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Meet The First-Time GRAMMY Nominee: Noah Cyrus On Continuing Her Family Legacy & Why She's Happier Than Ever

Noah Cyrus

 

Photo: Brian Ziff

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Meet The First-Time GRAMMY Nominee: Noah Cyrus On Continuing Her Family Legacy & Why She's Happier Than Ever

Singer/songwriter Noah Cyrus—a scion of a musical family that includes Billy Ray and Miley—details the road to her nomination for Best New Artist at the 2021 GRAMMY Awards show, which includes Ben Howard, John Mayer and a well of emotional honesty

GRAMMYs/Mar 8, 2021 - 11:27 pm

As the youngest member of the multitalented Cyrus family, Noah Cyrus has been around music her entire life. And now, she can say she's the youngest Cyrus to earn a GRAMMY nomination.

Cyrus, who turned 21 in January, is up for Best New Artist—an honor she shares with her father, Billy Ray, who was nominated in 1993, seven years before Noah was born. Although she looked up to her dad, Cyrus wasn't sure if she wanted the same future for herself, particularly after watching her older sister, Miley, grow up in the spotlight. But six years after 15-year-old Noah decided to give it a shot, affirmations like this GRAMMY nomination tell her that she was meant to be a musician as well.

"It's so validating to know that people are listening to the music—they're listening to me," Cyrus tells GRAMMY.com. "It means the absolute world to me that they appreciate the music. There are no words to explain my gratitude."

Cyrus' humility has helped her navigate her musical journey and stay vulnerable in both her music and the public eye. She's masterfully blended candidness and transparency with exquisite acoustic-driven melodies, most famously displayed on her song, "July." Now, she’s earned the GRAMMY nomination she's been dreaming about for years.

Noah Cyrus spoke to GRAMMY.com about what it means to share the Best New Artist nomination milestone with her dad, what inspired her to pursue music herself and John Mayer's words of wisdom that stuck with her.

Congrats on being GRAMMY-nominated! According to your Instagram post from the moment you found out, it was pretty emotional.

My mom told my best friend to film me, and I was trying to hide from her because I am the world's worst crier. My boyfriend sent me a zoomed-in screenshot of my face when I was crying because it's insane. I swear if you were to put it up to the Kim Kardashian meme of her crying, it's very, very, very similar.

You manifested your mom's prediction with the nomination, right?

Yeah. At the beginning of 2020, she said, "For the new year, I got an intentions book, and I wrote that you'd get nominated for your very first GRAMMY." 

It also felt like this amazing blessing from my grandma. We had recently lost her, and I would've given anything for her to see that. We were really close, so it was bittersweet. And I just had my 21st birthday [in January]. 

There's been a lot of things recently that feel like, because she isn't able to be here, there are these blessings from her.

Your dad also received a Best New Artist nomination in 1993. I would think that added another layer of meaningfulness to your nomination.

Absolutely. I've always been so intrigued by my dad and his musical history. I've always asked Dad about when he went to the GRAMMYs and what that was like, and I always said to Dad, "If I ever get nominated for a GRAMMY, you're gonna be my date."

Hearing about my dad's time at the GRAMMYs in '93, it felt like I was kind of reliving all the stories that I had heard. It just felt full circle for Dad to be sitting there however many years later with his daughter—that he didn't even know would exist at that time—celebrating a GRAMMY nomination.

I felt super emotional. My family always wants everyone else to win. We root for one another.

Obviously, music is very ingrained in your family, but what made you ultimately decide that music was the path you also wanted to take yourself?

When I was a kid, I was turned off from wanting to be in the public eye in any way. It's been the main source of a lot of my insecurities. I just wanted to be a normal kid. 

Around 14 or 15, I started writing songs and playing the piano. One night I wrote a best friend a song. She had told me that her life at home was hard and that she was struggling with self-harm and suicidal thoughts. I wrote her this song about how she's this angel on Earth and what a terrible world it would be without her. It was a strong message for such a young, young girl to write.

I also saw Ben Howard around the same time, and that live performance changed my life. I'd never understood how another person could influence somebody so much, but that's when I got it. Same with seeing the Arctic MonkeysAlex Turner and Ben Howard are kind of my gurus for music. Those performances inspired me to want to achieve that greatness.

I thought about how I could impact others [by sharing] what I go through and what I've been through, having body dysmorphia since I was 12, dealing with anxiety and depression. [Plus], everything that I've gone through in relationships, the ups and downs and everything we go through in life, and even writing about just life itself.

My favorite song I've ever written is "The End of Everything."

Why is that?

It's a song that is kind of bigger than all of us. I feel like writing "July," "I Got So High I Saw Jesus" and "The End of Everything," I was at a point in my life that I've stayed at, where I'm able to write these songs that are on this different level because I'm on a different level with myself.

I've mentally gotten so much healthier and comfortable with who I am. That made me able to write all of these songs that I can identify myself with.

Read: Meet This Year's Best New Artist Nominees | 2021 GRAMMYs

What do you think has contributed to your progression?

Once I was able to open up to everybody that I needed to in my inner circle, I was able to talk about it publicly, which has helped a lot. I also had a major turning point within this quarantine. 

I've been forced to sit and work on myself. I'm not the type to say, "New year, new me." I don't get that whole thing because I'm kind of like, "Eh, same s--t, different day." [Laughs.]

But I've just hit such a milestone, personally, that this feels like a whole new chapter.

I feel like your fans that are into your sadder songs are thinking, "Oh no, she's happy now. Are we going to get sappy stuff?"

No, no, don't get too excited. The sad lyrics aren't going away. That's always who I am.

Though I'm growing personally, I still feel so much. Whenever I love, I love so hard. Whenever I hurt, I hurt so deep. Whenever I feel, it feels so strong. I've just leveled up mentally and feel so much stronger personally. I've really learned what to be grateful for, and to be present, and to live now. 

My favorite musical advice I've ever gotten is from John Mayer. We were at a mutual friend's birthday party, and he came up to me and said, "'July' is the kind of music that you want to create—music that is great now and great 20 years from now."

It's the songs that still make you feel good whenever you sing them over and over. You're going to feel brand new each time you sing that song. That inspired me to create more songs that I'm going to want to sing for the rest of my life. 

2020 was a very testing year, but it's also been inspiring and helped me create some of the best music I've created. 

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Rotimi On Performing At ESSENCE Fest, Growing Up African-American & More

Rotimi

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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'

GRAMMYs/Jul 8, 2019 - 10:04 pm

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."

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ReImagined At Home: Watch Ant Clemons Croon The Cosmic Blues In Performance Of Bill Withers' "Ain't No Sunshine"

Ant Clemons

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ReImagined At Home: Watch Ant Clemons Croon The Cosmic Blues In Performance Of Bill Withers' "Ain't No Sunshine"

Singer/songwriter Ant Clemons puts his own spin on Bill Withers' immortal "Ain't No Sunshine" in an exclusive performance for ReImagined At Home

GRAMMYs/Jun 15, 2021 - 08:13 pm

Why has Bill Withers' immortal hit, "Ain't No Sunshine," endured for decades? And, furthermore, why does it seem set to reverberate throughout the ages?

Could it be because it's blues-based? Because it's relatable to anyone with a pulse? Because virtually anyone with an ounce of zeal can believably yowl the song at karaoke?

Maybe it's for all of those reasons and one more: "Ain't No Sunshine" is flexible

In the latest episode of ReImagined At Home, check out how singer/songwriter Ant Clemons pulls at the song's edges like taffy. With a dose of vocoder and slapback, Clemons recasts the lonesome-lover blues as the lament of a shipwrecked android.

Giving this oft-covered soul classic a whirl, Clemons reminds music lovers exactly why Withers' signature song has staying power far beyond his passing in 2020. It will probably be a standard in 4040, too.

Check out Ant Clemons' cosmic, soulful performance of "Ain't No Sunshine" above and click here to enjoy more episodes of ReImagined At Home.

ReImagined At Home: Keedron Bryant Powerfully Interprets John Legend's Love Song "Ordinary People"

 

GRAMMY Rewind: Watch Will Smith Dedicate His 1999 Best Rap Solo Performance GRAMMY To His Son

Will Smith at the 1999 GRAMMYs

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GRAMMY Rewind: Watch Will Smith Dedicate His 1999 Best Rap Solo Performance GRAMMY To His Son

In his acceptance speech, he offers thanks to his family and "the jiggiest wife in the world, Jada Pinkett Smith"

GRAMMYs/Sep 25, 2020 - 11:17 pm

Today, Sept. 25, we celebrate the birthday of the coolest dad—who else? Will Smith! For the latest episode of GRAMMY Rewind, we revisit the Fresh Prince's 1999 GRAMMY win for Best Rap Solo Performance for "Gettin' Jiggy Wit It."

In the below video, watch rappers Missy Elliott—donning white leather—and Foxy Brown present the GRAMMY to a stoked Smith, who also opted for an all-leather look. In his acceptance speech, he offers thanks to his family and "the jiggiest wife in the world, Jada Pinkett Smith." He dedicates the award to his eldest son, Trey Smith, joking that Trey's teacher said he (then just six years old) could improve his rhyming skills.

Watch Another GRAMMY Rewind: Ludacris Dedicates Best Rap Album Win To His Dad At The 2007 GRAMMYs

The classic '90s track is from his 1997 debut studio album, Big Willie Style, which also features "Miami" and 1998 GRAMMY winner "Men In Black," from the film of the same name. The "Está Rico" rapper has won four GRAMMYs to date, earning his first back in 1989 GRAMMYs for "Parents Just Don't Understand," when he was 20 years old.

GRAMMY Rewind: Watch Michelle Obama, Lady Gaga, Alicia Keys, J. Lo & Jada Pinkett Smith Open The 2019 GRAMMYs

Recordings By Janet Jackson, Louis Armstrong, Odetta & More Inducted Into The National Recording Registry

Janet Jackson

Photo: Christopher Polk/Getty Images

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Recordings By Janet Jackson, Louis Armstrong, Odetta & More Inducted Into The National Recording Registry

Selections by Albert King, Labelle, Connie Smith, Nas, Jackson Browne, Pat Metheny, Kermit the Frog and others have also been marked for federal preservation

GRAMMYs/Mar 25, 2021 - 02:37 am

The Librarian of Congress Carla Haden has named 25 new inductees into the National Recording Registry of the Library of Congress. They include Janet Jackson’s “Rhythm Nation 1814,” Louis Armstrong’s “When the Saints Go Marching In,” Labelle’s “Lady Marmalade,” Nas’ “Illmatic,” Kool & the Gang’s “Celebration,” Kermit the Frog’s “The Rainbow Connection” and more.

“The National Recording Registry will preserve our history through these vibrant recordings of music and voices that have reflected our humanity and shaped our culture from the past 143 years,” Hayden said in a statement. “We received about 900 public nominations this year for recordings to add to the registry, and we welcome the public’s input as the Library of Congress and its partners preserve the diverse sounds of history and culture.”

The National Recording Preservation Board is an advisory board consisting of professional organizations and experts who aim to preserve important recorded sounds. The Recording Academy is involved on a voting level. The 25 new entries bring the number of musical titles on the registry to 575; the entire sound collection includes nearly 3 million titles. Check out the full list of new inductees below:

National Recording Registry Selections for 2020

  1. Edison’s “St. Louis tinfoil” recording (1878)

  2. “Nikolina” — Hjalmar Peterson (1917) (single)

  3. “Smyrneikos Balos” — Marika Papagika (1928) (single)

  4. “When the Saints Go Marching In” — Louis Armstrong & his Orchestra (1938) (single)

  5. Christmas Eve Broadcast--Franklin D. Roosevelt and Winston Churchill (December 24, 1941)

  6. “The Guiding Light” — Nov. 22, 1945

  7. “Odetta Sings Ballads and Blues” — Odetta (1957) (album)

  8. “Lord, Keep Me Day by Day” — Albertina Walker and the Caravans (1959) (single)  

  9. Roger Maris hits his 61st homerun (October 1, 1961)

  10. “Aida” — Leontyne Price, et.al. (1962) (album)

  11. “Once a Day” — Connie Smith (1964) (single)

  12. “Born Under a Bad Sign” — Albert King (1967) (album)

  13. “Free to Be…You & Me” — Marlo Thomas and Friends (1972) (album)

  14. “The Harder They Come” — Jimmy Cliff (1972) (album)

  15. “Lady Marmalade” — Labelle (1974) (single)

  16. “Late for the Sky” — Jackson Browne (1974) (album)

  17. “Bright Size Life” — Pat Metheny (1976) (album)

  18. “The Rainbow Connection” — Kermit the Frog (1979) (single)

  19. “Celebration” — Kool & the Gang (1980) (single)

  20. “Richard Strauss: Four Last Songs” — Jessye Norman (1983) (album)

  21. “Janet Jackson’s Rhythm Nation 1814” — Janet Jackson (1989) (album)

  22. “Partners” — Flaco Jiménez (1992) (album)

  23. “Somewhere Over the Rainbow”/”What A Wonderful World” — Israel Kamakawiwo’ole (1993) (single)

  24. “Illmatic” — Nas (1994) (album)

  25. “This American Life: The Giant Pool of Money” (May 9, 2008)

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