Credit: Tony Bee @tonybeephoto
With 'Hrs And Hrs' Of Dedication, Muni Long Is Rising To The Occasion With Love
Priscilla Renea spent years as a prolific pop songwriter until she could reach her own limelight. After introducing herself to the world as Muni Long, the singer's "Hrs and Hrs" became a viral hit, and now platinum seller, dedicated to the power of love.
Born to parents who happen to sing, in her formative years, Priscilla Renea knew she was destined to be a recording artist. The Los Angeles-based musician put in the self-work, and eventually signed to Capitol Records where she released her debut album, Jukebox.
Yet Renea's words had the most resonance; as a songwriter, Renea used her pen to generate salable radio-played singles for artists including Kesha, Ariana Grande, Rihanna, and others. In 2019, Renea made a challenging career choice to transition away from recognizability and into a new phase of her life.
“A lot of people didn't want me to change my name,” Priscilla Renea says over Zoom. “They were like you are [Priscilla Renea], you've built such a reputation and that name holds weight. [But] that was as a songwriter and that was not my ultimate goal.”
The young artist reintroduced herself as Muni Long to the music industry in 2020, steering clear from her past as a creator for others. She even developed her own independent label, Supergiant Records, during the initial stages of the pandemic.
Muni Long has been building the infrastructure of the creative house in which she can thrive from the ground up, even funding for her own art. The resulting debut EP, Public Displays Of Affection, was released in November 2021 and has been a bursting musical channel for lovers and dreamers. Yet TikTok was the real ignescent digital force that sparked Muni Long’s explosion into the mainstream (and to its now platinum status), bringing "Hrs and Hrs" (pronounced "hours") at the forefront of internet virality.
The romantic, singalong serenade led to an explosion of loving cyberculture within the app and spurred users to #HrsandHrs in celebration of their partners. Muni Long’s velvety croon was a unifying voice for multiple generations, and re-enforced the power of digital tools to give artists a larger platform. "Hrs and Hrs" went from a few hundred thousand plays on Spotify to over 50 million in just a few months. The single recently surpassed RIAA’s Gold status ranking and is Muni Long’s most-streamed song.
The aftershock of Muni Long’s hit solidified the now, 33-year-old’s ascent towards longevity as a recording artist. With patience and steady fortitude, Muni Long is enduring a soulful metamorphosis to reinvent her art and herself for the promising future that is ahead. Long connected with GRAMMY.com to talk about her philosophies on love, why she redirected her career, and the chartbusting influence of social media.
The loving message behind the chorus definitely re-surged that nostalgic sound in soul music that was needed back then to make a sensational R&B single viral in today’s day and age. How has your life changed since "Hrs and Hrs?"
I definitely get a lot more opportunities now. In the beginning, when I started [my label] Supergiant Records, I was trying to find people to fill the different needs. It was tough because number one, we were at the beginning of a pandemic. We started in January 2020 and it was literally just me and two other people. A year and a half later, now having a giant hit shows me that it is possible. All the ups and downs and people quitting or not having the right energy was worth it.
All of these things that I was dealing with behind the scenes; it really was kind of difficult for me. [With "Hrs and Hrs"] I can breathe now and can celebrate a little bit. My hand is in every pot as an independent artist… overseeing everything and just making sure that it was authentic. True to me, not allowing other people’s judgments to affect mine.
August 2019 is when I decided that I was going to change my name and, then January is when I put it into action. I can relax a bit and just enjoy the success. It isn't too good to be true. It's here, it's not going anywhere as long as I continue to be consistent with my creativity, my expression. Be respectful.
I'm just super excited. It's just a really awesome thing to hear people say… [I am] inspirational. I'm 33. I'm singing R&B music, spending my own money and these are all things that people said weren't possible.
TikTok has given many artists and creatives the platform to share their art. I believe it can be perceived as a tool, in light of there being more saturation in the music industry. Living through the early-to-booming digital age of music-making, what has influenced your perspective on the music industry?
I did get discovered on YouTube, so before viral was even a thing before it was even a word…I did have a few things that went viral, but that wasn't what we called it back then.
I think what the internet has done is allow people to have freedom of expression. The most important thing is, just, I want to express myself freely and I think the more success you have, the more people sort of back off trying to limit you. Yeah, they give you more resources, they give you more space. They even contribute their own resources and relationships to your expression so that you can make the biggest and best thing that you can possibly make.
With your EP, Public Displays of Affection reaching high numbers after your virality explosion from "Hrs and Hrs" and making your TV debut on "the Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon," how are you approaching this chapter of your career?
Just being more mindful.
I am learning to search myself for answers before I go outside and seek others. No additional approval or validation or help, because if you pay attention you will just make decisions based on the purest intention. Versus making a decision that's going to make things faster for you or bring you the most money…because you're blinded by your ambition.
Making sure that I stay rooted and grounded and being able to make the purest decisions. Do things for the right reasons and do no harm.
If you could go back in time and tell younger you about the success you would see now, what would you try to echo to your younger self?
Be patient and work on you every day.
Do something every day to improve your perspective. Forgive people; I do believe that has a huge part to do with success that I'm having my internal work done.
Do you have a dream collaboration?
I want to work with everybody, like I really do. I believe in collaboration. I miss the time when artists would do duets and sing together. Those were amazing moments and it's just all about the intention.
Nowadays, people just want the money. I do think that sucks a little bit of creativity out. I want to work with everyone literally from Elton John to Beyonce to Kanye West to Teezo Touchdown, who's an incredible new artist on tour with Tyler, The Creator right now.
Posthumously, even if I could get my hands on some of those sessions with legendary artists.
You have entered your Muni Long era as an identity switch. I feel like the name is suitable for you, considering how abundant your career will certainly be from 2022 and onward. Is there a moment of inspiration behind your artist name change?
I told my husband about what I was reading and he was like, you should pronounce it “money.” My intentions are always coming from within, my decisions come from within.
What I was reading about was in regards to meditating, reaching nirvana through meditating for hours, sitting in one spot, and the Filipino meaning of magmuni-muni is to think deeply within.
The translation was very much part of my mantra, my belief system as an individual, just to make sure that all of my decisions and my perspective is self localized and all my choices are. Because that's what I want to do and not because somebody else is telling me that's what I should be doing. I'm doing it from the pure desire in my heart.
What do you do to get yourself in that zone to create?
I'm constantly doing something every day. I love to read. Relaxing; I get enough rest and I don't go in the studio every day.
There are a lot of artists who go in every day. I was speaking with Ty Dolla $ign. He literally goes in the studio all the time. I don't do that per say, but I will go through beats and maybe find instrumentals that are like stockpile ideas.
Sometimes when I hear a track, I'll make a playlist of things that I miss hearing. Then when I hear tracks, I'll try to create that same energy that I felt in those songs, not necessarily chords and melodies. The essence of the song that makes you feel happy. That song that makes you want to be in love.
Speaking of your lyric-making process and shrimp and lobsters towers, what would you say is your favorite dish to have on a romantic date with your husband?
I like crab legs. Lobster ravioli. Love seafood obviously.
How has your experiences in music helped inform your personal philosophies on love?
Honestly, I feel like it's the other way around.
I'm super confident because of my relationship. I had to learn to be a whole person by myself before I could, like, really properly love someone, or just interact in a relationship because it's tough.
Especially when you have two strong personalities. My husband and I both are very strong personalities. [My music] helped me become a better individual, which in turn affected how I am in the world and my business relationships.
I don't really care what other people think about me, although we want to, I always treat people fairly and kind.
Lastly, with you really taking charge of reviving R&B what are you hoping your music does for people who listen?
I hope they are inspired. I hope my music makes them want to do something like pursuing their dreams wherever that may be.
Hopefully, it just fills a void because I do think there is a wide range of music that I miss anyway and hopefully, I can help fill that.
Beyoncé To Alison Krauss: 9 Times Women Made GRAMMY History
Celebrate Women's History month with Ella Fitzgerald's firsts, Alison Krauss and Beyoncé's mosts, and more history-making women at the GRAMMYs
Updated May 5, 2021.
To highlight Women's History Month this March, we dug into our archives all the way back to the GRAMMY Awards' beginnings in 1958 to acknowledge the women who have made GRAMMY — and music — history. From the first women to ever win a GRAMMY to the top GRAMMY-winning woman, first female GRAMMY performers and the first female GRAMMY host, take a look at nine examples of how women blazed trails through the lens of the GRAMMYs.
Ella Fitzgerald: The first woman to win multiple GRAMMYs
The 1st GRAMMY Awards took place in 1958, and women were among the first crop of recipients. The first female multiple GRAMMY winner was jazz singer Ella Fitzgerald, who took home two statues: Best Vocal Performance, Female and Best Jazz Performance, Individual. The roster of first-time female GRAMMY winners also included Keely Smith, Salli Terry, Barbara Cook, Pert Kelton, Helen Raymond, and Renata Tebaldi.
Who were the first women to win GRAMMYs in the General Field?
The General Field categories — Record, Song and Album Of The Year and Best New Artist — are among some of the most coveted awards in music. Astrud Gilberto became the first woman to win Record Of The Year when she won with Stan Getz for "The Girl From Ipanema" for 1964. The first Song Of The Year female win went to Carole King for "You've Got A Friend" for 1971. The first female Best New Artist was country singer/songwriter Bobbie Gentry. And the first female winner for Album Of The Year went to Judy Garland for 1961 for Judy At Carnegie Hall.
Carole King: The first woman to win multiple General Field GRAMMYs
The first woman to win multiple GRAMMYs in the General Field was King, when she swept Record ("It's Too Late"), Album (Tapestry) and Song Of The Year ("You've Got A Friend") for 1971. The first women to win multiple GRAMMYs in the same General Field categories include Roberta Flack, who took Record Of The Year for 1972 and 1973, for "The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face" and "Killing Me Softly With His Song," respectively. Lauryn Hill, Norah Jones and Alison Krauss have each won Album Of The Year twice, but only once in each case for their own recordings. Taylor Swift won Album Of The Year twice for 2009 and 2015, the first woman to do so as a solo artist. At the 59th GRAMMYs, Adele became the second solo female artist to win Album Of The Year twice. Additionally, she became the first artist in GRAMMY history to sweep Record, Song and Album Of The Year twice in her career, after doing so for 2011 and again for 2016.
Beyoncé: The woman with the most GRAMMY wins
At the 63rd GRAMMY Awards in 2021, Beyoncé became the performing artist with the most career GRAMMY wins ever (28) as well as the most nominated woman artist (79). (Quincy Jones also has 28 GRAMMY wins, yet primarily as a producer/composer).
Ella Fitzgerald, Wanda Jackson: The first women to perform on the GRAMMYs
The first televised GRAMMY event, a taped "NBC Sunday Showcase," in honor of the 2nd GRAMMY Awards, aired Nov. 29, 1959. It was Fitzgerald's performance on this broadcast that earned her the distinction of being the first woman to take the GRAMMY stage. When the GRAMMYs transitioned to a live television broadcast format for the 13th GRAMMY Awards in 1971, the first solo female performer was country singer Wanda Jackson singing "Wonder Could I Live There Anymore."
Bonnie Raitt: The most GRAMMY performances
Singer/songwriter Bonnie Raitt is the woman who has performed the most at the GRAMMYs. From her first solo performance of "Thing Called Love" at the 32nd GRAMMY Awards in 1990 through her latest performance in honor of B.B. King with Chris Stapleton and Gary Clark Jr. at the 58th GRAMMY Awards, Raitt has graced the stage nine times. In a tie for a close second are Franklin and Whitney Houston, who each notched eight career GRAMMY performances.
Whoopi Goldberg: The first female GRAMMY host
Whoopi Goldberg served as the GRAMMYs' first female host at the 34th GRAMMY Awards in 1992. An EGOT (Emmy, GRAMMY, Oscar, and Tony) winner, the comedian already had an impressive array of credentials when she helmed the GRAMMY stage. Not one to shy away from pushing the envelope, she delivered arguably one of the raunchiest jokes in GRAMMY history when referencing the show's accounting firm: "I must tell you, Deloitte & Touche are two things I do nightly."
And the first female Special Merit Awards recipients were?
The inaugural Recording Academy Special Merit Award was given in 1963 to Bing Crosby, but it wasn't long until women made their mark. Fitzgerald was the first woman to receive the Lifetime Achievement Award in 1967. The first woman to receive a Trustees Award was Christine M. Farnon in 1992, who served as The Recording Academy's National Executive Director for more than 20 years. Liza Minnelli became the first female artist to receive a GRAMMY Legend Award in 1990.
The first recordings by women to be inducted into the GRAMMY Hall Of Fame
Established in 1973 by The Academy's Board of Trustees to honor outstanding recordings that were made before the inception of the GRAMMY Awards, the first female recipients were inducted into the GRAMMY Hall Of Fame in 1976. Billie Holiday's "God Bless The Child" marked the first solo female recording. Gershwin's Porgy & Bess (Opera Version), featuring Camilla Williams, and the original Broadway cast version of "Oklahoma!," featuring Joan Roberts, were inducted into the Hall that same year.
Photo: Jason Kempin/Getty Images
Learn Why "She Is The Music" & ASCAP's Female Songwriting Camp Felt "Essential"
Participants in the creative and innovative incubator came away with fresh confidence.
Songwriting camps have certainly proven their worth recently and from Oct. 17–19, ASCAP and joined forces with "She Is The Music" a new mentoring initiative founded Alicia Keys, to fulfill the promise Keys made last summer toward promoting women-led creativity.
The camp partnered with powerhouses such as engineer Ann Mincieli, and with Mary J. Blige who headlined and participated in the all-female songwriting camp. United in the name of advancement, the program has potential to lead a cultural shift more respectful and nurturing toward women's musical and creative gifts, as well as career success.
"I've joined forces with a group of really powerful female executives, songwriters, artists, engineers, producers and publishers to help reshape the industry that we all love by creating real opportunities and a pipeline of talent for other women," Keys said speech accepting her Icon Award from the National Music Publishers Association last June. "We're calling our initiative 'She Is the Music.'" By mid-month, creative get-togethers to make progress had commenced and the ASCAP songwriting camp is an extension of that summer spirit.
"For the most part, I tend to gravitate towards female writers because there's no substitute for people completely understanding your experience and your perspective," said country singer-songwriter Jillian Jacqueline. "If we all get together in a room and break all the walls and the myths and concepts down to talk about what it is to be where we are and describe what we're going through, bonds happen. Connection happens. Those are the things people can't take away from you — the human connection. That's why this is so essential."
"Songwriting is an art. You have to be transparent in order to get people to look at your art," said Blige, reinforcing the spirit of openness that made the camp such an exciting creative environment. "It's very hard for women to come together because it's such a male-dominated world, male-dominated industry. It makes it hard on us so we're hard on each other … When you see us actually have the confidence and the courage to come together to do something great like this, it's a blessing."
"There is a culture and there is a system in place that says if you're a woman, you're either a girlfriend, a wife… you're an artist, or you're here for my pleasure," added songwriter Priscilla Renea. "I think that's the most encouraging thing about this, women are going to walk away feeling confident."
Organizers were delighted with the sense of accomplishment that emerged from this October camp and look forward to holding more and inspiring others to follow their lead. Thanks to the vision of "She Is The Music," it's likely just a matter of time before songs everybody sings emerge thanks to this women-in-leadership model.
The GRAMMYs' Trailblazing Women, Part One
By Paul Grein
Women have been making history at the GRAMMYs as long as the awards have been presented. In 1958, the first year of the awards, Ella Fitzgerald won two awards: Best Vocal Performance, Female, and Best Jazz Performance, Individual. Opera star Renata Tebaldi and pop singer Keely Smith also took home awards.
Since March is Women's History Month, let's see which women were the first to win in various GRAMMY categories.
These are the first women to win in each current category that has been in place for at least five years. There are 56 categories that meet these criteria, so we're dividing the list in two. Today, we'll look at 26 categories, including Best Comedy Album, Best Music Video and Producer Of The Year, Classical. Tomorrow, we'll look at the remaining 30 categories (including the "big four" awards) as well as the Special Merit Awards.
The fine print: The category names are as they appeared this year. In many cases, the wording has changed over the years. Except in categories that exclusively recognize behind-the-scenes contributions, the focus here is on the first female artists to win. Where the first woman to win shared the prize with a man, we also show the first woman to win on her own.
Best Americana Album
Mavis Staples won the 2010 award for You Are Not Alone.
Best Bluegrass Album
Alison Krauss won the 1990 award for I've Got That Old Feeling.
Best Reggae Album
Sandra "Puma" Jones shared the 1984 award (the first year it was presented) with the male members of Black Uhuru for Anthem.
Best World Music Album
Cesária Évora took the 2003 award for Voz D'Amor.
Best Spoken Word Album (Includes Poetry, Audio Books & Storytelling)
Diane Linkletter won the 1969 award for We Love You, Call Collect, a collaboration with her father, TV personality Art Linkletter. The award was posthumous: Diane Linkletter committed suicide on Oct. 4, 1969, at age 20. Eight years later, actress Julie Harris became the first woman to win on her own for The Belle Of Amherst.
Best Comedy Album
Jo Stafford shared the 1960 award with her husband Paul Weston for Best Comedy Performance (Musical) for their comically off-key Jonathan And Darlene Edwards In Paris, which they released under those alter-egos. Eleven years later, Lily Tomlin became the first woman to win on her own for This Is A Recording.
Best Musical Theater Album
Broadway legends Ethel Merman and Gwen Verdon tied for the 1959 award. Merman won for "Gypsy"; Verdon for "Redhead." Micki Grant was the first woman to win for writing or co-writing a score. She won for 1972's "Don't Bother Me, I Can't Cope."
Best Score Soundtrack For Visual Media
Marilyn Bergman shared the 1974 award for The Way We Were with her husband, Alan Bergman, and Marvin Hamlisch.
Best Song Written For Visual Media
Cynthia Weil shared the 1987 award (the first year it was presented) for "Somewhere Out There" (from An American Tail). Weil co-wrote the ballad with her husband, Barry Mann, and James Horner. Two years later, Carly Simon became the first woman to win on her own for "Let The River Run" (from Working Girl).
Best Instrumental Composition
The late Jean Hancock shared the 1996 award with her brother, Herbie Hancock, for "Manhattan (Island Of Lights And Love)." The award was posthumous: Jean Hancock died in a 1985 plane crash. Maria Schneider was the first woman to win on her own. She took the 2007 award for "Cerulean Skies."
Best Instrumental Arrangement Accompanying Vocalist(s)
Joni Mitchell shared the 1974 award with Tom Scott for arranging "Down To You," a track from her GRAMMY Hall Of Fame-inducted album, Court And Spark. Nan Schwartz was the first woman to win on her own. She took the 2008 award for arranging Natalie Cole's recording of the standard "Here's That Rainy Day."
Best Recording Package
Jann Haworth shared the 1967 award with Peter Blake as art directors on the Beatles' landmark Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band. Janet Perr was the first woman to win on her own. She took the 1984 award as art director on Cyndi Lauper's She's So Unusual.
Best Boxed Or Special Limited Edition Package
Gail Zappa shared the 1995 award with her late husband, Frank Zappa, as art directors for his Civilization Phaze III. (Frank Zappa died in 1993.) Susan Archie was the first woman to win on her own. She took the 2002 award as art director of Screamin' And Hollerin' The Blues — The Worlds Of Charley Patton.
Best Album Notes
Thulani Davis shared the 1992 award as an album notes writer on Aretha Franklin's Queen Of Soul — The Atlantic Recordings. Her co-winners were Tom Dowd, Ahmet Ertegun, Arif Mardin, Dave Marsh, David Ritz, and Jerry Wexler.
Best Historical Album
Ethel Gabriel shared the 1982 award as a producer of The Tommy Dorsey/Frank Sinatra Sessions — Vols. 1, 2 & 3. Her co-winners were Alan Dell and Don Wardell.
Best Engineered Album, Non-Classical
Trina Shoemaker shared the 1998 award for engineering Sheryl Crow's The Globe Sessions. Her co-winners were Tchad Blake and Andy Wallace. Eleven years later, Imogen Heap became the first woman to win on her own for engineering her own album, Ellipse.
Best Surround Sound Album
Darcy Proper shared the 2006 award as the surround mastering engineer on Donald Fagen's Morph The Cat. Her co-winners were Fagen and Elliot Scheiner.
Best Engineered Album, Classical
Leslie Ann Jones and Brandie Lane shared the 2010 award for engineering Quincy Porter: Complete Viola Works by Eliesha Nelson and John McLaughlin Williams. Their co-winners were Kory Kruckenberg and David Sabee. (Note: In 1999 Jones became the first female Chair of The Recording Academy's Board of Trustees.)
Producer Of The Year, Classical
Joanna Nickrenz shared the 1983 award with Marc Aubort. Ten years later, Judith Sherman became the first woman to win on her own.
Best Opera Recording
Jeannine Altmeyer, Ortrun Wenkel and Gwyneth Jones shared the 1982 award for their work on "Wagner: Der Ring Des Nibelungen." Their co-winners were conductor Pierre Boulez, Peter Hofmann, Manfred Jung and Heinz Zednick.
Best Choral Performance
Margaret Hillis shared the 1977 award as choral director of "Verdi: Requiem" by the Chicago Symphony Chorus. Her co-winner was conductor Georg Solti.
Best Chamber Music/Small Ensemble Performance
Anne-Sophie Mutter shared the 1999 award with Lambert Orkis for "Beethoven: The Violin Sonatas."
Best Classical Vocal Solo
Soprano Renata Tebaldi took the 1958 award (the first year of the GRAMMYs) for "Operatic Recital."
Best Contemporary Classical Composition
Joan Tower took the 2007 award for composing "Made In America," recorded by Leonard Slatkin and the Nashville Symphony.
Best Music Video/Best Music Film
Olivia Newton-John won the 1982 award for Video Of The Year for Olivia Physical, a 13-song video album. Today, that would fall into the Best Music Film category. Paula Abdul won the 1990 award for Best Music Video — Short Form for "Opposites Attract." Today, that would fall into the Best Music Video category.
And that's just half of the list. Come back tomorrow for part two, which will feature such stars as Judy Garland, Carole King, Madonna, Shakira, and Patti LaBelle.
(Paul Grein, a veteran music journalist and historian, writes regularly for Yahoo Music.)