Maren Morris, Natalie Hemby & Amanda Shires of The Highwomen
Photo: Daniel Mendoza/Recording Academy
Maren Morris, Natalie Hemby & Amanda Shires of The Highwomen
Maren Morris, Natalie Hemby & Amanda Shires Of The Highwomen Are "Redesigning Women" | Newport Folk 2019
"We don't want more; we want the same opportunity," Morris told the Recording Academy of the supergroup's message at Newport Folk Festival
The Highwomen stole the show on opening night of Newport Folk Festival 2019. The new supergroup composed of Brandi Carlile, Natalie Hemby, Maren Morris and Amanda Shires have been storming the country world with a powerful and poignant message, and they're having fun doing it.
"Redesigning Women" arrived as an anthem for the modern female—but the single serves to unite, not divide, which was very clear as the group closed out their Newport set with the song. Their second single, "Crowded Table," a siren song for inclusivity, also dropped just ahead of their Newport debut.
We caught up with three-quarters of The Highwomen backstage at Newport Folk to talk about their debut album, due out Sept. 6., about the lack of representation of women in country radio, why they call Carlile the group’s “wide receiver” and more.
Let's start with Newport and the debut last night. How did it feel to finally present this project live? What's special about this festival in particular?
Morris: I mean, it felt amazing. We felt like when we walked on stage that all these people that came to see us were already on our side. It went by too quick. That was my only complaint.
Hemby: Yeah. It went by really fast. I was kind of relieved it was over, but kind of sad that it was over. But it was very electric. It was like everybody was waiting for us and it was just, I felt I was really nervous. This is my first time to Newport and being on stage with the girls. We had been rehearsing and it was kind of emotional because it was all coming to fruition, you know?
Shires: It seemed electric. You know, we walk out there and we're ready to play, they want to hear us. Then we're also at Newport. I've been coming here a long time and I haven't felt a audience as charged as what I felt on that stage last night. I'm not saying I was here when Dylan did his thing, but I'm sure that was almost as electric as what we did.
Highwomen go electric.
You closed the set with "Redesigning Women," a song that makes a bold statement, but it's also a lot of fun. Was the video as fun to make as it looked?
Morris: Yeah. It was the hottest day in Nashville and we were wearing firemen gear.
Hemby: Which is so heavy.
Morris: Then we built a fire. So we were melting by the end of it. But it was so fun. Tanya Tucker and Wynonna Judd came out in support. Yeah, it was probably just the easiest video I've ever done.
Hemby: Yeah. Elizabeth Olmsted did it and she was incredible.
Shires: I think the song though... Natalie, wrote it and as far as I can tell, it's about owning what it is to be a woman.
Shires: And I think making that video and then including all our friends, you know, up and coming and the legends. I think that has a lot to say for the unity of the project.
Hemby: Well, I mean you touched on it perfectly. It's basically, I didn't want to sound preachy writing the song. I wanted it to just be real and be kind of funny. It is the life we lead, we are doing as women now more than ever. We're running businesses and taking care of families and it's a different time we live in and it's just sort of like the hilarity of it all.
Morris: There were dudes singing "Redesigning Women" in the crowd last night. It was awesome.
Shires: I love the evolved ones.
Morris: It's for everybody.
Yeah, everybody was singing last night. Also, the second single came out this week, "Crowded Table." Can you talk about where that song came from?
Hemby: Well I wrote that one, again... I actually wrote these two songs before I actually even joined the band, so I feel like it was sort of my rite of passage to get in the band. I wrote that with Lori McKenna and we sat down at my piano and I told her about what they were looking for for the Highwomen project. I had this title that I wanted to write for a long time called "Crowded Table."
We sat down at a piano and we wrote it literally in 30 minutes and then I took it to Brandi and I was like, is this something that works? And she changed it. Just like a few lines on it and it was just perfect. We just wanted to write a song about women getting pitted against each other. We wanted to write a song about like, "Hey, I've got you." It's not just women, actually. I think men too. Like, I want a big house that has lots of friends and family. Just something sort of heartwarming, you know?
Morris: This motto of the band, it fits so perfectly with that song because I think the message we're trying to get across is like, you can sit with us. This is a very inclusive project.
Shires: We're singing in unison so people can sing along.
Amanda, I read this project came out of noticing a lack of representation at women in radio and country radio specifically. Can you talk about a little bit what you found and how that turned into this project?
Shires: It was something I had noticed before, but I really don't operate in that genre. When the idea really started was after my daughter was born and I was thinking, what if Mercy grows up and decides she wants to be a country artist? Like, what can I do and how can I in any way try and change it or at least make it easier? That's sort of the whole thing for me. And then, you know, as ideas do, they grow and they become something much larger than you ever could even imagine. I feel very lucky that these people wanted to do this with me.
And how have you seen this project already have an impact on the conversation about gender equality so far with these first two singles?
Hemby: Well, I think we just want to shine a light on all different types of artists. It's exactly what Maren said in her video.
Morris: We don't want more than anyone else. We want the same as everyone else.
Hemby: Exactly. I think that's the key to it all. In the Top 50 charts of country music, there's not very many women on it.
Shires: Apparently Maren's number one. Watch out. Fire.
Hemby: She is currently number one. This girl right here. I don't know yet what happened.
Morris: But it is cool. To be at Newport and do the Highwomen debut the same week that "GIRL" went number one. It just feels like, I don't know, I'm pretty superstitious, but sometimes the stars just align and it's just timing.
Hemby: But it didn't use to be an issue of having women on country radio. We used to have Tricia [Yearwood], Shania [Twain], Faith [Hill], all of the them.
Morris: Dixie Chicks.
Hemby: Dixie Chicks. Through the years it's just, it's been so much less inclusive and that's kind of our point. It's not, we don't want more. We want the same opportunities.
Well, what you're doing is incredible. Maybe because she's not here, we can talk about Brandi. What does she bring to the group?
Morris: We have dubbed her the wide receiver.
Hemby: She's the wide receiver. If you have a ball and you want to do something, Brandi will take that ball all the way. She was like, I'm going to catch the ball and we're going to score a touchdown and we're going to win the Superbowl.
Shires: And then she'll run back down and get it again.
Morris: Yeah. She's definitely a doer. Like, she has an idea and she manifests it.
Shires: I think her work ethic matches the power of her voice.
Morris: Unparalleled vocalist.
Shires: The amount of work she can do, the amount of, you know, air she can take.
Hemby: Yes. That powerful voice. That's how she works too. And she's also, she is a very big supporter.
Shires: All we do is hold onto the reins.
Morris: She's really supportive. In our show last night, I was like, Brandi has amazing stage banter. I'm kind of glad I can sit back. She had the crowd in the palm of her hand when she was speaking.
Hemby: She is definitely made for this, for sure.
The album comes out Sept. 6. How in the world did you record this with four very busy schedules?
Hemby: Well, you work. Dave Cobb produced our record and she's worked with Dave several times.
Shires: Yeah, I have worked with Dave a lot. But when I first had the idea for this before it became even this, I told Dave about it and then I told him that I wanted him to produce it. Then he was like, you gotta go meet Brandi. And I met Brandi and then everything started coming together. I mean, we have the songs, we have awesome bands, we have awesome suits.
Morris: I recorded for two days. Well three, I guess with cocktails. What was the life span of the studio time? It was probably-
Shires: It was two weeks. We did a lot of stuff the first week and came back and did it the second week.
Hemby: Yeah, and we tracked a lot of the vocals-
Morris: We were writing in the studio also. Like, on "My Name Can't Be Mama," they wanted me to help write my verse and so it was very collaborative and creative. I love the way Dave operates. He's really into live tracking. So you've got humans around you making music and you can look at each other and you're all on each other's wavelength. I loved recording that way.
Rotimi On Performing At ESSENCE Fest, Growing Up African-American & More
The Nigerian-American singer and actor sat down with the Recording Academy to talk about what inspired his latest album, 'Walk With Me'
In 2015, Rotimi stepped into the New Orleans Superdome for the first time to experience the magic of ESSENCE Fest. Four years later, in 2019, the "Love Riddim" singer returned to the celebration as a performer, something he said was spoken into existence.
"Last year me and my manager had a conversation and I said, 'Listen, I'm going to be on the [ESSENCE] mainstage this year. 365 days later, we did it," Rotimi told the Recording Academy at the 25th annual ESSENCE Fest.
Rotimi, also an actor on Starz' "Power," has evolved since his last album, 2017's Jeep Music, Vol.1. The singer said he really hit home with its follow-up, the recently released Walk With Me, a project he worked hard for, putting in hours in the studio after filming on set.
"Walk With Me is the first time I actually felt like I was giving myself as an artist, and personally I feel like with everything else I have going on I wanted to show people that this is really what I do," he said. "I wanted people to understand who Rotimi is, who Rotimi was before, who I want to be and just understand my growth and the journey and my passion for what I do."
Part of why the album felt like such a representation of him is because it embodies beats of his African roots, something he said was very present growing up Nigerian-American.
"I grew up with a lot of Fela Kuti and I grew up with Bob Marley," he said of his musical roots. "But I also grew up with Carl Thomas and Genuine and Usher, so there was a genuine mixture of who I am and what I've grown up to listen to. The actual Walk With Me project was a mixture of influences of Akon and Craig David."
Photo: Kevin Mazur/WireImage.com
Pearl Jam Named Record Store Day 2019 Ambassadors
Pearl Jam's Mike McCready says "if you love music," record stores are the place to find it
Record Store Day 2019 will arrive on April 13 and this year's RSD Ambassadors are Pearl Jam. Past ambassadors include Dave Grohl, Metallica, Run The Jewels (Killer Mike and El-P), and 61st GRAMMY Awards winner for Best Rock Song St. Vincent.
McCready was also the 2018 recipient of MusiCares' Stevie Ray Vaughan Award.
The band was formed in 1990 by McCready, Jeff Ament, Stone Gossard, and Eddie Vedder, and they have played with drummer Matt Cameron since 2002. They have had five albums reach No. 1 on the Billboard 200 and four albums reach No. 2.
"Pearl Jam is honored to be Record Store Day's Ambassador for 2019. Independent record stores are hugely important to me," Pearl Jam's Mike McCready said in a statement publicizing the peak-vinyl event. "Support every independent record store that you can. They're really a good part of society. Know if you love music, this is the place to find it."
With a dozen GRAMMY nominations to date, Pearl Jam's sole win so far was at the 38th GRAMMY Awards for "Spin The Black Circle" for Best Hard Rock Performance.
Pearl Jam will be performing on March 3 in Tempe, Ariz. at the Innings festival, on June 15 in Florence, Italy at the Firenze Rocks Festival and at another festival in Barolo, Italy on June 17. On July 6 Pearl Jam will headline London's Wembley Stadium.
Photo: Daniel Boczarski/Getty Images
Original Misfits Unleash One Night Only L.A. Reunion Show
Dark punk legends to play first show with Glenn Danzig and Jerry Only since last year's Riot Fest reunion
There's big news today for punk-rock fans aware that the Misfits made much more than just T-shirts.
The massively influential punk band announced a special show touted as the "only 2017 performance in this world… or any world" and billed as "The Original Misfits" in Los Angeles at the Forum on Dec. 30.
This will be the first Misfits show featuring original singer Glenn Danzig and original bassist Jerry Only with long-time guitarist Doyle Wolfgang von Frankenstein since the band reunited for a pair of Riot Fest appearances in Chicago and Denver in 2016. Last year's Riot Fest gigs, which featured drummer Dave Lombardo, marked the first time in 33 years the original Misfits members played together.
"OK Los Angeles, you've waited almost 35 years for this, here's your chance to see the "Original Misfits" in this Exclusive L.A. only performance." said Glenn Danzig. "No Tour, No BS, just one night of dark metal-punk hardcore brutality that will go down in the history books. See you there."
Tickets for this "one night only" show go on sale Friday, August 25.
Find Out Who's Nominated For Best Rap Album | 2020 GRAMMY Awards
Dreamville, Meek Mill, 21 Savage, Tyler, The Creator, and YBN Cordae all earn nominations in the category
The 2020 GRAMMYs are just around the corner, and now the nominations are in for the coveted honor of Best Rap Album. While we'll have to wait until the 62nd GRAMMY Awards air on CBS on Jan. 26 to find out who will win, let's take a look at which albums have been nominated for Best Rap Album.
Revenge of the Dreamers III – Dreamville
Dreamers III, the third installment in the label’s Revenge of the Dreamers compilation series, debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard 200 chart and achieved gold status this past July. In addition to a Best Rap Album nod, Dreamers III is also nominated for Best Rap Performance next year for album track “Down Bad,” featuring J.I.D, Bas, J. Cole, EARTHGANG, and Young Nudy.
Championships – Meek Mill
In many ways, Championships represents a literal and metaphorical homecoming for Meek Mill. Released in November 2018, Championships is the Philadelphia rapper’s first artist album following a two-year prison sentence he served after violating his parole in 2017. Championships, naturally, sees Meek tackling social justice issues stemming from his prison experience, including criminal justice reform. The album debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard 200, his second chart-topper following 2015’s Dreams Worth More Than Money, and reached platinum status in June 2019. Meek Mill's 2020 Best Rap Album nod marks his first-ever GRAMMY nomination.
i am > i was – 21 Savage
Breakout rapper and four-time GRAMMY nominee 21 Savage dropped i am > i was, his second solo artist album, at the end of 2018. The guest-heavy album, which features contributions from Post Malone, Childish Gambino, J. Cole, and many others, has since charted around the world, topped the Billboard 200 – a first for the artist – in the beginning of 2019, and achieved gold status in the U.S. As well, nine songs out of the album’s 15 original tracks landed on the Hot 100 chart, including multi-platinum lead single “A Lot,” which is also nominated for Best Rap Song next year. 21 Savage’s 2020 Best Rap Album nomination, which follows Record of the Year and Best Rap/Sung Performance nods for his 2017 Post Malone collaboration, "Rockstar,” marks his first solo recognition in the top rap category.
IGOR – Tyler, The Creator
The eccentric Tyler, The Creator kicked off a massive 2019 with his mid-year album, IGOR. Released this past May, IGOR, Tyler’s fifth solo artist album, is his most commercially successful project to date. The album debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard 200, marking his first time topping the coveted chart, while its lead single, "Earfquake,” peaked at No. 13, his highest entry on the Hot 100. Produced in full by Tyler and featuring guest spots from fellow rap and R&B stars Kanye West, Lil Uzi Vert, Solange, and Playboi Carti, among many others, IGOR follows the rapper’s 2017 album, Flower Boy, which received the Best Rap Album nod that same year.
The Lost Boy – YBN Cordae
Emerging rapper YBN Cordae, a member of the breakout YBN rap collective, released his debut album, The Lost Boy, to widespread critical acclaim this past July. The 15-track release is stacked with major collaborations with hip-hop heavyweights, including Anderson .Paak, Pusha T, Meek Mill, and others, plus production work from J. Cole and vocals from Quincy Jones. After peaking at No. 13 on the Billboard 200, The Lost Boy now notches two 2020 GRAMMY nominations: Best Rap Album and Best Rap Song for album track “Bad Idea,” featuring Chance the Rapper.