meta-scriptGRAMMY Museum Announces Student Showcase Program For High School Students Aspiring To Work In The Music Industry | GRAMMY.com
GRAMMY Museum Announces Student Showcase

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GRAMMY Museum Announces Student Showcase Program For High School Students Aspiring To Work In The Music Industry

On Jan. 27, high school musical acts will participate in panel discussions and perform for the public and music industry professionals as part of a new Student Showcase program. The event kicks off the Museum’s 2024 GRAMMY Week.

GRAMMYs/Jan 18, 2024 - 06:05 pm

The GRAMMY Museum has announced a new program designed to offer highschool students an opportunity to showcase their musical talents on stage at the GRAMMY Museum. The Student Showcase program will feature high school musical acts from Los Angeles and elsewhere in Southern California, performing in a variety of genres. 

Kicking off the Museum’s GRAMMY Week 2024 programming, these solo performers, bands and groups will perform at the Student Showcase Finale on Saturday, Jan. 27 from 6 p.m. - 7:30 p.m. PT. The event will be held in the Museum's Clive Davis Theater. 

Student Showcase artists and bands include Zharia Amel, Kieler Avery, Maya Delgado, DIONE, HEDY, Honeybee, Iris Le, Kayla Pincus, SPARK, Sam Sweeney, Matias Villasana, and What Can I Say? This inaugural program has been made possible due to the generous support of The Kenneth T. and Eileen L. Norris Foundation. 

Ahead of the actual showcase, students will participate in panel discussions focusing on careers in music, content creation, and stage presence, as well as receive real time feedback from industry professionals during rehearsals. Guest panelists include A.D. Johnson (Founder, Chosen Musicians), Amanda Verdadero (Production Manager, Kia Forum), Candace Newman (CEO & founder, Live Out L!ve), Cisco Adler (musician and record producer), Grecco Buratto (musician and composer), Nirupam “Niru” Pratapgiri (Artist Manager, Red Light Management), Omar Akram (composer and pianist), and Taji Hardwick (Talent Buyer, Goldenvoice).

Participants will also work with the Museum’s production team to understand what it takes to produce a live event — from staging and lighting direction, to managing the soundboard and video production. 

The Student Showcase Finale will be free, open to the public, and live streamed so the performers can reach a wider audience. In addition, participants will receive their performance footage for their social media channels and get tips on content creation and branding.

The GRAMMY Museum, currently celebrating its 15th anniversary, is a nonprofit organization dedicated to celebrating and exploring music from yesterday and today to inspire the music of tomorrow through exhibits, education, grants, preservation initiatives, and public programming. Paying tribute to our collective musical heritage, the Museum values and celebrates the dynamic connection in people’s diverse backgrounds and music’s many genres, telling stories that inspire us, and creative expression that leads change in our industry.

Kenneth T. Norris and Eileen L. Norris believed they had an obligation to give back to the community and in 1963 The Kenneth T. & Eileen L. Norris Foundation was created with $9,140. They initially focused their grantmaking on two key areas: medicine and private education in Southern California. It was their belief that concentrating the Foundation’s resources would allow its gifts to have the greatest impact. They instilled in their son, Kenneth T. Norris, Jr. the same dedication to philanthropy, and he took over as chairman of the Foundation in 1972, after his father’s death. Throughout the years the Norris Foundation continued to allocate large portions of its resources to medicine and education but also encompassed a broader range of organizations – one that also includes community and youth programs, science and the arts.

In each program area the Norris Foundation has shaped the results, producing a pattern of giving designed to encourage, extend, reconfigure, or transform projects originating from a diverse assortment of nonprofit recipients. Harlyne J. Norris took over as chairman of the Foundation in 1997, after the death of her husband Kenneth T. Norris, Jr. In 2003, Harlyne passed the reins to her daughter Lisa D. Hansen who served as chair of the Board until her passing. In 2023, the Norris Foundation celebrated its 60th Anniversary and Walter J. Zanino was elected chairman of the Board. Since 1963, we have created partnerships with many different organizations that we still collaborate with today. We count our longstanding relationships as one of our most valued assets. We are very proud of our history and look forward to the future with optimism.

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Henry Mancini in a recording studio
Henry Mancini

Photo: A. Schorr/ullstein bild via Getty Images

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10 Essential Henry Mancini Recordings: From "Moon River" To The 'Pink Panther' Theme

Composer, arranger, conductor and pianist Henry Mancini won 20 GRAMMY Awards over his legendary career. On what would be his 100th birthday, revisit 10 timeless Henry Mancini compositions.

GRAMMYs/Apr 16, 2024 - 01:34 pm

Henry Mancini had a gift for melodies of an ethereal, almost supernatural beauty.  

His prolific discography — albums of jazzy orchestral pop, dozens of film and television soundtracks — established him as a cultural icon and transformed the role that melody and song played in the art of movie narrative. Once you encounter a Henry Mancini tune, it’s almost impossible not to start humming it.

A composer, arranger, conductor and pianist of tireless discipline, Mancini won a staggering 20 GRAMMY Awards and was nominated 72 times. All of his wins — including the first-ever golden gramophone for Album Of The Year at the inaugural 1959 GRAMMYs — will be on display at the GRAMMY Museum to honor his centennial birthday, April 16. 

To mark what would be his centennial birthday, Mancini's children will travel to Abruzzo, Italy — where Mancini’s parents migrated from. And on June 23, the Hollywood Bowl Orchestra will present a program of his music with a gallery of guest stars including singer Monica Mancini, the maestro’s daughter. Out June 21, The Henry Mancini 100th Sessions – Henry Has Company will feature a new recording of "Peter Gunn" conducted by Quincy Jones and featuring John Williams, Herbie Hancock and Arturo Sandoval.

Although Mancini died in 1994 at age 70, his compositions remain timeless and ever-relevant. Read on for 10 essential Henry Mancini compositions to cherish and rediscover.  

"Peter Gunn" (1958)

In 1958, Mancini was looking for work and used his old Universal studio pass to enter the lot and visit the barber shop. It was outside the store that he met writer/director Blake Edwards and got the chance to write the music for a new television show about private detective Peter Gunn. 

Seeped in West Coast Jazz, Mancini’s main theme sounds brash and exciting to this day – its propulsive beat and wailing brass section evoking an aura of cool suspense. The "Peter Gunn" assignment cemented his reputation as a cutting-edge composer, and the accompanying album (The Music From Peter Gunn) won GRAMMYs in the Album Of The Year and Best Arrangement categories.

"Mr. Lucky" (1959)

Half of the "Peter Gunn" fan mail was addressed to Mancini. As a result, CBS offered Blake Edwards a second television show, as long as the composer was part of the package. Edwards created "Mr. Lucky," a stylish series about the owner of a floating casino off the California coast. 

1959 was an exhausting year for Mancini, as he was scoring two shows at the same time on a weekly basis. Still, his music flowed with elegance and ease. The "Mr. Lucky" ambiance allowed him to explore Latin rhythms, and the strings on his wonderful main theme shimmer with a hint of yearning. It won GRAMMY Awards in 1960 for Best Arrangement and Best Performance by an Orchestra.

"Lujon" (1961)

As part of his contract with RCA Victor, Mancini was committed to recording a number of albums featuring original compositions in the same velvety jazz-pop idiom from his television work. "Lujon" is the standout track from Mr. Lucky Goes Latin, a collection of Latin-themed miniatures that luxuriate in a mood of plush languor.

 Inspired by the complex harmonics of French composer Maurice Ravel, "Lujon" steers safely away from lounge exotica thanks to the refined qualities of the melody and arrangement.

"Moon River" (1961)

Performed on a harmonica, the main melody of "Moon River" is nostalgic to the bone, but also life affirming. A majestic string section makes the music swoon, like gliding on air. And the harmonies in the vocal chorus add gravitas — a touch of humanity. 

It took Mancini half an hour to write "Moon River," but the Breakfast at Tiffany’s anthem made him a global superstar. Among the many artists who covered the song, pop crooner Andy Williams turned it into his personal anthem. Mancini won an Academy Award for Best Original Song, and GRAMMY Awards for Record Of The Year, Song Record Of The Year and Best Arrangement. The album soundtrack earned two additional gramophones.

Theme from Hatari! (1962)

After two failed attempts with different composers, legendary director Howard Hawks invited Mancini to write the score for Hatari! — the wildly episodic but oddly endearing safari film he had shot in Tanganyika with John Wayne. Mancini jumped at the opportunity, and Hawks gave him a few boxes from the trip that contained African percussive instruments, a thumb piano and a tape of Masai tribal chants. Two chords from that chant, together with a slightly detuned upright piano formed the basis for the movie’s main theme. 

Mancini’s sparse arrangement and melancholy melody conspired to create one of the most gorgeous themes in the history of film.

"Days of Wine and Roses" (1962)

Throughout the decades, Mancini provided musical accompaniment to Blake Edwards’ filmography, which switched from slapstick comedy to stark melodrama. There is a perverse beauty to the theme of Days of Wine and Roses — a movie about a couple of lifelong alcoholics — as the lush choral arrangement seems to glorify the innocence of better times. 

It won an Academy Award for Best Original Song — Mancini’s second Oscar in a row — and three GRAMMYs: Record Of The Year, Song Of The Year and Best Background Arrangement.

"The Pink Panther Theme" (1963)

Directed by Edwards and starring Peter Sellers as part of an ensemble cast, the original Pink Panther was a frothy caper comedy that had none of the manic touches of comedic genius that Sellers would exhibit in subsequent entries of the franchise. It was Mancini’s ineffable main theme that carried the movie through.

Jazzy and mischievous, Mancini wrote the melody with the light-as-a-feather playing of tenor saxophonist Plas Johnson in mind. It won GRAMMYs in three categories: Best Instrumental Arrangement, Best Instrumental Compositions (Other Than Jazz), and Best Instrumental Performance – Non-Jazz.

Charade (1963)

Mancini’s gift for cosmopolitan tunes and jazzy arrangements found the perfect vehicle in the score for Stanley Donen’s Charade — a droll Hitchcockian thriller shot in Paris and starring Cary Grant and Audrey Hepburn. 

The main theme is a waltz in A minor, and opens with pulsating percussion. When the central melody appears, it evokes a melancholy reflection and a certain thirst for the kind of globetrotting adventure that the film delivers in spades. It was Johnny Mercer’s favorite Mancini melody, and he wrote exquisite lyrics for it. 

The best version probably belongs to jazz singer Johnny Hartman, who released it as the opening track of his 1964 album I Just Dropped By To Say Hello.

Two For The Road (1967)

Friends and family remember Mancini as a humble craftsman who ignored the trappings of fame and focused on the discipline of work. In 1967, after Audrey Hepburn cabled to ask him about writing the music for the Stanley Donen film Two For The Road, Mancini agreed, but was taken aback when the director rejected his initial theme. Leaving his ego aside, he returned to the drawing board and delivered a lovely new melody – and a spiraling piano pattern seeped in old fashioned tenderness.

"Theme from The Molly Maguires" (1970)

Even though Mancini enjoyed most accolades during the ‘60s, his protean level of inspiration never wavered. In 1970, he was brought in to rescue the soundtrack of Martin Ritt’s gritty secret societies drama The Molly Maguires, about Irish-American miners rebelling against their mistreatment in 19th century Pennsylvania. 

The main theme makes time stand still: a sparse arrangement that begins with a solitary harp, until a recorder ushers in a haunting, Irish-inspired melody. The score reflected a more restrained Mancini, but was still intensely emotional.

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La Santa Cecilia poses for a photo together in front of a step and repeat at the GRAMMY Museum
La Santa Cecilia

Photo: Rebecca Sapp/Getty Images for The Recording Academy

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La Santa Cecilia Celebrates Their 'Alma Bohemia' With Documentary Screening & Performance At The GRAMMY Museum

In a documentary screening detailing the making of their album 'Cuatro Copas' followed by a discussion and live performance at the GRAMMY Museum, La Santa Cecilia recounts years of making music and friendship.

GRAMMYs/Apr 9, 2024 - 06:32 pm

"Oh no, I’m going to start crying again," says La Santa Cecilia singer La Marisoul during a touching scene in Alma Bohemia, the documentary directed by Carlos Pérez honoring the Los Angeles band’s 15 year anniversary. 

As it turns out, there are many reasons to be emotional about this film — and the very existence of La Santa Cecilia in the contemporary Latin music landscape. Fittingly, Alma Bohemia was received enthusiastically by the capacity audience during an exclusive screening on April 3 at the GRAMMY Museum’s Clive Davis Theater in Los Angeles. 

Formed by La Marisoul (real name is Marisol Hernández), bassist Alex Bendaña, accordionist and requinto player José "Pepe" Carlos and percussionist Miguel "Oso" Ramírez, La Santa Cecilia was for years one of the best kept secrets in the Los Angeles music scene.  As close friends and musicians, they won over audiences with an organic, down-to-earth sound and a lovely songbook that draws from traditional formats such as bolero, ranchera and nueva canción.

Alma Bohemia follows the making of La Santa’s 2023 album, Cuatro Copas Bohemia en la Finca Altozano. A celebration of the band’s longevity, the session also functions as a subtle, yet powerful musical experiment. It was recorded at the Finca Altozano in Baja California, where the band members stayed as guests of celebrated chef Javier Plascencia — a longtime fan.

Argentine producer Sebastián Krys — the band’s longtime collaborator — calls this his Alan Lomax experiment. The album was recorded live on tape with a variety of strategically placed microphones capturing hints of ambient sonics — a sweet afternoon breeze, the clinking of glasses, the musicians’ banter, the soft sounds that accompany stillness. 

From the very beginning, the making of Cuatro Copas mirrors the band’s bohemian cosmovision: A communal approach where the quartet — together with carefully selected guest stars — get together to share the magic of creation, the unity of like-minded souls, homemade food, and more than a couple of drinks. In effect, the bottles of mezcal and never ending rounds of toasting quickly become a running joke throughout the documentary.

La Marisoul’s fragile lament is enveloped in spiraling lines of mournful electric guitars with soulful understatement on the track "Almohada." Guest artists liven things up, with Oaxacan sister duo Dueto Dos Rosas adding urgency to "Pescadores de Ensenada," while son jarocho master Patricio Hidalgo ventures into a lilting (yet hopeful) "Yo Vengo A Ofrecer Mi Corazón," the ‘90s Argentine rock anthem by Fito Páez.

Visibly delighted to be part of the bohemia, 60-year-old ranchera diva Aida Cuevas steals the show with her rousing rendition of "Cuatro Copas," the José Alfredo Jiménez classic. "Viva México!" she exclaims as the entire group sits around a bonfire at night, forging the past and future of Mexican American music into one.

Read more: La Santa Cecilia Perform "Someday, Someday New"

Following the screening, the band sat down for a Q&A session hosted by journalist Betto Arcos. Sitting on the first row, a visibly moved young woman from El Salvador thanked the band for helping her to cope with the complex web of feelings entailed in migrating from Latin America. La Santa’s songs, she said, reminded her of the loving abuelita who stayed behind.

"We love the old boleros and rancheras," said La Marisoul. "We became musicians by playing many of those songs in small clubs and quinceañeras. It’s a repertoire that we love, and I don’t think that will ever change."

Carlos touched on his experience being a member of Santa Cecilia for about seven years before he was able to secure legal status in the U.S. When the band started to get concert bookings in Texas, they would take long detours on their drives to avoid the possibility of being stopped by the authorities. Carlos thanked his wife Ana for the emotional support she provided during those difficult years.

Ramírez took the opportunity to acknowledge producer Krys for being an early champion of the band. "He had a vision, and he made us better," he said, flashing forward to a recent edition of the Vive Latino festival. "There were about 12,000 people to see us," he said. "And they were singing along to our tunes."

"The band is just an excuse to hang out with your friends," added La Marisoul just before La Santa performed two live songs. Her voice sounded luminous and defiant in the theater’s intimate space, always the protagonist in the group’s delicately layered arrangements.

"The first time I got to see the finished documentary, I felt proud of all the work we’ve done together," said producer Krys from his Los Angeles studio the day after the screening. "On the other hand, there’s a lot of work ahead of us. I believe La Santa Cecilia deserves wider exposure. They should be up there among the greatest artists in Latin music."

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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!

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Billy Joel Freddy Wexler
Photo: Lester Cohen/Getty Images for The Recording Academy

(L-R) Billy Joel, Freddy Wexler

interview

Freddy Wexler On Helping Billy Joel "Turn The Lights Back On" — At The 2024 GRAMMYs And Beyond

"Part of what was so beautiful for me to see on GRAMMY night was the respect and adoration that people of all ages and from all genres have for Billy Joel," Wexler says of Joel's 2024 GRAMMYs performance of their co-written "Turn The Lights Back On."

GRAMMYs/Feb 26, 2024 - 09:11 pm

They say to not meet your heroes. But when Freddy Wexler — a lifelong Billy Joel fan — did just that, it was as if Joel walked straight out of his record collection.

"I think the truth is none of it is that surprising," the 37-year-old songwriter and producer tells GRAMMY.com. "That's the best part. From his music, I would've thought this is a humble, brilliant everyman who probably walks around with a very grounded perspective, and that's exactly who he is."

That groundedness made possible "Turn the Lights Back On" — the hit comeback single they co-wrote, and Wexler co-produced; Joel performed a resplendent version at the 2024 GRAMMYs with Laufey. Joel hadn't released a pop album since 1993's River of Dreams; for him to return to the throne would take an awfully demonstrative song, true to his life.

"I think it's a very raw, honest, real perspective that is true to Billy," Wexler explains. "I think it's the first time we've heard him acknowledge mistakes and regret in quite this way."

Specifically, Joel's return highlights his regret over spending three decades mostly on the bench, largely absent from the pop scene. As Joel wonders aloud in the stirring, arpeggiated chorus, "Is there still time for forgiveness?"

"Forgiveness" is a curious word. Why would the five-time GRAMMY winner and 23-time nominee possibly need to seek forgiveness? Regardless — as the song goes — he's "tryin' to find the magic/ That we lost somehow." The song's message — an attempt to recapture a lost essence — transcends Joel's personal headspace, connecting with a universal longing and nostalgia.

Read on for an interview with Wexler about the impact of "Turn the Lights Back On," why he thinks Joel took such an extended sabbatical, the prospect of more new music, and much more.

This interview has been edited for clarity.

**You did a great interview with Rolling Stone ahead of the 2024 GRAMMYs. Now, we're on the other side of it; you got to see how it went down on the telecast, and resonated with the audience and world. What was that like?**

It's why I make music — to hopefully make people feel something. This song has really resonated in such a big way. More than looking at its commercial success on the charts or on radio, which has been awesome to see, the comments on Instagram and YouTube have been the most rewarding part of it.

Why do you think it resonated? Beyond the king picking up his crown again?

I don't think the song is trying to be anything it's not. I think it's a very raw, honest, real perspective that is true to Billy. I think it's the first time we've heard him acknowledge mistakes and regret in quite this way. And to hear him do it in a hopeful way where he's asking, "Is it too late for forgiveness?" is just very moving, I think.

Forgiveness? That's interesting. What would any of us need to forgive him?

He has said in other interviews, "Sometimes people say they have no regrets at the end of their life." And he said, "I don't think that's possible. If you've lived a full life, of course you have regrets." He has said that he has many things he wishes he would've done differently. This is an opportunity to express that.

I think what's interesting about the song is it has found meaning in various ways with various people and listeners. Some people imagine Billy is singing to former lovers or friends. Other people imagine Billy is singing to his fans asking, "Did I wait too long to record again?" Other people wonder if Billy is singing to the songwriting Gods and muses. Did I wait too long to write again?

In Israel, where the song was number one — or is number one, I haven't checked today — I think the song's taken on the meaning of just wanting things to be normal, wanting hostages to come home and turn the lights back on. So, you never know where a song is going to resonate, but I think that Billy just found his own meaning with it.

You know the discography front to back. What lines can you draw from "Turn the Lights Back On" to past works?

I think it draws on various pieces of his catalog, right? "She's Always a Woman" has a sort of piano arpeggio in the chorus. To me, it feels like a natural progression. It feels like, on the one hand, it's a new song. On the other, it could have come out right after River of Dreams. To me, it just kind of feels natural.

**Back when you spoke with Rolling Stone, you said you couldn't wait to hear "Turn the Lights Back On" at Madison Square Garden. How'd it sound?**

Amazing. Billy is a consummate live performer. I think he's one of the few artists where everything is better live, and everything is always a little bit different each time it's played live.

It's been really cool to watch Billy and the band continue to change and improve the song and the song's dynamics for the show. He told me tonight that tomorrow night in Tampa, I think they're going to try to play with the key of the song, potentially — try it a half a step higher.

Those are the sort of things I think great artists do, right? It's different from being on a certain type of tour where every single song is the same, the set list is the same, the key is the same, the arrangements are the same.

With Billy, there's a lot of feeling and, "Hey, why don't we try it this way? Let's play it a little faster. Let's play it a little slower. Let's try it in a different key." I just think that's super cool. You have to be a really good musician to just do that on the fly.

What have you learned from him that applies to your music making, writ large?

I've learned so much from him. As Olivia Rodrigo said to us at GRAMMY rehearsals, "He's the blueprint when it comes to songwriting."

He has helped raise the bar for me when it comes to melodies and lyrics, but the thing I keep coming back to is he's reminded me that even the greatest artists and songwriters ever sometimes forget how great they are. I think we need to be careful not to give that inner voice and inner critic too much power.

Can you talk about how the music video came to be?

Well, I had a dream that Billy was singing the opening two lines of the song, but it was a 25-year-old version of Billy. It was arresting.

When I woke up, I sort of had the vision for the video, which was one set, an empty venue of some kind, and four Billy Joels. The Billy Joel that really exists today, but then three Billys from three iconic eras where each Billy would seamlessly pick up the song where the other left off.

The idea behind that was to sort of accentuate the question of the song — did I wait too long to turn the lights back on?

And so, to kind of take us through time and through all these years, I teamed up with an amazing co-director, Warren Fu, who's done everything from Dua Lipa to Daft Punk, and an artificial intelligence company called Deep Voodoo to make that vision possible.

What I'm driven by is the opportunity to create conversations, cultural moments, things that make people feel something. What was cool here is as scary as AI is — and I think it is scary in many ways — we were able to give an example of how you can use it in a positive way to execute a creative artistic vision that previously would've been impossible to execute.

Yeah, so I'm pleased with it and I'm thankful that Billy did a video. He didn't have to do one, but he liked the idea of it. He felt it was different, and I think he was moved by it as well.

What do you think is the next step here?

It's been a really rewarding process. And Billy is open-minded, which is really cool for an artist of that level, who's not a new artist by any stretch. To actually be described as being in a place in his life where he's open-minded, means anything is possible. I could tell you that I would love there to be more music.

I'd love to get your honest appraisal. And I know you're not him. But his last pop album was released 31 years ago. In that long interim, what do you think was going on with him, creatively?

Look, I'm not Billy Joel, but I think there were a number of factors going on with him. Somewhere along the way, I think he stopped having fun with music, which is the reason he got into it, or which is a big part of the reason he got into it. When it stopped being fun, I don't think he really wanted to do it anymore.

Another piece to it is that Billy is a perfectionist, and that perfectionism is evident in the caliber of his songwriting. Having always written 100 percent of his songs, Billy at some point probably found that process to be painstaking, to try to hit that bar where he's probably wondering in his head, What would Beethoven think of this? What would Leonard Bernstein think of this?

I think part of what was different here was that, perhaps, there was something liberating about "Turn the Lights Back On" being a seed that was brought to Billy. In this way, he could be a little disconnected from it, where maybe he didn't have to have the self-imposed pressure that he would if it was an idea that he'd been trying to finish for a while.

Ironically, he still made it. Well, there's no "ironically," but I think that's it. There's something to that.

Billy Joel's Biggest Songs: 15 Tracks That Best Showcase The Piano Man's Storytelling And Pop Hooks