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.
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.
Photos: Baeth; Jeff Hahne/Getty Images; Elena Di Vincenzo Mondadori Portfolio via Getty Images; Rodin Eckenroth/WireImage; courtesy of KQ Entertainment; Dan Monick; Manny Carabel/WireImage; Prince Williams/WireImage
15 Must-Hear Albums This December: ATEEZ, Nicki Minaj, Neil Young & More
Just in time to soundtrack your festivities and welcome in an inspiring new year, press play on these 15 releases from Peter Gabriel, Tate McRae, Alicia Keys and others.
December is a time for rejoicing and reflecting. How did this year go? And what will come next? As we look back on the meteoric 2023 and start planning for 2024, there’s a sundry of new music to usher in this journey.
This month, artists like Alicia Keys and the Killers will celebrate 20-year anniversaries with The Diary Of Alicia Keys 20 and Rebel Diamonds, respectively. Others will bring forth much-awaited sequels, like Nicki Minaj’s Pink Friday 2 and Chief Keef’s Almighty So 2. Adding to that, live performances by Pink and Khruangbin will get immortalized, while rising star Tate McRae will release her sophomore effort, Think Later, and Dove Cameron will debut Alchemical: Vol. 1.
Below is a guide to all the must-hear releases of December 2023, just in time to soundtrack your festivities and welcome in an inspiring new year. Read on for big releases from ATEEZ, Peter Gabriel, Neil Young, and more.
Dove Cameron - Alchemical: Vol. 1
Release date: Dec. 1
Following Dove Cameron's viral, platinum-certified 2022 hit "Boyfriend," expectations were high for the artist's first studio album. The singer and actress will release Alchemical: Vol. 1 at the top of the month.
"I wrote Volume 1 during a period of deep healing and space to process that I had never given myself. I hope you feel yourself in these songs as much as I do. Part 1: tear down. Part 2: rebuild," the singer shared on Instagram, teasing Vol. 2 of the collection (release date yet to be announced).
A follow-up to Cameron’s 2019 debut EP Bloodshot / Waste, Vol. 1 features eight tracks. Aside from "Boyfriend," she has revealed singles "Breakfast," "Lethal Woman," and "Sand," building up a sultry sound and an alluring mystique that prompt her as one to watch.
Dillon Francis - This Mixtape Is Fire TOO
Release date: Dec. 1
Eight years after This Mixtape Is Fire, Dillon Francis' latest "turned out better than I could have ever imagined," the DJ and producer shared on Instagram about his forthcoming album, This Mixtape Is Fire TOO.
"The whole goal of this album was to make amazing songs with artists I love and respect," he added. The 14-track record features several 2022 singles, such as "Free" with Alesso and Clementine Douglas, "LA On Acid" with Good Times Ahead, "Pretty People" with INJI, "Don't Let Me Let Go" with Illenium and Evan Giia and "buttons!" with Knock2.
Aside from collaborating with some of dance music’s biggest names, Francis seems intent on having fun. His latest single, "I’m My Only Friend" with Arden Jones, demonstrates that by pairing up his characteristic high-octane beats with an amusing music video featuring actor Billy Zane in an impromptu road trip adventure.
ATEEZ - THE WORLD EP.FIN: WILL
Release date: Dec. 1
K-pop’s favorite pirates ATEEZ are getting ready to release their second Korean full album: THE WORLD EP.FIN: WILL. The record will conclude the trilogy that began with EPs The World EP.1: Movement and The World EP.2: Outlaw.
With a slew of teaser pictures and a mysterious black-and-white trailer, the eight-member boy band continues to further their lore and leave fans eager to decipher their next chapters. In addition, a tracklist and an instrumental preview of the album’s upcoming 12 songs, including title track "Crazy Form," were revealed, promising exciting twists to their thunderous beats.
EP.FIN: WILL also brings a surprise in its unit and solo songs, all with lyrics co-written by the members: Jongho brings his powerful vocals to "Everything," "Youth" is a duet by Mingi and Yunho, "It’s You" is performed by Yeosang, San, and Wooyoung, and "MATZ" is the long-awaited collaboration between the band’s two eldest members, Hongjoong and Seonghwa.
Khruangbin - Live at Sydney Opera House
Release date: Dec. 1
After a yearlong series of live albums in partnership with other artists (Toro y Moi, Men I Trust, Nubia Garcya and others), Khruangbin will close out 2023 with the upcoming Live at Sydney Opera House — this time on their own.
The double LP was recorded in November 2022, and compiles their three-night residency at one of Australia’s most prestigious venues. With the announcement, the Texas trio also shared a new version of their 2015 hit, "People Everywhere (Shifting Sands Remix)."
The setlist also includes classics like "So We Won’t Forget," "A Calf Born in Winter" and "Friday Morning," attesting to the band’s expertise in highlighting the best of their career while giving tracks a fresh, unexpected spin.
Alicia Keys - The Diary Of Alicia Keys 20
Release date: Dec. 1
The end-of-year celebrations will start early for Alicia Keys and her fans. On Dec. 1, the 15-time GRAMMY winner will release a special version of her multiplatinum sophomore album, The Diary of Alicia Keys, in order to celebrate its 20th anniversary.
The 2023 LP will feature 24 tracks, including nine bonus songs including the previously unreleased "Golden Child." Keys also uprezzed four music videos from that era on YouTube: "Karma," "You Don’t Know My Name," "If I Ain’t Got You" and the live version of "Diary" with Tony! Toni! Toné! and Jermaine Paul.
To make the milestone even more special, Keys will perform the full album in an intimate, one-night-only concert at New York’s Webster Hall on the day of release. A portion of the earnings will be donated to the nonprofit organization she co-founded in 2003, Keep a Child Alive.
Peter Gabriel - i/o
Release date: Dec. 1
During every full moon this year, Peter Gabriel unveiled a new track off his upcoming studio album, i/o. It was a clever way to compensate fans for a lengthy wait. i/o is Gabriel’s first LP of new and original content since 2002’s Up, and has been in the works for almost three decades.
"I’m very happy to see all these new songs back together on the good ship i/o and ready for their journey out into the world," the British singer said in a press release. With 12 tracks "of grace, gravity and great beauty," the album tackles themes like the passage of time, grief and injustice, but never gives up on hope. Each track comes in three versions: the Bright-Side Mix by Mark ‘Spike’ Stent, the Dark-Side Mix by Tchad Blake, and the In-Side Mix by Hans-Martin Buff.
Gabriel also spent a good part of 2023 on the i/o Tour across Europe and North America. Attendees were lucky to witness the album played in full and some of the singer’s biggest hits, as well as the unreleased track "What Lies Ahead."
Atmosphere - Talk Talk EP
Release date: Dec. 1
From "Talk Talk (feat. Bat Flower)," a track off Atmosphere’s May album So Many Other Realities Exist Simultaneously, comes Talk Talk EP. According to a press release, the Minneapolis duo was so captivated by that song’s "vaguely alien and deeply human" sounds that they had to develop it into a ten-track deep dive.
In the album, rapper Slug and DJ/producer Ant "dart across threads of space-time" and become "titans of the electro-rap that was foundational to their youths," citing names like Kraftwerk and Egyptian Lover as inspirations. The press release also mentions that Talk Talk EP is a testament to rap’s connection to electronic music of the ‘70s and ‘80s.
That statement rings true, for instance, in the two singles they have released so far, aside from "Talk Talk": the sparkly "Rotary Telephone," and the haunting album closer, "Traveling Forever."
Pink - Trustfall Tour Deluxe Edition
Release date: Dec. 1
Following the smashing success of her ninth studio album, February’s Trustfall, and of her back-to-back Summer Carnival stadium tour and Trustfall arena tour this year, pop giant Pink will wrap it all up with the release of Trustfall Tour Deluxe Edition on Dec. 1.
The special record features six live recordings (from Summer Carnival), including "Cover Me in Sunshine" with her daughter Willow Sage Hart, as well as covers of Sade’s "No Ordinary Love" and Sinead O’Connor’s "Nothing Compares 2 U," with Brandi Carlile. It also includes July’s protest song "Irrelevant" and two new singles: "Dreaming" with Marshmello and Sting and "All Out of Fight."
As the unstoppable artist that she is, Pink has already announced a slew of 2024 Summer Carnival tour dates for Oceania in February and March, and the U.K. and Europe throughout June and July.
Tate McRae - Think Later
Release date: Dec. 8
"Here’s to 20 years old and figuring who the f[—] i am," celebrated rising sensation Tate McRae wrote on Instagram. Writing her sophomore album, Think Later, was "one of the most stressful, exciting, nerve racking, and fun things I’ve ever gone through. For the first time in my life I lived this year a little less with my head and a little more with my intuition — and I [really] hope [you] guys can feel that through the music," she added.
Produced by Ryan Tedder, the album dives into "the all-too-relatable feelings of falling in love and embracing the raw emotions that you experience as a result of leading with your intuition and heart," according to a press release. It is preceded by singles "Greedy" — of recent TikTok fame — and "Exes."
The Canadian singer has also announced an eponymous tour in support of the new album. McRae will visit Europe and North America from April to August 2024, bringing it to a close in Oceania throughout November.
Nicki Minaj - Pink Friday 2
Release date: Dec. 8
After several postponements, rap superstar Nicki Minaj is celebrating her birthday by bringing Pink Friday 2 to the world. The much-expected release marks Minaj’s first studio album since 2018’s Queen.
The album is a sequel to her acclaimed debut, 2010’s Pink Friday, and is supported by two singles, "Super Freaky Girl" and "Last Time I Saw You." During an Instagram Live on Oct. 24, as reported by People, Minaj shared that "this entire album will be the biggest gift I have ever given humanity thus far. I can stand by that. I will bet any amount of money that Pink Friday 2, the album, is going to make people fall in love immediately."
The Trinidadian American icon recently announced a 2024 tour in North America and Europe. Exact dates are yet to be announced, but the commotion was such that Minaj’s fandom, Barbz, crashed her website upon hearing the news.
The Killers - Rebel Diamonds
Release date: Dec. 8
It’s been almost 20 years since the Killers burst into the rock scene with their 2004 debut Hot Fuss. To honor that achievement, the Las Vegas band will release Rebel Diamonds, a compilation of 20 hits encompassing all their seven LPs, plus new track "Spirit."
In the tracklist, fans will be able to take a trip down memory lane with singles like "Mr. Brightside," "When You Were Young," and "Human," among other classics. "See, it’s been said that what’s remembered, lives," frontman Brandon Flowers said in a trailer for the album. "And we’ve racked up stadiums full of memories the past 20 years, enough to fill lifetimes."
Flowers continued: "It sounds a bit like Bowie. Or is it Brando? Or maybe it's somewhere in between? It always is with us. And to our legion of victims, thank you, thank you, thank you. And do not fear. There is more mining to be done." The Killers released another best of in 2013, Direct Hits.
Neil Young - Before and After
Release date: Dec. 8
"Songs from my life, recently recorded, create a music montage with no beginnings or endings." That’s how folk legend Neil Young described his upcoming 45th studio album, Before and After, in a press statement.
The record spans a collection of 13 solo acoustic re-recordings among Young’s favorites in his catalog. The statement adds that "each of the songs blend and create one continuous flow, clocking in at a 48-minute pure and intimate listening experience," with Young summarizing it as an experience where "the feeling is captured, not in pieces, but as a whole piece — designed to be listened to that way."
Young also co-produced and co-mixed the record, which includes the previously-unreleased track "If You Got Love," among classics such as 1966’s "Burned," 1970’s "Birds" and 1994’s "A Dream That Can Last." Before and After is the latest in a series of archival releases by Young, arriving just a few months after "lost" album Chrome Dreams.
Car Seat Headrest - Faces From the Masquerade
Release date: Dec. 8
In March 2022, indie band Car Seat Headrest was playing a three-night residency at New York’s Brooklyn Steel. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, they asked the audience to mask up, but also to "accoutre yourself in whatever further costumery you please" for an evening of "music, dancing, and identity loss," according to a press release.
The result of that experience is Faces From the Masquerade, CSH’s upcoming double album that will bring the magic of those nights to the world. "The 2022 Masquerade was a crazy tour that ignited with a particular ferocity once we touched ground on the east coast," said vocalist Will Toledo in a statement. "Our time in New York captures that momentary magic where we’re playing at our peak and the crowd is responding as one giant body."
Faces From the Masquerade features 14 of the band’s best tracks as rearranged, revamped live versions — for example, "Deadlines" went through adjustments "to turn it into the climactic dance monster it always wanted to be," added Toledo. The record has been described as "simultaneously a joyride through the greatest hits and a conversation with the devoted and ever-growing following that has formed around the band, their songs and live communions."
Michael Nau - Accompany
Release date: Dec. 8
Multihyphenate Michael Nau has been building an extensive indie discography since the mid-’00s, both as the frontman of bands Cotton Jones and Page France and as a soloist. Next month, he will add on to that by releasing his fifth studio album, Accompany.
The album came to be when producer Adrien Olsen (the Killers, Lucy Dacus) invited Nau to record at his Richmond, Virginia studio. "I didn’t have much of a plan before Adrien reached out, so I wrote some songs specifically for the session," Nau explained in a release. "It had been a while since I’d made music in a room with other people. We just sort of started playing and didn’t really talk about what was happening."
The record's 11 tracks "come together to paint a beautiful picture" with imaginative lyrics that manage to be "introspective, but vague and open-ended. Nau recently announced tour dates across the U.S. from February to April 2024.
Chief Keef - Almighty So 2
Release date: Dec. 15
Rumors about Almighty So 2, the sequel to Chief Keef’s revered 2013 mixtape of the same name, have been going on since 2018. The Chicago drill pioneer went as far as teasing the cover art on Instagram in 2019 — only to spend years without further updates. In any case, it seems like the wait is finally over: Almighty So 2 is scheduled to drop on Dec. 15.
In the beginning of November, Keef shared two new cover arts for the album on Instagram, under the caption "2 real soon." While there’s no further info, the album will feature 17 tracks, including 2022 singles "Tony Montana Flow" and "Racks Stuffed Inna Couch," according to Apple Music.
Almighty So 2 is Chief Keef’s fifth studio album, arriving after 2021’s 4NEM. Recently, the rapper was featured on the track "All The Parties" off Drake’s latest album, For All The Dogs. This collaboration increased speculations about a possible Drake feature on Keef’s album as well — the latter commented "Don’t forget them vocals, crody" on Drake’s Instagram back in August.
Photo: Adrián Monroy/Medios y Media/Getty Images
New Music Friday: Listen To Releases From Beyoncé, Lana Del Rey, ATEEZ & More
December begins with a blast of new music from some of music's biggest stars. Press play on five new releases Jung Kook & Usher, Tyla and others, out on Dec. 1.
While 2023 may be coming to an end, the first releases of December prove that it's far from time to wind down.
From Taylor Swift — who released "You’re Losing Me," a song originally recorded for her 2022 smash album — to Dua Lipa’s extended edit of her single "Houdini," and Lana Del Rey's cover of "Take Me Home, Country Roads," listeners are being treated to new tracks from familiar favorites today.
Start off your month by listening to these tracks and albums from seven artists that will jumpstart your month.
Beyoncé - "MY HOUSE"
Queen Bey surprised fans with an early Christmas present by dropping "MY HOUSE," her first single since 2022’s Renaissance. This track was featured during the credits of her new Renaissance concert film.
Written and produced by The-Dream, this song showcases Beyoncé’s rapping skills, as she effortlessly weaves verses over a powerful horn melody. There's a vibe check in the song's second half, where the music becomes a smooth, electronic dance groove reminiscent of Renaissance’s ballroom vibe.
Jung Kook & Usher - "Standing Next To You (Remix)"
BTS' pop singer Jung Kook is back with a remix to his track "Standing Next To You," this time joined by an R&B sensation. The remix features a new verse from Usher, who adds a delicate touch to the vibrant, high-paced song.
The original track was released last month as a single on Jung Kook’s debut album, GOLDEN. This could be fans' last time hearing Jung Kook's music for a while — the "golden maknae" of BTS announced he’s enlisting for mandatory military service this month.
Tyla - "Truth or Dare"
GRAMMY-nominated Afrobeats star Tyla is closing the year with a sneak peek of her upcoming self-titled album. The hypotonic single "Truth or Dare," following the success of her GRAMMY-nominated song "Water" (the song is nominated for Best African Music Performance at the 2024 GRAMMYs alongside "Amapiano" by ASAKE & Olamide, "City Boys" by Burna Boy, Davido's "UNAVAILABLE" feat. Musa Keys, and "Rush" by Ayra Starr).
In this new song, Tyla revisits an old flame — this time with newfound wisdom and assurance that she won’t fall for his charm anymore: "So let's play truth or dare, dare you to forget / That you used to treat me just like anyone."
Tyla announced her upcoming self-titled album on social media, captioning, "African music is going global and I’m so blessed to be one of the artists pushing the culture. I’ve been working on my sound for 2 years now and I’m so ready for the world to hear it."
Lana Del Rey - "Take Me Home, Country Roads"
This cover might not come as a shock for fans after she referenced a line from Denver’s 1972 "Rocky Mountain High" on her track "The Grants" from GRAMMY-nominated album Did You Know There’s A Tunnel Under Ocean Blvd. (At the 2024 GRAMMYs, Did You Know is nominated for Album Of The Year alongside Jon Batiste's World Music Radio, Olivia Rodrigo's Guts, Swift's Midnights, Janelle Monae's The Age Of Pleasure, SZA's SOS, Miley Cyrus' Endless Summer Vacation and the record by boygenius. Did You Know is also nominated for Best Alternative Music Album alongside The Car by Arctic Monkeys, PJ Harvey's I Inside The Old Year Dying, Gorillaz's Cracker Island and boygenius' album.)
The track features Del Rey’s signature soothing vocals, as a Western-style melody balances the instrumentation. She brings her own sultry style to this '70s country classic, while continuing to show her musical versatility.
ATEEZ - The World EP:FIN:WILL
Five years after their debut album, K-pop group ATEEZ have returned with The World EP:FIN:WILL. The 12-track album is led by "Crazy Form," an Afrobeats/dancehall-influenced track, and also features many solo and unit tracks from the group.
Members Hong Joong and Seonghwa took the reins on "Matz," a dynamic hip-hop track, while Yeosang, San and Wooyoung collaborated for the R&B-influenced "It’s You."
During a Seoul press conference, Lead Hong Joong spoke about the group’s evolution and how fans should look forward to future releases.
"This year marks our fifth debut anniversary and so far, our greatest achievement has been establishing a strong relationship with our fans around the world. We hope to continue presenting music that can make our fans proud of us," he said.
Photo: Michael Ochs Archive/Getty Images
GRAMMY Rewind: Michael Jackson Wins Best Recording For Children, The Award He Was "Most Proud Of" At The 1984 GRAMMYs
Michael Jackson took home eight golden gramophones at the 1984 GRAMMYs, but felt most rewarded by his win for his audiobook and soundtrack companion album for 'E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial.'
Michael Jackson made history with his groundbreaking album Thriller in 1982. But while the icon was smashing pop records, he was also venturing into a new avenue: narration.
Jackson was the voice of the audiobook and soundtrack companion album for Steven Spielberg's groundbreaking 1982 classic, E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial. The album won the King of Pop one of his eight GRAMMYs in 1984 – and it may have been the most important win of his career.
"One of the most dangerous joint decisions Michael and I made was to accept to do an album for Steven Spielberg," Jones explained at the beginning of their acceptance speech before expressing gratitude for the film's cast and crew.
"I don't thank the people who stopped this record from coming out," Jones said, alluding to the backlash MCA Records received from Epic for releasing the project at the same time as Thriller.
"Of all the awards I've gotten, I'm most proud of this one," Jackson revealed. "I think children are a great inspiration, and this album is not for children. It's for everyone. I'm so happy, and I'm so proud. Thank you so much."
Press play on the video above to hear Michael Jackson and Quincy Jones's complete acceptance speech for Best Recording for Children at the 1984 GRAMMY Awards, and check back to GRAMMY.com for more new episodes of GRAMMY Rewind.