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I’m A Seat Filler at The GRAMMYs

Each year the Recording Academy presents Music’s Biggest Night: The GRAMMYs. Hundreds of seat fillers are cast. We captured the experience of one of them

GRAMMYs/Feb 14, 2020 - 02:00 am

Follow the Recording Academy through the incredible journey GRAMMY U offers college students to experience Music’s Biggest Night from the best seats in the house - as a seat filler.

This once-in-a-lifetime opportunity is not just about being in the room with some of music’s leading figures. It’s symbolic of the possibilities.

GRAMMY U helps students realize these posibilites, making it easier for music's next generation flourishes. Throughout each semester, events and special programs touch on all facets of the industry, including the business, technology, and the creative process.

In this documentary, viewers are given unprecedented access into the days and events leading up to the iconic awards show through the lens of a young twenty-something navigating and trying to define who he is and who he wants to be in an ever-changing world and music industry.

See GRAMMY U members travel to Los Angeles to network with other students, receive mentoring from music professionals, go behind the scenes to learn what goes into producing the GRAMMYs and gain exclusive access to GRAMMY Week events. It all culmiinates in attending the 62nd GRAMMY Awards as an all-important seat filler, where they might just find themselves seated next to GRAMMY winners!

Learn more about GRAMMY U

 

grammy u monthly member playlist updated look

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Press Play On GRAMMY U Mixtape: Sunscreen & Suntans Monthly Member Playlist

The GRAMMY U Mixtape is a monthly, genre-spanning playlist to quench your thirst for new tunes, all from our talented members. This summer playlist is a vibrant mix of bubblegum pop and soulful tunes that will have you bopping as you soak up the sun.

GRAMMYs/Jun 18, 2024 - 01:38 pm

Did you know that among all GRAMMY U members, songwriting and performance are some of the most sought after fields of study? This playlist dedicates a space to hear what these members are creating today!

The GRAMMY U Mixtape, now available for your listening pleasure, highlights the creations and fresh ideas that members are bringing to this industry directly on the Recording Academy's Spotify, Apple Music, and Amazon Music pages. Our goal is to celebrate GRAMMY U members, as well as the time and effort they put into making original music — from the songwriting process to the final production of the track.

Each month, we accept submissions and feature 15 to 25 songs that match each month’s theme. This summer playlist is vibrant mix of bubblegum pop and soulful tunes that will have you bopping and singing as you soak up the sun. So, what’s stopping you? Press play on GRAMMY U’s Mixtape and listen now on Spotify, Apple Music and Amazon Music.

Want to be featured on the next playlist? Submit your songs today! We are currently accepting submissions for songs of all genres for consideration for our next playlist. Whether you write pop, rock, hip-hop, jazz, or classical, we want to hear from you. Music must be written and/or produced by the member (an original song) and you must be able to submit a Spotify, Apple Music and/or Amazon Music link to the song. Artists must be a GRAMMY U member to submit.

About GRAMMY U:

GRAMMY U is a program that connects aspiring professionals and creatives ages 18-29 with the music industry's brightest and most talented minds. We provide a community for emerging professionals and creatives in addition to various opportunities and tools necessary to start a career in music. Throughout the program year, events and initiatives touch on all facets of the industry, including business, technology, and the creative process.

As part of the Recording Academy's mission to ensure the recorded arts remain a thriving part of our shared cultural heritage, GRAMMY U establishes the necessary foundation for music’s next generation to flourish.

Not a member, but want to submit to our playlist? Apply for GRAMMY U Membership here.

Former GRAMMY U Reps Heather Howard, Sophie Griffiths and Samantha Kopec contributed to this article.

15 Must-Hear Albums In May 2024: Dua Lipa, Billie Eilish, Sia, Zayn & More

David Bryan, Jon Bon Jovi and Tico Torres attend the UK Premiere of "Thank You and Goodnight: The Bon Jovi Story" on April 17, 2024 in London, England
David Bryan, Jon Bon Jovi and Tico Torres attend the UK Premiere of "Thank You and Goodnight: The Bon Jovi Story"

Photo: Tim P. Whitby/Getty Images for Disney+

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10 Facts About Jon Bon Jovi: A Friendship With Springsteen, Philanthropy, Football Fanaticism & More

Ahead of the band's new album 'Forever,' out June 7, and a new Hulu documentary, "Thank you, Goodnight: The Bon Jovi Story," read on for 10 facts about the GRAMMY-winning group and its MusiCares Person Of The Year frontman.

GRAMMYs/Jun 6, 2024 - 06:55 pm

Bon Jovi have officially been in the cultural conversation for five decades — and it looks like we'll never say goodbye. 

The band's self-titled debut album was unleashed upon the world in 1984, and lead single "Runaway" made some waves. Yet the New Jersey group didn't truly break through until their third album, the 12 million-selling Slippery When Wet. By the late 1980s, they were arguably the biggest rock band in the world, selling out massive shows in arenas and stadiums. 

Since, Bon Jovi releases have consistently topped album charts (six of their studio albums hit No. 1). A big reason for their continued success is that, unlike a majority of their ‘80s peers, frontman Jon Bon Jovi made sure that they adapted to changing times while retaining the spirit of their music — from the anthemic stomp of 1986’s "Bad Medicine" to the Nashville crossover of 2005’s "Who Says You Can’t Go Home." It also doesn’t hurt that the 2024 MusiCares Person Of The Year has aged very gracefully; his winning smile and charismatic personality ever crush-worthy.

Their fifth decade rocking the planet has been marked by many other milestones: The release of  a four-part Hulu documentary, "Thank you, Goodnight: The Bon Jovi Story"; Bon Jovi's 16th studio album Forever, and fan hopes for the return of original guitarist Richie Sambora who left unexpectedly in 2013. Despite all of these positive notes, there is an ominous cloud hanging over the group as their singer had to undergo vocal surgery following disappointing, consistently off-key performances on the group's 2022 U.S. tour. Even afterward, he remains unsure whether he’ll be able to tour again. But Bon Jovi remains popular and with Sambora expressing interest in a reunion, it's plausible that we could see them back on stage again somehow.

Jon Bon Jovi has also had quite a multifaceted career spun off of his success in music, as shown by the following collection of fascinating facts.

Jon Bon Jovi Sung With Bruce Springsteen When He Was 17

By the time he was in high school, Jon Bongiovi (his original, pre-fame last name) was already fronting his first serious group. The Atlantic City Expressway was a 10-piece with a horn section that performed well-known tunes from Jersey acts like Bruce Springsteen and Southside Johnny and the Asbury Jukes.

They regularly played The Fast Lane, and one night Bruce Springsteen was in the audience. To Bon Jovi’s surprise, The Boss jumped onstage to join them. The two later became good friends — during his MusiCares performance, Bon Jovi introduced Springsteen as "my mentor, my friend, my brother, my hero."

Jon Recorded Bon Jovi’s First Hit Before The Band Formed

Although "Runaway" was the debut single and lone Top 40 hit from Bon Jovi's first two albums, it was recorded as a professional demo back in 1982. 

Bon Jovi got a gig as a gopher at Power Station, the famed studio co-owned by his second cousin Tony Bongiovi where artists like the Rolling Stones, Diana Ross, and David Bowie recorded. (He watched even watched Bowie and Freddie Mercury record the vocals for "Under Pressure.")

The future rockstar cut "Runaway" (which was co-written mainly by George Karak) and other demos with session musicians — his friend, guitarist Aldo Nova, Rick Springfield/John Waite guitarist Tim Pierce, Springsteen keyboardist Roy Bittan, bassist Hugh McDonald (a future Bon Jovi member), and Scandal drummer Frankie LaRocca. The song first appeared on a WAPP compilation under his name, but then it was placed on Bon Jovi’s debut album. When the video for "Runway" was created nearly two years later, members of Bon Jovi were miming to other people’s performances. 

Although it is a classic, original guitarist Richie Sambora hates it and never wants to play it again.

He Eloped With His High School Sweetheart In April 1989

During the band’s world tour in support of New Jersey, Bon Jovi and Dorothea Hurley spontaneously eloped in a quickie wedding in Vegas. His bandmates and management were shocked to find this out; the latter probably feared that his ineligible bachelor status would harm their popularity with their ardent female fans. But it simply played more into his more wholesome image that differed from other hard rockers of the time. 

In May 2024, Bon Jovi’s son Jake secretly married "Stranger Things" actor Millie Bobby Brown. It was like history repeating itself, except this time family was involved.

Listen: Revisit Jon Bon Jovi's Greatest Hits & Deep Cuts Ahead Of MusiCares' Person Of The Year 2024 Gala

The Bongiovi Family Is Part Of The Bon Jovi Family

Back in the ‘80s, parents often didn’t like their kids’ music. However, Bon Jovi’s parents completely supported his. Mother Carol Bongiovi often chaperoned his early days when he was an underaged kid playing local clubs and bars in New Jersey. Father Jon Sr. was the group’s hair stylist until their third album, Slippery When Wet. He created his son's signature mane

Jon’s brother Matthew started as a production assistant in the band’s organization, then worked for their management before becoming his brother’s head of security and now his tour manager. His other brother Anthony became the director of a few Bon Jovi concert films and promo clips. He’s also directed concert films for Slayer and the Goo Goo Dolls.

Bon Jovi Is A Regular In Television & Film

After writing songs for the Golden Globe-winning "Young Guns II soundtrack (released as the solo album Blaze Of Glory) and getting a cameo in the Western’s opening, Bon Jovi was bitten by the acting bug. He studied with acclaimed acting coach Harold Guskin in the early ‘90s, then appeared as the romantic interest of Elizabeth Perkins in 1995's Moonlight and Valentino.

In other movies, Bon Jovi played a bartender who’s a recovering alcoholic (Little City), an ex-con turning over a new leaf (Row Your Boat), a failed father figure (Pay It Forward), a suburban dad and pot smoker (Homegrown), and a Navy Lieutenant in WWII (U-571). The band’s revival in 2000 slowed his acting aspirations, but he appeared for 10 episodes of "Ally McBeal," playing her love interest in 2002. 

Elsewhere on the silver screen, the singer has also portrayed a vampire hunter (Vampiros: Los Muertos), a duplicitous professor (Cry Wolf), the owner of a women’s hockey team (Pucked), and a rock star willing to cancel a tour for the woman he loves (New Year’s Eve). He hasn’t acted since 2011, but who knows when he might make a guest appearance?

Jon Bon Jovi Once Co-Owned A Football Team

In 2004, Bon Jovi became one of the co-founders and co-majority owner of the Philadelphia Soul, which were part of the Arena Football League (AFL). (Sambora was a minority shareholder.) The team name emerged in a satirical scene from "It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia" during which Danny DeVito’s character tries to buy the team for a paltry sum and twice butchers the singer’s name.

Jon stuck with the team until 2009, a year after they won Arena Bowl XXII, defeating the San Jose SaberCats. He then set his eyes on a bigger prize, the Buffalo Bills, aligning himself with a group of Toronto investors in 2011. One of his biggest competitors? Donald Trump, who ran a smear campaign alleging that the famed singer would move the team to Toronto. 

In the end, neither man purchased the team as they were outbid by Terry and Kim Pegula, who still own the Bills today.

Jon & Richie Sambora Wrote Songs For Other Artists

Having cranked out massive hits with songwriter Desmond Child, Bon Jovi and Sambora decided to write or co-write songs for and with other artists. 

In 1987, they co-wrote and produced the Top 20 hit "We All Sleep Alone" with Child for Cher, and also co-wrote the Top 40 hit "Notorious" with members of Loverboy. In 1989, the duo paired up again Loverboy guitarist Paul Dean for his solo rocker "Under The Gun" and bequeathed the New Jersey outtake "Does Anybody Really Fall in Love Anymore?" (co-written with Child and Diane Warren) to Cher. 

The Bon Jovi/Sambora song "Peace In Our Time" was recorded by Russian rockers Gorky Park. In 1990, Paul Young snagged the New Jersey leftover "Now and Forever," while the duo penned "If You Were in My Shoes" with Young, though neither song was released. In 2009, Bon Jovi and Sambora were inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame for their contributions to music.

Jon Bon Jovi Once Ran His Own Record Label

For a brief time in 1991, he ran his own record label, Jambco, which was distributed through Bon Jovi’s label PolyGram Records. The only two artists he signed were Aldo Nova and Billy Falcon, a veteran singer/songwriter who became Bon Jovi's songwriting partner in the 2000s. Neither of their albums (Aldo Nova’s Blood On The Bricks and Billy Falcon’s Pretty Blue World) were big sellers, and the label folded quickly when they began losing money.

Still, the experience gave Bon Jovi the chance to learn about the music business. That experience helped after he fired original manager Doc McGhee in 1991 and took over his band’s managerial reins until 2015.

Bon Jovi's Vocal Issues Aren't New

Although Jon Bon Jovi's vocal problems have become a major issue recently, they stem back to the late 1980s. It's doubtful as to whether Jon had proper vocal training for a rock band at the start. 

The group did 15-month tours to support both the Slippery When Wet and New Jersey albums. Near the end of the grueling Slippery tour, Bon Jovi was getting steroid injections because his voice was suffering.

While his voice held up into the 2000s, it has become apparent over the last decade that his singing is rougher than it used to be. As shown in the Hulu new documentary, the singer has been struggling to maintain his voice. It’s natural for older rock singers to lose some range — it’s been very rare to hear him sing any of the high notes in "Livin’ On A Prayer" over the last 20 years — but he admitshe is unsure whether he can ever tour again, even with recent surgery.

Bon Jovi Has Been A Philanthropist For Over Three Decades

Back in the 1980s, the upbeat Bon Jovi made it clear that they were not going to be a toned-down political band. But in the ‘90s, he and the band toned down their look, evolved their sound, and offered a more mature outlook on life. 

Reflecting this evolved viewpoint,  the band started an annual tradition of playing a December concert in New Jersey to raise money for various charitable causes; the concert series began in 1991 and continued with the band or Jon solo through at least 2015. The group have played various charitable concert events over the years including the Twin Towers Relief Benefit, Live 8 in Philadelphia, and The Concert For Sandy Relief. 

By the late 2000s, Jon and Dorothea founded the JBJ Soul Kitchen to serve meals at lower costs to people who cannot afford them. COVID-19 related food shortages led the couple to found  the JBJ Soul Kitchen Food Bank. Their JBJ Soul Foundation supports affordable housing and has rebuilt and refurbished homes through organizations like Project H.O.M.E., Habitat For Humanity, and Rebuilding Together.

While he may be a superstar, Jon Bon Jovi still believes in helping others. For his considerable efforts, he was honored as the 2024 MusiCares Person Of The Year during 2024 GRAMMY Week.

Listen: Revisit Jon Bon Jovi's Greatest Hits & Deep Cuts Ahead Of MusiCares' Person Of The Year 2024 Gala

Photo of Steve Lane and Zayna JeBailey at the 5th Annual Florida Songwriters Association Workshop at Full Sail University.
Steve Lane and Zayna JeBailey at the 5th Annual Florida Songwriters Association Workshop

Photo courtesy of Steve Lane and Zayna JeBailey

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6 Standout Stories From The 2023-24 GRAMMY U Mentorship Program

The GRAMMY U mentorship program pairs members and experienced music industry personnel. Read on for stories from six successful mentors and mentees from the 2023-24 program year.

GRAMMYs/May 31, 2024 - 11:22 pm

With the newly expanded eligibility for GRAMMY U membership, the GRAMMY U mentorship program has also shifted significantly this year. For the very first time, the mentorship program timeline lasted for an entire year, rather than being split into two semesters. The longer timeframe allowed the mentorship pairs to meet more frequently, take on bigger projects, and develop deeper connections.  

Through the program, GRAMMY U members from around the world receive one-on-one guidance from seasoned music industry professionals. Mentors and mentees have the flexibility to select their specific track within the music business, including performance, songwriting/composing, marketing, or the general music industry. Pairs are aligned as closely as possible, and match mentees with mentors in roles that reflect their interests. 

With over 600 pairings across the 12 Recording Academy Chapters, hundreds of members had the chance to work on amazing projects or participate in once-in-a-lifetime opportunities, all thanks to their mentors. Read on to hear about six outstanding pairs from the 2023-24 GRAMMY U Mentorship Program. 

Andre Gibson | Mentor | Chicago Chapter 

Lylajean Bariso | Mentee | Chicago Chapter 

Lylajean and Andre GRAMMY U Mentorship 2023-24

Andre Gibson and Lylajean Bariso were paired to focus on songwriting and vocal performance. Gibson is currently the President and Owner of Chiat Records, while Bariso majors in creative writing at Northwestern University. 

During this year’s mentorship program, Bariso had the unique opportunity to advance her music career. Under Gibson’s guidance, she participated in her first professional studio recording session and registered with a performing rights organization, enabling her to copyright her music. 

Although Bariso is not enrolled in her school’s music program, music is one of her most passionate hobbies. After participating in this year's mentorship program with Gibson, her perspective has shifted. 

"I've felt discouraged from pursuing music as a full-time career for most of my life, even though it's definitely a dream that's out there and high up for me," Bariso says. "However, I really appreciated that Andre took me seriously as a musical artist and supported the idea of me doing this as a career and following the same practices as professionals in the industry."

Steve Lane | Mentor | Florida Chapter 

Zayna JeBailey | Mentee | Florida Chapter

Steve and Jayna GRAMMY U Mentorship 2023-24

Zayna JeBailey, a music business and entertainment industries graduate from the University of Miami, was paired with Steve Lane, Executive Director of the Florida Songwriters Association. At the start of the program, JeBailey hoped to gain a deeper understanding about the industry through hands-on experience; with Lane as a mentor, she accomplished that goal. 

Over the past few months, JeBailey has worked on the Florida Songwriters Association podcast, assisting with everything from setting up equipment to filming. Additionally, she helped organize the 5th Annual Florida Songwriters Association Workshop, hosted at Full Sail University. The workshop offered networking opportunities and featured  panels with multiple industry professionals. 

"Graduating with my bachelor's back in December left me feeling a bit lost about where to go next," says JeBailey, who will continue to work for the Florida Songwriters Association on projects for youth and young adults in Central Florida. She'll also continue to work on the organization's podcast and next year's workshop. "My mentor's advice and guidance this year, and the connections I have made while working with him, have provided a space for me to discover my next endeavors."

Rachel Levy | Mentor | Los Angeles Chapter 

Joshya Gupta | Mentee | Los Angeles Chapter 

Joshua Gupta GRAMMY U Mentorship 2023-24

Joshya Gupta, a music industry major at the University of California, Los Angeles, was paired with Rachel Levy, the Executive Vice President of Film Music at Universal Pictures. Acknowledging the significant impact mentors have on shaping young minds, Levy reflects on how mentorship shaped her own early experiences in the industry. 

"I was also lucky enough to have a few mentors when I started out in this business that really had an effect on me," Levy says. “So, it’s been great to be able to do that regularly for the college students I have been connected with."

During the mentorship program, Gupta visited Levy's office at NBCUniversal and shadowed her during her day-to-day routines. During this experience, Gupta gained valuable insights into the world of film music and the various responsibilities associated with the role. Through Levy's guidance, Gupta successfully secured her dream internship at NBCUniversal. 

"My goal is to work in film music and my mentor has been instrumental in propelling me towards that aspiration," says Gupta. "Beyond mentorship, she has facilitated opportunities for me to connect with her colleagues, broadening my network and deepening my understanding of the field."

Corynne Burrows | Mentor | Los Angeles Chapter 

Jaida Brown | Mentee | Los Angeles Chapter  

Hoping to sharpen her skills as a confident content creator, Jaida Brown, a music business student at The Los Angeles Film School, was paired with Corynne Burrows, the founder & CEO of Midas Touch Management.  

"I have learned how important it is to surround yourself with people who have a constant desire to grow and to have fresh perspectives from others to be able to help you see all sides of situations," Burrows says.

During the mentorship program, Burrows and Brown focused on taking Brown’s career as a performing artist to the next level. Creating her press kit and logo were among the projects the pair tackled throughout the year, ultimately transforming Brown’s brand as an artist. 

 Ben Raznick | Mentor | San Francisco Chapter 

Jack Bunch | Mentee | San Francisco Chapter 

Ben and Jack GRAMMY U Mentorship 2023-24

Over in the San Francisco Chapter, Jack Bunch, a rising sophomore at the University of California, Berkeley, Bunch was matched with Ben Raznick, a Governor for the San Francisco Chapter Board of the Recording Academy. With the help of Raznick, Bunch was able to realize that his aspirations within the industry are far more attainable than he originally believed. 

"Ben helped me realize the realities I look up to aren’t so far away. I listen to dozens of self-produced, prodigious, and seemingly thriving musicians, and I’ve felt far removed from them in the past,"  Bunch reflects. "Now that I’ve begun taking the time to develop skills, set goals, and take tangible steps, I know I can become the artist I want to be."

Raznick also gleaned insight from his mentee during the program. Upon listening to Bunch’s EP, Raznick learned about music tools that he had "never heard of before," which opened his eyes to some of the latest trends and techniques within the fast-paced industry. 

"I felt inspired by Jack’s engagement in our meetings," says Raznick. "It was rewarding to spend time with a young artist that reminded me of myself when I began exploring music as a career." 

Jake Roggenbuck | Mentor | Nashville Chapter 

Anisa Utilla | Mentee | Nashville Chapter 

Anisa Utilla, a human and organizational development major at Vanderbilt University, joined the GRAMMY U mentorship program to gain hands-on insight into the music business, which her formal education lacked. She was paired with Jake Roggenbuck, the Senior Manager of Production at Universal Music Group in Nashville. 

"Music acts as a universal language, bridging people together. I knew I wanted to be a part of that with more of a business lens," says Utilla. "I have a dream to become a record label executive, but through my classes and internet research, it was hard to understand what the day-to-day work in a label is actually like. Jake showed me that. Through his mentorship, I learned things I couldn't learn in a classroom setting." 

Roggenbuck has been actively involved in the GRAMMY U Mentorship program since 2022. He notes that serving as a mentor is a reciprocal experience, as he gains valuable knowledge from his mentees as well. 

"I have learned so many lessons from my mentees and can honestly say I get as much out of the program as I give," says Roggenbuck. The biggest takeaway for me is the enthusiasm and passion that my mentees have. It brings me back to a time when I dreamt of working in the music industry and is a reminder of how lucky I am to have a career I’m passionate about." 

The GRAMMY U mentorship program allows members to gain invaluable guidance from an experienced music industry professional from multiple tracks within the industry. Results from the program include expanded networks, newfound industry advice, career opportunities, and more. If you are interested in becoming a mentee or mentor for the 2024-25 GRAMMY U mentorship program, be sure to keep an eye out for applications opening in Fall 2024. 

Meet 5 GRAMMY Nominees Who Started At GRAMMY U: From Boygenius Engineer Sarah Tudzin To Pentatonix’s Scott Hoying 

Tori Kelly
Tori Kelly

Photo: Sarah Morris/Getty Images for The Recording Academy

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Tori Kelly Gets “Unwrapped” For 'TORI' At GRAMMY U Event Showcasing Production & Recording Techniques From Her New Album

The singer stepped out for GRAMMY U's first "Unwrapped" event to give fans a look deep inside her new record, TORI. Joined by producer and collaborator Tenroc, the pair walked guests through the making of several tracks including "missin u" and "oceans."

GRAMMYs/May 21, 2024 - 10:11 pm

GRAMMY U members got a special treat from Tori Kelly when the singer (and Sing-er) took the stage for the first ever GRAMMY U "Unwrapped" event on May 15. Held at The Novo in downtown Los Angeles, the event brought together fans, music industry professionals, and students for a night that dove deep into the creative process behind Kelly’s brand new record, TORI. Amazon Music and Mastercard were participating sponsors for this event. 

Joined on stage by producer and collaborator Tenroc, Kelly took fans through a journey of several tracks from her new record, from inception to completion. Kelly discussed each track, aided by a video presentation and using stems to highlight special production techniques, musical intricacies, and cool little Easter eggs. The showcase was followed by a round of live questions from the audience, where Kelly dished about everything from her voiceover work to her pre-studio rituals, before grabbing a guitar and performing two new tracks: "High Water" and "Oceans." 

Here’s a glimpse into all the songs Kelly and Tenroc featured, from "Missin' U" to "Spruce."

"thing u do”

When it came time to make Tori, Kelly told the audience that she wanted to focus on "songs that make [you] wanna dance," and "songs that [anyone] can belt out in the car." Mainly collaborating just with Tenroc, Bellion, Clyde Lawrence, and Jordan Cohen, Kelly put together a record that's strongly influenced by late '90s and early '00s pop, with references to chirping Sidekick phones and plenty of nostalgic vocal effects. 

"missin u" in particular is interesting, not just because it was inspired by Craig David and the U.K. Garage sound — with Kelly taking special care to pronounce "garage" in true British fashion at the live event — but also because it was released in both its original form and as an R&B edit. The latter version is the one Kelly and Tenroc highlighted at the event, going through Kelly's vocal tracks, and really digging in on the remix's bridge, which Kelly wrote just for that track and recorded in her home studio.

Getting to see Tenroc's Logic Pro work on the big screen seemed to mesmerize everyone in attendance, with most marveling at the ease he seemed to have flicking through the dozens of stems, layers, and plug-ins. 

"missin u"

When it came time to make TORI, Kelly told the audience that she wanted to focus on "songs that make [you] wanna dance," and "songs that [anyone] can belt out in the car." Mainly collaborating just with Tenroc, Bellion, Clyde Lawrence, and Jordan Cohen, Kelly put together a record that's strongly influenced by late '90s and early '00s pop, with references to chirping Sidekick phones and plenty of nostalgic vocal effects.

In particular, "missin u" is interesting, not just because it was inspired by Craig David and the U.K. Garage sound — with Kelly taking special care to pronounce "garage" in true British fashion at the live event — but also because it was released in both its original form and as an R&B edit. The latter version is the one Kelly and Tenroc highlighted at the event, going through Kelly's vocal tracks, and really digging in on the remix's bridge, which Kelly wrote just for that track and recorded in her home studio.

Getting to see Tenroc's Logic Pro work on the big screen seemed to mesmerize everyone in attendance, with most marveling at the ease he seemed to have flicking through the dozens of stems, layers, and plug-ins. 

"shelter"

Talking about "shelter," Kelly described a sort of shorthand she'd developed with Tenroc, after working closely together over the past few years. She said they're at the point where they can communicate with "sounds" and "telepathy," a benefit she attributes to not switching producers throughout the making of her record.

Tenroc and Kelly used "shelter" to talk about the comping process, or the act of combining the best parts of different takes into a single track. Kelly said she typically does about five takes of a vocal track, all in different personas: one normal, one shyer, one wild, one with a lot of vocal runs, and one that's sort of a wild card. She can keep each take separate in her mind that way, remembering how she recorded a vowel slightly better in one take or gave a line a little grittier vocal texture in another. It's not something everyone can do, though, and Tenroc said it's truly amazing to witness in person — a fact the live audience could attest to. 

For Kelly, a lot of making TORI, was about exploring different tones and textures of her voice, she said. She'd sometimes start by doing an impression of a singer like Rihanna and Willow in one run, and then blend the inspired version with her own, stretching herself vocally. She demonstrated that kind of thing live at the show, doing off-the-cuff runs of bits of "Shelter" to talk about how they changed the way the word "plate" in the chorus. 

Tenroc also showed off how he used the Little Alterboy plug-in to alter Kelly's voice, turning the rap in "shelter," as well as the "you, you, you, you, you" bit into what sounds like a deep masculine voice, even though those lines were originally laid down by Kelly herself. 

"spruce"

When "spruce" was first being envisioned by Kelly and co-writer Casey Smith, it was a song called "truce" about making up with your loved one before going out on the town. Kelly had been wanting to make a "getting ready, girly song," though, and Bellion came into the studio one day with the idea of merging the two ideas in what became "spruce." 

Written over a loop made by Tenroc, "spruce" — featuring Kim Chaewon of K-Pop group LE SSERAFIM — is emblematic, Kelly said, of her effort to let go, change, and try new things in the studio. The production was inspired by Jai Paul and uses sidechain compression, which is when the level of one instrument or sound triggers a compressor to control the level of another sound. The crowd clearly seemed taken with the sound when Tenroc played examples of how it was used in the track, which he said he made in part with the Serum plugin. Kelly said the result feels fully "3-D," like you're "inside" the track rather than just listening along.

"same girl"

The last — and most personal —song on the record, "same girl," was mostly written by Kelly while she was on a plane. She wanted something that felt like it could close the record, and she recorded it live with Tenroc in her studio, where he also played piano. 

Kelly said the song was inspired by her love of various music styles and genres. She explained, "Coming up as an artist, I always felt a little insecure about trying to stay in one lane and be in one box. I love so many different genres. I'm inspired by so many different things." She continued, "And so finding my sound I always thought that was a bad thing... But I'm grateful for all these different genres I've been able to dabble in. This song was me being overwhelmed by people's opinions and letting it get to me a little bit while thinking of my career as a whole."

Kelly said that while she worried when she was writing that the lyrics would be too personal and too specific, she's had great feedback about the track, something that reminds her that, "Anytime you write about your own experience, someone else out there is going to be able to relate to it." 

5 Takeaways From The 2024 GRAMMY U Conference In New York City