this young Willie voice came out and he just sang so beautifully, and I had goosebumps, and it was just incredible, man.

And then right after that, he finished his part, he said, "We got it?" And I said, "Man, I think we got it. He said, "OK, let's go play cards."

So we went out back to his little spot there, where he's been playing cards for 50 years with everyone, Johnny Cash and Kris Kristofferson. His old buddy, Steve, [was there]; we were sitting there playing poker, and… I'm sitting there playing cards with two old buddies who have been playing cards together for 50 years, man. Hearing those two talk s— to each other, man.

They took a thousand dollars of my money real quick, and I would've paid another thousand just to sit there at that table and hear them bulls— each other.

What will your call with Willie be like if "California Sober" wins?

I'm going to say, "Hey, man, I'm coming to get my thousand dollars back."

Béla Fleck Has Always Been Told He's The Best. But To Him, There Is No Best.