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Kimbra On Her First-Ever DJ Set, Writing A Fourth Album & More

Kimbra

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Kimbra On Her First-Ever DJ Set, Writing A Fourth Album & More

"I have a big love of sound design and really sculpturing music to make you feel something," the GRAMMY-winning singer told the Recording Academy after her set at Corona Capital in Mexico

GRAMMYs/May 14, 2019 - 04:28 am

GRAMMY-winning singer/songwriter Kimbra is the definition of bold. Her sound, encompassing jazz, R&B, pop and rock influences, knows no creative limits—last fall she even joined the Howard Gospel Choir on stage for a performance. 

The New Zealander, who won two GRAMMYs for her duet with Gotye on his 2012 megahit "Somebody That I Used To Know" and released her third album, Primal Heart, in early 2018, recently took her love music and connecting with others to the turntables, playing her first-ever DJ set  in South America. 

Her creative spirit flows outside of music as wellAn artist who is as thoughtful about her music as she is about her visuals, she uses costumes and fashion as yet another way to engage with audiences. "When you're listening to music, it's cool if you're also stimulated with your eyes," she told the Recording Academy.

We caught up with Kimbra during her first visit to Mexico at Corona Capital Guadalajara to chat about how she incorporates creativity in different aspects of her music, what it means for her to bring her music to new places, the need for more opportunities for women, what she's working on next and more. 

This is your first time in Mexico. How do you feel being here?

It's crazy. It's such a long time coming. I've heard from so many people about coming to Mexico. I know I've got so many fans from here. The crowds are unbelievable. They're just so crazy ... they just know every word, to every song, which is so crazy to me. Any time I interact with the crowd, they go so crazy. Yeah, it's a really amazing feeling. They're also just super passionate music lovers. I can tell they're really listening to everything. I've met some of the fans out here; They've been following sometimes for 10 years in the music. It's awesome.

The mission of Corona Capital is to bring more international acts to different cities in Mexico. How does it feel for you to come to a city that you've never been to before?

I mean, I make the effort to try as much of the local food and to meet as many of the people and just get a sense of how each place is different. Already, Guadalajara is so different to Mexico City. It's a really amazing opportunity; the places I might never go unless music took me there so it's very exciting. I've wanted to come to Mexico especially for a long time ... I just hear so much about it. Everyone who goes to Mexico comes back just talking about how it is, just such a vibrant culture and such amazing people. Of course, I'm a huge food lover of Mexican [food], so that helps to be able to eat so well over here.

You just did your first DJ set, not so long ago.

Yeah. I did it in Brazil for the first time. That was awesome. It was actually really fun. I've always kind of wanted to give it a try, but never really just dived head first into it. I really enjoy sharing music that I like with people. I did stuff from Arca to Bjork, to Tame Impala. It was very diverse. Yeah, it was just a lot of fun to show a bit of my taste.

You're a singer, a songwriter, and a producer. What does it mean for you to be so involved with your music?

I think it's about getting to give as much of your unique sound across all the different parts of the process. I have a big love of sound design and really sculpturing music to make you feel something. Of course, the lyrics are important, but also the sound of the base that we choose or the particular drummer or the exact synthesizer preset that we use. All of this stuff is important to me. I think it's a way of injecting my personality into the music and giving more to the people who listen to it, rather than just singing and that's it.

A recent study by USC found that women who identify as songwriters and producers are vastly outnumbered by their male counterparts. Do you have any thoughts around that?

Well, in my experience, I think there are plenty of women in this industry or at least involved in the business side of it. You know, I've worked with so many women at both record labels and my tour manager and my crew and certainly so many female musicians that I looked up to. It's just that, in the public sphere in places like festivals, places like ... Yeah, just big headline shows, we're not seeing as much opportunity for females. It's not that they're not there. They are there. They're working, amazing artists, but I think we just need to change our idea of what success is in the public sphere and letting the decisions be made. Letting there be more focus on women in the industry as opposed to saying, they're underrepresented, there's not as many women as men. There are [as many women], it's just that we need to be giving them as many opportunities in production and showing that there are examples of them in the industry higher up, not just on the ground.

You're a lover of fashion. How does that help you express yourself?

Well, it's about how you sit in your body, right? The clothes you wear, the fabrics. It all helps you feel more engaged with, even your skin and just the way you hold yourself. I think the clothes that I wear on stage are part of me, stepping into a persona, an exaggerated version of myself and color and texture has always been exciting to me because it's visually, it's stimulating. When you're listening to music, it's cool if you're also stimulated with your eyes. It helps me to move as well. If I have fabric that I can play with or things that I can interact with on stage, it makes the performance more physical for me, which then makes me more passionate and expressive.

What's next for you after Corona Capital? What are you up to?

Go back to New York. That's where I'm living. I'm about to start LP four. Yeah. Fourth album. Taking some time, off touring and getting back into writing.

Anything you can tell us about your new music?

It's so new. I'm only just starting now. I've been writing at the piano, which is different for me. Usually, I write with a lot of beats and stuff. Now it'll be a bit more, just trying a new instrument, and seeing what happens with that. Yeah. I'm not sure yet, who I'm going to collaborate with or if I'm going to produce myself. I'm still working that out. It's all a big bag of surprises right now. 

Rhye On The Meaning Behind 'Spirit,' Vulnerability In Songwriting & More

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GRAMMY SoundChecks With Gavin DeGraw

GRAMMYs/Dec 3, 2014 - 05:06 am

On Aug. 28 Nashville Chapter GRAMMY U members took part in GRAMMY SoundChecks with Gavin DeGraw. Approximately 30 students gathered at music venue City Hall and watched DeGraw play through some of the singles from earlier in his career along with "Cheated On Me" from his latest self-titled album.

In between songs, DeGraw conducted a question-and-answer session and inquired about the talents and goals of the students in attendance. He gave inside tips to the musicians present on how to make it in the industry and made sure that every question was answered before moving onto the next song.

 

Juan Gabriel named 2009 Latin Recording Academy Person Of The Year

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Juan Gabriel named 2009 Latin Recording Academy Person Of The Year

Annual star-studded gala slated for Nov. 4 in Las Vegas during 10th Annual Latin GRAMMY Week celebration

GRAMMYs/May 15, 2017 - 01:36 pm

 GRAMMY.com

 Internationally renowned singer/songwriter/performer Juan Gabriel will be celebrated as the 2009 Latin Recording Academy Person of the Year, it was announced today by The Latin Recording Academy. Juan Gabriel, chosen for his professional accomplishments as well as his commitment to philanthropic efforts, will be recognized at a star-studded concert and black tie dinner on Nov. 4 at the Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas, Nev. 

The "Celebration with Juan Gabriel" gala will be one of the most prestigious events held during Latin GRAMMY week, a celebration that culminates with the 10th Annual Latin GRAMMY Awards ceremony. The milestone telecast will be held at Mandalay Bay Events Center in Las Vegas on Nov. 5 and will be broadcast live on the Univision Television Network at 8 p.m. Eastern/7 p.m. Central. 

"As we celebrate this momentous decade of the Latin GRAMMYs, The Latin Recording Academy and its Board of Trustees take great pride in recognizing Juan Gabriel as an extraordinary entertainer who never has forgotten his roots, while at the same time having a global impact," said Latin Recording Academy President Gabriel Abaroa. "His influence on the music and culture of our era has been tremendous, and we welcome this opportunity to pay a fitting tribute to a voice that strongly resonates within our community.

Over the course of his 30-year career, Juan Gabriel has sold more than 100 million albums and has performed to sold-out audiences throughout the world. He has produced more than 100 albums for more than 50 artists including Paul Anka, Lola Beltran, Rocío Dúrcal, and Lucha Villa among many others. Additionally, Juan Gabriel has written more than 1,500 songs, which have been covered by such artists as Marc Anthony, Raúl Di Blasio, Ana Gabriel, Angelica María, Lucia Mendez, Estela Nuñez, and Son Del Son. In 1986, Los Angeles Mayor Tom Bradley declared Oct. 5 "The Day of Juan Gabriel." The '90s saw his induction into Billboard's Latin Music Hall of Fame and he joined La Opinion's Tributo Nacional Lifetime Achievement Award recipients list. 

At the age of 13, Juan Gabriel was already writing his own songs and in 1971 recorded his first hit, "No Tengo Dinero," which landed him a recording contract with RCA. Over the next 14 years, he established himself as Mexico's leading singer/songwriter, composing in diverse styles such as rancheras, ballads, pop, disco, and mariachi, which resulted in an incredible list of hits ("Hasta Que Te Conocí," "Siempre En Mi Mente," "Querida," "Inocente Pobre Amigo," "Abrázame Muy Fuerte," "Amor Eterno," "El Noa Noa," and "Insensible") not only for himself  but for many leading Latin artists. In 1990, Juan Gabriel became the only non-classical singer/songwriter to perform at the Palacio de Bellas Artes in Mexico City and the album release of that concert, Juan Gabriel En Vivo Desde El Palacio De Bellas Artes, broke sales records and established his iconic status. 

After a hiatus from recording, Juan Gabriel released such albums as Gracias Por Esperar, Juntos Otra Vez, Abrázame Muy Fuerte, Los Gabriel…Para Ti, Juan Gabriel Con La Banda…El Recodo, and El Mexico Que Se Nos Fue, which were all certified gold and/or platinum by the RIAA. In 1996, to commemorate his 25th anniversary in the music industry, BMG released a retrospective set of CDs entitled 25 Aniversario, Solos, Duetos, y Versiones Especiales, comprised appropriately of 25 discs.   

In addition to his numerous accolades and career successes, Juan Gabriel has been a compassionate and generous philanthropist. He has donated all proceeds from approximately 10 performances a year to his favorite children's foster homes, and proceeds from fan photo-ops go to support Mexican orphans. In 1987, he founded Semjase, an orphanage for approximately 120 children, which also serves as a music school with music, recreation and video game rooms. Today, he continues to personally fund the school he opened more than 22 years ago.   

Juan Gabriel will have the distinction of becoming the 10th Latin Recording Academy Person of the Year honoree, and joins a list of artists such as Gloria Estefan, Gilberto Gil, Juan Luis Guerra, Julio Iglesias, Ricky Martin, and Carlos Santana among others who have been recognized. 

For information on purchasing tickets or tables to The Latin Recording Academy Person of the Year tribute to Juan Gabriel, please contact The Latin Recording Academy ticketing office at 310.314.8281 or ticketing@grammy.com.

Set List Bonus: Bumbershoot 2013
Grizzled Mighty perform at Bumbershoot on Sept. 1

Photo: The Recording Academy

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Set List Bonus: Bumbershoot 2013

GRAMMYs/Dec 3, 2014 - 04:22 am

Welcome to The Set List. Here you'll find the latest concert recaps for many of your favorite, or maybe not so favorite, artists. Our bloggers will do their best to provide you with every detail of the show, from which songs were on the set list to what the artist was wearing to which out-of-control fan made a scene. Hey, it'll be like you were there. And if you like what you read, we'll even let you know where you can catch the artist on tour. Feel free to drop us a comment and let us know your concert experience. Oh, and rock on.

By Alexa Zaske
Seattle

This past Labor Day weekend meant one thing for many folks in Seattle: Bumbershoot, a three-decade-old music and arts event that consumed the area surrounding the Space Needle from Aug. 31–Sept. 2. Amid attendees wandering around dressed as zombies and participating in festival-planned flash mobs to Michael Jackson's "Thriller," this year the focus was on music from the Pacific Northwest region — from the soulful sounds of Allen Stone and legendary female rockers Heart, to the highly-awaited return of Death Cab For Cutie performing their 2003 hit album Transatlanticism in its entirety.

The festival started off on day one with performances by synth-pop group the Flavr Blue, hip-hop artist Grynch, rapper Nacho Picasso, psychedelic pop group Beat Connection, lively rapper/writer George Watsky, hip-hop group the Physics, and (my personal favorite), punk/dance band !!! (Chk Chk Chk). Also performing on day one was Seattle folk singer/songwriter Kris Orlowski, who was accompanied by the Passenger String Quartet. As always, Orlowski's songs were catchy and endearing yet brilliant and honest.

Day one came to a scorching finale with a full set from GRAMMY-nominated rock group Heart. Kicking off with their Top 20 hit "Barracuda," the set spanned three decades of songs, including "Heartless," "Magic Man" and "What About Love?" It became a gathering of Seattle rock greats when, during Heart's final song, Pearl Jam guitarist Mike McCready joined for 1976's "Crazy On You."

Day two got off to an early start with performances from eccentric Seattle group Kithkin and Seattle ladies Mary Lambert and Shelby Earl, who were accompanied by the band Le Wrens. My highlight of the day was the Grizzled Mighty — a duo with a bigger sound than most family sized bands. Drummer Whitney Petty, whose stage presence and skills make for an exciting performance, was balanced out by the easy listening of guitarist and lead singer Ryan Granger.

Then the long-awaited moment finally fell upon Seattle when, after wrapping a long-awaited tour with the Postal Service, singer/songwriter Ben Gibbard returned to Seattle to represent another great success of the Pacific Northwest — Death Cab For Cutie. The band celebrated the 10-year anniversary of their album Transatlanticism by performing it from front to back. While a majority of attendees opted to watch the set from an air-conditioned arena, some of us recognized the uniqueness of this experience and enjoyed the entire set lying in the grass where the entire performance was streamed. 

Monday was the day for soul and folk. Local blues/R&B group Hot Bodies In Motion have been making their way through the Seattle scene with songs such as "Old Habits," "That Darkness" and "The Pulse." Their set was lively and enticing to people who have seen them multiple times or never at all.

My other highlights of the festival included the Maldives, who delivered a fun performance with the perfect amount of satirical humor and folk. They represent the increasing number of Pacific Northwest bands who consist of many members playing different sounds while still managing to stay cohesive and simple. I embraced the return of folk/pop duo Ivan & Alyosha with open arms and later closed my festival experience with local favorite Stone.

For music fans in Seattle and beyond, the annual Bumbershoot festival is a must-attend.

(Alexa Zaske is the Chapter Assistant for The Recording Academy Pacific Northwest Chapter. She's a music enthusiast and obsessed with the local Seattle scene.)

Neil Portnow Addresses Diversity & Inclusion, Looks Ahead During Speech At 2019 GRAMMYs

Neil Portnow and Jimmy Jam

Photo: Michael Kovac/Getty Images

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Neil Portnow Addresses Diversity & Inclusion, Looks Ahead During Speech At 2019 GRAMMYs

Jimmy Jam helps celebrate the outgoing President/CEO of the Recording Academy on the 61st GRAMMY Awards

GRAMMYs/Feb 11, 2019 - 10:58 am

As Neil Portnow's tenure as Recording Academy President/CEO draws to its end, five-time GRAMMY winner Jimmy Jam paid tribute to his friend and walked us through a brief overview of some of the Academy's major recent achievements, including the invaluable work of MusiCares, the GRAMMY Museum, Advocacy and more.

Portnow delivered a brief speech, acknowledging the need to continue to focus on issues of diversity and inclusion in the music industry. He also seized the golden opportunity to say the words he's always wanted to say on the GRAMMY stage, saying, "I'd like to thank the Academy," showing his gratitude and respect for the staff, elected leaders and music community he's worked with during his career at the Recording Academy. "We can be so proud of what we’ve all accomplished together," Portnow added.

"As I finish out my term leading this great organization, my heart and soul are filled with gratitude, pride, for the opportunity and unequal experience," he continued. "Please know that my commitment to all the good that we do will carry on as we turn the page on the next chapter of the storied history of this phenomenal institution."

Full Winners List: 61st GRAMMY Awards