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Recording Artist And Accessibility Advocate Lachi Talks Disability Empowerment And Celebrating Blindness Through Music And Beyond

Lachi

Photo Courtesy of Lachi Music, LLC / New York, New York / 2021 

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Recording Artist And Accessibility Advocate Lachi Talks Disability Empowerment And Celebrating Blindness Through Music And Beyond

Musician/disability inclusion advocate Lachi on embracing her journey from ‘low vision to no vision,’ normalizing disability culture in entertainment, and Recording Artists and Music Professionals with Disabilities’ (RAMPD) goals for inclusivity in music

GRAMMYs/Oct 29, 2021 - 10:30 pm

New York-based EDM singer/songwriter and disability inclusion advocate Lachi has been taking her activism to new heights in 2021. Recently meeting with White House officials and working in tandem with the UK nonprofit SYNC Inspire, Lachi is striving to make a global impact on visibility accessibility and awareness in the entertainment industry and beyond. She also founded Recording Artists and Music Professionals with Disabilities (RAMPD), an organization aimed at unifying the voices and goals of music creators and professionals with disabilities and promoting inclusion in music industry.

Amid October’s Blindness Awareness Month and National Disability Employment Awareness Month, the Recording Academy sat down with Lachi to learn more about her advocacy efforts, her journey of embracing and elevating her blindness as a key part of her identity and what’s next for her musically.

How are you doing in the ‘new normal,’ and what have you been up to over the last year and a half?

Near the beginning of the pandemic, my manager at the time, Gary Salzman, passed away. It was a huge loss. After that, I knew I had a big decision to make because I was very dependent on him for a lot of my work. I began to start to self-reflect on becoming more open about my disability and becoming more confident in all parts of myself. I said, "I need to figure out what I really want to do. Do I want to rebrand myself?" And I did. I wanted to make sure I stood in front of my disability and took that into the rest of my identity because why hide that part of myself?

I am a vocalist at heart; I do EDM singing, songwriting, dance music, trance music, house music. I've really been blessed to have already been relatively well-respected in that realm whereby coming out about my disability did not disrupt the flow of work coming in. People weren't like, "Oh my God, she's blind. What do we do now?" They were just like, "Oh, really? Huh. Okay." I was shooting myself in the foot not being upfront about it because it turns out people thought it was actually pretty awesome.

That has led me to be more active in accessibility advocacy. I've been working with the Foundation Fighting Blindness, doing musical things with them. I've been performing a lot virtually and working with other artists to help make their online performances more accessible through ASL, captioning and having people announce and describe themselves for those who have sight conditions. I recently spoke with the Office of Public Engagement at the White House about greater equity and awareness of blind Americans. And not long ago I hosted a PBS segment called Renegades that highlighted disabled renegades who shaped America.

I [also] started a YouTube series called Off Beat - Going Blind & Staying Fabulous in NYC. The series celebrates my journey going from low vision to no vision, while still learning the things I want to learn and checking off some bucket list items. Through it, I've had the opportunity to speak to celebrities and public figures in the disabled community like Haben Girma, Molly Burke, Lucy Edwards, who's a huge TikTok star, folks in the LGBTQ community like Paperboy [Prince], and politicians.

In terms of the bucket list items, I'd always wanted to skydive, and so I went skydiving. It was a lot of fun; I wasn't scared at all. I was like, "Yeah, let's do this!” We got on the plane and they're like, "You sure?" I'm like, "Yes!" Then we go to the door and they're like, "You sure?" I'm like, "No, what am I doing? What is this?" But then we jumped! And it was amazing to fly.

I have a bunch of things on deck [for future episodes]: scuba diving, spelunking and a bunch of really great guests. I've been having a lot of fun with the series. It's supercharged my personal growth, and now I'm just this fearless adventure seeker. The more I lose my vision, the more I want to grab life by the balls.

Do you think it’s important for creatives with disabilities to come forward and share their experiences to help normalize disability culture in the entertainment industry?

Absolutely. I think one of the biggest barriers any marginalized community has is lack of visibility, lack of awareness. That's always step one, because people can't relate to your issue. People can't relate to you on a human level until they see it, until they feel it, until they can stand beside you and not feel uncomfortable asking you questions about it.

I'm going to be speaking on behalf of those with disabilities and accessibility needs on a PopShift panel in Hollywood that is bringing together 50 leaders of underrepresented groups to exchange stories and strategize how to further normalize minorities in mainstream media. 

When we start talking about things en masse in a way that is relatable, in a way that is hits close to home, then we start to see the change. Young minds [with no exposure], if they see someone in a wheelchair they go, "Oh my God, that's really weird and strange and different. Can I stand near this girl in a wheelchair?" But if they see the girl in a Netflix show, living her life, doing awesome things, instead of being afraid to stand beside the kid in the wheelchair, they're ready to say more than just hello.

Read: Meet Question, A Rapper/Producer Who Doesn't Want To Be Boxed In By Blindness

You were newly appointed as an Advocacy Committee co-chair for the Recording Academy’s New York Chapter. What would you like to achieve while on the committee?

I'm so excited for the opportunity! I have to give a huge shout out to Sharon Tapper for seeing leadership qualities in me. She was the one who really fought for the New York Chapter’s Music, Purpose + Community panel that I moderated in April. Initially, I was afraid to speak to all the big wigs at the top, but with her support, I went forth. Once I did that panel it was all she wrote. I am advocating for all musicians, and I want to be sure that all includes musicians with disabilities.      

When we speak to leaders and politicians, I get to walk into the room representing an intersectionality that includes disability that they don't normally see in these rooms. I am advocating for the disabled musician, the intersectional musician. I really like studying the acts and laws that we are advocating for and making sure that they understand the nitty gritty and how it affects their communities.

There's money and policies from local to national levels that musicians can benefit from, the arts can benefit from. A lot of musicians can’t sit there and try to figure this out. They should be off creating; they need to be off creating. But I have this platform and I’m down to help, so I want to do what I can to ensure we get all the things that creators need from the policy level and then make sure musicians know about it.

Tell me about the new organization you founded, Recording Artists and Music Professionals with Disabilities (RAMPD), and your goals for making the music industry more accessible.

I got flooded with emails from people with disabilities saying, "I felt so seen to see myself up there speaking to the Recording Academy. What's next, Lachi?" I couldn’t sit there and hide under my bed. I have to do something. I have to answer that question. Here's what's next: We need a body of representatives. We need representatives to speak to companies like the Recording Academy and policy makers specifically on behalf of musicians and music professionals with disabilities, not in an “inspirational way” but in a competitive, professional way.

[Songwriter/violinist and RAMPD Vice President] Gaelynn Lea and I are such a perfect team because we come together and we talk about things from different angles. She's a lot more about physical accessibility, while I'm a lot more about visibility. We get to tackle both of those. We came together and put out a call for established and up-and-coming artists and professionals with disabilities, and we found a deluge of great individuals who fit the bill. These are extremely high achievers and they’re living with a disability. They have a disability, that's who they are. And it's part of RAMPD’s mission to empower people to identify in that way.

As a body of accredited musicians and professionals with disabilities, it is also our goal to liaise with the music industry about inclusion. We've been speaking with folks at NIVA [the National Independent Venue Association] about their Save Our Stages efforts, like, "How can we partner with you to get accessibility included in some of the bills you're pushing?"

We've also been speaking with Attitude is Everything, which is a huge proponent of music and disability in the UK. They've done studies. They're a lot further along than we are in the US . We’re gaining advice and insight from them because we really need those figures in the US to support our discussions and planning. That’s the next step. 

What are some action items for the music industry to be a more inclusive, diverse and accessible place for all?

Team up with RAMPD! For example, if booking agencies partner with RAMPD, we can become their go-to resource for competitive music professionals and performers with disabilities and booking inclusively. I’d also like more companies to consider creators with disabilities for leadership councils, senior positions, projects, panels, consultations, et cetera.      

Another thing that folks can do anywhere in the music industry, whether it be venue accessibility or online accessibility, is universal design. When designing a website, gear, anything, companies should be consulting with disability experts from the onset so that we don't have to deal with the issue of having to go back and try to fix things later.

People don't always realize how commonplace people with disabilities, visible or not, are in their own community, or consider that they themselves could one day have a disability. If we design the things we make universally and accessibly from the get-go, that is one of the best ways to not only serve the disability community but the community at large for the long term.

What does Blindness Awareness Month and National Disability Employment Awareness Month mean to you?

Employment for musicians and music professionals is not just the stage. It's from the green room to the boardroom. It means gigs, it means streams, it means placements, and much more. Sadly, because people with disabilities are not on the boards or at the decision-making tables, our perspective is oftentimes not heard at the top level. Because that voice is left out, it trickles down. I believe that when we talk about Disability Employment Awareness Month, we need to really consider the back room. We're talking a lot about having visibility and awareness and stuff like that, but we really need folks in these senior positions, in these decision-making positions. That's where we really start to see the movement.

One of the things that I really love to celebrate this month is my team. My whole team is made up of people with disabilities or very staunch allies. My manager, Ben Price, is legally blind. He is also on the leadership council at BPI, which is the UK equivalent of The Recording Academy. My talent representative, Keely Cat-Wells, she has been on 30 under 30 [lists] and lives with a nonvisible disability. She is a huge advocate in Hollywood disability representation. She's doing a lot of things with her company, C Talent. My literary agent, Stephanie Hansen, she's unilaterally deaf. She consistently gets major book deals for her clients. She's having somebody shadow me now for an autobiographical book. My operations manager identifies as neurodiverse. My assistant is legally blind, [as are the two people] who run my social media. My publicist, Sarah Solomon, only represents disabled and DEI artists.

My entire team is made up of folks who either have a disability or are a staunch ally, and that's why we work so well. I think personally, folks who have disabilities, if you have to wake up and figure out a creative way to get from your bed to the bathtub every morning, then you have a super strong creative muscle. That turns into self-determination. That turns into a person that's just really good at solving anything, despite any kind of obstacle. When I realized that of myself, I said, "I need to have a whole team that identifies this way." We've been such a well-oiled, fast-paced machine of doers and thinkers, and all about that purpose of really showing to the world, "Hey, we all have disabilities and look how awesome we are."

Lachi | Photo Courtesy of Lachi Music, LLC / New York, New York / 2021

EDM and EDM festivals have blown up over the last decade. Any of those you’re hoping to perform in the future?

RAMPD has begun communicating with various festivals to discuss how to make them more accessible for those with a wide range of disabilities. A good friend of mine, Yvette Chivers, is a DJ who is legally blind, and has a company called SYNC INSPIRE. Through that, she's starting up this thing called the VIP Experience, which stands for Visually Impaired Persons Experience. She's helping festivals create an accessible section for folks who are visually impaired. I'm part of that movement and the festivals we’ll be tapping first are Amsterdam Dance Event and EDC Las Vegas to start including this element in their festivals and to hopefully branch out to allow folks with other disabilities to be a part of this experience.

Musically I've been writing a lot of new songs. In the last quarter of 2020, I released a new track every week or two. Right now, I'm working on remixes of my songs “DNA” and “Years.” A lot of my recent songs highlight self-empowerment and more cerebral topics. At this point in my music, I want to focus on expressing my experience as a disabled badass. I just finished putting together a new track with Apl.de.Ap of the Black Eyed Peas called “Dis Education.” It's a modern track telling folks, "Hey, I am not your inspiration porn. I am a badass chick. I'm competitive. I do not need you to feel bad for me. I don't need your charity to make it out here in this world."

Ultimately, it's about getting the message out to the world that disability is bold, that disability does not have to be something that you fear. You can be a badass. My whole thing is self-pride. I focus on disability pride, but it's all about just being proud of yourself. It's hard for folks to get outside of their internalized -isms, whether that’s ableism, racism, sexism. We all have internalized -isms that we have to deal with because of what society has put inside us. While I focus on anti-ableism, because it's one of the hardest ones for people to get over, everybody has -isms that they have to work on. That's really my goal with the work I do.

What do you want to say to those who may be struggling with their disability and are trying to get to a place of self-acceptance?

A lot of times people say, "Hey, it's all about the ability, not the disability. It's all about putting the ability in disability." I'm actually super freaking tired of that. I want to say that the prefix of dis- is just fine. When you take the dis out of disability, you're taking away my identity. It's like saying, “Let's focus on the American of African American,” or “Let's focus on the man of woman.” No. We're focusing on the African part of African American, the wo- part of woman, and the dis- part of disability, because it's one full word and it's one full identity. I want to make sure that folks with disabilities and non-disabled individuals alike embrace that full word and appreciate that full identity.

Musician & Disability Advocate Gaelynn Lea On Creating In The New Normal & A Music Industry Call-To-Action For Inclusivity

Joey Stuckey, Medusa Discuss Importance Of LGBT History Month & National Disability Employment Awareness Month
(L-R) Joey Stuckey, Medusa

Photo: Maryann Bates and Justin Ruggiero

interview

Joey Stuckey, Medusa Discuss Importance Of LGBT History Month & National Disability Employment Awareness Month

In recognition of LGBT History Month and National Disability Employment Awareness Month, GRAMMY.com spoke with renowned blues guitarist Joey Stuckey and pop/EDM artist Medusa about accessibility in the music industry and beyond.

GRAMMYs/Oct 28, 2022 - 06:20 pm

October marks LGBT History Month and National Disability Employment Awareness Month (NDEAM), and while the month is drawing to an end, supporting the disabled and queer musical communities is something we must continue to do year-round.

​​GRAMMY.com spoke with musicians Joey Stuckey and Medusa about their personal experiences with accessibility, and how to better support those within underrepresented communities.

Joey Stuckey, a renowned blues guitarist who is blind, is a Recording Academy Atlanta Chapter member, AES member and educator.

Medusa, who is nonbinary, intersex and neurodiverse, is a pop/EDM artist, activist and member of RAMPD.

Joey Stuckey

You decided to pursue sound production after becoming a fan of public radio. What about the content or accessibility of those broadcasts inspired you?

It truly was a watershed moment for me! Before TV, radio was king and besides the obvious idea to transmit music and the news, they did radio plays. These stories were told using dialog, sound effects and music to tell amazing stories that were fully accessible to a blind person. For a blind kid, it was just an entire new world of possibilities.

Later, I realized that I could also record bands and artists and capture their performance. I started doing that when I was around 15 years old and by the time I was 19 I had a pro recording studio in downtown Macon, Georgia — where I also serve as the official music ambassador — and have been working as a recording engineer and producer ever since!

In addition to being a musician, you're a professor of Music Technology at Mercer University and a mentor for the Recording Connections School in Los Angeles. How do you approach music education?

Whether I am teaching at a university as adjunct faculty or leading masterclasses in music theory, music technology, music branding or the art of improvisation or educating the industry about the need for accessibility, I speak in a way that is clear and concise and simple.

I use words very strategically and rarely use visual aids. I do use lots of audio examples, and, after all, the recording sciences and music composition and performing are all auditory. I really drill down on critical listening! In fact, the first thing I get my students to do is to close their eyes and tell me what they hear — not what they see.

Can you talk about your experiences as an artist with accessibility needs?

I have always been determined to do what I want and to be as independent as possible, but also to recognize what I can and can’t do. I started my career in the analog world. As a blind person, I could memorize all the buttons and knobs. In our digital screen driven universe, most controls are "soft" meaning that their function changes depending upon what screen/menu you are on. If you can’t see the screen, that is a big problem.

When I was first starting, computers weren’t an integral part of our world let alone the recording sciences…I didn’t touch a computer again until 2003.

The big problem with accessibility with programs that read the screen to the blind is that they don’t work all the time. When I went to college the first time, the ADA was not in existence and right around the time I was approaching the end of my college days it was new and mostly untested. So I just had to constantly think outside the box to get any kind of accessibility I could and I was mostly successful.

Today, there is more attention being paid to accessibility needs for folks with disabilities, but we still are nowhere near fully being able to have the same accessibility as our sighted counterparts. While there are some wonderful music companies out there that make accessibility a priority, they are still few. However, I believe the biggest obstacle to greater accessibility is talking about it, so I sincerely thank you for the opportunity to do so here!

In which ways do we still have a long way to go in providing accessibility to artists?

Accessibility is more than just providing access to the hardware and software that we use in the music industry. We also must provide accessible stages and performance venues.

I spent some time in a wheelchair due to a latent issue form the brain tumor when I was in my late twenties. I remember being hired to do a performance with my band and when we got to the venue, the only way onto the stage was a steep flight of stairs. Two of my band mates had to take me out of the wheel chair and carry me up those stairs while another band member had to get the wheelchair up the stairs. It is not only important for disabled performers to have access to our performance spaces, but also for disabled patrons as well.

How can we better interface with and support the blind musical community?

I would recommend that folks get involved with organizations likes RAMPD [an accessibility organization within which Stuckey is a pro member], Half Access and the 1IN4 Coalition to educate yourself about these challenges and how you might be part of the solution.

Also, making sure that while we work for greater diversity, equity and inclusion, we remember that our disabled artists are part of that community of folks that can become disenfranchised. I have served on a lot of D&I committees, and none of them had a disabled person listed on their diversity wheel, which is a tool used to make sure that different diversity needs were represented. It took me asking to be included before it happened.

Again, it is mostly a case of needing to talk about being disabled and sharing what we need to make these changes happen. It requires honest discourse and people willing and excited to offer spaces where this discourse can take place.

Medusa

How did your 2020 LP Boy of the Year help you understand or shape your identity?

Writing Boy of the Year helped me document a crucial period of my personal development. I jokingly refer to it as my "coming of gender LP." And although the title is tongue-in-cheek, it is a coming out album in the truest sense. Back then, I started most mornings by plucking dozens of hairs from my chin to help hide my masculinity. Paradoxically, I ended most evenings curled around an empty stomach, trying to starve away the parts of me that were feminine. I’d spent most of my life sprinting full-speed away from myself. Of course, everywhere I went, there I was.  

Facing down a decade-long eating disorder is difficult enough for a cis person. For someone who doesn’t realize they’re transgender, instructions to "love and accept the body you’re in" can feel like a death sentence. So you can imagine how learning you’re trans can save your life. Seeing other non-binary people gave me the context I needed to self actualize. Then, I realized I could help be that representation for someone else. 

Each song helped me explore a different aspect of transition. I transformed my unbridled joy and relief into beats. I took on transphobes' voices and mocked myself, then mocked me back. I sang directly to those who mourned everything I "could have" been, including myself. When I was done, I had an album. And, I’ve been recovered ever since. 

Tell us about Allegory of the G/Rave, your queer retelling of the story of Medusa, and how the story resonates with you. 

In the original Greek myth, Medusa was a Gorgon from birth. Later, a poet called Ovid rewrote the story; in his telling, Athena cursed Medusa to become a monster as punishment for being violated by Poseidon. Because of this version, survivors of assault see Medusa as a symbol of power. I started making music as Medusa after I was attacked, then called a liar, and ostracized. Realizing I’m queer added another layer of relatability; a lot of transphobic rhetoric centers around the idea that trans people become grotesque, or "ruined." 

But to me, the most interesting thing about Medusa isn’t Poseidon attacking her, or her transformation. It’s what happens after that. We’re not just victims of transphobia, or of assault. It doesn’t subsume our identity until we head to our graves. So, with Allegory of the G/Rave, I wanted to explore what happens to Medusa after she’s exiled. After trauma and transformation, how do we live in our new bodies and minds? How do we defend ourselves? Which threats are real, and which are just shadows on the wall of the cave? I thought a nice way to play on the theme of ostracization would be to keep the whole album really upbeat — alt-pop and dance tracks, with bite, and good for group catharsis. Hence, "rave.”

My fantasy was to also turn this concept album into a short film, and Audiofemme has helped make that a reality. They chose me as one of the recipients for their 2022 Agenda Grant, so this year, I’ve been producing the album and film simultaneously. I am profoundly excited — and so, so lucky — to get to share another version of this story for generations to come.

Can you talk about your experiences as an artist with accessibility needs? 

Imagine your job is to put rocks into a box. The rocks are to your right, and the box is on the left. You’re left handed, making reaching across awkward, so you move the box to the right. Now, you can use your left hand to pick up the rocks and toss them into the box. Your setup is ergonomic and efficient. 

Then, your boss comes around. You think he’s going to commend your productivity, but instead he yells at you to change things back. "Everybody else does it the normal way," he says. "Why can’t you? Fix it, or you’re fired." So you revert to the awkward posture and develop bursitis in your shoulder. Now you can’t do your job at all. 

This is the autistic experience. This is the ADHD experience. People love to hear from an eccentric artist about their synesthesia, and rely on their coworker’s attention to detail and innovative solutions. Those same people refuse to change the office’s fluorescent bulbs, chastise their employees for fidgeting, and deny others opportunities for being ‘too weird.’ They see us as strange, childish, or incompetent. 

A lot of people don’t realize neurodivergent accessibility needs are deeply physiological. Masking behaviors take a toll on the body, and when modifications aren’t possible, it’s a safety issue. This is why we ask for a quiet place to sneak away to, or for emails over video calls, or for walking meetings, or to collaborate remotely. We know what we need. We know how we operate. So, let us. 

In which ways do we still have a long way to go in providing accessibility to artists? 

So many people in the music industry want to improve access…they just don’t know how. It’s difficult to intuit others’ needs. In the case of neurodivergence, I think of the double-empathy problem: neurotypical people often think it’s sad that we don’t seem to understand them, not realizing they themselves don’t seem to understand us. And of course your venue or team or event isn’t meeting accessibility standards. How could it, when there are no disabled people on the team?  

I’m a pro member of RAMPD, or Recording Artists and Music Professionals with Disabilities. We’re an intersectional coalition fighting to amplify disability culture, promote inclusion, and advocate for accessibility across all facets of the music industry. For example, RAMPD introduced everyone at the 2021 Wavy Awards to self-description, to aid Blind and low-vision audiences. Before each speech or performance, we relayed information about our appearance and identity verbally.

For every triumph, there are a dozen more issues to address. But this isn’t a never ending mountain of responsibilities to trudge through. They’re opportunities. Each choice made to further accessibility is a chance to create beautiful new experiences we’re all better for. 

We need people to understand that we aren’t great artists, or managers, or entrepreneurs even though we’re autistic, or deaf, or anything else. We’re great because of who we are. So, put us in the room, because we will make things better. Not just for us, but for everyone.  

How can we better interface with and support the queer musical community? 

Sometimes when people want to support the queer community, they’ll make the mistake of simply adding a handful of us to a bill. Sure, our presence can enrich and educate others. But that education actually needs to happen before we are invited. Your venue needs to have bathrooms trans people can safely use, your bandmates need to use our real names and pronouns, and your studio needs to be safe for lesbians and gay men to record without harassment.  To truly include us, and not just tokenize us, you need to make it safe for both queer artists and our audiences to be there.

An easy way to do this is to expose yourself and your community to more queer art. Listen to our music. Share our stories and discuss them with others. Attend queer concerts and experience things firsthand. Meet with the organizers for advice on how to create safer spaces. Educate your staff, your bandmates, and your friends. Institute a zero-tolerance policy for transphobic and homophobic behavior– and enforce it.

And, above all, amplify the voices of the queer artists around you. When you make your support known in a public way, you become our megaphone. And we are grateful for that.

Terri Lyne Carrington Is Making Strides For Inclusion And Mentorship In Jazz. And You Can Hear All Of Them In Her Sound.

Remembering Christine McVie Of Fleetwood Mac Through Her GRAMMY Triumphs, From 'Rumours' Onward
Christine McVie in 1969

Photo: Evening Standard / Stringer via Getty Images

feature

Remembering Christine McVie Of Fleetwood Mac Through Her GRAMMY Triumphs, From 'Rumours' Onward

Unflashy and undramatic, McVie's contributions to Fleetwood Mac led to some of their greatest contributions to popular song — with two GRAMMY wins to boot.

GRAMMYs/Dec 2, 2022 - 08:32 pm

In an acclaimed career that spanned more than half a century, Christine McVie staked her claim as one of the most potent singer-songwriters of her generation. A beloved original member of the seminal rock group Fleetwood Mac, with whom she sang, wrote and played keyboard, she and her bandmates catapulted to fame in the early '70s, scoring GRAMMY gold and influencing generations of musicians.

"As a GRAMMY Award winner and 2018 Person of the Year honoree, the Recording Academy has been honored to celebrate Christine McVie and her work with Fleetwood Mac throughout her legendary career," Recording Academy CEO Harvey Mason jr. stated. In an announcement of her death, the remaining members of Fleetwood Mac mourned her passing by saying "She was truly one-of-a-kind, special, and talented beyond measure."

McVie, who passed away Nov. 30 at 79 after a brief illness, may have not been as flashy, or as dramatic, as fellow Fleetwood Mac members Lindsay Buckingham and Stevie Nicks. But McVie's contributions to the band led to some of their greatest contributions to popular song, with two GRAMMY wins among seven nominations.

The tour de force that is Rumours is one of the most acclaimed and best-selling albums of all time and an inductee into GRAMMY Hall Of Fame. The masterpiece earned McVie her first GRAMMY (for Album of the Year no less) at the 20th Annual Ceremony in 1978, also earning a nomination for Best Pop Vocal Performance By A Group.

Fleetwood Mac's 11th studio album, Rumours was actually McVie's 7th album with the band after making her name in the English blues scene, rising through the ranks as part of the band Chicken Shack, and even releasing a solo album.

In 1971, McVie joined Fleetwood Mac alongside her then-husband John McVie. The potent combination of the McVies, along with Mick Fleetwood, Buckingham and Nicks, catalyzed and detonated into the stratospheric Rumours.

"It's hard to say (what it was like) because we were looking at it from the inside," McVie said about the iconic album earlier this year.  "We were having a blast and it felt incredible to us that we were writing those songs. That's all I can say about it, really."

McVie's coyness may stem from the fact that prior to its production, Christine and John divorced after eight years of marriage. Meanwhile, Buckingham and Nicks were having a tumultuous relationship themselves. 

McVie is credited as sole songwriter on a handful of instant-classic Rumours tracks, all written during a perilous moment. "I thought I was drying up," explained McVie. "I was practically panicking because every time I sat down at a piano, nothing came out. Then, one day,  I just sat down and wrote in the studio, and the four-and-a-half songs of mine on the album are a result of that."

That includes "Don't Stop," an ironically peppy ode considering the turmoil McVie and her bandmates were grappling with at the time. With lyrics that staunchly proclaim "Yesterday's gone!," the song was reportedly written as a plea from Christine to John to move on from their relationship.

"I dare say, if I hadn't joined Fleetwood Mac, we might still be together. I just think it's impossible to work in the band with your spouse," McVie later said. John, meanwhile, was oblivious to the song's message during its production and early acclaim. He revealed in 2015: "I've been playing it for years and it wasn't until somebody told me, 'Chris wrote that about you.' Oh really?"

John was also equally ignorant to the source inspiration of "You Make Loving Fun"; McVie told him the joyful song ("Sweet wonderful you/ You make me happy with the things you do") was about her dog. In reality, it was about an affair with the band's lighting designer.

"It was a therapeutic move," McVie later mused of her lyrical penchant for hiding brutal honesty in plain sight. "The only way we could get this stuff out was to say it, and it came out in a way that was difficult. Imagine trying to sing those songs onstage with the people you're singing them about."

When McVie was asked earlier this year what song she written she was most proud of, it was an easy answer: the Rumours track "Songbird."

"For some peculiar reason, I wrote "Songbird" in half an hour; I've never been able to figure out how I did that," she told People. "I woke up in the middle of the night and the song was there in my brain, chords, lyrics, melody, everything. I played it in my bedroom and didn't have anything to tape it on. So I had to stay awake all night so I wouldn't forget it and I came in the next morning to the studio and had (producer) Ken Callait put it on a 2-track. That was how the song ended up being. I don't know where that came from."

McVie's most recent GRAMMY nominations were for her contributions to The Dance, Fleetwood Mac's 1997 live album that featured her stand-outs from Rumours along with the McVie penned-tracks "Say You Love Me" and "Everywhere."

The album earned McVie and the band GRAMMY nominations for Best Rock Performance By A Duo Or Group With Vocal (for the Lindsay Buckingham-written "The Chain") and  Best Pop Performance By A Duo Or Group With Vocal (for "Silver Springs," penned by Stevie Nicks). It also landed a nomination for Best Pop Album. It was her final album with the band before a 15-year self-imposed retirement.

In her final years, McVie was a vital member of Fleetwood Mac, including in 2018 when they became the first band honored as MusicCare's Person of the Year.

Speaking to the Recording Academy before the ceremony, Nicks expressed that her initial goal upon joining the group was a humble one: "Christine and I made a pact. We said we will never, ever be treated as a second-class citizen amongst our peers."

Lindsey Buckingham Holds Forth On His New Self-Titled Album, How He Really Feels About Fleetwood Mac Touring Without Him

15 Must-Hear New Albums Out This Month: SZA, Neil Young, A Boogie Wit da Hoodie, NCT Dream & More
(L-R): A Boogie wit da Hoodie, SZA, Jacquees, Metro Boomin, Rivers Cuomo of Weezer

Photos (L-R): Joseph Okpako/WireImage; Tim Mosenfelder/FilmMagic; Prince Williams/Wireimage; Vivien Killilea/Getty Images for Justin Combs Events; Tim Mosenfelder/Getty Images

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15 Must-Hear New Albums Out This Month: SZA, Neil Young, A Boogie Wit da Hoodie, NCT Dream & More

Rounding out the year, here are the can't-miss releases and massive new albums dropping in December 2022 from Weezer, Metro Boomin, NOFX, Jacquees, Ab-Soul, and many others.

GRAMMYs/Dec 2, 2022 - 07:20 pm

And just like that, 2022 is almost done — but not before we get another round of must-hear albums. December's slate of releases is set to send the year out on a high note, with something for all tastes.

This month heralds much-anticipated returns from R&B innovator SZA, with S.O.S., and rap super-producer Metro Boomin, with the mysterious HEROES & VILLAINS. December's riches also include Bad MFs from West Coast hip-hop supergroup Mount Westmore, indie-rock lifers Weezer dropping SZNZ: Winter and a loaded, possibly final album from punk-rock misfits NOFX. There's also new-generation R&B (RINI’s Ultraviolet EP and Jacquees' Sincerely For You), dark techno (Terence Fixmer's Shifting Signals), soul-baring indie (Sophie Jamieson's Choosing), and much more.

Below, check out a guide to the 15 essential albums dropping just in time for the festive season. — Jack Tregoning

Contributed reporting by Ashlee Mitchell

SZA - S.O.S.

Release date: TBD

Five years after her GRAMMY-nominated debut album, Ctrl, it's about to be SZA season all over again. While details are still pending, the alternative R&B star is expected to drop her second album, S.O.S., this month, following the single "Shirt" and its teaser follow-up, "PSA."

In a revealing Billboard cover story, SZA spoke frankly about the pressure she feels to release the album while navigating the music industry and her fans' expectations. As always with SZA, the music itself speaks volumes, and the darkly seductive "Shirt" (accompanied by a music video co-starring SZA and Academy Award nominee LaKeith Stanfield in a riff on Bonnie and Clyde) suggests S.O.S. will be something to savor. — J.T.

Related: Ari Lennox's Age/Sex/Location Explores Online Dating, Never Settling & Old School Romance

Metro Boomin - HEROES & VILLAINS

Release date: December 2

To prepare fans for his new album, HEROES & VILLAINS, sought-after rap producer Metro Boomin went all-out on a short film starring his collaborators Young Thug and Gunna alongside celebrated actors Morgan Freeman and LaKeith Stanfield. Following that flex, the artist's first solo LP in four years is set to feature a who's who of rap, with an exact tracklist still to be announced.

Metro Boomin's previous album, 2018's Not All Heroes Wear Capes, featured the likes of Travis Scott, 21 Savage and Gucci Mane rapping over the producer's dark, trap-centric beats. This time around, he's keeping his cards close to his chest, slyly sharing a video of the studio sessions on his Instagram with the caption, "When the sequel is even better than the first." All will be revealed on Dec. 2. — J.T.

Related: For The Record: Kendrick Lamar's 'Good Kid, M.A.A.d City' Launched A New Era In Storytelling & West Coast Rap

Neil Young - Harvest (50th Anniversary Edition)

Release date: December 2

This year marks the 50th anniversary of Neil Young's seminal folk-rock album Harvest, released to great acclaim in 1972. Featuring indelible songs like "Heart of Gold," "Old Man" and "The Needle and The Damage Done," Harvest was the best-selling album of that year in the US.

To celebrate the milestone, Young is releasing a special anniversary edition, available in either CD or vinyl box-set. Extras include a new two-hour documentary called Harvest Time, an official release of Young's BBC In Concert performance, and a hardcover book featuring never-before-seen photos and notes by legendary rock photographer Joel Bernstein. Consider this the festive gift for the Neil Young completist in your life. — J.T.

After breaking out with his 2021 debut album, Constellations, RINI returns this month with the seven-track EP, Ultraviolet. The Filipino-Australian R&B talent, who now calls Los Angeles home, pairs his indelible voice with slinky, late-night production that pulls the listener close.

Ahead of Ultraviolet, RINI has released the singles "Haunt Me" and "Selfish," featuring GRAMMY-winning rapper BEAM, which pair his themes of love and longing with gauzy, head-nodding beats. "I want to be able to show the world and myself that I'm growing, not just in music, but as a person," RINI told Uproxx in May. On Ultraviolet, which also features the slick bedroom jams "Something to Feel" and "Your Eyes," that evolution is evident. — J.T.

Related: R&B Isn't Dead: Listen To 51 Songs By Summer Walker, Josh Levi & More Artists Who Are Pushing The Genre Forward

NOFX - Double Album

Release date: December 2

SoCal punk veterans NOFX have always kept up a prolific output, and this month the band returns with their 15th LP, Double Album. Following last year's Single Album, the conveniently titled Double Album features 10 new songs with perfectly NOFX titles like "Punk Rock Cliché" and "Is It Too Soon if Time Is Relative?" Lead single "Darby Crashing Your Party" showcases the band at their hard-riffing, rowdy best, with frontman Fat Mike clearly relishing lyrical volleys like, "A middle-class clown waging lower class war/A Beverly Hillbilly peeled off the floor."

In a statement announcing the new album, Fat Mike revealed the songs were recorded at the same time as Single Album, then finished off later. "I think it's a very enjoyable album, and maybe our funniest," he added. It could also be NOFX's parting gift — responding to a fan’s Instagram comment, Fat Mike announced that 2023 will be the band's "last year" after an "amazing run." — J.T.

Related: 5 Women Essential To Punk: Exene Cervenka, Poly Styrene, Alice Bag, Kathleen Hanna & The Linda Lindas

Terence Fixmer - Shifting Signals

Release date: December 2

French producer Terence Fixmer has been one of the most intriguing figures in the electronic music scene for well over a decade. Over six past solo albums, numerous EPs and standalone releases, Fixmer has perfected a dark, gritty sound that melds techno with the looser industrial spirit of electronic body music (EBM).

Fixmer's seventh album, Shifting Signals, continues in that vein while allowing for new textures to creep in. "On each album I aim for something different but I retain the core sound, which is always there and often dark and melancholic," the producer wrote in a statement. "Sometimes the balance tips slightly and on this album, I'm striving to be freer and open myself up more to melody."

That openness to different modes is showcased on the atmospheric, piano-led "Synthetic Minds," which evokes a John Carpenter film score, while fellow singles "Corne de Brume" and "No Latitude for Errors" are built for heady techno dance floors. — J.T.

Related: Going Underground: House DJ Claude VonStroke On Making Soul Decisions & Keeping Electronic Music Grimy

Sophie Jamieson - Choosing

Release date: December 2

On her debut album, Choosing, London-based singer-songwriter Sophie Jamieson doesn't shy from difficult or uncomfortable emotions. Lead single, "Sink" lays bare her push-pull relationship with alcohol over a lulling bed of piano and drums. That theme of emotional vulnerability carries through the LP's 11 songs, which foreground Jamieson's enchanting voice and plain-spoken lyrics.

"The title of this album is so important," Jamieson wrote in a statement. "Without it, this might sound like another record about self-destruction and pain, but at heart, it's about hope, and finding strength. It's about finding the light at the end of the tunnel and crawling towards it." Choosing arrives via Bella Union, the tastemaking label led by Simon Raymonde, formerly of Scottish dream pop band Cocteau Twins. — J.T.

Related: Hear The 2022 Nominees For Best Alternative Music Performance At The 2023 GRAMMY Awards

White Lung - Premonition

Release date: December 2

Canadian punk rockers White Lung weren't expecting to take six years to follow up 2016's celebrated Paradise. As the story goes, the band got together in their hometown of Vancouver in 2017, expecting to rip out their final album before parting ways. In the studio, frontwoman Mish Barber-Way discovered she was pregnant with her first child — which, along with a global pandemic and another child, put the album plans on ice.

Fast forward to 2022, and White Lung's fifth and final album, Premonition, is finally here. With all that extra time to marinate, Premonition is a thrilling return from the trio, mining deeper themes with the same raucous, kick-down-the-door energy that fans expect. The album opens furiously with "Hysteric", and also features the singles "Date Night" and "Tomorrow," which match Barber-Way's impassioned vocals with muscular punk-rock riffing.

"We felt like this record was the right endpoint and we are happy the songs will finally be released," the band wrote in a statement. — J.T.

Related: Like Turnstile And Code Orange? 10 More Bands Expanding The Boundaries Of Hardcore

A Boogie Wit da Hoodie - Me vs. Myself

Release date: December 9

New York's A Boogie wit da Hoodie has been steadily hyping the release of his fourth album, Me Vs Myself, throughout 2022. Originally scheduled for November, the album will drop this month, right in time for A Boogie's hometown album launch at the iconic Apollo Theater in Harlem.

Me Vs Myself was preceded by a pair of singles, "Take Shots," featuring Tory Lanez, and "Ballin," which both showcase the rapper's supremely confident flow and wavy beats. While the full tracklist is not yet confirmed, A Boogie's previous album, ARTIST 2.0, covered the R&B and rap spectrum with guests like Summer Walker, Khalid, Young Thug and Lil Uzi Vert, without pulling focus from the main star. The rapper has already lined up dates for the Me Vs Myself tour stretching into 2023, so it's a great time to bet on A Boogie. — J.T.

Related: Meet The 2022 Nominees For Best Rap Album At The 2023 GRAMMY Awards

Mount Westmore - Snoop, Cube, 40, $hort

Release date: December 9

When living legends Snoop Dogg, E-40, Too Short and Ice Cube formed the supergroup Mount Westmore, West Coast rap heads took notice. After several hints that a collaborative album was coming, Mount Westmore made the surprise decision to release their debut, Bad MFs, exclusively as an NFT via the blockchain-based platform Gala Music.

The album arrives on streaming services this month under a new title, Snoop, Cube, 40, $hort, featuring additional songs not included on the NFT version. A spirit of loose fun and ride-or-die friendship carries through all the singles released so far, including the swaggering "Bad MFs" and the bass-heavy, light-hearted "Big Subwoofer." As Snoop put it to HotNewHipHop, "You bring the legends of the West Coast together, something great will always happen." — J.T.

Related: Take The Power Back: How Rage Against The Machine's Debut LP Created Rap-Rock With A Message

Leland Whitty - Anyhow

Release date: December 9

Best known as a member of Toronto-based jazz ensemble BADBADNOTGOOD, Leland Whitty is a true multi-instrumentalist. On his seven-track solo release, Anyhow, Whitty oversaw all production and composition, moving deftly between guitar, synthesizer, woodwinds and strings.

Following his scores for indie films Disappearance at Clifton Hill and Learn to Swim, Whitty was inspired to combine cinematic composition with rock and jazz instrumentation in his own project. Lead single "Awake" perfectly strikes that balance with twinkling keys, mournful strings and an insistent drum beat, while follow-up "Glass Moon" conjures a similarly beguiling mood. Members of BADBADNOTGOOD and Whitty's musician brother also joined the studio sessions, making Anyhow a family affair. — J.T.

Related: Robert Glasper & Terrace Martin On Removing Their Egos And Creating Their GRAMMY-Nominated Collaboration Dinner Party: Dessert

Jacquees - Sincerely For You

Release date: December 16

On "Say Yea", the sultry bedroom anthem he dropped back in May, Jacquees croons, "Girl, you overdue for some romantic s—." That simple line is something of a mission statement for the R&B casanova, whose third album, Sincerely For You, drops this month.

The LP features "Say Yea" alongside 16 more R&B jams, including singles "Tipsy," which captures the singer's blurry plea to a lover, and the smoothly boastful "Still That." Elsewhere, Sincerely For You offers up guest turns from Future (who also executive produced the album), 21 Savage and Tory Lanez, plus the R&B dream team of 6lack and Summer Walker on "Tell Me It's Over." On his socials, Jacquees dedicated the album to "everybody who been there for me along the way" and promised to deliver only "real R&B." — J.T.

Related: Durand Bernarr's 'Wanderlust': The R&B Singer Explains Why He's "Constantly In A State Of Arriving"

Ab-Soul - Herbert

Release date: December 16

Six hard-won years after his last album, the divisive, conspiracy theory-heavy Do What Thou Wilt., Ab-Soul has found his drive again. The rapper from Carson, California returns this month with a deeply personal album that shares his birth name, Herbert.

Ab-Soul's new outlook was previewed in lead single "Do Better," which reckons with the scars of his past and looks to the future with powerful clarity. The next single, "Gang'Nem," featuring Houston rapper FRE$H and produced by fellow Top Dawg Entertainment mainstay Sounwave, also revisits his upbringing and pays respect to L.A. street culture over a woozy, hard-hitting beat.

For fans of Ab-Soul's dense lyrical style and gravelly flow, Herbert is an eagerly-anticipated return to the rap limelight. — J.T.

Related: From "Rap Sh!t" To "Pistol" And "Treme": 8 Must-See TV Series For Music Lovers

NCT DREAM - Candy

Release date: December 19

NCT Dream, the youngest sub-group of Neo Culture Technology (NCT), has seen exponential growth since they rebranded as a fixed unit in 2020. The septet is set to release a winter special EP called Candy on Dec. 19. The mini-album's six tracks, include lead single "Candy," which was originally performed by H.O.T. in 1996. The album will be the first holiday release for any NCT sub-group, following a slew of successful releases from NCT Dream this year.

The group released their second studio album, Glitch, in March 2022, followed by their repackaged Beatbox in May. Their first feature film, NCT Dream The Movie: In a Dream, released worldwide on Nov. 30 and Dec. 3 and documents the opening days of their tour in Seoul. The group will finish their tour in Japan by February 2023. — Ashlee Mitchell

Related: K-Pop Icon B.I Isn't Afraid To Explore Growth And Freedom On 'Love Or Loved Pt. 1'

Weezer - SZNZ: Winter

Release date: December 21

This has been a remarkably good year to be a Weezer fan. Always pleasingly prolific, in 2022 the band decided to release a four-EP series under the name SZNZ, each timed to coincide with a new season.

Following Spring, Summer and Autumn editions, SZNZ: Winter arrives just in time for peak coziness. While the complete tracklist is not yet known, Weezer performed the EP in full for an intimate crowd at the Troubadour in Los Angeles (using their favored alias Goat Punishment), with new highlights including "I Want A Dog" and "The One That Got Away."

While frontman Rivers Cuomo has described SZNZ: Winter as having a sad vibe that suits snowed-in days, you can always count on Weezer to cut the melancholy with some power-pop verve. — J.T.

A Guide To Modern Funk For The Dance Floor: L'Imperatrice, Shiro Schwarz, Franc Moody, Say She She & Moniquea

GRAMMY Rewind: Dua Lipa Champions Happiness As She Accepts Her GRAMMY For Best Pop Vocal Album In 2021
Dua Lipa at the 2021 GRAMMYs.

Photo: Kevin Winter/Getty Images

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GRAMMY Rewind: Dua Lipa Champions Happiness As She Accepts Her GRAMMY For Best Pop Vocal Album In 2021

As Dua Lipa held her new GRAMMY, she reflected on how "jaded" she felt before putting out 'Future Nostalgia' — and how the album taught her the importance of happiness.

GRAMMYs/Dec 2, 2022 - 06:00 pm

Three-time GRAMMY-winner Dua Lipa already had two golden gramophones to her name going into the 2021 GRAMMYs. But her third win — and her first for Best Pop Vocal Album — may have been the happiest of them all.

In this episode of GRAMMY Rewind, revisit the special moment when Dua Lipa took the stage to claim her trophy for her album, Future Nostalgia. The second studio album of the singer's career, Future Nostalgia earned her six nominations, including the coveted Album Of The Year as well as Record Of The Year and Song Of The Year for lead single "Don't Start Now."

As she held her new trophy, Lipa reflected on what she's learned through the process of making Future Nostalgia, making special mention of the power of happiness, and putting out happy music.

"I felt really jaded at the end of my last album, where I felt like I only had to make sad music to feel like it mattered," she explained. "And I'm just so grateful and so honored, because happiness is something that we all deserve, and it's something that we all need in our lives."

The singer also threw a spotlight on her fans, team and co-writers during her time onstage. "This means so much," she concluded, adding a shout-out to her family and friends who were watching from home. "I love you, thank you."

Press play on the video above to watch Dua Lipa's complete acceptance speech at the 63rd GRAMMY Awards, and keep checking back to GRAMMY.com every Friday for more new episodes of GRAMMY Rewind. 

Get To Know The 2022 Nominees For Best Pop Duo/Group Performance At The 2023 GRAMMYs

Listen To GRAMMY.com's Outlaw Country Playlist: 32 Songs From Honky Tonk Heroes Willie Nelson, Waylon Jennings, Merle Haggard & More
Merle Haggard and Willie Nelson perform in 1988

Photo: Beth Gwinn/Getty Images

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Listen To GRAMMY.com's Outlaw Country Playlist: 32 Songs From Honky Tonk Heroes Willie Nelson, Waylon Jennings, Merle Haggard & More

Ahead of the GRAMMY Museum's Dec. 5 event previewing the new documentary 'They Called Us Outlaws,' listen to a 32-song playlist of outlaw country greats.

GRAMMYs/Dec 2, 2022 - 05:19 pm

Outlaw: a noun meaning someone unconventional, rebellious, or active outside the law.

In the mid-1970s, journalist Hazel Smith, country’s self-described "mother hen," coined the term "outlaw music" to describe artists like Willie Nelson and Waylon Jennings that did not fit the Music Row mold. These renegades rejected the norms — replacing saccharine sounds with storied songs. 

Long before this country subgenre had a name, Hank Williams ("I’m So Lonesome I Could Cry"), Johnny Cash ("Folsom Prison Blues'')  and Merle Haggard ("Mama Tried") were the original outlaws. In the early 1970s, Nelson's Shotgun Willie further forged the style of outlaw country.

Nashville initially ignored them. But, in 1976, after the compilation Wanted! The Outlaws became the first country album certified platinum, these outsiders earned industry respect. Today, the music endures. SiriusXM has a station devoted to these misfits. And a new six-part docuseries — They Called Us Outlaws: Cosmic Cowboys, Honky Tonk Heroes and the Rise of Renegade Troubadours (narrated by Jack Ingram) — will debut in 2023. 

The GRAMMY Museum will hold an event on Dec. 5 to preview part of this new 12-hour documentary. Foo Fighters guitarist Chris Shiflett will lead a discussion with the filmmakers, and the evening will feature performances from Tyler Childers, John R. Miller and Abby Hamilton, Shooter Jennings and Jesse Daniel. 

Get in the outlaw spirit by pressing play on the Spotify Playlist below, or listen on the Recording Academy's Pandora, Apple Music and Amazon Music stations.