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GRAMMY Salute To Classical Music Salutes Leonard Bernstein, "West Side Story"

Isabel Leonard

Photo: Bryan Bedder/Getty Images

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GRAMMY Salute To Classical Music Salutes Leonard Bernstein, "West Side Story"

With assists from Lang Lang, Ledisi and Isabel Leonard, a variety of selections from the famed composer formed the centerpiece of a classical celebration at the venerable Carnegie Hall

GRAMMYs/Jan 27, 2018 - 06:14 am

There are a variety of delightful ways to spend a chilly Friday afternoon in New York. But taking in a matinee performance at Carnegie Hall just might rank at the top of the list.


With GRAMMY Week kicking into high gear, the famed New York venue played host to the GRAMMY Salute To Classical Music, a program paying tribute to — as co-host Lang Lang described — one of the "greatest American musicians": legendary composer Leonard Bernstein. The event doubled as one of the 2,500 programs commemorating the composer's 100th birthday.

The location couldn't have been more appropriate as co-host Jamie Bernstein, and daughter of Leonard Bernstein, explained her father "conducted hundreds of concerts" at Carnegie Hall.

The brisk menu of performances was predominantly comprised of selections from Bernstein's incomparable "West Side Story," a musical that is not only arguably the 16-time GRAMMY winner's benchmark but is very much a timeless capsule of New York City given its storyline takes place in the Upper West Side neighborhood.

"My father believed in the power of music to promote peace and brotherhood, which inspired the music of 'West Side Story,'" said Jamie Bernstein.

Kicking off the proceedings was "Overture To Candide," a piece Bernstein composed for the 1956 operetta "Candide." The lilting number was given a fresh interpretation by a sextet of young pianists, Chelsea Guo, Eden Chen, Maxim Lando, Elliot Wuu, Clayton Stephenson, and Kimberly Han — all of whom are prodigies affiliated with Lang Lang's International Music Foundation, which is dedicated to ensuring children have access to music education.

The sound of nylon strings filled the hall as classical guitarist Pablo Sáinz Villegas plucked his way through two dynamic Francisco Tárrega pieces, "Memories Of Alhambra" and "Gran Jota De Concierto." The nimble-fingered Villegas also played a trio of selections from "West Side Story," including the romantic "Maria."

Vocalist Kiana Ledé brought some authentic Broadway-esque bravado to the proceedings with a reading of the upbeat "100 Easy Ways To Lose A Man," a selection from Bernstein's music to 1953's "Wonderful Town."

The trio Time For Three — violinists Nick Kendall and Charles Yang and double bassist Ranaan Meyer — performed an inventive arrangement of "Something's Coming" from "West Side Story."

Current GRAMMY nominee Ledisi showcased an operatic side of her voice. The R&B singer performed a song about "unadulterated joy," "A Simple Song" from Bernstein's 1971 theater work, "Mass." Ledisi punctuated her performance with fist pumps as she walked off stage.

Jamie Bernstein explained that her father wrote the next song as a "plea for all of us to keep our country honest and open-hearted." Mezzo-soprano Isabel Leonard, an acclaimed singer who "grew up listening to the music of Bernstein," helmed the aptly titled "Take Care Of This House" from Bernstein's "1600 Pennsylvania Avenue" (named after the address of the White House). Accompanied by pianist Michael Barrett, Leonard's voice resonated to the hall's upper balcony.

"[This is] one of the most moving pieces ever wrote by Bernstein," Lang Lang explained as he introduced the finale, "Somewhere" from "West Side Story."

With Lang Lang joined by singers from the Frank Sinatra School of the Arts Chorus, the moving number — and its sentiment of "there's a place for us, somewhere a place for us" — seemed a perfect way to pull the curtain on the day's celebration of Bernstein and classical music.

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Allen Hughes' "The Defiant Ones" Wins Best Music Film | 2018 GRAMMY

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Allen Hughes' "The Defiant Ones" Wins Best Music Film | 2018 GRAMMY

Director Allen Hughes' four-part documentary takes home Best Music Film honors for its portrayal of the unlikely partnership that changed the music business

GRAMMYs/Jan 29, 2018 - 02:09 am

The team behind The Defiant Ones celebrated a big win for Best Music Film at the 60th GRAMMY Awards. The crew awarded include director Allen Hughes and producers Sarah Anthony, Fritzi Horstman, Broderick Johnson, Gene Kirkwood, Andrew Kosove, Laura Lancaster, Michael Lombardo, Jerry Longarzo, Doug Pray & Steven Williams.

In a year rife with quality music documentaries and series, the bar has been set high for this dynamic category. The Defiant Ones is a four-part HBO documentary telling the story of an unlikely duo taking the music business by storm seems better suited for fantastical pages of a comic book, but for engineer-turned-mogul Jimmy Iovine and super-producer Dr. Dre, it's all truth.The Defiant Ones recounts their histories, their tribulations and their wild success. These include first-hand accounts from those who were there in Iovine's early days, such as Bruce Springsteen and U2's Bono, as well as those on board when Dre and Iovine joined forces, such as Snoop Dogg and Eminem.

The competition was stiff as the category was filled with compelling films such as One More Time With Feeling, Two Trains Runnin', Soundbreaking, and Long Strange Trip. 

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Portugal. The Man To Aida Cuevas: Backstage At The 2018 GRAMMYs

Photos: WireImage.com

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Portugal. The Man To Aida Cuevas: Backstage At The 2018 GRAMMYs

Also see James Fauntleroy, Reba McIntire, Latroit, and more after they stepped off the GRAMMY stage

GRAMMYs/Jan 29, 2018 - 05:39 am

What do artists do the moment they walk off the GRAMMY stage from presenting, accepting an award or performing? Now, you can find out.

Take a peak at Album Of The Year GRAMMY winner Bruno Mars, 60th GRAMMY Awards Host James Cordon, Cardi B minutes before her electrifying performance of "Finesse," and more!

Also see Best Pop Duo/Group Performance GRAMMY winners Portugal. The Man posing with their first career GRAMMY Award, Best Roots Gospel Album GRAMMY winner Reba McIntire right after she walked offstage, Best R&B Song GRAMMY winner James Fauntleroy, Best Remixed Recording GRAMMY winner Latroit, and many more, with these photos from backstage during the 60th GRAMMY Awards.

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Bruno Mars Wins Song Of The Year | 2018 GRAMMYs

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Bruno Mars Wins Song Of The Year | 2018 GRAMMYs

The Hawaiian native takes home Song Of The Year for "That's What I Like" at the 60th GRAMMY Awards

GRAMMYs/Jan 29, 2018 - 08:11 am

Feeling the 24K Magic, Bruno Mars' successful progress through the categories he's been nominated in at the 60th GRAMMY Awards picked up another one at Song Of The Year for "That's What I Like."


Christopher Brody Brown and Philip Lawrence co-write with Mars under the name Shampoo Press & Curl. The other winning songwriters for Mars' hit tonight in this category are James Fauntleroy and production team "The Sterotypes" — Ray Charles McCullough II, Jeremy Reeves, Ray Romulus and  Jonathan Yip.

For additional "Finesse" on stage at the 60th GRAMMY Awards, Mars was joined by Cardi B for a reprise of their 148-million-views hit remix.

The Album Of The Year GRAMMY Award wrapped up the night and wrapped up Bruno Mars' complete rampage through his six nominated categories — now six wins.

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Mariah Carey Tells Fans Fire Music Is Coming With New Album 'Caution'

Mariah Carey

Photo: David Crotty/Getty Images

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Mariah Carey Tells Fans Fire Music Is Coming With New Album 'Caution'

The sultry R&B/pop superstar has announced she will release her 15th studio album next month – what will she bring us this time around?

GRAMMYs/Oct 17, 2018 - 05:39 am

Never one to do things quietly, the GRAMMY-winning R&B/pop diva with the angelic voice Mariah Carey came boldly onto the scene in 1990 with her GRAMMY-nominated debut self-titled album. At the 33rd GRAMMY Awards she took home her first two wins: Best New Artist and for Best Pop Vocal Performance, Female for "Vision Of Love," which she performed on the GRAMMY stage. The song was the album's first single and Carey's first No. 1 song. Since taking center stage at the beginning of the '90s the star hasn't looked back, releasing 13 studio albums and plenty of hits over the years. Four years after the release of her last album, she has announced that her next one is a month away. What will she serve up on her 15th LP?

The star recently shared on Twitter that her latest album is called Caution and will be released on Nov. 16, 2018. We first got a hint of a new album on Sept. 13 when she announced an album was in the works and released the lead single, "GTFO." The album's second single, "With You," followed on Oct. 4.

On "GTFO" she confidently asks a soon-to-be-ex lover "How 'bout you get the f* out?" in breathy vocals over a slow, melodic beat by GRAMMY-winning producer Nineteen85. "With You" feels like a classic Carey R&B love song with her angelic vocals backed by snapping and a melodic slow jam groove produced by hip-hop beat maker DJ Mustard, who lets her voice shine on an uncharacteristically mellow track for him. These songs hint that her latest release will give us songs that not only showcase her incredible vocal range and versatility, but also give us both nostalgia-inducing tracks as well as radio-ready hits.

"GTFO" gives us a taste of some of the new flavor that she is bringing to her new album, singing the song's coy lyrics completely in more-understated breathy vocals without belting any big high notes, not even during the chorus. It's a catchy, playful breakup song, as she confidently sings "get the f* out/how 'bout you take your tings and be on your merry way?/Fly off with the wind, bye bye baby/How 'bout you scusami, Mimi'll call you a valet."

The song was co-written and co-produced by Jeff Jefferies aka Nineteen85, who is half of OVO R&B duo dvsn and is responsible for producing some of Drake's biggest hits, including the GRAMMY-winning mega-hit "Hotline Bling." On the Drake's song "Emotionless" from his latest album, Scorpion, he samples Carey's lyrics from remixed classic hit "Emotions." Hopefully Jefferies has some catchy hits up his sleeve for Carey, and maybe even brings in some OVO artist surprises.

Carey has released some great collabs over the years, a majority with R&B and hip-hop artists, including Boyz II Men on heartfelt slow jam "One Sweet Day" from 1995's Daydream and Jay-Z on the upbeat classic belter "Heartbreaker" from 1999's Rainbow. We can only hope that the new album will offer some new, soon-to-be-classic hits with some of our other favorite artists.

Her most recent album, Me. I Am Mariah… The Elusive Chanteuse, released in 2014, had more collab tracks than usual for her, which could perhaps point towards some hot features on Caution. The deluxe edition of the 2014 album had six songs with other artists, including rappers Nas, Fabolous, Wale and R. Kelly as well as R&B singers Miguel and Mary J. Blige. The  album's lead single, "Beautiful," has Miguel and Carey singing a soulful, feel-good duet, while "Dedicated" features a bounce-y, electronic-infused hip-hop beat with a verse from Nas. Seeing that she worked with big-time hip-hop producers on the new album's lead singles, we can only hope that they not only offered their production genus to more of the tracks, but perhaps brought some of their friends into the studio as well.

Fans only have to wait a month for the full dose of new music from Carey, but until then we will send our prayers to the music gods that the album will feature all of our dream collabs, perhaps some old and new friends, and offer up some new favorite songs, with some to slow dance to and others to belt out in the shower.

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