Photo: David McClister
Megan Moroney's Big Year: The "Tennessee Orange" Country Star Details The Most Meaningful Moments Of Her "Crazy" Career
With her second headlining tour underway, Megan Moroney reminisces about her whirlwind breakout year, including an Opry debut and a No. 1 smash.
Just last summer, Megan Moroney had never even played a show. Fourteen months later, she's headlining a sold-out tour.
The country singer/songwriter kicked off The Lucky Tour on Sept. 20 in New York City, with 22 dates sprinkled throughout the fall until wrapping in her native Georgia on Dec. 10. Though her first headlining tour was in April, The Lucky Tour is an indication of where her stardom is headed — bigger and busier.
"My whole life is completely different now," Moroney says. "Everything is happening, and I'm on the road 24/7. Last year, I would put out a song and I'd play shows a couple weeks at a time and then have some time off, but we're planning so far ahead now. It's a lot of work, but it's what I want to do."
Moroney's rapidly growing success was first fueled by the lovestruck, college football-themed hit "Tennessee Orange," but she's kept the momentum going with her debut album, Lucky. While her country-pop stylings are right in line with the genre's mainstream stars, Moroney's witty, strong-willed songwriting and husky voice feel like the makings of a superstar.
Moroney's staying power has already been proven from what she's achieved in 2023: "Tennessee Orange" hit No. 1 on the Country Aircheck/Mediabase Country Airplay chart in June, won Moroney her first award in April (CMT Breakthrough Female Video Of The Year), and earned her both New Artist Of The Year and Song Of The Year nominations for the 2023 CMA Awards, to name a few.
But even for a girl who went from never touring to having a No. 1 song in just over a year, Moroney insists that she hasn't lost sight of her purpose.
"I try to just take things a day at a time. I have random goals, but I try not to put too much pressure on myself for specific goals," Moroney adds. "It's how I got to 'Tennessee Orange' — if I just keep my head down and keep working hard, good things will happen."
Before Moroney appears at the GRAMMY Museum for a SPOTLIGHT series event on Oct. 10, hear from the singer about six of her most memorable career milestones she's reached — so far.
Making Her Grand Ole Opry Debut — February 11, 2023
I was in the studio, we were tracking "Kansas Anymore." And I look over, and Jamey Johnson walks in. I figured he was maybe recording and just coming to say hi, because our tour with him had ended not too long before that. And he's like, "Hey, I got somebody on FaceTime."
He had Deana Carter on the phone, and Deana was like, "How would you like to make your Grand Ole Opry debut?" Obviously I completely freaked out.
Then the day of, I had my family come in. It was just a very overwhelming feeling. I remember during soundcheck, when I stepped into the circle, I just started crying. And I was like, Why am I crying? [Laughs.] Like, I knew it was a really big deal, but I definitely didn't plan on crying.
And that's why, when I made my debut, I tried not to talk too much. I was like, "And this is my song." Because I knew if I talked too much, I would just cry, and I was like, I don't want to do that at the Opry.
I had played bigger venues before, but there's just something about playing the Opry the first time where I was so nervous. Right before I get on stage, Vince Gill introduced himself to me, and I was like, Oh, perfect. He's watching, so don't screw up!
I played "Hair Salon" and "Tennessee Orange." It was great. I noticed a lot of people came there just for me — I can always tell, too, because everyone has Tennessee stuff on. And it was very cool to have my family there. And a bunch of my friends also showed up.
I think they said there was a standing ovation, but I was offstage at that point. I didn't get to see it, but heard about it. [Laughs.]
Winning Her First Award — April 2, 2023
I was terrified. Public speaking is scary to start with, but also being on television, I was so nervous. And I remember my publicist being like, "You know if you do win, you need to at least sort of have an idea of what you're going to say." And I was just like, "I'm not going to prepare a speech, I'm not gonna win."
I just remember walking off stage and I was like, Did I just speak English? I completely blacked out. I had no idea what I said. I called my mom and I was like, "Hopefully I did not embarrass myself." But obviously, it was very cool to win an award for the music video.
The CMTs were the first award show that I attended as an artist. [At] the CMA Awards in November, I was just a host on the red carpet, interviewing other artists. I fortunately got a ticket to the CMA Awards, but I was like, you know, in the back.
It was just crazy. Shania Twain is sitting near me, Megan Thee Stallion is in front of me — I'm just like, What? I was already like, This is crazy, I don't need to win. I'm having a great time. I don't know how to give a speech, I'm not well-spoken. Like, I literally write songs about my boyfriend — now I have to go give a speech? [Laughs.]
It's just crazy and hard to believe that it's happening. It feels great, obviously, because I feel like Nashville has been supportive and they see the work that I'm doing and they look at it for what it is and how I wanted it to be received. Making a fan base is one thing, but to also have the support of Nashville, like, "We see what you're doing, and we're recognizing it," it's really cool.
Releasing Her Debut Album — May 5, 2023
The night album came out was the first night of the Brooks & Dunn tour.
We were in Kansas City and I had my team there, and some of my Columbia [Records] people showed up from New York to surprise me. It was so crazy to finally have it out because it had been on my phone for so long. You spend so many hours and put your heart into these songs, and then it comes out, and you're like, Okay, now what?
One [reaction] that meant a lot to me was Olivia Rodrigo DMing me and saying that she loves the songs. I had posted her "vampire" song on my story, and I tagged her, and she responded and was like, "Oh my gosh, your songwriting is so inspiring!" That was really cool, definitely a standout moment of my album coming out.
Overall — I also try not to look at negative things — my fans, they've been receiving it the way that I hoped they would. Like, no one took "Sleep On My Side" too seriously, and "I'm Not Pretty" is not supposed to be a bitchy song; it's supposed to be more of a confident anthem.
"Girl In The Mirror," I've been able to see at live shows [that] that one is having the most impact on my fans. And I think it does have the most important message of all the songs on the whole record. Girls bring signs to my shows that say "You made me love the girl in the mirror." There's little girls that are, like, 7 years old with shirts that say, "You can't love the boy more than the girl in the mirror." It's hitting all age groups.
I think [with] music, you have to say something, or what's the point? It doesn't matter what you're trying to say, but it needs to do something for people. That song definitely helped me writing it, and I've seen it help my fans. One of my favorite moments in the live show is everyone singing it with me — and I don't ask them to sing it with me. Everyone's just screaming it. I have songs like that from other artists that I feel that way about, so it's cool to have fans connect with that song.
Playing CMA Fest With Her Brother — June 11, 2023
Last year, I got to play CMA Fest for the first time, and I played it with my brother because, honestly, he did it for free. [Laughs.] We were on one of the smallest stages, if not the smallest, in the Music City Center. It's basically the stage that people only showed up because they wanted air conditioning, because it was one of the only indoor stages.
Then this year, when CMA Fest came around again, I got to play the Riverfront Stage and Nissan Stadium, and I invited my brother back. Last year, we were like, "We're gonna make this tradition, because that was fun." And then this year, I found out I was playing the stadium, and I was like, "Well, we said it was a tradition. You've never played a stadium and neither have I, but we're going to do this together." So my brother and I played Nissan Stadium together — we did "I'm Not Pretty" and "Tennessee Orange."
He was playing guitar and singing harmonies. Him and my dad kind of taught me how to play guitar. So we grew up playing together, but now he's an attorney, so he has, like, a legit job and can't just quit to tour with me, even though I would love that.
The whole thing was special. He texted me a couple of days after when he was back home, and he was like, "Did we really just play in a stadium?"
I've been used to touring and playing in front of people. So I was definitely nervous, but it was manageable. But for him, I'm like, "You have a normal job. I don't know how you just went out in front of that many people and just played."
That's up there as the most meaningful moments of this year. Just to watch the videos and see my face and his face in Nissan stadium. I'm like, What is this? We used to post videos of us on Instagram together in our living room, and I just never would have thought that we would be in a stadium together.
Earning A No. 1 Song With "Tennessee Orange" — June 20, 2023
When I wrote this song, I was happy with it. I was like, This is different than anything I've written because it's kind of a love song and I'm not good at writing those. But I was [also] like, I wrote this song that I can relate to, but like I don't even know if people in like, California, or someone that doesn't care about [college] football are even going to understand..
When the fall came around and it was about to be football season, and an opportunity with Spotify came, we were like, Well, we've got this football song. I definitely didn't write it and was like, This is gonna be the one.
When I announced that it was coming out, which was probably like two weeks before, I started promoting it on TikTok. When I posted the initial video, people were making it a trend to show their significant other and they were like, "I met somebody" [with] cute pictures behind the sound. And I teased the bridge and everyone was making TikToks to that. So it was blowing up before the song actually came out.
The night it went No. 1 was actually the last day of the Brooks & Dunn tour, so it was really just an exciting day in general. We really did not know if it was gonna go No. 1 — I had to mentally prepare myself to not be No. 1, because I didn't want to upset myself too much. The radio team was honest in the fact that there's huge songs that we're competing against.
We really didn't know for sure until 3 a.m. when it actually was official. I was exhausted because we'd been on this run. So at midnight, I went to sleep, and I was like, "Y'all wake me up at 3 if it goes number one. If I don't get woken up, I'm just gonna not talk to anyone tomorrow." [Laughs.]
My team and my band came in my room on the bus with orange wigs on, and they scared the life out of me. Then the next day, we went to Broadway to celebrate. I got to hear an artist singing my song on Broadway for the first time — that was really cool, because I remember moving to Nashville and being like, "Wow, if someone is playing a cover of your song on Broadway, you've made it."
I got on stage with her — I was a little intoxicated. [Laughs.] I posted a TikTok video of it. That was a fun day.
Headlining A Sold-Out Tour — Sept. 20 to December 10, 2023
We're literally going from New York to California and everywhere in between. The more headlining shows I play, I feel like the crazier and more passionate my fans get. They show up in handmade merch, and they'll dress like me. So I feel like the fall tour will be even more crazy, because it seems to just be getting crazier.
I love opening because you can make new fans, but when everyone is there for you, it's definitely a different sense of comfortability. My first headlining show was in Georgia, it was in Statesboro. So my family got to be there too. And "Girl In The Mirror" came out a couple of hours before that, and they sang "Girl In The Mirror" back to me. It was the first time I heard them chanting my name. I was just like, This is absurd.
One part of the show that I think I'll always have on my headliners is where I play a couple of songs where it's just me and a guitar. And I like doing that because when I'm writing a song, it's usually just me and a guitar. So I like to recreate that environment for my fans.
One show that really sticks out is a show that I played recently at the Iowa State Fair. I think there were 6,000 people there for me. They were singing every single song — like, the least-streamed song on the album is "Sad Songs For Sad People," and they screamed every word of that.
To have that many people who care about my music will always beat every other moment, because [I know] what I'm doing is connecting with people. It makes me want to keep creating the same kind of music that does that for people.
Photo: Gary Miller/Getty Images
Inside Neil Young's 'Before And After': Where All 13 Songs Came From
The folk-rock titan's newest LP is a journey through the past — whether recent or decades in the rearview. But 'Before And After' is far more interesting than just an album of re-recordings.
More than his fragile tenor, knife-twisting pump organ, swarming Old Black guitar, or any other aural hallmark, Neil Young is defined by his dogged, locomotive-like (and somewhat wackadoo) resolve to surge forward. Come hell or high water, Young will continue the mission.
Which doesn't mean innovate, necessarily — even though innumerable contemporary indie and Americana artists owe their livelihoods to him. It's just that the fire he ignited in 1966, when he wrote his first song as a Buffalo Springfielder, remains furiously burning in 2023.
"I don't care. I figured that's why they like it, because I don't care. It's what I have to do. I want to do this," the two-time GRAMMY winner and 28-time nominee told a tickled Zane Lowe last year, while promoting his latest album with Crazy Horse, World Record. "That's why there's 51, 52 albums: because I want to do this, and I can still feel it. I'd be crazy to stop."
All of a year after World Record, Young is back with a new album, Before and After. (Would that be his 53rd? His recent cavalcade of archival releases renders the number hopelessly blurry.)
Before and After, out Dec. 8 is a collection of solo re-recordings of old songs; it shows that even with his foot on the accelerator, he tends to drift into a figure 8. Some tunes, like "Mr. Soul," are classics. Others, like the Trans outtake "If You Got Love," are exclusively recognizable to the real heads.
But despite his litany of stylistic detours, Young's essentially the same musician as when we met him; as such, this sequence is seamless. Which leads to another wrinkle; Young designed Before and After to be an unbroken suite of music.
"Songs from my life, recently recorded, create a music montage with no beginnings or endings," he wrote in a press release. "The feeling is captured, not in pieces, but as a whole piece — designed to be listened to that way. This music presentation defies shuffling, digital organization, separation. Only for listening. That says it all."
And another wrinkle: Although it's not billed as such, there are signs that the album was recorded live, with a few overdubs added in post — which he's done before, on albums like Rust Never Sleeps and Earth. Not only does the tracklist hew closely to the setlists from his West Coast solo tour last summer, but crowd noise is faintly audible in several spots, and the credits declare the recording location to simply be "USA."
As usual with this most mercurial of artists, Before and After seems simple, but there are layers of Youngian mystery. But where these songs initially hail from is no mystery at all. Here's a quick breakdown of exactly what we're hearing on Before and After.
"I'm the Ocean" (Mirror Ball, 1995)
A warts-and-all collaboration with Pearl Jam recorded in record time, Mirror Ball's actual songs have always had a hard time peeking through what Young described as "a big smoldering mass of sound." (Well, except the undeniable, immediate "Downtown" — perhaps the exception that proves the rule.)
But although its songs were written entirely in the span of the four-day recording session, the passage of time and a fair amount of dedicated listening — will bear out their merits. The Before and After version of "I'm the Ocean" is proof positive: What sounded a bit like an interminable garage-rock workout reveals itself to be a "Thrasher"-esque folk epic.
"I'm not present/ I'm a drug that makes you dream/ I'm an aerostar/ I'm a Cutlass Supreme," Young evocatively sings. "In the wrong lane/Trying to turn against the flow/ I'm the ocean/ I'm the giant undertow."
"Homefires" (Neil Young Archives Volume II: 1972-1976, 2020)
No doubt, it was a treat to hear Homegrown, one of Young's whitest whales. Recorded in 1974 and '75, it was shelved until Young finally released it in 2020 — the tip of the spear for a lot of unreleased material in its wake.
But for those steeped in Young lore, it seemed like there was a lot missing: where's "Give Me Strength"? Where's "Frozen Man"? Where's "Homefires"? Clearly, he didn't forget about the latter; there's a perfectly lovely version here.
But take it under advisement to seek out the original recording, which is deliciously vibey and aching as so much early Young music was.
"Burned" (Buffalo Springfield, 1966)
All these decades on, the bond between Young and his Buffalo Springfield/CSNY partner Stephen Stills is ironclad: if nothing's changed since early 2023, the musical brothers still get together to jam every Wednesday.
Young's devastated, precocious "Burned," from the eponymous first Springfield album, has lost none of its sting; it's downright thrilling to hear Young lay into it. Buffalo Springfield may have come out 57 years ago, but burned out on these tunes he is not.
"On the Way Home" (Last Time Around, 1968)
The studio recording of the yearning "On the Way Home" always felt a little incongruous with its sunshine-pop production; the solo, acoustic version on 2007's Live at Massey Hall 1971 always seemed like the take.
While that possibly remains true, this version acts as a worthy bookend, the after to the before: "Though we rush ahead to save our time/ We are only what we feel," Young sings, summing up his entire career.
"If You Got Love" (dropped from Trans, 1983)
Decades of snickers later, the electronic Trans has been redeemed in the critical aggregate.
It was never a thumbed-nose, label-baiting genre excursion like some of his other '80s albums. Rather, it was an honest response to parenthood of a nonverbal son. (And, it must be said, his burgeoning love of — bordering on a fixation on — Devo.)
While outtake "If You Got Love" lacks the aggressive vocoder of its Trans brethren, it remains shockingly commercial and soft-rock for this artist: Young himself called it "wimpy."
While your mileage may vary on the OG version, Young's Before and After take corrects that perception; performed alone on his trademark, rickety pump organ, reveals it to be blindingly pure and simple, a harbinger of Young's hymnlike, borderline childlike material in the new millennium.
"A Dream That Can Last" (Sleeps with Angels, 1994)
The largely muted Sleeps with Angels might be the most underrated album in Young's catalog. In terms of evocative songcraft, brooding atmosphere, and smoldering performances from Crazy Horse, it belongs near the top of the heap.
Two of its highlights are its bookends, both on sonorous tack piano: "My Heart" and "A Dream That Can Last." And this version sounds as emotionally naked as its predecessor, as Young revisits his vision of heaven: "The cupboards are bare, but the streets are paved with gold."
"Birds" (After the Gold Rush, 1970)
This slightly deeper cut from After the Gold Rush has followed Young around forever; perhaps the simplicity and companionability of this piano ballad has rendered it timeless.
And as always, it's moving to hear a 78-year-old Young still drawing power from something he sang as a twenty-something in coffeehouses.
Indeed, lines like "When you see me fly away without you" feel poignant in light of the numberless friends and loved ones — many indispensable to his creative arc — that Young has said goodbye to. When comparing original Horseman Danny Whitten to steel guitarist Ben Keith to his ex-wife, Pegi Young, "Birds" still feels elegiac to the maximum.
"My Heart" (Sleeps with Angels, 1994)
The aforementioned "My Heart" kicks off Sleeps with Angels with capacious canyons of silence and windswept lyrics: "When dreams come crashing down like trees/ I don't know what love can do/ When life is hanging in the breeze/ I don't know what love can do."
In reverse order, these two Sleeps with Angels tunes still carry potency and import — although nothing beats the dramatic arc of the original album, which all Young fans must seek out if they haven't.
"When I Hold You in My Arms" (Are You Passionate?, 2002)
Eyeballing the title, this writer figured "When I Hold You In My Arms" was a deep cut from Storytone, his 2014 paean to new love — and now wife and frequent collaborator — Darryl Hannah.
Rather, it's from 2002's Are You Passionate?, Young's curious team-up with Booker T. and the MGs. (Before tracking that one, a handful of its songs — some under different names — ended up on the long-shelved Toast, which Young finally released in 2022.)
But it could just as easily exist on that album-length tribute to new love: "When I hold you in my arms/ It's a breath of fresh air/ When I hold you in my arms/ I forget what's out there." And that's partly what renders this deeper-than-deep cut still resonant on Before and After.
"Mother Earth" (Ragged Glory, 1990)
Back in 1990, the chief ecological concern arguably wasn't global warming, but the hole in the ozone. Still, "Mother Earth" feels prescient — not only due to current climate woes, but as per Young's catalog itself, which has come to be saturated with climate-centric songs.
But Young's topical songs have always been most powerful when they sound deeply personal, too — and this fragile, organ-led version of "Mother Earth" sounds like a devotional by the Lorax.
"Mr. Soul" (Buffalo Springfield Again, 1967)
Like fellow Buffalo Springfield stone classic "Burned," "Mr. Soul" still feels bluesy and badass, best delivered with a heavy dose of spite. (Young's solo version on 1991's Unplugged, for which he was in the mother of bad moods, is stormy and unforgettable.
The kinder, gentler version on Before and After, though, is no less indispensable, for how ancient it sounds behind the organ — as if Young dredged it from the earth as a young man and it shines eternal.
"Comes a Time" (Comes a Time, 1978)
The ambling "Comes a Time" and its attendant, eponymous album have always been fan favorites: that rootsy 1978 album is where Young crossed a rubicon of earned maturity.
And despite Young's declaration that "I don't want to come back and do the same songs again" on said West Coast tour — if, in fact, this was drawn from that — "Comes a Time" feels like a requisite greatest hit. Which doesn't mean it's not good to hear it — quite the opposite.
"Don't Forget Love" (Barn, 2021)
Young bringing out an aged and grizzled Crazy Horse for three albums in a row — 2019's Colorado, 2021's Barn and 2022's World Record — might come across as a declaration to rawk.
But paradoxically — as Young has always been — these albums have featured some of the most restrained performances by the Horse since Sleeps with Angels.
Colorado concluded on a whisper-light note with "I Do," and Barn does the same, with the dreamlike "Don't Forget Love," performed here on upright piano.
These 13 songs may span seven decades, but Young is immutably Young — and if he gets to add more decades of work to his voluminous songbook, he will remain so. That's the thing about this prestige artist: most of us celebrate the Before, but the After is arguably even more interesting.
Source Photo: Nadav Kander; Graphic Courtesy of the Recording Academy
Sony Music Publishing Chairman & CEO Jon Platt To Receive GRAMMY Salute To Industry Icons Honor At The Pre-GRAMMY Gala During GRAMMY Week 2024
Ahead of the 2024 GRAMMYs, the renowned Pre-GRAMMY gala, hosted by the Recording Academy and Clive Davis, returns Saturday, Feb. 3, where Sony Music Publishing Chairman and CEO Jon Platt will be honored as the 2024 GRAMMY Salute To Industry Icons honoree.
The Recording Academy’s GRAMMY Salute To Industry Icons honor celebrates the music industry's leading lights and biggest supporters. Ahead of the 2024 GRAMMYs, Sony Music Publishing Chairman and CEO Jon Platt will become the latest honoree.
The GRAMMY Salute To Industry Icons honor is awarded during the invitation-only Pre-GRAMMY Gala, an annual celebration hosted by the Recording Academy and music industry icon Clive Davis that takes place the night before the annual GRAMMY Awards. Held on Saturday, Feb. 3, 2024, and sponsored by Hilton, IBM and Mastercard, the Pre-GRAMMY Gala has become one of the music industry's most distinguished events for the innovative and influential creators and professionals it draws. Jon Platt is certainly among them.
"One of the most influential figures in the industry, Jon has consistently set the bar for leadership in music," Recording Academy CEO Harvey Mason jr. said in a statement. “His ongoing commitment to equity, his dedication to quality, and his advocacy for artists across all crafts and genres have been an inspiration to music leaders everywhere. We look forward to an incredible evening dedicated to honoring his incredible impact.”
“Jon Platt is one of the music industry’s most illustrious leaders and I am thrilled that he will be this year’s Salute to Industry Icons honoree,” Clive Davis said in a statement. “Jon’s longtime trailblazing commitment to supporting songwriters across the music spectrum as well as his staunch dedication to advocacy, diversity and equality in the music business are exemplary. Artists and the industry at large are fortunate to have his insight and passion at the helm.”
Since his appointment as Chairman and CEO of leading global music publisher Sony Music Publishing (“SMP”) in 2019, Platt has worked to revitalize the company’s Songwriters First mission. His efforts have focused on emphasizing service and transparency at every level, prioritizing equity, and reshaping the company’s administration services.
During Platt's tenure, Sony Music Publishing has strengthened both its legacy and its future, creating historic partnerships with songwriting legends like Bruce Springsteen, Paul Simon and Ashley Gorley; signing the next generation of superstars like Olivia Rodrigo, Jack Harlow, Latto, Anitta, Central Cee, Kane Brown, and the Kid LAROI; and delivering opportunities for DIY creators through a landmark deal with BeatStars.
Throughout his career, Platt advocated for fair compensation for songwriters. Under his direction, Sony Music Publishing has focused on improving the lives of songwriters by putting more money in songwriters’ pockets, and getting that money in their pockets sooner. In an increasingly global music business, the company has also expanded its leading presence internationally into India, Indonesia and Nigeria.
Reflecting Platt’s commitment to artist development and his long-held belief that it’s better to grow hits than to chase them, SMP has built out its services for songwriters and composers at every stage of their careers. Songwriters Forward — a global initiative — has seen SMP providing mental health and wellness support to its roster through the Songwriter Assistance Program. SMP’s Legacy Unrecouped Balance Program has offered new financial opportunities to legacy songwriters. And SMP has provided over $1 million in grants to working songwriters in collaboration with organizations such as the 100 Percenters, Songwriters of North America (SONA) and Nashville Songwriters Association International (NSAI).
Jon Platt’s career in the music business began in the mid-‘80s, when, as a DJ in his hometown of Denver, he was credited with breaking records from Public Enemy and Arrested Development in the Midwest. He brought the same passion for spotting hits-in-the-making to his career in music publishing, signing and collaborating with some of the biggest names in hip-hop and R&B, including Jay-Z, Beyoncé, Drake, Rihanna, Pharrell Williams and Usher. Platt is widely credited for elevating how hip-hop and R&B artists are respected and compensated as songwriters.
Platt has consistently shared his belief in building a music business every bit as diverse as the music it represents. He has increased diversity across senior leadership teams throughout his career, and supported the development of a pipeline of female executives with SMP’s global Women’s Leadership Program. His commitment to equity and inclusion extends to empowering the next generation of songwriters and composers with initiatives like SMP’s Screen Scoring Diversity Scholarship at the University of Southern California’s Thornton School of Music.
Platt previously served as chairman & CEO of Warner Chappell and led the company’s turnaround. He also spent 17 years at EMI Music Publishing, where he cemented his reputation for recognizing icons-in-the-making by signing Jay-Z on the release of his 1996 independent debut album, Reasonable Doubt.
Platt sits on the boards of Berklee College of Music, Songwriters Hall of Fame, Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, Motown Museum, Living Legends Foundation, and the National Music Publishers Association (NMPA), and his numerous recognitions include City of Hope’s prestigious Spirit of Life Award, SONA’s Warrior Award, NSAI’s President’s Keystone Award, SESAC’s Visionary Award, Billboard’s Power 100, Variety’s Variety500, and Morehouse College’s Candle Award. In 2005, he launched The Big Jon Platt Scholarship Program for college-bound students from his Denver community in Montbello.
Graphic courtesy of the Recording Academy
How To Watch "A GRAMMY Salute To 50 Years Of Hip-Hop": Air Date, Performers Lineup, Streaming Channel & More
Featuring exclusive performances and special tributes, "A GRAMMY Salute To 50 Years Of Hip-Hop" premieres Sunday, Dec. 10. Here's when, where and how to watch the star-studded live concert special.
The 50th anniversary of hip-hop may have happened this past summer, but the Recording Academy's ongoing celebration was just beginning. And it's about to reach its culmination with "A GRAMMY Salute To 50 Years Of Hip-Hop," a majestic, once-in-a-lifetime live concert special featuring rap's best and brightest — past and present.
Here's everything you need to know about where, when, how, and why to watch "A GRAMMY Salute To 50 Years Of Hip-Hop."
What Is "A GRAMMY Salute To 50 Years Of Hip-Hop" Celebrating?
"A GRAMMY Salute To 50 Years Of Hip-Hop" is celebrating the 50th anniversary of hip-hop, which took place in August.
Scholars may debate whether the genre's roots precede Aug. 11, 1973, when DJ Kool Herc debuted his "merry-go-round" technique of playing funk breaks back-to-back to a smattering of teenagers in the Bronx. But it's beyond doubt that this event was the spark to a flame that lit throughout the boroughs — inspiring DJs, breakdancers, graffiti artists, and, eventually, pioneering MCs like Coke La Rock and Cowboy.
In the ensuing decades, hip-hop has set the world on fire, swelling to become one of the foremost cultural phenomena on the planet. And "A GRAMMY Salute To 50 Years Of Hip-Hop" promises to pay homage to the breadth, depth and ongoing ripple effect of the genre and culture.
When Can I Watch "A GRAMMY Salute To 50 Years Of Hip-Hop"?
"A GRAMMY Salute To 50 Years Of Hip-Hop" will air Sunday, Dec. 10, starting at 8:30 p.m. ET/8 p.m. PT.
How Can I Watch "A GRAMMY Salute To 50 Years Of HipHop"?
"A GRAMMY Salute To 50 Years Of Hip-Hop" will air at the above time, at the above date, on the CBS Television Network and stream live and on demand on Paramount+.
Who Is Performing At "A GRAMMY Salute To 50 Years Of Hip-Hop"?
The two-hour live concert special will feature exclusive performances from hip-hop legends and GRAMMY-winning artists including Black Thought, Bun B, Common, De La Soul, Jermaine Dupri, J.J. Fad, Talib Kweli, the Lady Of Rage, LL Cool J, MC Sha-Rock, Monie Love, the Pharcyde, Queen Latifah, Questlove, Rakim, Remy Ma, Uncle Luke, and Yo-Yo.
Rap icons and next-gen hip-hop superstars like 2 Chainz, T.I., Gunna, Too $hort, Latto, E-40, Big Daddy Kane, GloRilla, Juvenile, Three 6 Mafia, Cypress Hill, Jeezy, DJ Quik, MC Lyte, Roxanne Shanté, Warren G, YG, Digable Planets, Arrested Development, Spinderella, Black Sheep, Luniz, and many more will also perform. Plus, hip-hop icons DJ Jazzy Jeff and the Fresh Prince will deliver a highly anticipated reunion on the stage.
Who Is Appearing At "A GRAMMY Salute To 50 Years Of Hip-Hop"?
Two-time GRAMMY winner and nine-time GRAMMY nominee LL Cool J will guide fans through the "A GRAMMY Salute To 50 Years Of Hip-Hop" experience throughout the night. You can also expect presentations and appearances from Chloe Bailey, hip-hop-meets Broadway mastermind Lin-Manuel Miranda, Seth Rogen, Jennifer Hudson, Regina Hall, Machine Gun Kelly, and more.
What Can I Expect At "A GRAMMY Salute To 50 Years Of Hip-Hop"?
Spanning the past five decades of hip-hop history, "A GRAMMY Salute To 50 Years Of Hip-Hop" is the epitomic embodiment of the profound history of hip-hop. More than just a live concert special, the show will celebrate the infinite ways hip-hop has impacted and changed the world. Plus, with such a heavy-hitter performer lineup, hip-hop fans should expect plenty of surprises and deep dives into the rich evolution of rap music and culture.
The night will feature groundbreaking artists performing the songs that changed hip-hop forever. Expect to experience exclusive performances of such classics from all the influential eras of hip-hop, including T.I.'s "What You Know," 2Pac's "California Love," Three 6 Mafia's "Stay Fly," Cypress Hill's "How I Could Just Kill A Man," and many more.
"A GRAMMY Salute To 50 Years Of Hip-Hop" will also showcase some of the regional sounds and scenes that shaped the rap canon across the decades, including special segments celebrating Southern hip-hop featuring Jeezy, T.I., Bun B, Three 6 Mafia, Jermaine Dupri, and more; West Coast rap featuring Warren G, Tyga, Roddy Ricch, DJ Quik, Too $hort, E-40, and others; and the international rap scene featuring Akon, Blaqbonez and more.
Of course, hip-hop would not be where it is today without the influential women and female trailblazers who pioneered the genre and industry. For the past five decades, women have been essential to hip-hop, and "A GRAMMY Salute To 50 Years Of Hip-Hop" will pay tribute to the ladies who built — and continue to build — rap music and culture. The ladies of hip-hop will take centerstage with a special performance featuring an all-women cast of hip-hop greats performing empowering female anthems, including Queen Latifah & Monie Love performing "Ladies First," Roxanne Shanté delivering "Roxanne's Revenge," Latto holding it down for the next generation with "Put It On Da Floor," and more.
As one of the highlights of the night, hip-hop pioneers DJ Jazzy Jeff and the Fresh Prince will reunite for a highly anticipated performance featuring their greatest hits, which have since become some of the most celebrated songs in hip-hop history, including, "Brand New Funk," "Gettin' Jiggy Wit It," "Summertime," and more.
"A GRAMMY Salute To 50 Years Of Hip-Hop" will pay tribute to this quintessentially American art form like no other. Keep checking GRAMMY.com for more news and updates about "A GRAMMY Salute To 50 Years Of Hip-Hop" and the 50th anniversary of hip-hop, and make sure to tune in on Sunday, Dec. 10, starting at 8:30 p.m. ET/8 p.m. PT.
A GRAMMY Salute To 50 Years Of Hip-Hop is produced by Jesse Collins Entertainment. Jesse Collins, Shawn Gee, Dionne Harmon, Claudine Joseph, LL COOL J, Fatima Robinson, Jeannae Rouzan-Clay, and Ahmir "Questlove" Thompson for Two One Five Entertainment serve as executive producers and Marcelo Gama as director of the special.
— With additional reporting from John Ochoa
Photo: Jason Mendez/Getty Images
How Lin-Manuel Miranda Bridged The Worlds Of Broadway & Hip-Hop
"A GRAMMY Salute to 50 Years of Hip-Hop" airs Sunday, Dec. 10. During the two-hour live concert special, Miranda will offer an inside look at how and when he fell in love with hip-hop.
Lin-Manuel Miranda has consistently been between worlds.
Whether it was growing up spending the school year in Manhattan and summers in Puerto Rico; spending the early 2000s teaching seventh grade English by day while refining "In the Heights" at night; or translating parts of one of the most beloved musicals of all time into the language half of its characters would have actually spoken, Miranda has constantly been navigating a cultural and sonic divide.
But his most consistent bridging of worlds has been between Broadway and hip-hop, most notably via the groundbreaking "Hamilton." As someone equally well-versed in Sondheim and Biggie, Miranda is uniquely positioned to bring rapping to the stage, and vice-versa.
Miranda will expound on this best-of-both-worlds mindset during a special segment on the once-in-a-lifetime "A GRAMMY Salute To 50 Years Of Hip-Hop" live concert special in which he'll give both musical theater and rap fans an inside look at how and when he fell in love with hip-hop. Airing Sunday, Dec. 10, at 8:30 p.m. ET/8:00 p.m. PT on the CBS Television Network and streaming live and on demand on Paramount+, "A GRAMMY Salute To 50 Years Of Hip-Hop" features exclusive performances from Public Enemy, Rick Ross, 2 Chainz, T.I., Gunna, Tyga, Too $hort, Latto, E-40, Big Daddy Kane, GloRilla, Three 6 Mafia, a highly anticipated reunion from hip-hop pioneers DJ Jazzy Jeff and the Fresh Prince, and many more. The two-hour special celebrates the impactful history of hip-hop and showcases the genre's monumental cultural influence around the world.
Below are five of the ways Lin-Manuel Miranda has bridged Broadway and hip-hop culture.
Convincing Stephen Sondheim That Rap Is The Future Of Musical Theater
Yes, musical theater's Shakespeare was aware of rap before he met Miranda. His character of the Witch in "Into the Woods" — originally brought to life by Bernadette Peters — spits some rhymes (he respectfully called his efforts an "imitation" of the genre).
But in his 2011 memoir/book of lyrics Look, I Made a Hat, Sondheim revealed that Miranda was the one musical theater composer who might show others how to incorporate rap into the art form.
"I was never able to find another appropriate use for the technique [after 'Into the Woods'], or perhaps I didn't have the imagination to," he wrote. "Miranda does. Rap is a natural language for him and he is a master of the form, but enough of a traditionalist to know the way he can utilize its theatrical potential: he is already experimenting with it in a piece about Alexander Hamilton. This strikes me as a classic example of the way art moves forward: the blending of two conventional styles into something wholly original… It's one pathway to the future."
Starting Freestyle Love Supreme
"Anthony would come in and distract us, 'Let's rap about our day!' . . . And we would just freestyle," Miranda recalled years later on "The Tonight Show." Soon, Veneziale had a second idea: they should do that in front of people. Thus, Freestyle Love Supreme was born.
The idea was simple: it was a mash-up (again with the bridge-building) between an improv troupe and a rap cipher. The extended crew of regulars and special guests eventually grew to include talents like "Hamilton" standouts Daveed Diggs and Christopher Jackson, and even Wayne Brady. The idea became so successful that FLS had its own Broadway show and Vegas residency, with Miranda still popping up frequently as a special guest.
Making The Hamilton Mixtape
Miranda teamed up with Questlove to make "Hamilton" even more hip-hop with The Hamilton Mixtape. The project features not just covers of "Hamilton" songs by well-known pop artists, which would have been noteworthy enough.
But more importantly for our concerns, it has a number of hip-hop reinterpretations of numbers from the show. Check out, for example, "Immigrants (We Get the Job Done)," by K'naan, Snow Tha Product, Riz MC, and Residente, which turns one line from the musical into an absolute banger.
The project also features Nas, the Roots, Joell Ortiz, Busta Rhymes, Dave East, and many more. To make the whole thing even more hip-hop, it's mixed together by an actual mixtape DJ, J.Period. You can listen to him discuss his role here.
Appearing On The Cover Of Complex With Chance The Rapper
By mid-2016, there were few rappers on the planet more perfectly positioned between success and innovation than Chance the Rapper. The Chicago emcee captured tastemakers with his exquisite 2013 mixtape Acid Rap, before jumping into the mainstream with the May 2016 release of Coloring Book. But before all that, he was just a kid who loved going to poetry open mics.
So it made a certain kind of sense when Complex decided to pair him with Miranda for their June/July 2016 cover story. The two had a ton in common (and Chance, it turned out, was a huge "Hamilton fan" who would soon cover "Dear Theodosia" for The Hamilton Mixtape). But even more than their conversation, it was the mere fact of its public existence that ended up drawing Broadway and hip-hop a little bit closer together than they had been before that issue hit the stands.
We saved the best — and most obvious — for last. Hamilton more than lived up to the potential to theatricalize rap that Sondheim saw in it. It showed that rapping could be a key, perhaps the key, part of a major musical, and that show could not only be great, but also be a giant, world-beating, Disney+-streaming hit.
Its quotations and interpolations of classic rap songs served multiple purposes. They were in-jokes for the rap fans in the audience, an acknowledgement that this theater guy was one of us. They also provided Easter eggs for the Broadway set, a hope that maybe one day they would figure out that it wasn't originally Alexander Hamilton who described himself by saying, "I'm only 19, but my mind is old" or Thomas Jefferson who boasted, "If you don't know, now you know."