meta-scriptPress Play At Home: Julius Rodriguez Leads A Sprightly Jam Session With His "Blues At The Barn" Performance | GRAMMY.com
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Julius Rodriguez

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Press Play At Home: Julius Rodriguez Leads A Sprightly Jam Session With His "Blues At The Barn" Performance

Pianist Julius Rodriguez conveys the ambiance of a jazz club — from the comfort of home — with this fast-paced performance of "Blues At The Barn" in this episode of Press Play at Home.

GRAMMYs/Jun 16, 2022 - 05:00 pm

Long before he released his full-length debut album, Let Sound Tell All, in June 2022, New York City-based pianist and multi-instrumentalist Julius Rodriguez was already a hot commodity in the jazz community.

For jazz aficionados, his upbringing is the stuff of modern-day legend: When he was 11 years old, Rodriguez's dad was already driving him from their home in White Plains into the city so that he could play at jam sessions at the West Village jazz club Smalls. Despite being half (or even one-third) the age of his fellow performers, he left a major impression on the crowd, – honing an already well established style that, years later, would earn him acceptance into Julliard. He studied there for over a year, but dropped out to launch his performing career by going on tour with A$AP Rocky.

In this episode of Press Play at Home, Rodriguez' early influences of jamming in small jazz clubs are on full display. His sprightly performance of "Blues At The Barn" evokes a night out in an intimate NYC club, even though the performance was filmed at home in the middle of the day. A drummer and bass player form a classic jazz trio with Rodriguez, who handles the lively main melody on his Yamaha upright piano.

With an impressive resume as a musician at the age of 23, Rodriguez is now introducing himself as an artist in his own right with Let Sound Tell All. "Blues At The Barn" is the first on that nine-track collection, serving as an expertly executed nod to his jazz jam roots.

But Rodriguez isn't tied to classic jazz trio convention in his new album. On the contrary, songs like "Where Grace Abounds" bring gospel influence into the music, and offer narratives that — while still primarily instrumental — are more inspired by the artist's personal history and feelings than they are by established jazz traditions. 

Another track, "In Heaven," actually features vocals — courtesy of fellow-NYC-based jazz act Samara Joy — and elaborates further on the gospel background that Rodriguez picked up in church, where he earned a substantial component of his early musical education. 

As he rises to jazz fame, Rodriguez is demonstrating a lively, inspired talent within the genre's conventions while also infusing his own personal musical identity and history into the music. Press play above to watch the pianist perform one of Let Sound Tell All's more upbeat tracks, and keep checking GRAMMY.com for more episodes of Press Play at Home.

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Genia (right) performs for Press Play.

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Press Play: Watch Genia Narrate The Pain Of Heartbreak In This Raw Performance Of "Dear Life"

R&B singer Genia offers an acoustic rendition of "Dear Life," one of the singles from her forthcoming mixtape, '4 AM In The Ville,' out April 19 via Def Jam.

GRAMMYs/Apr 9, 2024 - 05:00 pm

On "Dear Life," R&B singer Genia pens a farewell letter to her lover — while simultaneously reflecting on how the intense saga crumbled her.

"I can't take anymore/ Put my pride aside, thought you could save me," she cries in the first verse. "These days, I don't know what I need/ You destroy me from the inside out/ If I go off the deep end/ You'll be sure not to bring me back."

In this episode of Press Play, watch Genia deliver a stripped-down performance of the vulnerable track alongside her guitarist.

The California native released "Dear Life" on Nov. 10, via Def Jam Recordings. She has also dropped three more singles — "Like That," "Know!," and "Let Me Wander" — leading up to her sophomore mixtape, 4 AM In The Ville, on April 19. 4 AM is a sequel to her debut, 4 PM In The Ville; both projects are inspired by Genia's experience of growing up in Victorville, California.

""[The songs] explore the different stages of grief in a relationship," she revealed in an interview with Urban Magazine. "The second tape is really me touching on falling in love, betrayal, anger, and rape."

Watch the video above to hear Genia's acoustic performance of "Dear Life," and check back to GRAMMY.com for more new episodes of Press Play.

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Kenya Vaun

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Press Play: Watch Kenya Vaun Reminisce About "Yesterday" In This Sentimental Studio Performance

Philadelphia native and R&B newcomer Kenya Vaun honors the beauty of childhood in this stripped-down performance of "Yesterday," a track from her new EP, 'The Honeymoon Phase.'

GRAMMYs/Mar 26, 2024 - 05:01 pm

Now in her early twenties, R&B rookie Kenya Vaun would give anything to return to her childhood adolescence — the days of block-turned-house parties and no bills.

"Feels like it was only yesterday/ And life was so easy yesterday," Vaun raps in the chorus of her new song, "Yesterday." "If I had the chance to do it again/ I'd do it the same/ The joy and the pain/ The coldest of winters/ The summertime rain/ No, I wouldn't change my yesterdays."

In this episode of Press Play, watch Vaun deliver a live rendition of the track, straight from the recording studio.

"Yesterday" arrives on Vaun's latest EP, The Honeymoon Phase, which dropped March 22 via 300 Entertainment. She also released an accompanying music video, filmed in her hometown, Philadelphia.

"'Yesterday' talks about my experiences when I was younger because that is a huge part of what made me who I am today," Vaun said in an interview with Rated R&B. "Seeing how times are today, it's kind of like, 'Dang. Imagine if I grew up during this time.' I don't know how I would be, like, for real."

Watch the video above to hear Kenya Vaun's nostalgic performance of "Yesterday," and check back to GRAMMY.com for more episodes of Press Play.

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Jade LeMac

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Press Play: Jade LeMac Delivers A Stunning Acoustic Performance Of Her Breakthrough Single, "Constellations"

On the heels of releasing a deluxe version of her second EP, 'Confessions,' rising pop star Jade LeMac strips down her starry-eyed debut single, "Constellations," for a sultry acoustic version.

GRAMMYs/Mar 12, 2024 - 05:00 pm

On "Constellations," pop singer and social media star Jade LeMac has stars in her eyes after a passionate moment in love.

"Your freckles lead the way/ I trace your constellations," LeMac sings in the chorus. But as the two leave each other's arms, it's like they're a galaxy away: "Now, you're gone in the blink of an eye/ I try to remember what you look like/ Orion's Belt in the sky/ Closest thing to you other than my mind."

In this episode of Press Play, LeMac delivers an at-home performance of "Constellations," stripping down the wavy track with just an acoustic guitar.

Initially released in 2021 via Arista Records, "Constellations" was LeMac's debut single, and eventually became the title of her 2023 debut EP. Nine months after releasing Constellations, LeMac delivered another EP, titled Confessions — and on March 1, she gave it the deluxe treatment.

"['Constellations'] started this whole journey, and I wouldn't be here without it," she said in a statement about the song, which went viral on TikTok after being featured in Netflix's My Life with the Walter Boys. "I have learned so much about myself, my songwriting, and storytelling."

Watch the video above to watch Jade LeMac's lovesick performance of "Constellations," and check back to GRAMMY.com for more new episodes of Press Play.

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Chikoruss

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Press Play: Chikoruss Delivers A Suave Performance Of "In 2 Deep"

R&B newcomer Chikoruss strips down his 300 Entertainment debut single, "In 2 Deep," for an intimate acoustic rendition.

GRAMMYs/Feb 27, 2024 - 11:48 pm

On "In 2 Deep," R&B newcomer Chikoruss makes one thing clear: he's blasé about any potential lover's relationship status. If he feels a spark, he'll follow that connection and consider the consequences later.

"I know you got a man, but I don't care," he boldly declares in the first verse. "Honestly, you should really make more time for me/ F— around, find out, you gon' see/ No matter, they say this love the same."

In this episode of Press Play, Chikoruss performs an acoustic rendition of the assertive single.

"In 2 Deep" is the Montreal native's premiere track with 300 Entertainment. As Chikoruss explained in a press release, the song is special to him because he made it during his first trip to LA. "It was the day I dropped my debut single, 'Body Language,'" he recalled. "I was beaming off of the good energy from the release."

Chikoruss' rookie year also saw the singer opening up for Bryson Tiller at the Toronto show of his 2023 tour. As he continues to craft "the Chikoruss sound," his goal is to create more tracks like "In 2 Deep," which channel the 2000s with a feel-good, modern approach.

Watch the video above to hear more about Chikoruss' fearless pursuits in love in this live performance of "In 2 Deep," and check back to GRAMMY.com for more new episodes of Press Play.

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