Jackson Tops Dead Earners List

GRAMMYs/Dec 3, 2014 - 04:22 am

Jackson Tops Dead Earners List
GRAMMY winner and Recording Academy Lifetime Achievement Award recipient Michael Jackson topped Forbes' annual list of top-earning dead celebrities with $275 million, earning more than the combined total of the other 12 celebrities on the list. Elvis Presley ranked second with $60 million, John Lennon placed fifth with $17 million and Jimi Hendrix tied for 11th place with $6 million. Forbes compiled the list based on gross earnings between October 2009 and October 2010. (10/26)

UK Arts Council Announces Budget Cut Plans
Following a previous report, Arts Council England has revealed plans to implement the 30 percent cut to the UK's arts funding budget. The cuts will include a 7 percent cash cut for UK arts organizations in 2011–2012, a 15 percent cut for the regular funding of arts organizations by 2014–2015 and a 50 percent reduction to the council's operating costs. (10/26)

GRAMMY Winners To Perform At World Series
GRAMMY winners Kelly Clarkson, Lady Antebellum and John Legend are scheduled to perform "The Star-Spangled Banner" during Major League Baseball's 2010 World Series between the San Francisco Giants and Texas Rangers. Legend and Lady Antebellum will perform at games one and two in San Francisco on Oct. 27 and Oct. 28, respectively, and Clarkson will perform at game three on Oct. 30 in Arlington, Texas. (10/26)


Kelly Clarkson Essentials: 12 Songs That Highlight Her Illustrious Pop Career
Kelly Clarkson performs on 'The Kelly Clarkson Show' in February 2023.

Photo: Weiss Eubanks/NBCUniversal via Getty Images


Kelly Clarkson Essentials: 12 Songs That Highlight Her Illustrious Pop Career

As Kelly Clarkson gears up to release her tenth album, 'chemistry,' take a listen to a dozen songs that showcase the wide range of the pop star's discography.

GRAMMYs/Apr 24, 2023 - 04:21 pm

From her very first moments of fame, Kelly Clarkson has had great expectations placed upon her shoulders. As the very first winner of 'American Idol' back in 2002, the world longed for the Texas native to be a star — and she has delivered on that hope time and time again.

Clarkson's powerhouse voice immediately makes her talent apparent, but her ability to convey the most nuanced of emotions — while delivering the biggest of choruses — is what has made her a pop icon. Across 20 years and nine albums, she's sung pop, soul, R&B, rock, electronic, and holiday songs with equal skill and dexterity. Even outside of her music, she's proven to have the personality to endear her to fans, both on social media and on her award-winning talk show.

Just before Clarkson's debut album, Thankful, turned 20, the singer announced that her tenth album, chemistry, will arrive on June 23. As she shared on social media, the album will explore the good and bad of chemistry, with each song representing "a different stage and emotional state."

In honor of her storied career to this point — as well as her April 24 birthday — celebrates some of the best songs from Clarkson's bright, wide-ranging career. 

"A Moment Like This" (2002)

"A Moment Like This" will always be a massive part of Clarkson's story. The crowning moment from her 'American Idol' win, this track was the first of many to showcase her formidable talent for delivering a ballad. While it was written for the show by John Reid and Jörgen Elofsson, Clarkson's powerful voice and emotional delivery ensured "A Moment Like This" would always be thought of as hers.

Reaching No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 (where it stayed for two weeks), the success of "A Moment Like This" proved 'American Idol' was capable of producing a successful star — and hinted that Clarkson was only just beginning her pop-star story. 

"Miss Independent" (2003)

The public's first taste of Clarkson's own writing came in the spring of 2003, just a few months after 'Idol' ended. After "Miss Independent" was scrapped from Christina Aguilera's Stripped album, it ended up in Clarkson's hands — and her reworked version served as the perfect introduction to Kelly Clarkson the artist.

The track offered a bit of bite compared to the sound of "A Moment Like This." Fierce lyrics and R&B influences — combined with a driving chorus — teased the empowering music that was to come from the new superstar. Ultimately, "Miss Independent" proved Clarkson's 'Idol' win was no fluke, and showed she had the power to thrive as an artist in her own right. 


Clarkson's second album, Breakaway, found her fully coming into her power as a pop singer, and its title track remains one of her most powerful songs to date. Leaning more into her rock influences has always been a recipe for success for Clarkson, and the chorus of "Breakaway" is undeniable, from the soaring riff to her emotive vocals. (Like "Miss Independent," "Breakaway" also linked her to a fellow star: Avril Lavigne co-wrote the song.)

"Since U Been Gone" (2004)

Right on the heels of "Breakaway" came a track that showcases how successful Clarkson can be when she gets punchy and gritty; the pop-punk guitar and drums set it apart from her previous releases. "Since U Been Gone" has the pop melody and dense production that can be found in much of producer/songwriters Max Martin and Dr. Luke's work — and though Clarkson has had her disagreements with the latter, it was clear by this point Clarkson could sing these types of songs well.

The track provided both immediate and long-term success for Clarkson, winning one of her first GRAMMYs (for Best Female Pop Vocal Performance; Breakaway won for Best Pop Vocal Album that year) and remaining one of the most iconic songs of her career.  

"Because of You" (2004)

"Because of You" is a near-flawless showcase of Clarkson's ability to dig deep emotionally in her writing. Written as a teenager about her father, "Because of You" drips with the pain that comes with a cherished relationship falling apart.

While there are big moments where Clarkson belts, it's the tender delivery throughout the song that really resonates. The raw track comes from a deeply personal experience, something Clarkson has continued to dig deeper into throughout her career. And though "Because of You" may be one of her slowest tracks to date, it's also one of her biggest, with over 580 million streams on Spotify and 500 million views on YouTube. 

"Irvine" (2007)

Clarkson's third album, My December, is one of her heaviest projects, and more of a full-blown rock album than a pop record. Thematically, My December touches on depression, betrayal and self-doubt.

The project's standout track is "Irvine," a 9-minute epic that finds Clarkson reaching out to whatever divine entity or energy there may be to ask for help. It's a jarringly candid look at Clarkson in one of her darkest moments, as she asks, "Are you there watching me as I lie here on this floor?/ Do you cry, do you cry with me?" It's Clarkson at her most honest, a trait that has always stood out in her music.

"My Life Would Suck Without You" (2009)

Besides being a catchy and upbeat banger, "My Life Would Suck Without You" is also reflective of a lot of personality traits that make Clarkson so beloved — both as an artist and as a talk show host. Lyrically, the message of gratitude and love is sincere and unrelentingly positive; melodically, it provides an infectious energy.

While Clarkson has plenty of belt-able choruses in her catalog, "My Life Would Suck Without You" offers arguably one of her most fun — particularly because of the titular line, which is just as applicable to best friends as it is to loved ones. The song holds a piece of Billboard chart history as well: It jumped a record 97 spots to land at No. 1 on the Hot 100.

"Stronger (What Doesn't Kill You)" (2011)

By the time Clarkson released her fifth album, Stronger, she was undoubtedly already in her stride. Even so, its title track "Stronger (What Doesn't Kill You)" served as a testament to her longevity.

On the surface, the song is about thriving after a breakup. But its lyrics could also apply to Clarkson's own resilience throughout the hardships of her career: "what doesn't kill you makes a fighter, footsteps even lighter." As proof of her continued grip on pop music, "Stronger (What Doesn't Kill You)" gave Clarkson her third No. 1 on the Hot 100 — her first of the 2010s — and a nomination for Record Of The Year at the 55th GRAMMY Awards.

"Underneath The Tree" (2013)

The annals of Christmas songs are both hallowed and crowded, making it hard for new entries to break into the rotation. Yet Clarkson's charm and knack for catchy melodies helped her spawn a new classic with "Underneath The Tree," one of many spectacular tracks on her first holiday album, 2013's Wrapped In Red.

A full blast of whimsical jingle bells, piano and cheer, "Underneath The Tree" is the holidays distilled into one song. Vocally, Clarkson's long belted notes rank among some of the best big singing moments in her discography. 

"Run Run Run (feat. John Legend)" (2015)

"Run Run Run" starts off deceptively simple. A ballad that shows off Clarkson's vocal range is always welcome, and that's what this deep cut from 2015's Piece by Piece appears to be on the surface. But when "Run Run Run" explodes into a billowing wall of choral harmonies and driving percussion, it is breathtaking — and points to Clarkson's ability to keep fans on their toes. And with another legendary crooner, John Legend, on the track, "Run Run Run" is one of many underrated treats in her discography.

"Would You Call That Love" (2017)

Clarkson's eighth album — and first with Atlantic Records — Meaning of Life found Clarkson going back to her R&B influences, and it's apparent on "Would You Call That Love." The backing vocals lean into gospel, and the song is built on a strong and sharp percussion line.

The track also contains some of Clarkson's smartest writing, challenging an ex about whether what they had was truly love (and what love even means) as she sings, "When you look back on love, do you think of us? When it's all said and done is it all enough?" 

"Me" (2023)

Clarkson gave fans two new tracks to preview chemistry, "me" and "mine," two songs that hint she's not holding anything back on her tenth album. While both are powerful statement pieces, "me" is the standout, proving that she's more powerful than ever even 20 years into her career. 

The track incorporates gospel-style backing vocals and big, echoing piano chords that elevate the song's self-empowering message. "Don't need to need somebody when I got me," Clarkson sings, finding strength in herself once again. It's a testament to the fact that self-acceptance is a constant journey, and one that Clarkson has articulated so well for two decades — and counting.

Songbook: How Janet Jackson's Fearlessness & Creative Prowess Shifted The Landscape Of Pop Music

5 Memorable Highlights From "A GRAMMY Salute To The Beach Boys": Weezer, St. Vincent, John Legend & More
(L-R): Brandi Carlile, John Legend

Photo: Amy Sussman/Getty Images for The Recording Academy


5 Memorable Highlights From "A GRAMMY Salute To The Beach Boys": Weezer, St. Vincent, John Legend & More

Drawing generation-spanning connections, "A GRAMMY Salute To The Beach Boys," which rebroadcasts Monday, May 29, at 9 p.m. ET/PT on CBS and is available on demand on Paramount+, was a world-class tribute to America's Band. Here are five highlights.

GRAMMYs/Apr 10, 2023 - 07:25 pm

Updated Monday, May 22, to include information about the re-air date for "A GRAMMY Salute To The Beach Boys."

"A GRAMMY Salute To The Beach Boys" will re-air on Monday, May 29, at 9 p.m. ET/PT on the CBS Television Network, and will be available to stream live and on demand on Paramount+.

That's a wrap on "A GRAMMY Salute To The Beach Boys," an emotional, star-studded toast to America's Band — as the core lineup of the legendary group bore witness from a balcony.

From its heartfelt speeches and remarks to performances by John Legend, Brandi Carlile, Beck, Fall Out Boy, Mumford & Sons, LeAnn Rimes, St. Vincent, Weezer, and other heavy hitters, "A GRAMMY Salute To The Beach Boys" served as a towering monument to these leading lights on the occasion of their 60th anniversary.

If you missed the CBS telecast, never fear: the thrilling special is rebroadcasting on Monday, May 29, at 9 p.m. ET/PT on the CBS Television Network, and will be available to stream on demand on Paramount+.

Below are some highlights from the Beach Boys' big night.

Read More: How To Watch "A GRAMMY Salute To The Beach Boys," Featuring Performances From John Legend, Brandi Carlile, Beck, Fall Out Boy, Mumford & Sons, LeAnn Rimes, Weezer & More

Weezer Gave "California Girls" A Shot In The Arm

The Weez was a natural choice for a Beach Boys bash — the GRAMMY winners have worn that influence on their sleeve throughout their career — from the harmony-stuffed Blue Album. to their love letter to the West Coast, the White Album.

And while Fall Out Boy's transmutation of "Do You Wanna Dance" into supercharged pop-punk was a joy, Weezer's version of "California Girls" was satisfying in a different way.

Therein, frontman Rivers Cuomo threaded his chunky power chords into the familiar arrangement masterfully. His head-turning, song-flipping guitar work in the outro was also gracefully executed.

John Legend Sang A Commanding "Sail On Sailor"

The rocking-and-rolling "Sail On Sailor" leads off the Beach Boys' deeply underrated 1973 album Holland. On that cut, the lead vocal isn't taken by an original member, but one of their two South African additions at the time: the brilliant Blondie Chaplin.

Fifty years ago, Chaplin channeled the stouthearted tune through his punchy midrange; John Legend possesses a similar one. In his hustling, wolfish performance at the piano, the 12-time GRAMMY winner gave this dark-horse Beach Boys classic the gusto it deserves.

Read More: The Beach Boys' Sail On Sailor Reframes Two Obscure 1970s Albums. Why Were They Obscure In The First Place?

Brandi Carlile Stunned With A Capella "In My Room" Verse

Nine-time GRAMMY winner Brandi Carlile is an eminent and versatile creative force; it's easy to imagine her nailing almost any song in the Beach Boys’ catalog — even the weird ones.

That said, this was more or less a night of hits — so Carlile took "In My Room" head on, and the results were spectacular. Even better was when the backing band dropped out for a verse, highlighting the song's proto-Pet Sounds solitude and introspection.

"Now it's dark/And I'm alone, but/I won't be afraid," Carlile sang, only joined by two harmonists. Mostly unadorned, she radiated a sense of inner strength.

Norah Jones Gorgeously Pared Back "The Warmth Of The Sun"

"The Warmth of the Sun" has always been a fan favorite for its radiant vocal interplay, but Norah Jones proved it's just as powerful with one voice front and center. 

Sure, the nine-time GRAMMY winner had harmonists behind her. But while Brian Wilson shared the spotlight with the other Boys in the original tune, she was front and center, teasing out its mellow, jazzy undercurrents.

St. Vincent & Charlie Puth Plumbed The Atmosphere Of Pet Sounds

The Beach Boys' most famous album by some margin, 1966’s Pet Sounds, was well represented at "A GRAMMY Salute To The Beach Boys."

Beck performed a witty "Sloop John B"; Mumford & Sons drew hymnal energy from "I Know There's An Answer"; LeAnn Rimes drew lonesome power from "Caroline, No."

But two performances in particular captured the singular atmosphere of the album — whimsical, hopeful, melancholic, longing, sophisticated, strangely exotic. One was Charlie Puth's "Wouldn't It Be Nice," which strapped on the album's aesthetic like a rocket and took off.

The other was St. Vincent’s captivating take on "You Still Believe In Me," which highlighted the harpsichord melody to spectral effect.

Near the end, when the three-time GRAMMY winner launched into the "I wanna cry" outro, it was hard to not get chills — the kind the Beach Boys have given us for 60 years.

How Brian Wilson Crafted The Beach Boys' Early Sound: A Symphony Of Inspirations, From Boogie-Woogie To Barbershop

Meet Levi Platero, A Formidable Guitarist Bringing Blues-Rock To The Navajo Nation
Levi Platero

Photo: Jacob Shije


Meet Levi Platero, A Formidable Guitarist Bringing Blues-Rock To The Navajo Nation

"I don't want to be in some crazy-a— limelight. I don't want to be a superstar," the guitar scorcher tells But limelight or not, Levi Platero's illuminating a path forward for blues-rock in Indigenous communities.

GRAMMYs/Apr 4, 2023 - 03:58 pm

Back in 2022, Levi Platero spoke to about his then-new album, Dying Breed. Two days later, a city bus slammed into his touring van.

The Arizonan blues-rock guitarist, who hails from the Eastern Agency of the Navajo Nation, was on a West Coast tour. After lunch in downtown Portland, kaboom: their van was totaled. When hearing about this close call, something poignant Platero had said came to mind.

"I just want to be able to keep going, man. Especially with blues music, you can kind of play forever," he expressed near the end of the interview. "Not to put down any other musical genres, but I can't see myself being a rap artist at, like, 60 or 70 years old. I can see myself being a blues-rock guy until the day I die."

Looking decades into the future, it's hard not to imagine Platero and his music being buoyed by the community he helped create.

An absolute burner on his instrument — behold Dying Breed highlights like "Fire Water Whiskey" and "Red Wild Woman" as examples — he stands with few others as a blues-rock great in the Navajo Nation. Or just one, in his estimation: Mato Nanji of the band Indigenous, who he affectionately calls "Big Brother." 

Perhaps Platero — who's eyeing a new van, and getting ready to head back into the studio in late spring — will also inspire others in his wake. And the more he sings and plays, the more likely that outcome seems — that his "dying breed" will flourish forever.

Read on for an in-depth interview with Platero about his latest album, how Indigenousness inspires his artistry, and why he "doesn't want to be a superstar — I just love to play."

This interview has been edited for clarity.

Tell me about your background, and the musical community that brought you up.

I grew up in church. My dad was an evangelist. He went out, did things for the church and that kind of community. I would sometimes tag along, but I was getting involved with some of the worship leading and stuff like that. But my dad would write his own tunes, and he would make his own music later on. And I would go out and help him just play drums. I was just in the background area.

Later on, I started playing guitar, and listening to a lot of old gospel tunes and gospel hymns. That's where I got introduced to the blues. And after I learned about the blues, from then on, that's all I ever really listened to. 

Now, a lot of things have changed. I'm out in the world doing my own thing and writing my own music about some things that I feel — not necessarily anything that has to do with the church community. But, that's where I got started.

What's your conception of the blues? To me, it's kind of like the word punk. It can be a certain way of playing power chords, or an entire state of being — an opposition to the status quo. Likewise, the blues can mean 12 bars, or the totality of human angst.

I think it's probably the rawest form of musical emotion that I can feel — that I've ever really felt for myself. But that's only my own opinion. That's my perception of it. I always hear a lot of people say that it's a little redundant, and it's kind of boring and whatnot. But for me, it's something that's just really raw, emotional, really straightforward.

And as far as the lifestyle, I mean, I would have to say that being a part of a blues community, I'm really [grounded among] people who are really respectful. 

And the people who are respected the most are the people who generally [may] not have the most talent, but collectively, they're a great person — they have a great personality. They really enjoy one another's music, and they're really involved in the blues community where they help each other out, or they get each other's gigs, they sit in. 

It's just this really friendly dynamic in that area. Rather enjoyable. I love it.

Living or dead, whether you know them or not, who are the guitarists that formed you?

I have to say my biggest influence was Mato Nanji from Indigenous. They were a Native American blues-rock group back in the day, probably in the early 2000s. They made a really good name for themselves in the blues circuit, and I [had] the opportunity to actually travel and open up for him and also join his band.

I really learned a lot from kind of hanging out with him and just being a part of his group. He's one of my biggest guitar influences and as a person — as a role model.

Otherwise — people who I have not met — I have to say, of course, Jimi Hendrix, Stevie Ray Vaughan. David Gilmour was a good influence. Doyle Bramhall II — little Doyle, big Doyle.

And then as far as in my community, back in Albuquerque, Darin Goldston — he plays for the Memphis P-Tails. He hosts the blues jam every Wednesday night. Whoever is upcoming and just wants to play some blues, they come out and jam. It's pretty awesome.

And, of course, Ryan McGarvey. If you don't know who that is, he's in the blues-rock circuit. He's a great guy — a pretty influential person.

With all those inspirations on the table, how did you start to develop your own voice on the guitar?

Just being well-seasoned, I guess. Just constantly playing over time. For some people, it doesn't happen right away, to find their own sound. With other people, they have to go through seasons and learn new things, until one day, they really become identifiable just by the first couple of notes they play.

I don't think it was a hard thing for me. I was just playing until it started becoming identifiable to some people's ears.

I'm sure specifically Indigenous influences must make it into your sound in some way.

Yeah, of course. I mean, those drum patterns, those drum beats — they're really similar to all that chain gang stuff they used to do back in the day. Those call-and-repeats and stuff like that.

Sometimes I try to incorporate that into some of the music I have. Indigenous influences are there, as far as jewelry and hats. Even as far as a little bit of graphic design. That stuff definitely makes its way into the fashion part, and the promotion.

Tell me what you were trying to artistically impart with Dying Breed.

I just wanted to put out an album, because I need to. I love writing my own music, and of course, the ultimate goal is to make music that inspires and reaches people — and also inspires Indigenous artists and people at reservations to go after whatever they want to go after.

Because it's like: yeah, there's education on the rez, but as far as outlets — fashion, music, art, film — some of those things don't make it as far as the reservation.

So, just being an Indigenous artist in itself — to be able to write and put out music like that, for others to hear — I guess that's kind of the ultimate accomplishment in what I'm trying to do. Just to keep inspiring people — inspiring my own people, natives all across the U.S.

Can you talk about your collaborators on Dying Breed?

That's actually kind of funny, because I'm doing most of the work on the album.

I did all the guitars. I did all the bass guitars. I did the lead vocals. My cousin [Royce Platero] did the drums. I only had my rhythm player [Jacob Shije] play on, like, two tracks, and he was only doing small-fill guitars and that's it. I had a good friend of mine named Tony Orant come in and play keys on two of the songs as well.

As far as all the songs go, I wrote all of them. I composed everything. I came up with the arrangements and the core progressions. I mean, it's all mine.

One of my favorite people and producers right now, a sound engineer who helped me with the album: his name is Ken Riley and he's based out of Albuquerque. He has a really beautiful and awesome old adobe recording studio, right by the Rio Grande. It's called Rio Grande Studios. He's kind of a legend. He's worked with so many artists and still works with big-name, major artists.

I think he recently just worked on Micki Free's album. He worked on a couple of songs with  Santana and Gary Clark Jr. Christone ["Kingfish"] Ingram. He works with some heavy hitters, and I approached him. I was introduced to him by a friend of mine named Felix Peralta. He told me to meet this guy and said, "You need to do your next record here."

So, we finally got to meet, me and Ken, and it just kind of went from there and everything came out really good. I really enjoy this record. It's probably my favorite one that I've done so far.

Levi Platero

Levi Platero. Photo: Jacob Shije

Are there any other Indigenous musicians in the blues and/or Americana world that you want to shout out in this interview?

Foremost, as far as blues guitarists: I have to give a shout-out to my — I call him Big Brother. Mato Nanji, and that means "standing bear." He's a big role model, and probably the only other Indigenous blues-rock guitarist out there besides me who is trying to do it.

Anything else you want to mention before we get out of here?

No, I just want to keep playing. I just want to keep doing this — meet more people, keep expanding. I don't want to be in some crazy-a— limelight. I don't want to be a superstar. I just love to play. I just want people to enjoy my music and come vibe at the shows. That's it.

America Has Birthed A Wealth Of Musical Forms. These Indigenous Artists Want To Know Where They Fit Into Them.

8 Artists Who Were Inspired By Their Teachers: Rihanna, Adele, Jay-Z & More
John Legend sings for students at Duke Ellington School of the Arts in 2012.

Photo: Sarah L. Voisin/The Washington Post via Getty Images


8 Artists Who Were Inspired By Their Teachers: Rihanna, Adele, Jay-Z & More

In honor of Music In Our Schools Month this March, take a look at how teachers made a heartwarming impact on superstars like Katy Perry and John Legend.

GRAMMYs/Mar 16, 2023 - 03:55 pm

Before Rihanna, Billy Joel and Jay-Z became some of the biggest names in music, they were students just like the rest of us. Without some particularly special teachers, they might not be the superstars they are today, and they all remember who first encouraged them.

Within the past few years, Rihanna made a special trip to a cricket match in England to reunite with her old P.E. teacher from Barbados, who she calls her "MVP"; Joel traveled back to his New York hometown to honor the teacher who said he should be a professional musician; and Jay-Z told David Letterman that his sixth grade English teacher made him fall in love with words. 

In honor of Music In Our Schools Month — which raises awareness for supporting and cultivating worthwhile music programs in K-12 — highlights eight artists who have praised their teachers for making a lifelong impact.

Billy Joel

After watching Joel tackle Tchaikovsky's Piano Concerto No. 1 in B-flat Minor, Op. 23, his high school music appreciation teacher Chuck Arnold suggested that he consider music as a career.

"He said to me, you should be a professional musician," Joel recalled of his Hicksville High School mentor during a 1996 event at C.W. Post College. "Now, for a teacher to say that, it's like condemning someone to a life of poverty, drug taking, alcoholism and failure.

"A teacher is telling me this," he added seriously. "It had a huge influence on me."

In 2022, Joel was on hand to congratulate Arnold during the dedication of the Charles "Chuck" Arnold Theatre at the school. "This is for the coolest teacher there ever was," he praised.


In 2019, CBS Sunday arranged a surprise visit with the singer and Manny Gonzales, the former band director at her alma mater, Elsik High School in Houston. She told the network that Gonzales helped her get a scholarship to study classical flute at University of Houston.

"You told my ass!" Lizzo exclaimed as she squeezed him. "You were like, 'Get it together, girl, 'cause you are special. Apply yourself!' Those moments meant so much to me."

Lil Jon

The Atlanta DJ/producer and king of crunk has done more than take parties to the next level — he has invested in the educational future of children in Africa by building two schools in Ghana with the non-profit organization Pencils of Promise. He credits a mentor at Frederick Douglass High School in Atlanta for sparking his brain when he was a teenager.

"It was my music teacher [who inspired me to dream bigger]," he said in a 2019 interview with Yahoo! "I wanted to play drums, and if I didn't play drums, I wouldn't make music, and drums are the foundation for what I do."


Roddy Estwick was Rihanna's P.E. teacher in Barbados and is now the assistant coach of the West Indies cricket team. The two had an emotional reunion at the 2019 Cricket World Cup in England.

"He made a lasting impact on my life and he really offered great advice to me and many others when we were at school at Combermere," she told Barbados Today amid their reunion. "I just wanted to let everyone know what he meant to me in my development and what he did for us back at school in Barbados." Essence reported that Rihanna described him as, "My mentor, my champ, my MVP" on her Instagram stories.

John Legend

The Ohio native credits his English teacher Mrs. Bodey at North High School in Springfield for setting him on the path that culminated in his music career.

"Until her class, I hadn't believed in my ability as a writer," Legend shared in a 2017 op-ed for Huffington Post. "She recognized my potential and showed me that I could write with creativity, with clarity, with passion."

He continued, "Mrs. Bodey, along with a few other teachers, helped me gain confidence in my skills and pushed me to challenge myself. They pushed me to graduate second in my class. They pushed me to deliver the speech at our graduation. They pushed me to earn a scholarship to the University of Pennsylvania, to hone my writing as an English Major and, ultimately, toward a successful career as a songwriter."


The singer was reunited with the most pivotal teacher in her life during her "An Audience with Adele" concert special in 2021. While the singer took questions from the crowd, actress Emma Thompson asked Adele if she had a supporter or protector in the past.

"I had a teacher at [south London high school] Chestnut Grove, who taught me English. That was Miss McDonald," Adele said. "She got me really into English literature. Like, I've always been obsessed with English and obviously now I write lyrics… She really made us care, and we knew that she cared about us."

Miss McDonald then surprised Adele on stage, and the singer was brought to tears — a touching highlight of the special. She even told her former teacher that she still has the books from her class!

Katy Perry

While Perry has admitted that she wishes she had a better overall education, her former music school teacher gave her confidence to pursue singing seriously.

"I'm kind of bummed at this stage that I didn't have a great education because I could really use that these days," she said in a 2014 interview with Yahoo! "There was a teacher named Agatha Danoff who was my vocal teacher and music teacher at the Music Academy of the West. It was very fancy and I didn't come from any money… and she always used to give me a break on my lessons. I owe her a lot of credit and I appreciate that she looked out for me when I didn't have enough money to pay."


Picture a young Shawn Carter — now better known as Jay-Z —  with his head stuck in a dictionary.

"I had a sixth grade teacher, her name was Ms. Lowden and I just loved the class so much," Jay-Z said during his appearance on My Next Guest Needs No Introduction with David Letterman in 2018. 

He later realized how much Renee Rosenblum-Lowden, who taught him at Intermediate School 318 in the Williamsburg neighborhood of Brooklyn, had an influence on his passion for language. "Like, reading the dictionary and just my love of words," he explained. "I just connected with her."

"I knew he was extremely bright, but he was quiet," Rosenblum-Lowden told Brut in 2019, sharing that he scored at the 12th-grade level on a sixth-grade reading test.

"He's been very kind," she added. "Every famous person has a teacher who probably influenced them, and I wish they would all shout out the way Jay-Z did."

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