meta-scriptKenny Chesney Reflects On His Favorite Tour Moments & Teases Why Upcoming Here And Now Tour Is "A New Way Of Being Ready To Rock" | GRAMMY.com
Kenny Chesney On Stage
Kenny Chesney

Photo: Rick Diamond for Getty Images

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Kenny Chesney Reflects On His Favorite Tour Moments & Teases Why Upcoming Here And Now Tour Is "A New Way Of Being Ready To Rock"

On April 23, Kenny Chesney will launch his 19th tour — the Here And Now Tour — at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Fla. The veteran country star looks back on the touring legacy he's built and details what makes his shows so special.

GRAMMYs/Apr 22, 2022 - 02:01 pm

"I can't believe how long it's been since I felt the energy of @noshoesnation in my veins," Kenny Chesney captioned a social media post on April 19. Like many touring musicians, the country star has been off the road since the end of May 2019. But for someone like Chesney, that is a remarkably long time.

Since 1998, Chesney has toured 18 times, never having more than two years in between treks — and he's only done that twice. His extensive touring schedule has become the primary element of his career, making Chesney one of country music's leading road warriors.

Chesney kicks off his 19th tour in Tampa on April 23. Titled the Here and Now Tour — named after his (fittingly) 19th album — the trek has the singer hitting 21 stadiums and 20 amphitheaters across the United States. The roster is as stacked as the schedule: Fellow country hitmakers Dan + Shay, Old Dominion and Carly Pearce will support at the stadium shows (only Pearce will open at the amphitheaters).

Upon the tour's announcement in November, Pearce and Dan + Shay's reactions to being invited out with Chesney showed just how major his tours are. Pearce called it a "bucket list dream,"while Dan + Shay said they've been attending Chesney's tours as fans for more than a decade. "Look for us in the crowd every night singing every word to every song," they wrote.

With a record 31 No. 1s on Billboard's Country Airplay chart, it's no surprise Chesney's tours are so appealing to his fans (dubbed No Shoes Nation, as he referenced in his post) and his openers. And after nearly three years away from the stage, songs like "Beer In Mexico" and "Summertime" may be more impactful than they've ever been.

Ahead of the first Here and Now Tour date, Chesney took a break from rehearsals to chat with GRAMMY.com via email. He dropped some hints about this year's tour and shared some of his most cherished memories — but perhaps most notably, Chesney made it very clear that he's not letting another three years pass him by.

​​You've said "I was shocked to see how much more these songs could be" because of the power of this year's band. As you've been rehearsing, which songs feel the most elevated? And what's making them more impactful?

If you've been to one of my shows, you know what the power of the band has always been. People are swept up and "in" it. I've been really blessed with my players.

But when you change a few key people, everyone comes to the bandstand with a different charge, a different chemistry. We are all really listening to the songs, hearing them with fresh ears and understanding maybe things we've not heard before.

And after three years, the joy of being on that stage? Playing together? It's the best feeling in the world! We never take it for granted, that energy when we hit the stage. But when you step away for this long, you really feel what's missing.

2019's Songs for the Saints Tour was exclusively in arenas. What makes stadium shows particularly special?

All the shows are special. When we did the Songs for the Saints Tour, it was about recognizing those fans who don't live in stadium markets, who have to travel. I grew up outside Knoxville; I was one of those kids, and I don't forget that stuff. To me, any stage I get to walk out on? It's the best possible show I could do anywhere — and that's what we try to do.

Stadiums, though, have this massive energy. They're built for football games, fans who get loud! That's what they're for, and if you do your set list right, to have all those people together, well, we can lift each other up in ways you can't anywhere else. There's nothing like it: the sound, the staging, the momentum.

When you're really rocking, you can do three miles up there. People don't realize that [a stadium] stage is 220 feet wide, and then you have the strut off the front of it. We cover a lot of ground, see a lot of smiling faces. That's a big part of it: the faces, the voices singing. It's massive to experience.

A tour press release said "With some classics coming off the set list, Chesney's worked up several songs to possibly rotate in." What are some of the classics that will never leave your set list and why?

Never say never. I think that's a dangerous precedent. And the list can change from night to night, especially with the way the lighting's being done this year. 

But what's amazing to me is, even taking some songs out of the basic set list, how many hits remain. I think Billboard has me at 30 or 31 No. 1s, the most on their current chart, and I've had almost as many songs land at No. 2. It's an absolute impossibility that they're all going to be in there. Some songs — and I can think of one [that] people will be surprised we're not doing — can be rested for a tour or two.

This year marks 20 years of No Shoes, No Shirt, No Problems, which spawned the song of the same name that has now become one of your set staples. What does that song mean to you, in terms of both a career song and a live song?

Being free-spirited, carefree. Ocean life. Letting go of everything that stresses you. Sometimes you can't do anything about it, so let go. 

As a career song, I think it's really the album. We'd been building towards or "collecting" the things that really mattered to me, that spoke to my way of living — and finally, there was an album that was absolutely me in that sense. We wanted hits — and "Young" really launched us hard, defined who I was making records for, "The Good Stuff" won the ACM Single of the Year — but it was also this larger picture. 

What people didn't realize back then was how many young people were just like I was. I sang about our life, our escape, our dreams — and it deepened the connection. The fans knew I not only saw them; I was just like them. That authenticity, that bond matters.

When we sing it live, that's a moment where we all really see each other, let go. Every night, I tell No Shoes Nation, "Whatever problems you've got, tonight, just for this evening, leave them out there and come be with us." It's powerful.

Speaking of No Shoes Nation, "No Shoes, No Shirt, No Problem" inspired that name. You officially declared that name for your fans at Gillette Stadium 10 years ago this year. In the 10 years since, how have you seen No Shoes Nation come to life?

No Shoes Nation came to life long before it was named at Gillette Stadium, by my good friend and tour promoter Louis Messina. It came to life in the tailgates in the fields around Coral Sky Amphitheater in West Palm Beach; the Tiki Bars on flatbed trailers people would roll into the parking lots in Columbus, Ohio or around Soldier Field in Chicago or Texas Stadium in Dallas; the people driving tractors to the shows or making friends with the people hanging in the same places. 

It was well-established before we ever thought to name it. But they are a country without borders that inspires me every day, especially during these years of so much uncertainty. Their passion for life and music is amazing. They are some of the best people in the world, they look after each other, and they really care. I can't wait to see all those faces this year.

What are some of your most memorable moments from touring — whether they were on or off stage? 

That's like asking a parent "which child do you like best." I mean, how do you pick?

I remember a young woman getting on stage in a ball cap. I was going to give her the helmet I give someone every night, and she was shaking her head no, holding her hat on. Then I realized: she's got cancer; she's doing chemo. I got it, but I wanted to give her just as much heart back — and all I could think to do was pull off my hat, too. 

So, there we were, with our hats off, no hair, smiling into each other's eyes. She was so beautiful, and so in the moment. I mean, you never forget that. I learned another lesson about the ways we support and live and inspire each other.

One year in Texas, we'd been watching the weather. Those fans are so alive, so at the moment, we didn't want to call the show. The weather report seemed okay. Then the biggest storm rolled in, just drenching us. It was terrible, and we made the decision to call it.

I walked out, wanting to keep people calm and even. I respect my audience, but it's a lot of people. Then I sang "Something Sexy About The Rain" from Be As You Are, my first island record. There's video of it. Talk about perfection in an absolute train wreck moment. But that's the thing about No Shoes Nation — they're so in the moment, too, they just sailed through it with us, went to their cars and got home safe.

Along with an amplified sound, what else is going to feel different about this year's stadium tour?

Just being out there again. We've been in rehearsals, and even more than how much I've missed the road and my road family, when we hear No Shoes Nation start to roar — the way our hearts pound is going to be a new way of being ready to rock.

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June 2024 albums list hero
(Clockwise from top right): Kehlani, Tems, Gracie Abrams, Carly Pearce, Camila Cabello, and Peso Pluma.

Photos (Clockwise from top right): Tim Mosenfelder/WireImage, Scott Dudelson/Getty Images for Coachella, Todd Owyoung/NBC via Getty Images, Jason Kempin/Getty Images for ABA, Cindy Ord/MG24/Getty Images for The Met Museum/Vogue, Todd Owyoung/NBC via Getty Images

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15 Must-Hear Albums In June 2024: Charli XCX, Kehlani, Peso Pluma, Normani & More

Lots of exciting releases ring in summertime this June, with highly anticipated albums from Tems, Meghan Trainor, Gracie Abrams, Camila Cabello and several other stars across genres.

GRAMMYs/Jun 3, 2024 - 01:08 pm

June's rising temperatures bring a heat wave of releases, and also important events. Pride Month, Black Music Month, and Juneteenth all happen in the next four weeks, and whether it's to celebrate or to console our hearts, a variety of new albums will soundtrack this journey.

The first Friday of the month packs a powerful group of women: Charli XCX's will release Brat, Meghan Trainor's returns with Timeless, Carly Pearce brings forward hummingbird, Tems makes her official debut with Born in the Wild, and DJ Peggy Gou will also put out her first LP, I Hear You.

Women continue to dominate later in the month, and former Fifth Harmony members Normani and Camila Cabello will both drop new material with Dopamine and C,XOXO, respectively. Gracie Abrams will return with The Secret of Us, as well as Kate Nash and her 9 Sad Symphonies, Joni Mitchell and The Asylum Albums (1976-1980), and Kehlani with Crash.

Of course, there will also be plenty of fresh music from male artists, too, like Peso Pluma's Éxodo, Imagine Dragons' Loom, Kygo's self-titled LP, Lucky Daye's Algorithm, as well as a new live album from Paul McCartney & Wings, titled One Hand Clapping. Closing out the month, all ears will be tuning in to Omar Apollo's God Said No, Lupe Fiasco's Samurai, Neil Young & Crazy Horse's Early Daze, a still unnamed Steve Aoki album, and many others.

Below, get to know more about 15 of the most exciting albums dropping in June 2024.

Charli XCX — Brat

Release date: June 7

The reception to Charli XCX's upcoming album cover — a low-res image of the word "brat" centered in a lime green background — was controversial, but that was precisely her intention. "I wanted to go with an offensive, off-trend shade of green to trigger the idea of something being wrong," the British singer told Vogue Singapore. "I'd like for us to question our expectations of pop culture — why are some things considered good and acceptable, and some things deemed bad? ... I'm not doing things to be nice."

Following 2022's Crash, Brat is Charli's sixth studio album, and boasts 15 club-ready tracks. Over on X (formerly Twitter), the pop provocateur stated that she "was born to make dance music," and that this is the album she's "always wanted to make." A preview of Brat's sleek, smacking sounds can be heard on singles "Von Dutch" and "360," plus a few other tracks shared in advance. The album also includes "So I," a tribute to late producer and DJ SOPHIE.

In support of the album, Charli lined up a slew of performances and DJ nights (dubbed Partygirl) in June, including stops in London, New York, and São Paulo. Later on, she will join Troye Sivan on their 2024 co-headlining Sweat Tour, set to kick off in September and hitting arenas around North America.

Tems — Born in the Wild

Release date: June 7

Nigerian singer Tems earned the eyes and the ears of international media with her Afrobeats-infused R&B. First raising attention with her feature in Wizkid's 2020 single "Essence," she later built up a devoted fandom through two EPs: 2020's For Broken Ears and 2021's If Orange Was a Place. In 2022, she was credited as a featured artist in Future's "Wait For U," which led her to win a GRAMMY for Best Melodic Rap Performance.

On June 7, Tems will release her long-awaited debut album, Born in the Wild. The official announcement came with a teaser video for the title track, disclosed one day after her Coachella set in April. "It's all over the news, all over the news, I know this/ Under the sun, struggling to find my focus/ When I was young, younger then/ I was always running away," she sings, reflecting on her childhood in Lagos. "I grew up in the wilderness/ Didn't know much about openness." 

The record's first single,"Love Me JeJe," came out on April 25, followed by the announcement of a world tour spanning Europe, North America, and Australia from June to November.

Carly Pearce — hummingbird

Release date: June 7

"When you hear this album — wherever you are on your journey, I hope it shows you that pain can be a lesson that shows you just how strong you are and what you truly deserve," Carly Pearce wrote on Instagram as she announced her fourth studio album, hummingbird, in March.

The release follows 2021's 29: Written in Stone, which documented the country star's journey through marriage and divorce at the age of 29. "The last few years have been a season of loss and growth, of healing and happiness," Pearce added. "A belief that if I did the inner work, I would rebuild myself stronger than I was before, and a knowing that I have done some living and will always be unapologetic about it."

Hummingbird holds 14 tracks that encapsulate the GRAMMY-winning singer's redemption and "true love for country music." Among them is her current single, "We Don't Fight Anymore" with Chris Stapleton, and the title track, and previously released tracks "country music made me do it", "heels over head," "my place," and "fault line." 

Peggy Gou — I Hear You

Release date: June 7

With 2023's "(It Goes Like) Nanana," DJ and singer Peggy Gou bounced from underground savant to worldwide summer queen. The single went viral on TikTok, entered charts across the globe, and led Gou to become one of the most in-demand electronic music artists in recent years — culminating with the title of first female DJ to headline Ushuaïa Ibiza.

Now, the South Korean-born, Berlin-based phenom is gearing up to release her debut LP, I Hear You, out June 7 via XL Recordings. According to a press release, the album depicts Gou "boldly claiming her voice through the kaleidoscopic lens of '90s house music." Featuring 10 tracks, it represents the "culmination of years of work," and includes the aforementioned "(It Goes Like) Nanana," 2021's "I Go," "I Believe in Love Again" with Lenny Kravitz, and lead single "1+1=11."

"I Hear You is more than just my debut album," Gou stated in the press release. "It embodies countless hours of dedication in my journey to create something timeless, and is a testament to the power of listening, to ourselves and to each other."

Bon Jovi — Forever

Release date: June 7

Rock icons Bon Jovi have been active for so long that it feels accurate to name their 16th studio album "Forever." In fact, the New Jersey band is celebrating their 40th anniversary with the release, set to drop on June 7.

"This record is a return to joy," said frontman Jon Bon Jovi in a statement. "From the writing, through the recording process, this is turn up the volume, feel good Bon Jovi." Forever follows 2020's 2020, and marks the band's first release after Bon Jovi's vocal surgery in 2022. Ushering in this new chapter, they also shared a Disney+ four-part documentary named Thank You, Goodnight: The Bon Jovi Story, and lofty single "Legendary."

In February of this year, Jon Bon Jovi was honored as the 2024 MusiCares Person Of The Year. The award recognized his extensive philanthropic work in a benefit gala during GRAMMY week — and granted the band yet another reason to celebrate.

The Decemberists — As It Ever Was, So It Will Be Again

Release date: June 14

Following a six-year hiatus, The Decemberists are back with their ninth record, As It Ever Was, So It Will Be Again. The double-LP holds 13 tracks that are split into four thematic sides, and features guest appearances from The Shins' James Mercer and R.E.M.'s Mike Mills.

After sharing the opener and lead single, "Burial Ground," the folk rock band from Portland, Oregon, shared the 19-minute prog closer "Joan in the Garden," which was inspired by the story of Joan of Arc — and ultimately teased As It Ever Was, So It Will Be Again will have many musical layers. 

"I wanted to make my own version of Joan," vocalist Colin Meloy said in a press release. "But the song that came was as much about the creative process as it was about the actual woman, about angelic visitation and creative visitation and the hallucinogenic quality of both."

Last month, The Decemberists announced a lengthy North American summer tour, starting on April 30 in Kingston, New York, and wrapping it up with a special hometown show on Aug. 3 in Troutdale, Oregon. 

Normani — Dopamine

Release date: June 14

Since her highly addictive 2019 hit, "Motivation," Normani has kept fans on the tip of their toes for a solo debut LP. She even turned their questioning into a website: wheresthedamnalbum.com. At last, the wait is finally over: after five long years, Dopamine will come out on June 14.

The album is spearheaded by lead single "1:59," which features rapper Gunna and blooms with late '90s R&B inspiration. Normani also shared a sultry album teaser, "Dopamine (First Dose)," which features a snippet of her latest release from the album, the airy "Candy Paint."

"The album feels like liberation, like a season of freedom," said the former Fifth Harmony member in an interview for WhoWhatWear earlier this year. "Not just because the record is finally coming out, but because it's a celebration of everything I have been through to get to this moment … I know I needed time, experiences, and space coming out of [Fifth Harmony] in order to become the version of myself I needed to be."

Peso Pluma — Éxodo

Release date: June 20

Almost exactly a year after releasing his third studio album, Génesis, Mexican star Peso Pluma follows his GRAMMY-winning LP by doubling down. Éxodo, his fourth studio effort, is a double album comprising 24 tracks — 16 corridos tumbados, 8 urbano songs — and a stellar guest list featuring Cardi B, Rich the Kid and Quavo, Anitta, and more.

In an interview with Rolling Stone, Pluma stated that this album will confront more directly the negative press that surrounds him. "[On Génesis] people already saw the good side, the superhero side. But I think this year, they're going to know a darker side," he added.

He's previewed Éxodo through seven tracks so far, including "LA DURANGO" with Junior H and Eslabón Armado, "Rompe La Dompe" also with Junior H and Oscar Maydon, and "LA PEOPLE II" with Tito Double P and Joel de la P. Pluma is currently on a massive arena tour throughout the U.S., set to conclude on October 11 in Montville, Connecticut.

Gracie Abrams — The Secret of Us

Release date: June 21

Sixteen months after releasing her debut album, Good Riddance, GRAMMY-nominated singer Gracie Abrams is already back with her second LP, The Secret of Us. Set to drop on June 21, the project holds 13 tracks and is led by the lively pop and sharp lyrics of "Risk."

The single was co-written by Abrams and her childhood best friend, Audrey Hobert, and co-produced by Abrams and The National's Aaron Dessner (who helmed the production of Good Riddance). On Instagram, Abrams shared that she and her team "had real, true fun writing this album," but that "there were also the occasional tears." The raspy-voiced star also revealed The Secret's track list, which includes a collaboration with Taylor Swift in the track "us."

Abrams opened several dates of Swift's The Eras Tour in 2023. She'll celebrate her new album later this year by returning to the Eras Tour lineup, joining Swift again for the final North American shows in October, November and December. 

Lake Street Dive — Good Together

Release date: June 21

"The ethos of Good Together can be described as 'joyful rebellion,' just as energetic and danceable as it is defiantly principled," reads a press release on Lake Street Dive's upcoming record. Produced by Mike Elizondo, the album's main goal is to "highlight our shared humanity" through the quintet's dynamic, genre-bending compositions.

"There's a lot to be angry about in the world right now, a lot of pain and rage and divisiveness, but it isn't sustainable to constantly live in that anger — you need something else to keep you going," drummer Mike Calabrese said in a statement. "Joy is a great way to sustain yourself, and we wanted to encourage everyone to stay aware of that. In a way this album is our way of saying, 'Take your joy very seriously.'" A glimpse of those feelings appear in the laid-back album singles "Better Not Tell You" and the title track.

Lake Dive Street have also announced the biggest world tour of the band's career, kicking off its North American leg on June 14 in Asbury Park, New Jersey, and wrapping on October 12 in Atlanta, Georgia. In January 2025, they head on to Europe and the U.K.

Kehlani — Crash

Release date: June 21

It's already summer in Kehlani's world — or at least this is what their single "After Hours" feels like. Marking the Californian singer's first release since 2022's Blue Water Road, "After Hours" samples Cordel "Scatta" Burrell's "Coolie Dance Riddim" and sets expectations high for their upcoming record, Crash.

While little else is known about the album, Kehlani has been teasing bits and pieces of it on social media. She also released a second track, a booming dedication to a loved one called "Next 2 U," which Kehlani declared is "my favorite one" from the album.

Though Kehlani has yet to announce a coinciding tour for Crash, she'll play three shows at LIV Nightclub Las Vegas, in the Fontainebleau hotel. The first took place on May 31 — just hours after "Next 2 U" arrived — and the other two are on July 21 and Aug. 2.

Camila Cabello — C,XOXO

Release date: June 28

Another Fifth Harmony alum will make a comeback this month: Camila Cabello is set to release her fourth album, C,XOXO, on June 28. The LP marks a new sonic and visual era for the Cuban-born, Miami-based artist, and its inaugural mark came in the form of platinum blonde locks.

"The voice that I found with my new album has this big baddie energy vibe," Cabello explained in a recent Billboard cover story. "Part of that spirit is taking risks, not giving a f— and doing whatever you want. I think the blonde was me staying true to that feeling." The first single off the project, "I LUV IT" with Playboi Carti, displays how this fearless persona takes shape through hyperpop synths and a sample from Gucci Mane's "Lemonade."

Cabello also realized that this LP was a love letter to the city of Miami. "So much of the inspiration for this album was driving, listening to music, rolling the windows down and hearing what people in the city are listening to," she added. Among its collaborators are names like City Girls ("DADE COUNTY DREAMING"), Lil Nas X ("HE KNOWS"), and Drake, who features on "HOT UPTOWN" and "UUUGLY."

Imagine Dragons — Loom

Release date: June 28

Upon announcing Imagine Dragons' upcoming album, Loom, vocalist Dan Reynolds shared on Instagram that "working on this record was a rollercoaster." As he explained, "some days the songs came from a place of sadness and heartache and others joy and jubilance."

A press release further elaborated that the quartet's sixth LP will "represent the pinnacle of their artistic journey of self-discovery," while also balancing their familiar sounds with fresh ones. Through nine tracks, including lead single "Eyes Closed," Loom intends to symbolize "new beginnings on the horizon, the excitement for a new day, moments yet to come." As Reynolds added in his Instagram post, "may the things that loom in the future and distance be a beautiful tapestry of joy and pain that you can hang on your wall to reflect on as life passes us by."

The festive vibes will extend throughout the year, as the Las Vegas outfit just announced a world tour, which kicks off on July 30 in Camden, New Jersey. So far, they will stop through multiple cities in the U.S. and Canada through Oct. 22, but international dates are expected for 2025.

Omar Apollo — God Said No

Release date: June 28

"I gave it my everything," Omar Apollo said in a press release. "And God said 'no.'" Fortunately, the singer wasn't talking about crafting his sophomore LP, God Said No, but rather what led him to do it.

The 14-track record is described as "a survey of the emotional wreckage that followed the end of a torrid love affair," and was partially recorded at the legendary Abbey Road Studios in London. To process his grief, Apollo spent three months in the British city, and soon began to shape his most "soul-bearing and immediate body of work" so far.

In addition to vulnerable singles "Spite" and "Dispose of Me," Apollo also collaborated with musician Mustafa on "Plane Trees," and confirmed a participation by actor Pedro Pascal in an unspecified track — likely to be his namesake, "Pedro."

Lupe Fiasco — Samurai

Release date: June 28

Chicago rapper Lupe Fiasco is gearing up to release his ninth studio album, Samurai. Entirely produced by longtime collaborator Soundtrakk (who also produced Fiasco's previous effort, 2022's Drill Music In Zion), the record is "smooth, yet cerebral, brimming with ideas," according to a press release. It is also one of Fiasco's most personal works to date: "The album weaves things from my life as an artist, touching on things other artists go through," he said in a statement.

Samurai's eight tracks accompany the narrative of a battle rapper's career, from first honing his skills until mastering his craft. "Before rap even, martial arts was my whole life, and it still plays a huge role in my life," Fiasco added. "The overall themes of the album speak to the constant fight and the battle one goes through being in the entertainment industry. Some of the things we need to defend."

As for the title, Fiasco shared that "the word 'samurai' means to serve," and that his relationship to the word "meant that you need to be at the service of other people, either in the overall community, or in this instance, the rap community at large that I've been a part of for years."

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Women in the Mix 2024 panel photo
(L-R) Melody Chiu, Marcella Araica, Carly Pearce, and Jordin Sparks at the 2024 A Celebration Of Women In The Mix event.

Photo: Jerod Harris/Getty Images for The Recording Academy

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A Celebration Of Women In The Mix Inspired With Tales Of Tears, Tenacity & Triumph

Featuring appearances by Carly Pearce, Jordin Sparks, Emily King, and an emotional keynote by Ty Stiklorius, the Feb. 1 GRAMMY House event also included professional hair and makeup touchup activations.

GRAMMYs/Feb 3, 2024 - 11:05 pm

Ahead of the 2024 GRAMMYs, women from across the recording industry gathered at GRAMMY House in Los Angeles' Arts District on Feb. 1 to celebrate their achievements and to remind the music world that there's still much work to be done.

A Celebration Of Women In The Mix Presented by PEOPLE and Sephora brought together musicians, agents, producers, engineers, managers, and more for three hours of food, drinks, speeches, and general revelry. 

Hosted by People Magazine Editor-At-Large Janine Rubenstein, the event featured a keynote speech by Friends At Work CEO Ty Stiklorius — best known for her years managing John Legend, among others — as well as performances by Sephora Sounds' artists Beth Million and Rawan Chaya, and 2024 GRAMMYs Best R&B Album nominee Emily King

"We wanted to make sure that we were driving representation and providing opportunities for all women in music from studio professionals to artists and beyond," said Tammy Hurt, the Chair of the Board for the Recording Academy, while detailing the creation of Women In The Mix in 2019. She noted that her team set a goal of recruiting 2,500 new women members to the voting body of the Academy by 2025.

An event Presenting Sponsor, Sephora had makeup artists set up next to the stage, giving guests some glam. Participating sponsors Dyson and The Hartford also had activations for guests to enjoy; Dyson provided styling stations for hair touch-ups and curated an immersive listening experience with the Dyson Zone™ noise-canceling headphones, while The Hartford hosted an interactive, augmented reality graffiti wall.

As Sephora's SVP of Personalization, Anna E. Banks explained on stage, the brand is committed to creating "the world's most inclusive beauty community." She added that Sephora supports individuals' creativity and ingenuity — whether it's through the products they choose to sell or the looks they feature in their campaigns. As one of the brand's new programs, Sephora Sounds will work to "continue to push for more diversity and representation" across the industry, "breaking down barriers and ushering in marginalized voices."

Keynote speaker Ty Stiklorius brought much of the room to tears with tales of sleazy record execs, thwarted dreams, and how she took the road less traveled to decades of success in the music industry. Donning a stunning maroon suit, Stiklorius detailed how she became not only John Legend's manager, but also his film and TV producing partner, his business partner in several companies, and the co-founder of several social impact groups working to reduce incarceration and level the playing field in terms of universal opportunity. 

"It's literally impossible to be a woman," Stiklorious said, quoting America Ferrera's powerful speech from the Barbie movie. She expressed frustration at the fact that women are always expected to be extraordinary — whether it's as a wife, a mother, or in the workplace — and dismissed antiquated notions that women can't be leaders in the music industry while having a family. To wit, Stiklorious created her company, Friends At Work, to give more women and more marginalized people a place to thrive in the industry, to be appreciated, recognized, and paid appropriately.

After all, Stiklorious reminded the room, women still have a long, long way to go to achieve any sort of parity in the music industry. While women dominate the major categories at this year's GRAMMY Awards, a recent study by the USC Annenberg Inclusion Initiative found that, while women make up more than half the population and the market for music, they only take up about 35 percent of the Billboard Hot 100. Only 6.5 percent of music producers are women, and less than 20 percent of the songwriters of last year's top songs were women. In fact, Stiklorious said, "nearly a quarter of the most popular songs of the last 12 years were penned by just 12 men." 

"Think about how those 12 men are shaping audience perfections and beliefs about romantic relationships, wealth, health, and any number of topics," Stiklorious said, before referencing a story she recently wrote for the L.A. Times in which she makes the case that, if the top women performers added just two women songwriters to some of their sessions and some of their songs, we'd reach gender parity in the songwriter space in just four years. 

"It's not that big of an ask, actually," she said. "With the growing power of female performers, those who routinely top the charts can change the lives of women songwriters and our culture, because the status quo isn't good for anyone, regardless of their gender identity, we all lose out on untapped and underappreciated talent."

The end of Stiklorious' speech was met with a rousing standing ovation.

After performances from Beth Million and Rawan Chaya, People Executive Editor Melody Chiu took the stage for the event's panel, which featured recording engineer Marcella Araica, GRAMMY winning country artist Carly Pearce, and GRAMMY nominee Jordin Sparks. They talked about role models, the barriers they've faced in the industry, becoming mothers, and how they learned that "no" is actually a complete sentence.

Singer/songwriter Emily King won the room over with tracks like "Medal" and "This Year." After King's set, Ruby Marchand, the Recording Industry's Chief Awards and Industry Officer, wrapped up the event by thanking members of the Recording Academy staff and board in the audience for their hard work on the event and in driving new membership. 

Diving into her thoughts on the concept of trust, Marchand said women in the music industry "have to learn to trust each other, because we're here to help and guide and support, and sometimes even help somebody through some critical thinking and get back on track." 

Women in the industry also have to learn to trust themselves, Marchand said. If women can all learn to be fearless and to trust in themselves, their decisions, and their strength, the sky's the limit. 

The Recording Academy's GRAMMY House Returns For GRAMMY Week 2024; Immersive Pop-Up Experience To Feature The Third Annual #GRAMMYSNEXTGEN Party

Brittney Spencer performing on "Fallon"
(L-R) Brittney Spencer, Mickey Guyton and Maren Morris perform on "The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon" in November 2023.

Photo: Todd Owyoung/NBC via Getty Images

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Why 2024 Is The Year Women In Country Music Will Finally Have Their Moment

Between Lainey Wilson's first-ever GRAMMY nominations and Brittney Spencer's highly-anticipated album arriving Jan. 19, female country artists are making bigger statements and waves than they have in decades — and there's plenty more where that came from.

GRAMMYs/Jan 18, 2024 - 06:46 pm

Country music has long felt like a boy's club.

From the genre's humble beginnings of Hank Williams, Roy Acuff and Jimmie Rodgers, through the outlaw movement of Johnny Cash, George Jones and Merle Haggard, to more modern day giants like Garth Brooks, George Strait and Tim McGraw, men have been dominating the genre for nearly a century.

Even now, megastars like Morgan Wallen, Luke Combs and Zach Bryan have comfortably inherited the position, virtually ruling the airwaves of country music and beyond for the majority of 2023. Those three have almost single-handedly helped the genre become arguably the biggest it's ever been — and it's finally opening the door for women to join in.

As the genre has boomed over the last year or so, it's created an opportunity for female artists to get in on a bigger slice of the pie. While the guys were out there wooing the mainstream, a handful of ladies were making their own fair share of noise with superstars Lainey Wilson, Kelsea Ballerini, Kacey Musgraves and Carly Pearce showing the genre what girl power is all about, and representing at the 2024 GRAMMYs as a result.

Of course, a handful of female artists have been able to push through the cracks through the years, from Loretta Lynn and Dolly Parton to Shania Twain and Carrie Underwood. But historically, women have largely been chasing equal stature in the country music limelight. The genre's gender gap came to a head with 2015's "Tomato-gate" controversy, when radio consultant Keith Hill compared radio airplay to a salad, with the men as the lettuce and women as a tomato garnish.

Although airplay hasn't necessarily grown (a recent study found that female artists received an abysmal 11 percent of airplay in 2022), that hasn't stopped women in the genre from making an impact. In the last few years, a growing group of women have been rewriting the rules, nabbing major award nominations and wins, selling out headlining tours, notching No. 1s and breaking records — and they only seem to be gaining speed.

As a new year begins, take a look at a few of the ways women are breaking through in country music.

GRAMMY Representation

For the past few GRAMMYs ceremonies, we've been seeing more and more female names in country music listed among the nominees.

The shift was first really felt at the 63rd GRAMMY Awards in 2021, when women dominated the nominations thanks to the colossal successes of Best New Artist nominee Ingrid Andress, country stalwart Miranda Lambert and female supergroup the Highwomen (comprised of previous GRAMMY winners Maren Morris, Brandi Carlile, Natalie Hemby and Amanda Shires).

Female artists have continued to carve out their spot in GRAMMY history with nominations and wins. One of the most notable wins came in 2023, when Carly Pearce and Ashley McBryde's history-making duet, "Never Wanted To Be That Girl," claimed Best Country Duo/Group Performance.

Pearce is once again nominated in the Best Country Duo/Group Performance category at the 2024 GRAMMYs, this year for her chilling duet with decorated tunesmith Chris Stapleton, "We Don't Fight Anymore," which could find her claiming the prize for a second consecutive year.

While women don't dominate the Country Field nominees at the 2024 GRAMMYs, Pearce isn't alone. There's plenty of success stories throughout the categories, and one of the people leading that charge is Lainey Wilson.

More than a decade after moving to Nashville, Wilson's fourth studio album, Bell Bottom Country, has been propelling her to the forefront of the genre. The album helped earn Wilson a nomination for Best Country Album — one of her first two career GRAMMY nominations, the other for Best Country Duo/Group Performance for "Save Me," her evocative collaboration with country-rap trailblazer (and 2024 Best New Artist nominee), Jelly Roll.

One of the genre's most enduring duets of 2023, Zach Bryan and Kacey Muscgraves' "I Remember Everything," is also in the running for Best Country Duo/Group Performance. Along with debuting at No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 and reigning atop Billboard's Hot Country Songs chart for 16 weeks as of press time, the collab continued Musgraves' GRAMMY success. Also nominated for Best Country Song, "I Remember Everything" brings Musgraves' nomination total to 13; as of press time, she's won 6 GRAMMYs, including the coveted Album Of The Year in 2019 for Golden Hour.

Seasoned singer/songwriter Brandy Clark secured the most nominations of all the female country artists, with 6 nods across the Musical Theater, Americana and Country categories. Notably, her twice-nominated "Buried," included on her self-titled LP, nabbed nominations for both Best Country Song and Best Country Solo Performance.

Dolly Parton earned her 54th GRAMMY nomination this year, for Best Country Solo Performance for her solo version of one of her earliest hits, "The Last Thing On My Mind." First released in 1967 as her debut duet with Porter Wagoner, the 2023 version of the song features Parton's signature, soulful vocals and was included in the I Am a Pilgrim: Doc Watson at 100 tribute album.

Elsewhere in the 2024 GRAMMY nominations, pop-country darling Kelsea Ballerini is nominated alongside Wilson in the Best Country Album category with her Rolling Up the Welcome Mat EP. The triumphant and soul-bearing project led to one of her most commercially and critically successful years to date (more on that later).

Growing Success At Country Radio & Beyond

As her two GRAMMY nominations indicate, Lainey Wilson was arguably country music's woman of 2023. Notching four trips to the top of the Mediabase Country Airplay chart in 2023, she set two records: most No. 1s by a female country artist in a calendar year and most No. 1's on Billboard's Country Airplay chart by a female artist this decade. This was thanks to her own "Heart Like A Truck" and "Watermelon Moonshine," as well as her HARDY collaboration "wait in the truck" and the aforementioned Jelly Roll team-up "Save Me."

Beyond her profound radio success, 2023 also saw Wilson nab four ACM Awards and five CMA trophies; at the latter, she won Female Vocalist of the Year, Album of the Year and the coveted Entertainer of the Year, whose last female winner came in 2011 with country-turned-pop superstar, Taylor Swift.

Wilson's fellow Best Country Album nominee, Kelsea Ballerini, also had a banner year. While her nominated Rolling Up the Welcome Mat EP didn't spawn a radio hit, it made quite an impression on streaming and social media. Due to its raw account of her public divorce from singer Morgan Evans, Ballerini's latest project helped her sell out her headlining tour, receive an invite to perform on Saturday Night Live, and earn an array of major award nominations.

Another proven hitmaker, Carly Pearce, nabbed her fourth No. 1 with her heartbreak anthem, "What He Didn't Do," which reached the top of the Country Aircheck/Mediabase chart last March. Newcomer Megan Moroney topped the same chart in June with her 2022 debut single, "Tennessee Orange," which helped her have a remarkable breakout year including her first award and a sold-out tour.

Rising country star Priscilla Block also secured a No. 1 on Mediabase's Country Airplay chart with her Justin Moore duet, "You, Me, and Whiskey," while more veteran act Gabby Barrett — who scored back-to-back No. 1 hits on Billboard's Country Airplay chart in 2020 and 2021 — reached the top 10 of the chart in 2023 with her single "Pick Me Up."

Female Artists On the Horizon

In the last 12 months, rising female country artists hit their stride, bringing a lot of promise to tackling the genre's gender gap. Hailey Whitters landed her first chart entry on both Billboard's Country Airplay and Hot 100 charts with her breakthrough single, "Everything She Ain't," which broke the top 20 on the former tally. Sister duo Tigirlily Gold saw their debut single, "Shoot Tequila," surge into the top 40 on country radio while they also juggled making their Opry debut, a loaded touring schedule and the release of their acclaimed Blonde EP.

Aside from the radio dial, women also had massive years on the road, earning major touring slots with some of the genre's big hitters. Big Loud prodigy Ashley Cooke put out her debut effort, Shot in the Dark, which propelled her onto Luke Bryan's Country Again Tour and Jordan Davis' Damn Good Time Tour. Meanwhile, Ella Langley, a country-rocker in the making, spent her year alongside Riley Green and Jon Pardi, as songs from her debut EP, Excuse the Mess, garnered millions of streams.

Beyond commercial success, there are a slew of burgeoning female singer/songwriters who are also poised to break through. Alana Springsteen, who released her three-part twenty something project in 2023, is establishing herself as one of the newest (and most relatable) voices in the country-pop world. Meanwhile, Lauren Watkins — who doubled down in 2023 with two EPs, Introducing: Lauren Watkins and Introducing: The Heartbreak — is reinventing the neo-traditional, retro country music of generations past.

Similarly, "The Voice" alum Emily Ann Roberts is out to make traditional country cool again as demonstrated on her debut LP, Can't Hide Country, while Catie Offerman, a powerhouse multi-instrumentalist, is bringing her Texas charm and clever turns of phrase into the country mainstream one infectious single at a time.

Next up is Brittney Spencer, who will release her debut album, My Stupid Life, on Jan. 19. As her glistening, genre-bending music continues to gain commercial traction, she's already loved by critics and artists alike; Maren Morris just recruited her for a dynamic performance of "The Tree" on "The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon" alongside Mickey Guyton.

While it's impossible to mention all of the country women out there making moves, it's more than evident that female artists are ready to take up more of the country music landscape than ever before — and 2024 might just be the year that women finally get their due.

2023 In Review: 5 Trends That Defined Country Music

Kendrick Lamar GRAMMY Rewind Hero
Kendrick Lamar

Photo: Jeff Kravitz/FilmMagic

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GRAMMY Rewind: Kendrick Lamar Honors Hip-Hop's Greats While Accepting Best Rap Album GRAMMY For 'To Pimp a Butterfly' In 2016

Upon winning the GRAMMY for Best Rap Album for 'To Pimp a Butterfly,' Kendrick Lamar thanked those that helped him get to the stage, and the artists that blazed the trail for him.

GRAMMYs/Oct 13, 2023 - 06:01 pm

Updated Friday Oct. 13, 2023 to include info about Kendrick Lamar's most recent GRAMMY wins, as of the 2023 GRAMMYs.

A GRAMMY veteran these days, Kendrick Lamar has won 17 GRAMMYs and has received 47 GRAMMY nominations overall. A sizable chunk of his trophies came from the 58th annual GRAMMY Awards in 2016, when he walked away with five — including his first-ever win in the Best Rap Album category.

This installment of GRAMMY Rewind turns back the clock to 2016, revisiting Lamar's acceptance speech upon winning Best Rap Album for To Pimp A Butterfly. Though Lamar was alone on stage, he made it clear that he wouldn't be at the top of his game without the help of a broad support system. 

"First off, all glory to God, that's for sure," he said, kicking off a speech that went on to thank his parents, who he described as his "those who gave me the responsibility of knowing, of accepting the good with the bad."

Looking for more GRAMMYs news? The 2024 GRAMMY nominations are here!

He also extended his love and gratitude to his fiancée, Whitney Alford, and shouted out his Top Dawg Entertainment labelmates. Lamar specifically praised Top Dawg's CEO, Anthony Tiffith, for finding and developing raw talent that might not otherwise get the chance to pursue their musical dreams.

"We'd never forget that: Taking these kids out of the projects, out of Compton, and putting them right here on this stage, to be the best that they can be," Lamar — a Compton native himself — continued, leading into an impassioned conclusion spotlighting some of the cornerstone rap albums that came before To Pimp a Butterfly.

"Hip-hop. Ice Cube. This is for hip-hop," he said. "This is for Snoop Dogg, Doggystyle. This is for Illmatic, this is for Nas. We will live forever. Believe that."

To Pimp a Butterfly singles "Alright" and "These Walls" earned Lamar three more GRAMMYs that night, the former winning Best Rap Performance and Best Rap Song and the latter taking Best Rap/Sung Collaboration (the song features Bilal, Anna Wise and Thundercat). He also won Best Music Video for the remix of Taylor Swift's "Bad Blood." 

Lamar has since won Best Rap Album two more times, taking home the golden gramophone in 2018 for his blockbuster LP DAMN., and in 2023 for his bold fifth album, Mr. Morale & the Big Steppers.

Watch Lamar's full acceptance speech above, and check back at GRAMMY.com every Friday for more GRAMMY Rewind episodes. 

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