meta-script5 Takeaways From GRAMMY U's Masterclass With Andrew McMahon: Be Bold, Build Bonds & Embrace Your Fears |
GRAMMY U Masterclass with Andrew McMahon
Andrew McMahon speaks at the GRAMMY U Masterclass during SXSW

Photo: Daniel Boczarski/Getty Images The Recording Academy


5 Takeaways From GRAMMY U's Masterclass With Andrew McMahon: Be Bold, Build Bonds & Embrace Your Fears

Singer/songwriter Andrew McMahon and moderator Taylor Hanson discussed longevity in the music business, overcoming changes and advice for entering the industry.

GRAMMYs/Mar 23, 2023 - 02:29 pm

In an industry as competitive and ever-changing as the music business, longevity is a coveted attribute. Many artists strive to achieve a career that spans decades, but only a select few truly succeed. 

During SXSW 2023, GRAMMY U organized a Masterclass for its student representatives with Andrew McMahon of Something Corporate, Jack’s Mannequin and Andrew McMahon in the Wilderness. Presented by Mastercard, the event was designed for students and young professionals who want to break into the music industry. 

McMahon who also founded the Dear Jack Foundation in an effort to initiate change and provide support for young adults who have been diagnosed with cancer — spoke with GRAMMY nominee Taylor Hanson, the Recording Academy’s Texas Chapter President, about the most important lessons he has learned throughout his varied musical career.  His new album, Tilt At The Wind No More, is out March 31 and his tour begins in May.

Below are his top five pieces of advice for those figuring out how to start and maintain a successful career in music. 

Don’t Give In To Fear 

One of McMahon's crucial lessons was learning how to channel his fear into drive. The songwriter explained how he grew up feeling insecure and shy about his talents, but instead of letting those emotions have a crippling effect, he pushed himself outside his comfort zone. 

"If you know something could be good for you, but you’re nervous, that’s when you have to lean in and say yes," he said. 

There are always going to be people who don’t believe in you or your vision as an artist, but it is crucial to maintain a positive mindset. McMahon noted that some of the greatest lessons he has learned have come from the people who did not believe in him — yet those doubts simply motivated him to prove his nay-sayers wrong. 

Build Life-Long Bonds

The people who have survived the longest in the music business are those who foster long-term relationships, McMahon said. He also noted the value of nurturing existing relationships over finding the next best thing because, "inevitably we all circle back to each other." After all, the stronger a relationship is, the more you can learn from it. "If you don’t take care of your relationships, then what’s the point," he questioned. 

In addition to maintaining creative and working relationships, it is also important to find those relationships socially. Surround yourself with people who support you and your passion. Whether that be friends, family, or mentors, McMahon pointed out that having a support system is necessary for anyone pursuing a career in music. 

"[My parents] saw the passion, and they were always very committed to helping me chase that." McMahon described his mom helping him search for producers when he was only 10 years old, allowing him to start creating a demo that he would send out into the world. 

Allow Yourself To Evolve

McMahon has never been afraid to embrace change throughout his career. He began as the frontman of Something Corporate and, when the group went on hiatus, he formed Jack's Mannequin to explore a more mature and introspective sound. And when Jack's Mannequin disbanded, McMahon embarked on a solo career that pushed even further into new musical territory.

At the heart of his journey is a willingness to take risks — even when it means departing from what is familiar or comfortable. "It was so important that I made that change because it also gave me the strength to do it again," he said, referencing his shift from Something Corporate to Jack’s Mannequin. 

Accepting change and stepping into the unknown allows for so many more possibilities to learn and grow, which is one of the many reasons McMahon has managed to maintain relevance and longevity in a notoriously fickle industry.

Use Technology To Your Advantage

"Technology has been a part of my music career from the beginning," McMahon said when asked about its influence on his development as an artist. Though he joked about being one of the first to create a band webpage, McMahon made sure to talk about how social media, does not come naturally to him. 

One of McMahon’s lessons for the crowd was to embrace social media in a way that feels authentic and organic — whatever it takes to participate in some way. "If you want to compete in any space, whether it’s music or otherwise, you better be willing to meet the game where it’s at," he said, "[because] the only constant in the music business is that it changes every year."

Social media is about building a community with fans. McMahon pointed out that we live in a time where artists communicate directly with fans, which was not the case not too long ago. The important thing to remember is: "You just, as an artist, have to figure out where you fit and how you can make the greatest impact."

"Be Persistent, Be Relentless"

Before concluding the Masterclass, McMahon challenged students to lean into their passion. The songwriter was upfront about the difficulties of an artistic career, but encouraged audience members to accept that workload and prepare for it. 

"This is one of the hardest businesses out there…[but] it’s actually one of the greatest industries to work hard in," he said. 

In following what really excites you and talking to people who interest you, you will find mentors and strengthen your skills. McMahon’s advice was short and sweet: "Be persistent. Be relentless," a phrase certain to fuel the fire of hungry young professionals in music.  

The full GRAMMY U Masterclass with Andrew McMahon, presented by Mastercard, is available to stream now. Watch the video to get all of McMahon’s advice for a long and successful career in the music business. Click here for more information on GRAMMY U. 

6 Deep Insights From Jacob Collier & Jessie Reyez' GRAMMY U Masterclass Conversation

Halle Bailey’s GRAMMY U Masterclass
Muni Long and Halle Bailey

Photo: Anna Webber/Getty Images for The Recording Academy


5 Takeaways From Halle Bailey’s GRAMMY U Masterclass

"Things change every day," Halle Bailey said during her Masterclass, "but if you find that love for what your passion is then you just stick to that."

GRAMMYs/Feb 4, 2024 - 05:25 pm

Seated among a colorfully-draped stage, it was obvious that six-time GRAMMY nominee Halle Bailey was speaking to her people

The packed room at GRAMMY House in downtown Los Angeles on Feb.2 listened intently as Bailey led a Masterclass for GRAMMY U Members, which was moderated by GRAMMY- winning artist and songwriter Muni Long. The event was presented by Mastercard.

In a live streamed conversation, Bailey offered a rare insight into her success in music and film — which includes two albums released with her sister Chloe Bailey, her lead role as Ariel in the live version of Disney’s The Little Mermaid and the role of Nettie Harris in the remake of The Color Purple. She also discussed balancing her career with her personal life as a brand new first-time mom.

While the Masterclass celebrated Bailey's achievements, it was also a showcase of what Ruby Marchand, the Recording Academy’s Chief Awards & Industry Officer, described as "the future of music." 

Your cultural devotion and impact is something that the Recording Academy deeply cares about and we are here to help you find your careers, find your relationships, find your deepest inspired source that can help guide you," Marchand said before bringing out Bailey and Long. "Believe in yourselves, have the self confidence to take risks to make decisions that are right for you, that are right creatively, musically, and that’s the journey of GRAMMY U." 

The Recording Academy’s President Panos A. Panay then made a special announcement that ensures a more diverse and inclusive future for the nearly 20-year-old GRAMMY U, which currently hosts 6,000 members and 30,000 alumni. GRAMMY U recently expanded its membership eligibility to increase inclusivity beyond college enrollment.

"I know everyone knows the Recording Academy for the GRAMMY Awards, but the mission of the Academy is ultimately about fostering the next generation of creators," he said. "It’s about providing a platform and a way of advocating for what we think is the most important class of citizens, which are the people that are creating these amazing songs and the music and the beats that move all of us."

Both Bailey and Long had incredible advice for attendees to apply to their own lives as early-career creatives. Read on for five of the biggest lessons from the 2024 GRAMMY U Masterclass.

Absorb Greatness & Get Aligned

Long suggested that the audience set an intention to learn as much as possible from the Masterclass. These lessons can be absorbed through osmosis, she noted.

"When you are in the presence of people that you admire and you respect — whether that’s Halle, or myself or whoever — understand that there is a frequency that you have to be aligned with in order to get closer to the beats that you desire," she said. 

Long encouraged attendees at GRAMMY House and on the livestream to "align yourselves with the things that you want to see in your future." The "Hrs & Hrs" singer added that she wanted "to elevate you with my frequency, my intention, my energy."

Family Comes First

Bailey and her sister Chloe first garnered attention at kids singing cover songs on YouTube, which led to being signed to Beyoncé’s Parkwood Entertainment label as Chloe x Halle. They’re working on their third album together and also both have solo projects. At the Masterclass, Bailey emphasized the importance of family and how Chloe helped instill her with confidence.

"I was truly grateful and blessed that I was able to start in this industry with my big sister Chloe, who is my angel, my guide, my protector always," she said. "The beautiful symbolism of having a sister there to guide you through everything in life is that she’s filling me up with courage and joy and me just really believing in myself because that's something that I really needed to work on, and still do a bit today."

The 23-year-old has said she has learned that she can do more than she ever expected, and working with her family was crucial. "Being able to start that way with that anchor is something I was so, so grateful for."

Balance The Personal & Professional  

Bailey recently had her first child, a baby boy named Halo; Long wanted to know what she’s learning now when trying to keep a personal and professional balance.

"I feel like I've reached this new level of maturity," Bailey said. "Especially being a mother now, which is so crazy to say! But I feel Like I've learned how to balance it by shutting the world out. That's the first thing. I have to shut out the opinions of other people when it comes to social media, Twitter, Instagram, I just have to not read anything, I have to turn it off…"

Motherhood has opened a new "can of worms" for Bailey. "You see, really, your heart in your hands in this beautiful being. So I feel like I have such a greater purpose and so much more to do for him, and so much more that I want him to be able to experience," she said. "So it gives me a new motivation and drive and passion for myself, for my family, for my life, for everything."

Find An Anchor In Artistry

Since Bailey’s career was kickstarted by YouTube success, Long asked what advice Bailey has for aspiring artists when it comes to making content and using social media today.

"I would say for anybody who is trying to start out and be in this confusing industry where the world of social media is crazy now — you have so many things to think about as an artist," Bailey said. "What I try to do for myself is block out all of those things and take it back to being in the garage with my pen and pad and writing out my true thoughts and my love for music. That’s what I stand on."

Bailey also encouraged the audience to have a realistic view of their work — something the veil of social media can make challenging.

"All of the glitz and glam is cool in this industry," she added, "but you know when you start working in it, it's very up and down. There’s a lot of 'nos'...but if you anchor yourself with your love for your artistry, that is what matters the most."

Things change every day, Bailey continued, "but if you find that love for what your passion is then you just stick to that. So remain open to being who you are and remembering why you started."

Ignore The Haters

Bailey admitted that mean comments on social media can really hurt and make her pull away, but she has learned to ignore the noise and focus on her music.

"I just ignore, ignore, ignore," Bailey said. "If somebody says something I don’t like, I don’t want to hear it. I don’t listen. I just have to say to myself, ‘Thank you, I respect and appreciate your opinion, but I agree to disagree.’ And I’m going to show you otherwise."

"That’s actually great advice," Long replied. "You not only have to say that, but you have to distance yourself because — what we were talking about in the beginning, leading through osmosis — you can also take on negativity through osmosis as well. So if you allow yourself to continuously be eroded by other people’s perception of who they think you should be versus how you see yourself, that's very dangerous."

After the Masterclass concluded, Bailey surprised the audience with a lovely live performance of "Angel," her first solo single that’s been nominated for Best R&B Song this year. Tune in to the GRAMMY Awards on Sun. Feb. 4 to see if she wins!

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Jacob Collier
Jacob Collier (center) with GRAMMY U student reps who attended the 2023 GRAMMY U Masterclass on Feb. 2, 2023.

Photo: Alberto E. Rodriguez / Stringer / Getty Images


6 Deep Insights From Jacob Collier & Jessie Reyez' GRAMMY U Masterclass Conversation

The GRAMMY U Masterclass powered by Mastercard and hosted by GRAMMY-winner Jacob Collier and GRAMMY-nominee Jessie Reyez was dedicated to excellence in music and the development of talent through the industry.

GRAMMYs/Feb 4, 2023 - 09:16 pm

Ahead of the 2023 GRAMMYs, like every year, GRAMMY U student representatives studying to pursue careers in music have gathered together in Los Angeles for GRAMMY Week, many to attend or help out at the GRAMMY Awards.

On Feb. 2, at the Novo venue in downtown L.A., GRAMMY U hosted its own Masterclass dedicated to excellence in music and the development of talent through the industry. Passion and creativity shined bright at the event powered by Mastercard hosted by GRAMMY-winner Jacob Collier and moderated by GRAMMY-nominee Jessie Reyez.

Collier and Reyez presented a rich and rollicking conversation, as well as a musical demonstration, that showcased their admiration for each other and for music-making. The Masterclass also highlighted the dedication, skill and vision of the GRAMMY U students themselves, who made the event and all its magic happen.

Read on for insights and advice from the GRAMMY U Masterclass.

Collaboration is key

"The GRAMMY U representatives work together to help build the vision of the program, including the featured panelists, conversation topic, venues, and overall vibe,” explained GRAMMY U Director Jessie Allen. “The most rewarding part of the events we produce is seeing the pride each Rep has as they see their vision realized."

And the vision for this Masterclass was impressive. The pairing of past collaborators Collier and Reyez was fantastic (Collier tapped Reyez for "Count The People" on Collier’s GRAMMY-nominated Djesse Vol. 3) and led to a deep, lively and illuminating conversation filled with live music and music theory 101. The musical components, which included a stunning demonstration of the audience choir Collier has been performing on tour, felt organic, spur-of-the-moment, and deeply captivating.

"For this Masterclass, we all knew that including live music was a top priority in how we created the event. Once we had Jacob on board, the program direction became clear pretty quickly and the Reps wrote all of the questions and script for him and Jessie. One of the first things they asked was for Jacob to do an audience choir segment, which was such a special part of the event. I was so proud to see them all soaking in every second, knowing that they helped to create it," Allen added. 

In addition to shaping the event itself, other GRAMMY U students prepared great additional questions for the audience Q&A portion of the talk. A vibey selection of R&B, Afrobeats and house grooves, ala Beyoncé, Steve Lacy, Doja Cat and Black Coffee was provided by GRAMMY U student DJ, Anastazja before and after the main event as guests mingled and ate sweet treats of fresh churros, fluffy mini donuts, and paletas. The culmination of these collaborative efforts elevated the energy of the entire event.

Rules (and tools) were meant to be stretched

"I've always been interested in stretching all the rules. I've always felt they're quite arbitrary," Collier said toward the beginning of the chat, rocking a chevron-striped sweater and bright yellow Crocs that serendipitously coordinated the oversized chairs both artists perched in. "That gave me a lot of clarity."

The GRAMMY-winning singer, songwriter and composer took the captive audience back to the beginning of his musical journey, where the creative seeds for his GRAMMY-winning debut album In My Room were planted, with a mic and his first Casio keyboard in his childhood London bedroom. He explained that he loved to take apart classic songs he loved, like those of Stevie Wonder and play with them. He also explored all his keyboard had to offer, relishing in its presets which sounded out waltz and polka and horn instruments he'd never played before. This began when he was 10 and through his teenage years, and was a very inspiring and fun period of musical play, learning and experimentation for him. This was his happy place.

That bedroom musical experimentation was "a crucial part of my learning… What you like is one of the most important questions you can ask [yourself]," he said, emphasizing the importance of following your joy and the things and sounds that excite you.

Intuition is a superpower

Learning to trust and listen to your intuition was a recurring theme that both Reyez and Collier brought up when discussing the creative process and navigating the music industry.

"You have to make sure the little voice in your head is on your side," Reyez stated.

She continued, telling the audience not to accept “no” or let others convince them something won't work when they know there's a way. She stressed the importance of nurturing connections with themselves and their intuition, which is always the best guide.

When Reyez gets a no, she checks in with her intuition. When she gets stuck in indecision, instead of letting time continue to pass her by, she flips a coin. For her, this classic trick is a great gut-check and gives her initial insight into her emotional reaction to any decision. Either way, making a choice and moving forward is always more rewarding than doing nothing.

Jessie Reyez and Jacob Collier

Photo: Alberto E. Rodriguez / Stringer / Getty Images

Effective leadership creates harmony

Collier led the "presence and effortless flow" of the audience choir, which he demonstrated to powerful effect, a beautiful chorus of angelic voices that he conducted with simple hand motions and vocal demonstrations.

The demonstration sounded flawless and appeared nearly effortless. He expressed that leading the audience choirs has been a great learning experience for him, understanding how to boil it down to the simplest sounds and give instructions with clear and precise hand signals to result in unified sound.

Drawing parallels between conducting a choice and building out his creative and professional team, Collier mused, "How do I lead in a way where everyone's voice feels important when creating a team?"

Collier indulged the audience with one of many “music nerd moments” of the afternoon as he discussed and demonstrated triadic harmony, concluding with "Harmony's my ultimate crush from day one."

"Think about every problem as an unresolved chord"

Collier offered a great piece of advice someone on his team had once shared with him: "Think about every problem as an unresolved chord." For him, finishing a chord is second nature, so if he can "transpose that [knowledge] to other situations," he understands that all challenges have solutions, eventually.

"When you believe that it can happen, the universe does transpire to help you," Collier asserted, adding that the solution doesn’t always have to come through your mind. Striking the balance between head versus heart and learning to listen to both was a point the dynamic pair emphasized.

He related it back to the power of having a good team and openness for collaboration, which can support in making magic happen. "[It's about] reaching into your peripheral vision knowing something will be there," "The Sun Is In Your Eyes" artist said.

Reflect a perspective through song

"I'm longing for all that is already here," Collier said poetically, in one of his many musical demonstrations. "Longing and abundance…how do you express all that with a chord?" he mused from the piano, playing around with expressing that nuanced feeling, which was truly powerful to experience and let wash over you. "I love the feeling of transposing my experience to [song]," he said.

He activated the audience choir once again as he bounced around the stage which had become his musical playground, moving from the big yellow chair to the front of the stage to conduct, and back to the piano. It's clear that Collier thinks (and moves)  in musical form. Speaking to the audience, his choir, he reflects: "The feeling of being a note in a chord, it's an interesting state, it's like being a person."

A question from a GRAMMY U student who is a voice major offered more illumination into Collier's music making mastery. Collier explained that when he was younger, he thought that writing lyrics was meant to be a personal monologue, but as he's developed in his songwriting, he sees it as a chance to share a perspective, and not just your own. It could be a dance between two characters, or a chance to explore a viewpoint completely different than your own.

"Embrace the weirdness of your perspective and others' perspectives," he encouraged. "And don't be right…being good is boring… push into the crumbly, strange, dark corners of your imagination." For him, that's the most exciting creative space to be in.

There were so many mic drop moments during the lengthy conversation, and if that wasn't enough, there were two more cherries to top it off. Collier closed out with a big, heavens-gracing performance of the classic "Can’t Take My Eyes Off You" just for the IRL audience (sorry livestream guests!). His interpretation of the song ended with one more audience choir.

Find out if Collier and your other favorite artists will take home a golden gramophone this Sunday, Feb. 5, at the 65th GRAMMY Awards.

Music’s Biggest Night will be broadcast live from Arena in Los Angeles Sunday, Feb. 5 (8:00 - 11:30 PM, live ET/5:00 - 8:30 PM, live PT). It will air on the CBS Television Network, stream live and on demand on Paramount+.

Jack's Mannequin's Andrew McMahon


5 Questions With ... Jack's Mannequin

Singer/songwriter Andrew McMahon discusses new music from Jack's Mannequin, the Dear Jack Foundation, and more

GRAMMYs/Dec 3, 2014 - 05:06 am

On Aug. 26 singer/songwriter and pianist Andrew McMahon of Jack's Mannequin was the featured guest for The Recording Academy's 5 Questions With … series during an installment of the GRAMMY Foundation's GRAMMY Camp — SoundCheck program. Held at the New Daisy Theatre in Memphis, Tenn., McMahon discussed Jack's Mannequin's new album, People And Things, advice for aspiring artists, key factors for success, and the Dear Jack Foundation, among other topics. During the program, McMahon performed a brief set, including "Amy, I," a track from People And Things.

"I think the key factor to success in this business is to wake up and put on boxing gloves everyday and fight for it," said McMahon. "You've got to be tough to survive this business. There's a perception that what we do is easy because it's so fun, and it is. But it requires a level of determination that you, to some extent, need to be born with or nurtured into having. It's a hard business."

Jack's Mannequin is the project of former Something Corporate frontman McMahon. Jack Mannequin's debut album, 2005's Everything In Transit, featured Mötley Crüe drummer Tommy Lee and peaked at No. 37 on the Billboard 200. That same year McMahon was diagnosed with acute lymphatic leukemia and underwent a successful bone marrow transplant from his sister, a procedure that inspired McMahon to write "There, There Katie," a track that appeared on The Dear Jack EP in 2009. In 2008 Jack's Mannequin released their sophomore effort, The Glass Passenger, which peaked at No. 8 on the Billboard 200 and was named one of the most highly anticipated albums of 2008 by Alternative Press magazine.

Released Oct. 4, People And Things was produced by three-time GRAMMY winner Rob Cavallo and features guest vocals from Brandi Carlile. The album debuted at No. 9 on the Billboard 200. Aside from music, McMahon founded the Dear Jack Foundation in 2006. The foundation's mission is to be a "leader in raising awareness and supporting organizations and charities with the greatest need and highest potential for impact on young adult cancer patients." Jack's Mannequin is on tour in Canada and the United States through November.

Click on the "5 Questions With ... interviews" tag below for links to other GRAMMY News stories in this series.


Beyond Grateful

Melissa Etheridge, Kevin Hearn and Justin Hines are three of the many artists overcoming obstacles to share the gift of music

GRAMMYs/Dec 3, 2014 - 05:06 am

(In the spirit of the holiday season, The Recording Academy invites you to consider making a donation to support musicians in need through its MusiCares Foundation or music education programs through its GRAMMY Foundation.)

In 1998, when he was recording Stunt with Barenaked Ladies, keyboardist/guitarist Kevin Hearn knew that something wasn't right.

"At the beginning of our recording session, I started having a cough, and loss of appetite," Hearn recalls. "I thought it was maybe just stress, but by the end of the sessions the symptoms got worse and I got a lot thinner. I started thinking maybe something was very wrong.

"When I came home, I had a full checkup and was diagnosed with leukemia. I was told that it might be life-threatening and I had to get to the hospital right away."

Over the next several months, Hearn endured "a few close calls where I almost didn't make it," and received a life-saving bone marrow transplant. Today, he is fully cured of the chronic myelogenous leukemia that almost took his life.

Hearn, who will release his latest solo album, Cloud Maintenance, in December, has since returned to his duties with Barenaked Ladies. He says the ordeal — one that he documented on his 2001 solo album H-Wing — put him in touch with his own mortality.

"I'm still going to die one day, just like everyone else," says Hearn. "It certainly helps you recognize how precious your time is here."

Hearn is just one musician who has conquered a career-threatening issue and rebounded to pursue his passionate livelihood, joining GRAMMY winners Melissa Etheridge, Olivia Newton-John and Sheryl Crow; self-described "toughest girl alive" blues singer Candye Kane; Jack's Mannequin's Andrew McMahon; Band drummer Levon Helm; and pop singer/songwriter Anastacia as cancer survivors.

But not all seemingly insurmountable obstacles for musicians are related to illness.

More than 25 years after losing his left arm in a car accident, Def Leppard drummer Rick Allen continues to pound out the rhythms for the multiplatinum UK rock band, thanks to an innovative kit devised by British electronic drum manufacturer Simmons.

Beach Boys songwriting guru Brian Wilson created some of pop music's most intricate harmonies despite being deaf in one ear and blind musicians — including Stevie Wonder, Raul Midón and Andrea Bocelli — have relied on their ears to overcome their visual deficit.

Jennifer Hudson refused to be derailed by violent family tragedies; Demi Lovato has weathered bullying and self-mutilation; and Kelly Clarkson, Paula Abdul, Lily Allen, Lady Gaga, and Elton John have admitted to battling eating disorders.

And the list of musicians who have endured rehab to conquer alcohol and drug dependencies could fill a page or two.

But once they've either recovered from their addictions, illnesses or personal issues — or, at the very least, learned to cope with them — many of these grateful fighters have given back, either publicly or privately.

"On a more personal, direct level, I've actually gone and visited patients," says Hearn. "I've found that I can answer questions that perhaps other people can't answer, because I've been through the experience. I also try to tell my story a little bit."

Since being diagnosed with breast cancer in January 2003, Anastacia became motivated to raise funds and awareness, specifically targeting younger women who are stricken with breast cancer or those who have no family history of the disease. As a result, she established the Anastacia Fund through the Breast Cancer Research Foundation.

One musician who has launched his own foundation to help others is Canadian singer/songwriter Justin Hines. Although he's bound to a wheelchair due to a genetic joint disorder called Larsen Syndrome, Hines says the Justin Hines Foundation, which is set up to raise awareness for individuals with disabilities who are in need, isn't focused on just one cause.

"We try to be inclusive of everybody, really," says Hines, who recently starred in his own PBS special performing songs from his 2011 album, Days To Recall.

"We're lucky to be in this position where we have a foundation where we can help out when we can. Depending on the organization or group that we partner with, we basically just try to do fundraising initiatives for specific causes. It's been pretty broad in its scope.

"The whole world needs help at some point in their lives, so it's really about broadening horizons and making connections."

Hines, who launched his career 15 years ago after winning a contest to sing Canada's national anthem at a Toronto Raptors NBA game, says he's "beyond grateful" for being able to pursue music.

"Growing up, even though I was obsessed with music, I never really thought I'd turn it into a career. Every day I do this is a bonus."

(Nick Krewen is a Toronto-based journalist who has written for The Toronto Star, TV Guide, Billboard, Country Music and was a consultant for the National Film Board's music industry documentary Dream Machine.)