Photo courtesy of the musician
Working For Students: How Music Industry Professionals Find Fulfillment In Education
From Terri Lynne Carrington to Serona Elton, GRAMMY.com spoke with six music educators, who are also active in various aspects of the music industry, about creating an informed and diverse music community through higher ed.
Accessible music education is crucial for sustaining and growing a bright future for music and the world. Music educators — whose work in everything from private lessons to primary school, university and conservatory — are utterly essential to music and our humanity.
"Music education enriches our lives and turns us into fans who want to help sustain the music industry," says Sue Ennis, a songwriting and music industry professor at Shoreline Community College in Washington state, who has written songs for Heart.
In honor of Music In Our Schools Month, GRAMMY.com spoke with six music educators who also balance professional careers in the music industry. These educators discuss how their work helps the community thrive by empowering and uplifting the next generation of music creators and professionals.
Teaching Is Not A One-Way Street
The most effective educators keep their passion for learning at the heart of their teaching practice, staying open to change and learning from their students.
"One of the biggest reasons I enjoy teaching is the exchange. If it were just a one-way street where I gave whatever information I know to others, I probably would be out of it long before now," says Terri Lyne Carrington, a three-time GRAMMY-winning drummer, composer, producer, and the founder and artistic director of the Berklee Institute of Jazz and Gender Justice.
Throughout her 40-year career, Carrington has toured and recorded with legends including Esperanza Spalding, Stan Getz and Herbie Hancock — a diverse roster of masterful players whose differences have informed her own musicality and, likely, her approach to education. "I never had a cookie-cutter approach to teaching. I start as best I can with a blank slate because everybody needs something different to learn effectively," Carrington says.
Terri Lyne Carrington | Michael Goldman
The challenges and gratification of working in an ever-changing industry, as well as the opportunity to regularly work with new students, draws many passionate professionals to education. For Stacy McMichael, an adjunct bass professor at Saint Xavier University and Joliet Junior College in Illinois, teaching also serves a motivation to improve her own craft.
"Helping a student navigate a tricky passage where you have to create a solution is the kind of reciprocal education we never really identify as such," says McMichael, who recently performed in a Broadway production of "SIX: The Musical." "A substantial portion of my confidence in my own playing comes from connecting my students to their power. Witnessing a student’s breakthrough moment is something I truly relish."
Stacy McMichael | Courtesy of Stacy McMichael
When musician, producer and engineer David Barbe first started teaching, he realized how much he still had to learn.
"I realized there's so much more for me to know, and how can I teach if I don't know? I can’t just be knowledgeable in what I’m already familiar with," says Barbe, the Director of the music business certificate program at the University of Georgia. "I have to learn about the country business, the hip-hop business, and sync licensing. I got to know about how these artist managers do things. Teaching completely broadened my perspective."
"Once You Feel It, You Won't Forget It"
With increased budget cuts and decreased emphasis on the arts in K-12 education, many students are losing the chance to experience music in the classroom. That lack of early arts education could be detrimental to their education and life as a whole.
"Once you feel it, you won’t forget it," Sue Ennis says of early exposure to music. "Without basic music education, people have no on-ramp to access music because they have no framework to process or appreciate it and recognize that it is an essential part of our culture."
A study by the National Association of Music Merchants Foundation found that schools with music programs have an estimated 90.2 percent graduation rate and attendance rates to match; those without music programs have an average graduation rate of 72.9 percent and attendance rates of 85.9 percent. The non-profit also found that secondary students who participated in a music group at school reported the lowest use of all substances currently and in their lifetime.
Sue Ennis | Courtesy of Sue Ennis
Though a 2019 Arts Education Status Report found that the majority of students in the U.S. have access to some form of music education, the positive effects of music education are not evenly spread throughout the community. The approximately 5,000 schools without music programs are disproportionately in major urban areas and in school districts that serve Black, Hispanic and Native American students. Many schools without arts education are also charter schools, the NAMM Foundation reported.
"Music education helps to create a more diverse and inclusive music community, as it provides opportunities for people from all backgrounds to discover and engage with the art form," says GRAMMY-winning composer Carlos Rafael Rivera, who directs the media scoring and production program at the Frost School of Music at the University of Miami.
Effective Educators Over All Else
An education in the business side of music is essential, especially when a single contract could make or break a career. This knowledge can empower students to make educated decisions and take command of their careers. But finding teachers who are both knowledgeable in the business and skilled in the art of teaching can be rare.
"I have seen too many examples of industry executives trying to move into teaching roles without the proper preparation," notes Serona Elton, who directs the music industry program and Associate Dean of Administration at the Frost School of Music. Elton was the Vice President of Product Management at Warner Music Group and the Vice President of EMI Recorded Music North America. "They might have been very good at doing something in the industry, leading a team or company, but they fail when it comes to teaching in a meaningful and detailed way."
Serona Elton | Addiel Perera Photography
Elton's passion for helping people understand complex topics drew her to education. She cites her own music industry education as essential to understanding the industry's inner workings and placing her work within the larger musical landscape.
Elton emphasizes that the need for passionate and effective teachers is more important than the need for those with extensive industry experience. "Great educators who have extensive experience are ideal, but not common," she says.
"I Work For The Students"
Looking to the future, all the educators interviewed for this piece would like to see more collaboration between schools and companies, with the goal of providing students with the necessary connections to grow their careers.
"Some schools are already doing this quite well, having their students work on projects for industry partners," Serona Elton notes. Among these examples is a partnership between the Frost School of Music and Netflix, secured by Carlos Rafael Rivera, that allows media scoring and production students to create music for current Netflix series.
"This historic collaboration sets a new standard for partnerships between academic institutions and production companies, paving the way for future innovative partnerships." Rivera says.
Many educators are also calling for more collaboration between schools. "We, the schools, should engage with each other more. Let's compare notes. Let's talk. We needn’t view each other as threats because we’re all here to benefit the students," says David Barbe. "The rising tide lifts all ships, smaller pieces of a bigger pie works better for everyone."
David Barbe | Brian Powers
Barbe travels across the country to meet with companies in person, advocating for his students in the hopes of landing them jobs and real-world connections. He recounts helping a student obtain an internship, and then a job offer, at legendary indie label Sub Pop records by flying to Seattle.
"These organizations are always taken aback when I come to them instead of trying to get them to come to the school, and that’s when you can bring real connections to life," he says.
Barbe says this kind of work shouldn’t be an exception, it should be the rule. "I work for the students. They pay tuition, I work for them. So, it's my job to engage with these companies, put two and two together, and land students real opportunities."
Whether it’s in the classroom or working hands-on in the industry, these individuals never step away from education. The future of music is bright as these professionals use their ties to both worlds to form much needed bridges between formal education and the industry itself. Their presence is a connection that puts students first, creating an informed and diverse music community.
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Photo: Jeremy Danger
Nancy Wilson On Her New Album, 'You & Me,' Missing The "Angels" Of Rock & The Future Of Heart
Nancy Wilson's upcoming album 'You & Me' is partly a reflection on her personal relationships—both with the living and those who have passed. Its single "The Inbetween," premiering exclusively via GRAMMY.com, is all about the liminal spaces of existence
Nancy Wilson was thumbing through some notes when she found a poem written by her son, Curtis. Perceptive and probing, it seemed to sum up our politically malignant era—and what was spiritually absent at the core of it.
"[He] wrote this poem for a class assignment," the Heart co-founder tells GRAMMY.com over the phone from her Sonoma County home. "I thought it was really clever. The words were so clever and so whimsical. He was like, 'Black and white, wrong and right.'" Feeling the words reflected tribalism and partisanship, Wilson flipped those dualities into a song, "The Inbetween." But instead of being portentous or doomy, the track is radiant and rocking.
"Putting it in a context of something more fun—a funny take on it all—takes it away from being so heavy and dark," Wilson adds. "It kind of sheds new light on a situation. It's a contrast from the heavy times we've had to live through and puts it in a different tonality."
"The Inbetween," which exclusively premieres above via GRAMMY.com, is the latest single from Wilson's upcoming album, You & Me, which drops May 7 via Carry On Music. Really, Wilson is preoccupied with in-betweens throughout the album—the spaces between life and death, dreams and memories, good relationships and poisonous ones. It's also her first solo album ever, despite making music with her sister, Ann Wilson, in Heart for nearly a half-century.
The sisters have had an up-and-down relationship over the last few years, and the pandemic gave Wilson space to define herself both within and without "the vortex that’s Heart." And while the door is open for the band to go out again in 2022, Wilson is cherishing the time to reflect and recalibrate—and You & Me is the heartfelt product of this period of self-examination.
GRAMMY.com gave Nancy Wilson a ring to discuss You & Me track by track, why it took her five decades to make a solo album and the future of Heart.
This conversation has been lightly edited for clarity.
Over the decades, what was the biggest obstacle to putting out a solo album, whether internal or external?
Well, I think I would call it the vortex that's Heart. There's a vortex of the work ethic of Heart for the last almost 50 years, just to be honest. I hate to even date it. But it's been a mind-bending job to do every year for the touring of it and the album after album—mainly, the touring of it all. You know, everywhere with electricity, we've played there.
It's an interesting dichotomy with the pandemic stopping the hurtling, you know. Heart's been hurtling through space for nearly 50 years. It's an interesting contrast to that to have to be shut in and be at home and stop the momentum and reconvene with your personal soul and self, in order to be able to know what to do musically and creatively with that time I had in my hands like everybody has had.
It's really a blessing, you know? It's been a blessing outside of the larger curse of it all to be able to reconvene with your communication with your own self.
Who were you thinking of when you came up with the album title—and first track—You & Me?
That's dedicated to my mom, who left us quite a while ago now. She's still in my skin, in my DNA. So it's kind of a gravity-free zone where I can talk to her in that song. I think the word "gravity," in and of itself, kind of keeps the song from walking that too-precious kind of a line. [laughs]
I think the personal, confessional kind of thing about this album—it's almost too sweet. It walks a line that's almost too sweet, but I think in another way, you could say that it's more of a revolutionary act to be that open and that honest. Walking the line of sweetness can be more of a rock attitude than hiding out behind your feelings. I'm sort of burying a lot of my feelings in this album.
And, you know, tongue-in-cheek stuff too, but the honesty of it is kind of a rebellious act on a certain level.
It seems like you're preoccupied with that line where sweetness could tip over into treacle. You're consciously trying to stay on the right side of that.
Yeah, exactly. It's almost, like, not supposed to happen. You're not supposed to do that. It's against the rules to be that honest, to bare your soul like that. I guess if that's an issue, then I don't know what is. [chuckles]
Tell me about your relationship with your mom.
She was a steel magnolia. I got a lot of her strength along the way. A military family, right? Marine corps, all those travels we had growing up were a strengthening kind of thing. We became really tight-knit as a family because we were always moving. Early touring experience, actually! [laughs]
She was the mom and my dad because our dad was off fighting wars. It's a total tribute to that strength of her character and her nurturing, strong, amazing … She was an amazing woman. When I sometimes dream of her, I feel like I got to see her again and I get to talk to her again. It's a zero-gravity space, and that's what the song is all about.
Can you describe the last dream where she showed up?
Yeah, sure. She took a lot of Super 8 home movies, and that's incorporated into the video [for "You & Me"] quite a bit. I took a lot of them too. She taught how to edit film and stuff, with the little editing machine. We used to make films in our family.
So, I used a lot of that footage in the actual video for the song and she appears in the video for the song. When I dreamt of her last, it was just her wonderful face. Her spirit. I felt like I had a conversation with her and the words were not even clear. It was just being together and the aspect of her spirit being there.
My collaborator, Sue Ennis, who's worked with us for years and years for Heart songs, had a song for her mom called "Follow Me." And I'd written a song for my mom called "You and Me and Gravity." I loved this music that Sue had. We both kind of have a mom thing. We've talked about our parents and we grew up together, so we had all those connective tissue things in our hearts about our moms.
So, we kind of collaborated on the ultimate mom song to try to reach into the ether and touch base with that. We morphed two songs into one. It's a hybrid mom song [laughs].
Tell me about "The Rising."
Well, luckily enough, a few years ago, we got to go to New York, when we used to be able to go anywhere, and we got to see "Springsteen on Broadway" live.
When I saw that show, it completely blew my mind. It changed my world around because I've always loved Springsteen and his amazing writing. Growing up with Springsteen on the radio, for instance, he'd be sort of behind this big wall of sound with this rock and roll accent where you could hardly understand the lyrics.
Then, seeing him live, completely by himself, stripped-down, those songs and those lyrics—it completely altered my perception of Bruce Springsteen. He's an insanely great writer. Those words are so depth-y. Later, after having seen that, I watched it a million times on the show you can watch on television. Then he did Western Stars, his other album that got me through the whole last Heart tour. It was life-saving stuff for me.
So then, when I started to do this album, I was like, "I should do this because of the pandemic. I should do 'The Rising' because it was written initially for 9/11." Now, we're having 9/11 every day, so that's why I thought it would be aspirational and helpful for people to have an inspired message like that to help them through this insane ordeal we're living through.
Do you know Bruce? Did you say hi to him after the show?
I didn't say hi that night, but I do know him. His people told our people that he really liked my version of 'The Rising'! That made my day—my whole year, actually—to know that he thought it was cool.
Tell me about "I'll Find You."
Sue had actually started that song with Ben Smith, the drummer. My Seattle folks. They had this song that is, like, a "friend who's going to be there for you" kind of song. The support system that you've always dreamed of having. That's what the song talks about.
I've always been that person where I'm there for my people, you know? I show up. It's a really simple way of saying that you're going to be there for somebody that needs you. And that's a big deal! I mean, that's a huge thing to be able to do for anyone.
Can you describe a recent situation in which you were able to be that for somebody?
[laughs] Well, if you live long enough, that happens frequently. If you are that person for your other people, it's not an easy role to play to show up for somebody that needs help. A lot of people don't have that skill, you know? A lot of people are not equipped with the emotional wherewithal to be there for anybody else but themselves. So, that's what that song is all about.
How about "Daughter"?
"Daughter" is a Pearl Jam song. I had actually recorded it earlier before I got into doing the album. I'd done that in Austin with an amazing producer, David Rice, for a film, actually, which was made in South Africa. It's a true story about human trafficking in South Africa.
This guy, Simon Swart, who made the film—it's about to come out, actually—he wanted to see if there was a song I could do for the film. And so I decided that "Daughter" would be a really cool idea, because there's a lyric in the song that says, "She holds the hand that holds her down." That was really telling about what it is to be a girl. The movie's called I Am All Girls and it's about to come out.
Anyway, that's the backstory on that thing. And for [Simon & Garfunkel's] "The Boxer," that's something I've been singing with Heart for the last tour. I've been singing that song all my life, basically. It's a really amazing song. Somebody told me that the chorus part—the "Lie-la-lie"—was initially a placeholder, but he kept it in the song like that because the verses are so wordy. It sort of opens up and he kept it that way from the initial demo of it.
I got Sammy Hagar to sing with me on that because he's a buddy. He's a rock god. He's funny as hell and he's a really good guy. I said, "Why don't you do something with me on my album here? I want to bring in some people that I love!" He said, "Yeah, OK! What have you got?" So, I said I've got this big rock song called "Get Ready to Rock," which is not on the album, actually. It's elsewhere now.
Anyway, long story short, he said, "Nah, that's too predictable. I don't want to be so predictable, to be the Red Rocker on a song about rock." So I said, "What about 'The Boxer'?" He said, "I love that song! I used to be a boxer!" So having him on that song was really special for me, because he brings such an attitude with him. There's only one of him in the world. That's him.
And then the Cranberries cover ["Dreams"]—me and Jeff, my hubby, were just driving around in Sonoma County. We heard it on the radio and he said, "You've got to get Liv Warfield to sing this with you!" She was my singer in my other band right before this, Roadcase Royale. I said, "OK! Let's just do that! I think that can be done easily enough!" And so we did that, and it turned out really fun and cool. Easy.
Photo: Jeremy Danger
How about "Party at the Angel Ballroom"?
I kind of heard myself saying something one night. I was like, "Wow, we've lost another angel of rock and roll." One of the angels that passed away recently, like Chris Cornell, Tom Petty, and now, Eddie Van Halen. It's kind of like, "Well, they're going to be having some big party up there at the angel ballroom." And it's like, "Hey, that's a good idea for a song!"
So I got Taylor Hawkins, who's another amazing friend, and Duff McKagan. I went and sang some stuff for Taylor for his last album, called Get the Money. Really good album. I said, "Well, I'm going to make a solo album now, so do you have any cool jams laying around, dude?" He's like [affects masculine voice] "Yeah, rad, man! I've got some cool jams kicking around, dude!"
He sent me this jam that they had. It was a completely long-winded jam that needed a lot of structuring. I structured it very differently from the original. And I had these words, so I put it together and it just became a fun sort of lark of a song. It's kind of a dark topic, but [you can] make it kind of a funny moment.
Sort of like the song "The Inbetween." That started with a poem that one of my boys wrote. I have two twin boys that are both 21 now. One boy, Curtis, wrote this poem for a class assignment—a poetry-writing assignment, I guess. I thought it was really clever. The words were so clever and so whimsical. He was like, "Black and white, wrong and right."
Now, after this horrendous political era we just tried to live through with all the bully-pulpit stuff we've had to deal with, I was scrolling through my notes and I found that again. I thought, "This is really relevant for our times that we're living through politically." But putting it in the context of something more fun—a funny take on it all—takes it away from being so heavy and dark.
It kind of sheds new light on a situation. It's a contrast from the heavy times we've had to live through and puts it in a different tonality.
Sounds like Curtis is pretty wise and perceptive. What do you learn from your boys?
You learn everything from your kids. Everything. Being a parent is not an easy thing to do. It's one of the bigger challenges you could ever face. Because when you love somebody that much and you're trying to help them survive through their own childhood. Because you care. Because you love somebody even more than your own life, your own self.
It's bigger than you are and you're responsible for it. The best thing you could ever possibly try to do is keep them alive long enough to figure it out for themselves.
How about "Walk Away"?
That's a story about a toxic relationship that you have to get out of. You have to face the truth of how you've enabled yourself to be hurt and you've enabled the relationship to go bad. It's kind of self-examination of "OK, I have to be brave enough to get this out of my life and take responsibility for what my part in it was."
It's kind of complex, but it's definitely a truth that we've all had to face at some point in our own relationship lives. There are some unhealthy things sometimes that leave behind.
Were you thinking of any particular relationship or was it a composite of relationships throughout your life?
[Laughs] Well, I'm not going to admit exactly what that's all about. There's been more than one! So, it's a conglomerate of various situations I've found myself in that I had to get out of and get over.
Photo: Jeremy Danger
How about "The Dragon"?
"The Dragon" is something I wrote back in the '90s. After the '80s, we went home to Seattle. That was a time when all the Seattle bands were exploding. I thought, "Oh, no! They're going to hate us because we're '80s dinosaurs!" But they were really sweet on us and we got pretty close with those guys.
At the time, our friends from Alice in Chains … Layne Staley was still walking around and talking. But he was definitely on a course that everyone could see. It was going to go badly. He was going to self-destruct. We all saw that coming. He was a sweet soul, you know? It was hard to see that inevitable demise. He was letting himself go down that dark ladder.
So, that's when I wrote that song. He was still alive, but everyone could see that. That's what that song was about. It's sort of a cautionary tale, but it's also a very heavy message because I don't think he had a chance against that dragon. It was just a sad story in advance of the sadder story.
That's been around for a long time. It never was destined to be a Heart song, although we tried to do that song a few times, in a few ways. It was on the Roadcase Royale album, which is called First Things First. That was a nice version of it. Somebody from the record company—my main guy, Tom Lipsky, from Carry On Music—said, "You've gotta do 'The Dragon' on your album!"
So, it was back by popular demand. I think this is the best version of that song yet. So far.
That's cool you knew Layne. I personally declare Dirt to be the most powerful album ever written about addiction.
Oh, for sure. Right? I love that band. I was so close with Jerry [Cantrell], Mike [Starr] and Sean [Kinney]—and William [DuVall], now. Mike Inez was actually in Heart for a while after Layne disappeared. He was our bass player for five years, I think. Michael Inez is one of the funniest humans on the planet, for Christ's sake. A seriously funny person. Maybe the funniest person I've ever met in my life.
How about "We Meet Again"?
That's kind of a take-off on Paul Simon. I cut my teeth on Paul Simon's stuff when I was nine, 10, 11 and 12. Early on in my playing life, as an acoustic guitar player. I'm actually glad I didn't get sued by Paul Simon because that basic guitar part in the song was a cue in Jerry Maguire, which was based on a Paul Simon-type fingerstyle part.
I kind of took that and ran with it and put lyrics to it, because I already had written it. I had already put that part together for the movie. If there's anyone to plagiarize besides Paul Simon, I suppose I could plagiarize myself [laughs]. That's the first thing I wrote for this album and I was just trying to touch base with my earlier self—my college-girl self with the poetry that I used to explore before I was in Heart.
Is Paul Simon the greatest living songwriter?
He's definitely in the top three, in my estimation. There's Joni Mitchell, there's Paul Simon, and of course, you have to include Bob Dylan in there. Maybe the Beatles. Those are the four pillars of greatness, I think, in music.
What about the last tune, "4 Edward"?
I wanted a tribute to Eddie [Van Halen]. When he passed away, I was really sad, of course. I was very moved to try to pay tribute to him in some way.
When we used to be in the same place together in the '80s—we did some shows with those guys—he told me he thought I was a really great guitar player on the acoustic. I was like, "How can you say that? You're the best guitar player on the planet! Why don't you play more acoustic yourself?" He said, "Well, I don't really have an acoustic guitar." Then, I promptly gave him one: "OK, you have one now."
The next morning, at the crack of dawn, he called my hotel room and played me this amazing instrumental on the acoustic I gave him. It was just one of the most beautiful things I'd ever heard. Just an exciting, inspirational moment, although he'd probably been up all night partying. So I thought I would return the favor and make him a piece of instrumental music on the acoustic guitar.
That's what I did. I put a little piece of the song "Jump" in there. I tried to approximate what I vaguely remembered from what he played me that morning.
I know things have been kind of hot and cold with your main project over the last few years. How would you describe your personal and creative relationship with Ann today?
Well, that's a loaded question. I think we're fine. We both kind of welcomed the break from each other and from Heart in a certain way.
I think there's a certain blessing inside the larger curse of the whole shutdown we've been living through. Personally, I feel like it's been a relief and a chance to reorganize who I am, thinking of who I am inside the larger picture of Heart and who I am outside of Heart altogether.
There's a lesson in this shutdown for me, and part of it is to remember who I am without defining myself as somebody in Heart. Which is a beautiful reckoning, I think.
There's an offer for Heart to go out in 2022. I think that would be awesome to do that. I would want to do that. But having been outside of the world of it and the pressure of it and the framework of it for this long now has been very freeing. I feel I've gained a lot of momentum as a person because of it.
Peter Frampton On Whether He'll Perform Live Again, Hanging With George Harrison & David Bowie And New Album 'Frampton Forgets the Words'
Photo: Courtesy of Peter One
Press Play: Peter One Delivers A Serene Performance Of His Love Ballad "Sweet Rainbow"
After more than 20 years out of the spotlight, Ivory Coast native Peter One returns to music with new album 'Come Back to Me,' and an intimate performance of the B-side, "Sweet Rainbow."
Ivory Coast-born musician Peter One had a prolific career in music during the late '90s, but after political unrest uprooted his plans, he turned to nursing to support his family. Last month, he triumphantly returned after two decades with his major label debut, Come Back to Me.
Amongst One's newest folk offering lives "Sweet Rainbow," an honest love ballad about a life-changing relationship. "Sweet Rainbow, I love you/ Wonderful baby, I love you so much," he sings in the track's opening line.
In this episode of Press Play, One performs "Sweet Rainbow" live, accompanied by a pianist and guitarists. Emphasizing the intimate nature of the song, he sings the B-side at night from a secluded forest.
"In this song, the girlfriend is like a rainbow because her background is of many different cultures. For one reason or another, we broke up, and I'm just telling her to come back and forget about the past for anything that happened. I'll forgive her," the singer revealed in a press statement.
On May 6, One began the tour for the new album in Nashville, Tennessee, and will appear at the Newport Folk, Pilgrimage, and Rebels & Renegades festivals later this year.
Watch the video above to see Peter One's tranquil performance of "Sweet Rainbow," and check back to GRAMMY.com for more new episodes of Press Play.
Living Legends: Smokey Robinson On New Album 'Gasms,' Meeting The Beatles & Staying Competitive
Photo: Kristy Sparow/Getty Images, Kevin Winter/Getty Images for LARAS, Kevin Winter/Getty Images for The Recording Academy, Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images for The Recording Academy, Stephen J. Cohen/Getty Images, Gustavo Garcia Villa
Listen To GRAMMY.com's LGBTQIA+ Pride Month 2023 Playlist Featuring Demi Lovato, Sam Smith, Kim Petras, Frank Ocean, Omar Apollo & More
Celebrate LGBTQIA+ Pride Month 2023 with a 50-song playlist that spans genres and generations, honoring trailblazing artists and allies including George Michael, Miley Cyrus, Orville Peck, Lady Gaga and Ariana Grande and many more.
In the past year, artists in the LGBTQIA+ community have continued to create change and make history — specifically, GRAMMY history. Last November, Liniker became the first trans artist to win a Latin GRAMMY Award when she took home Best MPB Album for Indigo Borboleta Anil; three months later, Sam Smith and Kim Petras became the first nonbinary and trans artists, respectively, to win the GRAMMY Award for Best Pop Duo/Group Performance for their sinful collab "Unholy."
Just those two feats alone prove that the LGBTQIA+ community is making more and more of an impact every year. So this Pride Month, GRAMMY.com celebrates those strides with a playlist of hits and timeless classics that are driving conversations around equality and fairness for the LGBTQIA+ community.
Below, take a listen to 50 songs by artists across the LGBTQIA+ spectrum — including "Unholy" and Liniker's "Baby 95" — on Amazon Music, Spotify, Apple Music, and Pandora.
Photo: JoAnna Jackson
10 Mad & Memorable Moments From Punk Rock Bowling 2023
From Rancid fans literally breaking barriers, to farewell sets from FEAR and club shows featuring Save Ferris and Alice Bag, get back in the circle pit and revisit highlights from Punk Rock Bowling 2023 in Las Vegas.
Since its inception in 1999, the Punk Rock Bowling and Music Festival has become less about knocking down pins and more about making big musical strikes, showcasing the best in new and OG hardcore music.
Following COVID cancellations in 2022, PRB came back more raucous than ever this Memorial Day weekend. The four-day event felt very full circle too, with its usual mix of newer acts in early slots and legends as the sun went down.
The downtown Las Vegas event has grown with Sin City itself — especially the part of Vegas formerly known as the Old Strip, which is now the locale of choice for other big music fests including Life Is Beautiful and the rock and metal focused Sick New World.
Beyond the outdoor festival grounds, Punk Rock Bowling also felt like a reintroduction to Downtown Vegas. A plethora of punk shows were held at local clubs, while many of the big names playing the festival also made appearances as "tour guides" at the brand new Punk Rock Museum in the Arts District.
Everyone played their ‘hawks off, but some really made an impression on this writer. Here, GRAMMY.com shouts out the most memorable moments of what has become one of the world's premiere punk events.
Me First And The Gimme Gimmes Get Meta…And More
Me First and the Gimme Gimmes were the first band to ever play PRB back when it took place at local bars like Vegas’ Double Down Saloon — in 2023, they gave and gave. The super-group consisting of members from NOFX, Lagwagon and the Swingin Utters are known for rollicking punk covers of pop hits like Neil Diamond’s "Sweet Caroline" and Elton John’s "Rocket Man" and they served all the biggies during their main stage slot Saturday at PRB.
They also had a "secret show" at the Punk Rock Museum, where current bass player CJ Ramone did a guided tour prior to the set. The most meta part? The band played inside an exhibit — a replica of Pennywise’s garage practice room that was moved piece by piece and rebuilt by bassist and museum co-founder Fletcher Dragge. The Gimme Gimmes popped up at another surprise show at Fremont Country Club too, where they were joined by members of the Damned (also on the festival bill). Highlight track at all three weekend shows: an audacious cover of Paula Abdul’s "Straight Up!" complete with "Oh-oh-oh!" crowd sing-alongs.
Save Ferris "Come On" Strong
Punk Rock Bowling feels like an immersive experience when you attend the pre-parties during the week and late-night after-bashes. Many of these club shows feature bands on the festival bill in smaller settings, while others feature bands you can’t see anywhere else. At Thursday’s pre-party inside adjoining nightclubs Backstage Bar & Billiards and Fremont Country Club (FCC), a shining shindig was headlined by Save Ferris.
Singer Monique Powell’s saucy vocals were animated and elevated by the bouncing rhythms of her band, best-known for breaking out of the O.C. ska scene alongside No Doubt with hits like its vibrant cover of Dexy’s Midnight Runners’ "Come On Eileen," and for appearing in the teen classic 10 Things I Hate About You. Angelo Moore of Fishbone brought his side-project Dr. Madd Vibe to the venue the same evening serving some cool funkadelic-flared jazz stylings.
Alice Bag Is Nowhere Near Decline
Women were well represented at the festival this year. Alice Bag (a.k.a. Alicia "Alice" Armendariz), frontperson for L.A. hardcore legends the Bags, might be best known for appearing in Penelope Spheeris’ seminal punk documentary "Decline of the Western Civilization," but she’s maintained a career beyond film as well. Today, Bag is an author, educator and musician.
Bag and her band played a potent club set on Friday night at Fremont. Incorporating some Spanish songs into the mix and lyrics that deal with everything from sexual assault ("No Means No!") to ageism, the Bag band proved music with a message can still be escapist fun too.
Lee Ving Bids "Fear-Well" But Still Sounds Badass
FEAR’s Lee Ving may be older and greyer, but the ferocious frontman is no less imposing onstage, even with reported health problems. The 73-year-old singer (and actor, as seen in Clue and Flashdance) announced just last month that his band will stop touring in the near future due to health issues.
Ving touted the band’s "Fear-well Tour" and Punk Rock Bowling appearance as significant for this reason and he’s not the kind of guy to pull a Motley Crue retirement fakeout. In any case, Fear’s early outdoor set at PRB Saturday lived up to any hype; while Ving didn't move around very much, he still sounded sprite and spot-on during classics like "The Mouth Don’t Stop (The Trouble with Women is)" and "I Love Living in the City."
The Adolescents Growl For The Grown Ups
Southern California’s the Adolescents represent how punk has literally grown up, even as it holds on to its figurative youthful aggression. The O.C. punks formed back in 1980 and have gone through countless line-up changes over the years, but they seem unified in their seasoned years — especially after founding member Steve Soto’s death in 2018 (they played with a backdrop brandishing "Soto" in 2019 at PRB).
Singer Tony Cadena remains one of the most tempestuous frontmen in music, and his growl felt feral as ever at PRB 2023. After all, there’s still plenty to be enraged about in our current world. From the brutal refrains of "Lockdown America" (written in 2018 well before the pandemic) to the familiar sing-a-long friendly choruses of the KROQ hit "Amoeba" and the early classic "Kids of the Black Hole" (about Social Distortion frontman Mike Ness’ punk squat apartment when the scene was new), the Ads showed that they aren’t kids anymore. But neither are their fans — and we all still need a release.
L7 Top Our Hit List
Though they were the highest billed females on PRB, the thing that’s always made L7 so inspirational is the fact that their gender was and is beside the point.
After a long hiatus, they got back together in 2015 and have been active ever since, releasing new material and playing diverse shows and festivals. Often lumped in with "grunge" bands due to the era in which they emerged, the band has major punk leanings which they showcased with ease and lots of energy during their main stage set at PRB on Memorial Day and the night before at their intimate and very late night Fremont club show. And both sets solidified "S— List" as one of the best punk anthems of all time.
Fishbone Bring Boogie Back To Punk Rock
Punk Rock Bowling regulars Fishbone always brings a refreshingly upbeat, dancey vibe to the festival, and this year was no exception. Since forming in the '80s, the L.A. band have influenced everyone from the Red Hot Chili Peppers to No Doubt — and always emanates a joyful and jammy vibe on stage.
Seeing so many mohawked, patch-covered crust punks boogie to extended and reworked versions of Fishbone's most beloved numbers was quite the delight. Stand-outs at Saturday’s Monster stage show included "Alcoholic," "Pressure," "Bonin' in the Boneyard" and their biggest hit as a revelrous closer, "Party at Ground Zero."
The Exploited Explode On Stage
The Exploited are an essential punk band that many music fans might know of, even if they don’t know their material too well. It’s safe to say the Scottish band’s logos (a skull with a mohawk) are iconic, as the imagery perfectly reflects the darkness and destruction that early punk music sought to convey around the world.
During their Monday evening PRB set, the band, led by red-mohawked lead singer Wattie Buchan was defiant and debauched on stage… and it was a kick to watch. Meshing old-school street punk with the thrash-focused styles from later in their career, the Exploited kept the circle pit below them at the Monster stage whirling.
And despite the hate towards politics and religion in their lyrics ( i.e. "F— the System, "F— the USA"), their set ended with a real love fest as dozens and dozens of fans joined on stage for singing, hugging and mugging.
Rancid Offers Salvation After PRB Barricades Break
If there was one bummer moment at this year’s Punk Rock Bowling festival, it had to be when the barricades broke about six songs into Rancid’s headlining main stage set on Sunday night. The energy the band was building was pretty much destroyed, and though Lars Frederiksen and Tim Armstrong tried to keep the crowd entertained — even doing a couple acoustic numbers, including a ballad-y take on "Ruby Soho" — the repair break dragged on way too long.
Surprisingly, the spike-adorned audience did not riot nor fight, but there was yelling and boo-ing when a PRB rep came out on stage to ask for patience. But if anyone could come back from a lull like that, it’s the Northern California-bred punk rockers, whose music and style remains some of the catchiest of the genre, with ska and British rock influences infusing their noisy rants and swift tempos.
"Roots Radicals" and "Maxwell Murder" warmed up the show nicely until the imposed break and a slew of gems brought things back including "Salvation," "Fall Back Down,"" I Wanna Riot" (again, we’re thankful no one did), and probably their biggest hit, "Time Bomb." They even played "Soho" again, the right way, and debuted a new song, "Don’t Make Me Do It," from their forthcoming album Tomorrow Never Comes.
Suicidal Tendencies Prove They’re A Musical Institution
Though Dropkick Murphys did a fine job as the closing night act at Punk Rock Bowling on Memorial Day, they could have (and maybe should have) switched slots with Suicidal Tendencies, who were billed just before them. The Venice Beach outfit consisting of Mike Muir and some new, very young members on drums and bass (including Tye Trujillo, son of former ST/current Metallica bass player Robert Trujillo), came on like gangbusters and never quit for a second, except for when the infamously expressive Muir discussed the band’s journey and controversy over its name.
The set consisted of a full rendition of ST’s breakout Frontier Records self-titled release (though not in album order), including the still-relevant angsty favorite "Institutionalized" — a song that had the entirety of the festival screaming along with glee and capturing the spectacle on their cell phones. Two bonus tracks from the albums How Will I Laugh Tomorrow When I Can't Even Smile Today and Lights… Camera… Revolution! rounded out the wonderfully rowdy show that proved Suicidal was always more about life than death. Just like punk rock itself.
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