meta-scriptNewport Folk Festival 2022 Recap: Taj Mahal, Brandi Carlile With Joni Mitchell, Paul Simon & A Crowdsurfing Singer | GRAMMY.com
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(From left) Phil Hanseroth, Brandi Carlile and Tim Hanseroth perform during the 2022 Newport Folk Festival on July 24, 2022.

Photo: Douglas Mason/Getty Images

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Newport Folk Festival 2022 Recap: Taj Mahal, Brandi Carlile With Joni Mitchell, Paul Simon & A Crowdsurfing Singer

After taking two years off from their normal format, Newport Folk Festival returned with much heart. From Rhiannon Giddens' soul-stirring performance to special guest appearances by Paul Simon and Joni Mitchell, GRAMMY.com recaps three days of joy.

GRAMMYs/Jul 25, 2022 - 05:20 pm

Newport Folk Festival is so much more than just another music event. At its heart, it's actually a family reunion — both on stage and off — with moments you simply will not experience anywhere else. As Christopher Capotosto, the festival's chief creative officer told GRAMMY.com, "We don't make the magic that is Newport; the artists do that."

But the Newport team does make and hold the sacred space to foster that magic. The artists know that, and so does the audience. And, after taking two years off from their normal format due to the pandemic, the 2022 Newport Folk Festival was as magic-filled as ever. Here are some highlights:

The Living Legends

Newport came out blazing by giving Lee Fields the first Fort Stage set of the weekend. Reminding the 10,000 folkies in attendance why he's nicknamed "Little JB," the legendary soul man worked through songs from across his 53-year career, being sure to touch on his latest single, "Ordinary Lives." 

At one point, he seemed to sing so hard that his mic cable detached. Pro that he is, Fields quickly sorted it out and got right back to asking the crowd, "Where's the party?" while he scanned the sea of revelers dancing before him.

Later in the day, Taj Mahal returned to Newport’s Fort Stage for the first time in 34 years. Like Fields, Mahal proved that he's still got it, as he treated the audience to classics like "Queen Bee" and "Corinna." Although Mahal has been singing his hits for seven decades now, they never get old.

The Troubadours

Even though Newport Folk Festival is known for far more than folk, singer/songwriters still stand at the heart of the event. This year, that torch was held high by Anaïs Mitchell, John Craigie, Madi Diaz and the Dead Tongues, each of whom brought new releases to vibrant, beautiful and occasionally hilarious life.

Mitchell was also supposed to perform with Bonny Light Horseman, but the band had to cancel their set a couple of days prior. In its stead, Mitchell led "Clusterfolk," with Natalie Merchant, Sarah Lee Guthrie, Lukas Nelson, Robert Ellis, and others all chipping in with a song or, in Merchant's case, "Legacy artists get two songs," Merchant said, much to the delight of the Quad Stage's packed house.

The Outliers

Friday's audience at the Quad Stage witnessed two incredibly special performances. First, Arooj Aftab blended stunning art and sardonic wit with songs from her gorgeous Vulture Prince album. The Pakistani singer (whose songs are primarily in Urdu) told the captivated crowd, "These songs are about being drunk and not in love, in case you couldn't tell." Aftab closed her utterly mesmerizing set with "Mohabbat," her 2022 GRAMMY-winning "banger," as she likes to call it.

Rhiannon Giddens and the Silk Road Ensemble took to the same stage a few hours later and owned the day with their rendition of "O Death." It was hard to know how they could follow themselves after that opener, but the group somehow continued to raise the musical bar, with each ensemble member having moments to shine.

The Rabble Rousers

If Rhiannon Giddens won Friday, Adia Victoria made an early case for her own victory on Saturday. Victoria set the Fort Stage ablaze with a blistering set that sparked off with "Far From Dixie" and went on to include more from her stellar A Southern Gothic album. This might've also been the only performance of the weekend that included a crowd surfing singer.

Joy Oladokun moved mountains of emotions during her time on the Quad Stage Sunday afternoon, introducing "I See America" with a teary speech about how it's simply not okay that trans and queer kids are no longer safe in this country. But Oladokun didn't just leave it there, she channeled her rage against the right-wing machine, moving from "I See America" directly into a bit of "Smells Like Teen Spirit," her fans responding in appropriate grunge fashion by bouncing up and down.

The Soul Restorers

Sunday morning started strong with a Spiritual Helpline Gospel Revue curated and led by Phil Cook with the Guitarheels plus special guests Sister Lena Mae Perry (who is 83 years old), Thomas Rhyant, the Union (Leslie Gardner and Simone Appleby), and others

Cook met these astounding gospel singers in North Carolina and is working with them to release live records through his indie label. And live is most definitely how they should be experienced. After a thoroughly rousing set that included gospel classics like "You’ve Got A Friend/Precious Lord" and "I Don't Feel Noways Tired," the group invited some onlookers (Natalie Merchant and Valerie June, among them) to join for the soul-giving finale of "This Little Light of Mine." To borrow from Cook, everyone left that performance feeling better than they did before it.

The Surprise Guests

The closing sets on Saturday and Sunday of every Newport Folk Festival famously include special surprise guests that attendees spend their weekend trying to surmise. This year, Nathaniel Rateliff & the Night Sweats recruited Paul Simon to make his Newport debut by joining their American Tune Revue (which also featured Marcus Mumford, Lee Fields, Courtney Marie Andrews, Lukas Nelson, Adia Victoria, Natalie Merchant, and others).

Together, the group thrilled the crowd with Simon classics like "Cecilia," "You Can Call Me Al," "Homeward Bound" and many more. Simon then joined the band for "Graceland," before duetting with Rhiannon Giddens on an updated version of "American Tune." Against a glorious Newport sunset, a solo Simon closed the evening with "The Sound of Silence."

It's hard to imagine that Brandi Carlile could somehow match that magic on Sunday night, but she darn well did by bringing Joni Mitchell to Newport for the first time since 1969. Along with Wynonna, Taylor Goldsmith, Celisse, Allison Russell, Sista Strings, Lucius and others, Carlile recreated the "Joni Jams" which she has been organizing at Joni's house for the past few years. The musicians all sat in a semicircle with Mitchell at the summit sporting a glass of wine and a huge smile. Everyone took turns — Mitchell included — singing songs from her catalog, along with a few standards.

Mitchell eased into it all, singing a line here and there, eventually playing an instrumental version of "Just Like This Train," which Carlile proclaimed was her best attempt yet. Before the night had ended, the stunned audience had heard "Both Sides Now," "Come in from the Cold," "A Case of You," “Carey” and "The Circle Game," among others, from one of the most brilliant artists of our time who, very likely, was responsible for introducing so many to folk music in the first place.

Watch Backstage Interviews At Essence Fest 2022: Questlove, Sevyn Streeter, DreamDoll, D-Nice, Raekwon & More

Beyoncé performs onstage during the "RENAISSANCE WORLD TOUR" at SoFi Stadium on Sept. 4, 2023 in Inglewood, California.
Beyoncé performs during the RENAISSANCE World Tour in Inglewood, California.

Photo: Kevin Mazur/WireImage for Parkwood/GettyImages

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How Beyoncé Is Honoring Black Music History With 'Cowboy Carter,' "Texas Hold Em," 'Renaissance' & More

From ventures into country and dance music, Beyoncé's drive for creativity is an exercise in freedom.

GRAMMYs/Feb 28, 2024 - 02:18 pm

The most powerful thing for a Black woman to be is free; to embrace freedom of expression, freedom of agency and freedom of autonomy. In all aspects and areas of our lives, Black women strive to be free. 

In the Black American consciousness, freedom takes on a political nature. But the ways in which we reach our freedom, individually and collectively, are complex and nuanced. Take Beyoncé for example: To the average African American, she is free; her billionaire status frees her from participation in a capitalist state plagued by classism, sexism, and racism.

Yet an individual actor (regardless of star status or income bracket) cannot free themselves from the system at large. And one of the few spaces where people who live on the margins can find a freedom similar to that of a 32-time GRAMMY winning icon is on the dancefloor.

Dance has always been a source of liberation for Black people, where "...shakes of the head, bending of the spinal column, throwing of the whole body backward may be deciphered as in an open book the huge effort of a community to exorcise itself, to liberate itself, to explain itself," philosopher Frantz Fanon wrote in The Wretched of the Earth. In a scene from Renaissance: A Film by Beyoncé, the singer shares a similar sentiment: "This tour…I feel liberated. I have transitioned into a new animal."

This is not Beyoncé’s first attempt at liberation, but it may be her most vocal. Her journey first began in 2013 with the release of Beyoncé, followed by 2016’s Lemonade, and continued on 2022’s Renaissance. Throughout these three albums, she has made declarative statements about her role in 21st century pop culture feminism, reveled in the exploration of Black Southern womanhood identity, and blended these intersecting identities to form a new being. 

It’s poetic how Beyoncé uses music to define herself. In lieu of speaking directly to the press, she has used the vehicle of pop culture to communicate her needs, desires, as well as her understanding of the world. The strategy has proven successful: Through her groundbreaking and popular works, Beyoncé has dominated much media for the past decade. She knows that whoever controls the media, controls the mind. 

Her last two albums have consciously explored genres created by Black artists, whose contributions had disappeared from the narrative. In the media frenzy that inevitably follows Bey's releases, the icon put this history — as well as contemporary artists — back on the global consciousness. 

When Renaissance dropped, the artistry and voices of Big Freedia, Grace Jones, Honey Dijon, Moi Renee, and TS Madison were heard across the world. However, their presence was more than a simple collaboration or feature."This a reminder," Beyoncé says on "Cozy," the album’s second track. 

The album — an auditory homage to the house music her late uncle Johnny loved — introduced audiences to the above artists, all of whom have made their own impacts on dance music. But it also educated listeners about the Black trans and queer underground dance scenes that birthed dance music and culture. In "chocolate cities," such as Baltimore, Chicago, Detroit, dance music was liberation music. Renaissance is and continues to be a call for liberation.

Read more: Obsessed With Beyoncé's 'Renaissance'? Keep The Dance Party Going With Albums From Frankie Knuckles, Big Freedia & More

Enter The World Of Beyoncé

But liberation becomes confusing when it is Southern. Although the South has a long history of Black liberation — extending as far back as maroon communities to the freedom rides movement to protests against police training facilities in Atlanta — it still is associated with enslavement in the African American mind. 

Country music, a genre with roots in the musical styling and traditions of Black people in Appalachia and the South, becomes whitewashed over time. This erasure, amplified through gender and racial discrimination policies, paints the South and country music as a hostile environment for Black Americans. 

As a result, the banjo, "an instrument of innovation and collaboration," an instrument that is of African origin often used in minstrel shows and artists in blackface, becomes associated with the degradation of Black people. It is no coincidence that the banjo takes prominence on "Texas Hold Em"; when Rhiannon Giddens plays the banjo on the track she recontextualizes a fraught relationship between African Americans and country music.

So what happens when the most powerful entertainer in the world reminds people that she is not only Southern, but country in nature? The world begins to lose its mind. 

Read More: Beyoncé's New Album Cowboy Carter Is Here: Check Out The Featured Artists, Cover Songs, And Tracklist

Prior to the release of "16 Carriages" and "Texas Hold Em," Beyoncé had attended two significant events in western wear: The 66th GRAMMY Awards and Super Bowl LVIII. Donning a Stetson hat and a bolo tie (the official state tie of Texas), everything signaled a return to home. A return to the South. 

As a little girl, Beyoncé spent summers in Alabama with her paternal grandparents; her grandfather would play and sing country music to her. With such foundational experiences, it makes sense why Beyoncé would use country music to describe the theft of her girlhood on "16 Carriages."

Throughout her discography, Beyoncé has alluded to her country origins — from costuming in her early days as the frontwoman of Destiny’s Child to songs like "Creole" and "Formation." And while she may not have held country in a full-on embrace, its spirit has never left her. 

Yet, she needed to experience liberation of the Renaissance World Tour to bring this version of herself forward. On tour, she found liberation in the booming voice of ballroom legend and commentator Kevin JZ Prodigy, and through the joy of her daughter Blue Ivy Carter. Beyoncé found liberation not only through her dancers, narrator and her daughter, but in the ways in which the stage provided an opportunity for them all to be free. 

She needed to be liberated in order to be the most actualized version of herself. A self, unlike the little girl in Alabama, who knows how unwelcoming the country music industry can be.

One singular action cannot bring forth liberation, and Beyoncé cannot take down the country music industry by herself. However, she can work in unison with Black country musicians like Rhiannon Giddens and Robert Randolph on "16 Carriages" and "Texas Hold Em" to make a change in the industry.

Her presence is giving visibility to the artists who have been working in country music long before Bey entered the playing field. Shortly after the release of "16 Carriages" and "Texas Hold Em," Black female country artists such as Tanner Adell, Reyna Roberts, K. Michelle, Rhiannon Giddens, and Rissi Palmer received a significant increase in streams. Palmer is one of the few Black women in the genre to chart on Billboard, prior to Beyoncé breaking the mold as the first Black woman to top the Billboard country chart.   

Although she is one powerful person, Beyoncé understands each movement in music, culture, and politics is the byproduct of those who have come before her like Linda Martell, the first Black woman country star. 

There is much to be speculated about the lasting impacts act ii, scheduled for release on March 29, will have on the country music industry, Its arrival certainly heralds an important impact on the artist herself. 

Beyoncé is free, in her career, sound and attitude toward life. And the unintended (or possibly intended) consequence of her freedom and self actualization is that Black people in country music are allowed to be free too. 

How Beyoncé Has Empowered The Black Community Across Her Music And Art | Black Sounds Beautiful

Rhiannon Giddens
Rhiannon Giddens

Photo: Ebru Yildiz

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Who Is Rhiannon Giddens? 3 Things To Know About The Banjoist & Violist On Beyoncé’s "Texas Hold ‘Em"

Rhiannon Giddens has been esteemed in various folk circles for years — and her appearance on Beyoncé’s "TEXAS HOLD ‘EM" just broke her into the mainstream. Here are three things to know about the eclectic singer, songwriter and multi-instrumentalist.

GRAMMYs/Feb 13, 2024 - 06:40 pm

After the club-storming Renaissance, its Act II begins with an unexpected sound: a burble of banjo, later joined by flowing viola. Welcome to "TEXAS HOLD ‘EM," one of two advance singles from Beyoncé’s forthcoming album, along with "16 CARRIAGES."

Beyoncé’s recently announced Act II promises to be an immersion into country music — which is both a fresh aesthetic and one deeply rooted to her Texan upbringing. The 32-time GRAMMY Winner has spoken about the "overlooked history of the American Black cowboy" and nodded to the culture with a Western getup at the 2024 GRAMMYs.

All of this is a completely natural fit for Rhiannon Giddens, who played said fiddle and viola on "TEXAS HOLD ‘EM."

"The beginning is a solo riff on my minstrel banjo — and my only hope is that it might lead a few more intrepid folks into the exciting history of the banjo," Giddens explained on Instagram. "I used to say many times as soon as Beyoncé puts the banjo on a track my job is done.

"Well, I didn’t expect the banjo to be mine," she continued. "And I know darn well my job isn’t done, but today is a pretty good day."

The "job" defines Giddens. Sure, she may be completely new to certain contingents of the Beyhive, but the two-time GRAMMY winner and 10-time nominee’s been on the scene for almost two decades.

Since making her mark with the Carolina Chocolate Drops in the mid-aughts, Giddens has forged a singular legacy. She’s not only a purveyor of traditional musics, but as an investigator of the racial and cultural cross-currents that forged our modern-day understanding — and misunderstanding — of Americana.

At the 2024 GRAMMYs, Giddons was nominated for two golden gramophones — for Best Americana Album (You’re the One) and Best American Roots Performance ("You Louisiana Man"). You’re the One was her first album of all-original material; in that regard, these noms show that a new, exciting chapter for Giddens is just beginning.

Here are five things to know about the artist who just played "TEXAS HOLD ‘EM" with Queen Bee.

Her Interrogation Of Black Music History Is Indispensable

Giddens has worked in a diverse array of fields, including opera, documentary, ballet, podcasting, and more. Her mission? To explore "difficult and unknown chapters of American history" through musical lenses, like the evolution of the banjo from Africa to Appalachia.

"In order to understand the history of the banjo, and the history of bluegrass music, we need to move beyond the narrative we've inherited," she’s stated. Elsewhere, she noted, "People seem ready for a more in-depth idea of folk music, culture and history.

Which extends beyond merely other people’s stories — but to her own.

…And It Led Directly To You’re The One

Speaking to GRAMMY.com about her GRAMMY-nominated first album of original material, Giddens was quick to note that "autobiography" doesn’t hit the mark.

"It doesn't express how I feel… they're still songs, and it's still a performance," Giddens said. "I'd say I'm drawing a little bit more from my experience, but I had to draw from my experience to write other people's stories.

"There's emotions that I feel that I then translate into these other stories," she added, "so I don't think this record is completely different from that."

She’s Made Killer Appearances With Paul Simon

Paul Simon’s ended his touring years, but he does make sporadic appearances, including at 2022’s "Homeward Bound: A GRAMMY Salute to the Songs of Paul Simon."

There, they performed a version of his epochal "American Tune," where he changed the words in nuanced ways as relates to the American origin story — and he enlisted Giddens to sing it with him.

"He didn't have to do nothing but sit back and collect his checks," Giddens told GRAMMY.com. "He made a statement with that song, and I don't want to take that away from him. I didn't change those words; he changed those words."

Where will Giddens go from her star turn with Bey? Wherever it might be, we’ll feel — and learn — something profound, one banjo strum at a time.

On You’re The One, Rhiannon Giddens’ Craft Finds A Natural Outgrowth: Songwriting

Victoria Monet backstage at the 2024 GRAMMYs
Victoria Monét backstage at the 2024 GRAMMYs.

Photo: Matt Winkelmeyer/Getty Images for The Recording Academy

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How The 2024 GRAMMYs Saw The Return Of Music Heroes & Birthed New Icons

Between an emotional first-time performance from Joni Mitchell and a slew of major first-time winners like Karol G and Victoria Monét, the 2024 GRAMMYs were unforgettably special. Revisit all of the ways both legends and rising stars were honored.

GRAMMYs/Feb 9, 2024 - 09:02 pm

After Dua Lipa kicked off the 2024 GRAMMYs with an awe-inspiring medley of her two new songs, country star Luke Combs followed with a performance that spawned one of the most memorable moments of the night — and one that exemplified the magic of the 66th GRAMMY Awards.

Combs was joined by Tracy Chapman, whose return to the stage marked her first public performance in 15 years. The two teamed up for her GRAMMY-winning hit "Fast Car," which earned another GRAMMY nomination this year thanks to Combs' true-to-form cover that was up for Best Country Solo Performance. The audience went wild upon seeing a resplendent, smiling Chapman strum her guitar, and it was evident that Combs felt the same excitement singing along beside her.

Chapman and Combs' duet was a powerful display of what the 2024 GRAMMYs offered: veteran musicians being honored and new stars being born.

Another celebrated musician who made a triumphant return was Joni Mitchell. Though the folk icon had won 10 GRAMMYs to date — including one for Best Folk Album at this year's Premiere Ceremony — she had never performed on the GRAMMYs stage until the 2024 GRAMMYs. Backed by a band that included Brandi Carlile, Allison Russell, Blake Mills, Jacob Collier, and other accomplished musicians, the 80-year-old singer/songwriter delivered a stirring (and tear-inducing) rendition of her classic song "Both Sides Now," singing from an ornate chair that added an element of regality.

Later in the show, Billy Joel, the legendary rock star who began his GRAMMY career in 1979 when "Just the Way You Are" won Record and Song Of The Year, used the evening to publicly debut his first single in 17 years, "Turn the Lights Back On." (He also closed out the show with his 1980 classic, "You May Be Right.") It was the latest event in Joel's long history at the show; past performances range from a 1994 rendition of "River of Dreams" to a 2022 duet of "New York State of Mind" with Tony Bennett. The crooner, who died in 2023, was featured in the telecast's In Memoriam section, where Stevie Wonder dueted with archival footage of Bennett. And Annie Lennox, currently in semi-retirement, paid tribute to Sinéad O'Connor, singing "Nothing Compares 2 You" and calling for peace.

Career-peak stars also furthered their own legends, none more so than Taylor Swift. The pop star made history at the 2024 GRAMMYs, claiming the record for most Album Of The Year wins by a single artist. The historic moment also marked another icon's return, as Celine Dion made an ovation-prompting surprise appearance to present the award. (Earlier in the night, Swift also won Best Pop Vocal Album for Midnights, announcing a new album in her acceptance speech. To date, Swift has 14 GRAMMYs and 52 nominations.)

24-time GRAMMY winner Jay-Z expanded his dominance by taking home the Dr. Dre Global Impact Award, which he accepted alongside daughter Blue Ivy. And just before Miley Cyrus took the stage to perform "Flowers," the smash single helped the pop star earn her first-ever GRAMMY, which also later nabbed Record Of The Year.

Alongside the longtime and current legends, brand-new talents emerged as well. Victoria Monét took home two GRAMMYs before triumphing in the Best New Artist category, delivering a tearful speech in which she looked back on 15 years working her way up through the industry. Last year's Best New Artist winner, Samara Joy, continued to show her promise in the jazz world, as she won Best Jazz Performance for "Tight"; she's now 3 for 3, after also taking home Best Jazz Vocal Album for Linger Awhile last year.

First-time nominee Tyla became a first-time winner — and surprised everyone, including herself — when the South African starlet won the first-ever Best African Music Performance GRAMMY for her hit "Water." boygenius, Karol G and Lainey Wilson were among the many other first-time GRAMMY winners that capped off major years with a golden gramophone (or three, in boygenius' case).

All throughout GRAMMY Week 2024, rising and emerging artists were even more of a theme in the lead-up to the show. GRAMMY House 2024 hosted performances from future stars, including Teezo Touchdown and Tiana Major9 at the Beats and Blooms Emerging Artist Showcase and Blaqbonez and Romy at the #GRAMMYsNextGen Party.

Gatherings such as A Celebration of Women in the Mix, Academy Proud: Celebrating LGBTQIA+ Voices, and the Growing Wild Independent Music Community Panel showcased traditionally marginalized voices and communities, while Halle Bailey delivered a GRAMMY U Masterclass for aspiring artists. And Clive Davis hosted his Pre-2024 GRAMMYs Gala, where stars new and old mingled ahead of the main event. 

From established, veteran artists to aspiring up-and-comers, the 2024 GRAMMYs were a night of gold and glory that honored the breadth of talent and creativity throughout the music industry, perfectly exemplifying the Recording Academy's goal to "honor music's past while investing in its future." If this year's proceedings were any indication, the future of the music industry is bright indeed. 

10 Must-See Moments From The 2024 GRAMMYs: Taylor Swift Makes History, Billy Joel & Tracy Chapman Return, Boygenius Manifest Childhood Dreams

I was A Trophy Holder At The 2024 GRAMMYs
GRAMMY U Representative Rachel Owen

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I Was A Trophy Holder At The 2024 GRAMMYs Premiere Ceremony

During the 66th GRAMMY Awards Premiere Ceremony, four GRAMMY U Representatives presented golden gramophones to Billie Eilish, boygenius, Tyla, and others. Read on to learn how GRAMMY U Reps were able to grace the stage on Music's Biggest Night.

GRAMMYs/Feb 8, 2024 - 07:33 pm

From lighting technicians to audio engineers to writers, hundreds of people make the GRAMMYs possible. Whether these professionals are on stage or working behind the curtain, all of these vital roles help produce Music’s Biggest Night.

Another vital role on GRAMMY night is that of trophy holder, where one is tasked with bringing out the physical golden gramphones and winner envelopes to presenters. Trophy holders then usher the award recipient off the stage after their speech. Representatives from GRAMMY U’s Atlanta (Jasmine Gordon), Texas (Pierson Livingston), Pacific Northwest (Chloe Sarmiento), and Chicago (Rachel Owen) Chapters were selected to be trophy holders at the 2024 GRAMMYs Premiere Ceremony, and went behind the scenes.

The real preparation actually commences before the show lands on screens back home. Prior to GRAMMY Sunday, the four representatives visited the Peacock Theater to get the rundown on stage positions, proper handling of the GRAMMY Award, proper attire for the event, and various other subtle details that would normally go unnoticed.

On the day of the show, trophy holders arrived for their 10 a.m. call time, receiving a final rehearsal of the show with the backing music and stage lights. Post-rehearsal, they headed into hair and makeup for final touch-ups to become camera-ready. From then, focus shifts to getting into place and calming restless nerves before the show kicks off at noon.

"At first there were so many nerves taking over my body," said Jasmine Gordon, Atlanta Chapter Rep. "But, as soon as I walked on stage there was a rush of excitement and happiness that took over."

This year, following an opening performance from Pentatonix, Jordin Sparks, Larkin Poe, J. Ivy, and Sheila E., host Justin Tranter introduced the GRAMMY U Representatives as they lined up on the stage. From there, the show commenced and winners were announced.

Before trophy holders take the stage, the envelopes are meticulously triple-checked to make sure they are representing the right category and a GRAMMY is placed in their hands. The envelope is given to the presenter to announce the winner. 

As the audience applauds and the winner makes their way to the stage from their seat, the presenter trades the envelope for the golden gramophone which they give to the winner. While the trophy holder typically stands in the shadows to the side of a presenter like Jimmy Jam or Natalia Lafourcade, they occupy a very important and visible place on the GRAMMY stage.

After an approximately 45-second acceptance speech, trophy holders escort the winner backstage for photos and media.  The trophy holders rinsed and repeated that routine dozens of times,handing off golden gramophones and escorting artists such as Billie Eilish, boygenius, and Tyla

Chicago GRAMMY U Rep Rachel Owen shared that one of her favorite moments included being on the side stage, standing right next to music icon Joni Mitchell when she won the GRAMMY for Best Folk Album.

"I’ll never ever forget the moment Joni Mitchell won for Best Folk Album. Everyone was cheering her on and she just got so happy, I feel so lucky to have witnessed that moment," Owen says. "I hadn’t realized before how close I would be to the winners; it was a great surprise."

Reflecting on the ceremony, the GRAMMY U Representatives shared how surreal the entire experience was for them and their professional development.

"Being right with artists as they win or right after they won was such a surreal experience," says Owen. "The overwhelming joy I got to witness from so many artists was contagious, I simply had an amazing time."

Rewatch The 2024 GRAMMYs Premiere Ceremony In Full: Featuring Performances From Pentatonix, Jordin Sparks, Robert Glasper, Brandy Clark, Laufey & Many More