meta-script:NEXT With Alex Ritchie: The Musical Triple Threat On Her New EP, Drawing Inspiration From Imagine Dragons & More | GRAMMY.com

Alex Ritchie

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:NEXT With Alex Ritchie: The Musical Triple Threat On Her New EP, Drawing Inspiration From Imagine Dragons & More

The emerging artist, songwriter and producer opens up about her path to success, the release of '404' and more in the premiere episode of :NEXT, the Recording Academy's new digital series on the future of the music industry

GRAMMYs/Oct 29, 2019 - 12:14 am

Every success story starts somewhere. Los Angeles' Alex Ritchie counts her breakout moment as being asked to perform at a women's rock night at Hollywood's famous Whisky a Go Go after the booking agent heard something special in her rough, homemade recordings on her MySpace page. Over a decade later, Ritchie has worked in a variety of music industry roles with several creative heavyweights, has released her debut EP, 404, and is now the subject of the premier episode of :NEXT, the Recording Academy's new short-run digital series featuring the future of the music industry.

The triple-threat artist, songwriter and producer has cultivated her passion for music from joining GRAMMY U, the Recording Academy's music industry college student resource network, to the Recording Academy Los Angeles Chapter's GRAMMYNext program for future music industry leaders, to her return her artist beginnings with the release of her brand new EP earlier this year. But her musical dreams didn't always seem so within reach.

“I’m the only musician in my family, and I came from a family of humble means; so even though I had conviction in what I wanted from a young age, it wasn’t “realistic,” Ritchie said. "I’d seen my parents suffer from the economy crash in 2008 and, realistically speaking, pursuing something like entertainment was so risky. I couldn’t afford to fail. We couldn’t afford to dream like that. BUT I had unrealistic dreams anyway, and after my first gig at the Whisky I knew that was it.”

After her Sunset Strip debut, Ritchie got to work, honing her self-taught skills in the studio, joining GRAMMY U while in New York and, after moving back to L.A., working her way into collaborations with the likes of Harvey Mason Jr., Gizzle, Snipe Young, Keith Hetrick, Steve “Steve B” Baughman, David Kim, and Lee Major, to name a few. Ritchie also became the youngest sitting member on two Recording Academy L.A. Chapter committees, earned a full scholarship from Westlake Studios & Electronic Music Magazine to attend Westlake’s new Crē•8 Music Academy for music production, and built relationshisp and become recognized by mega-brands such as Delta and Fender. 

Working all over the page to develop her blossoming career, Ritchie names her musical influences as, well, everything, noting a specific interest in new music. But one influence that sticks out is GRAMMY-winning pop/rock band Imagine Dragons.

"Imagine Dragons has consistently put forth music that pushed boundaries. They're produced by Alex Da Kid, who's my idol producer," she said. "I really always wanted to marinade my roots from singer/songwriter and '90s rock music to what's going on currently, and I thought they did that perfectly with Evolve. It just made me want to step up my game and  really push boundaries and be super free and creative with any of the music I'm working on."

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Ritchie poured this freedom and creativity into her new EP, 404, which dropped in May of 2019 and featured collaborations with up-and-coming talents, including The Wildcardz, Snipe Young, and Australia's Nick De La Hoyde. With a strong foundation from her time in GRAMMY U and a supportive network through GRAMMYNext already in place, Ritchie is ready to share her unique personal background and musical talents with a wider audience. She credits her hard work with the Recording Academy's developmental programs helped her find her voice as an artist, hope as a young person in the music industry and the confidence to step out from behind-the-scenes in pursuit of her artistic dreams.

"To be honest, I really milked the opportunities given through GRAMMY U. It opened so many doors to create relationships with a lot of the right people, and also gave me a chance to meet many heroes and listen to their stories about coming up in music. It was a program that gave me hope, especially when it felt the odds were stacked against me. I’m a mixed-race, predominantly Asian-looking LGBTQ+ artist," she said. "When I started music, that combination wasn’t considered ‘commercial;’ in fact, it was more of a hindrance than a help.  I’ve definitely always been the underdog in the race, and was often advised to stay behind the scenes as a songwriter/producer.  Hearing a lot of those comments from industry people really got to me, so the GRAMMY U sessions really made me feel like it was all still possible.”

With her debut EP out now, Ritchie is currently focused on pitching new music for film and media projects, a world she's already gained valuable experience in by working under music supervisor and mentor Tracy McKnight as an assistant music consultant on projects including Disney’s Wrinkle In Time and Hulu’s Obey Giant. As she continues to amass a diverse mix of experience in the music industry, Ritchie is primed to carry the torch for her generation of future music industry leaders, leading a pack of her peers from GRAMMY U to GRAMMY Award hopefuls. 

"The best part about being a 'Nexter' was that I got a whole new family, and It's given me a network of peers that I trust and constantly seek counsil from and work with on the daily," said Ritchie. "They're all killing it right now in their own respective positions. So It gave me that awesome network outside of the family I already had at the Recording Academy. I'm super thankful to know all of them."

Check out Alex's episode of :NEXT above and stay tuned for new editions of the three-part, short-run digital series rolling out each Monday.

:NEXT To Feature The Future Of The Music Industry

Singer and actor Ben Platt seated and posing
Ben Platt

Photo: Vince Aung

interview

Inside Ben Platt's 'Honeymind': How Queer Love, Live Performance & More Led To His Most Authentic Album Yet

Ben Platt's expansive artistry has taken him from Broadway to the recording studio, and his new album continues this evolution. 'Honeymind' shows Ben Platt at his most honest and vulnerable, embracing a new sound.

GRAMMYs/Apr 18, 2024 - 01:47 pm

Ben Platt has never allowed the world to dictate his fate. The GRAMMY, Tony, and Emmy-winner's artistic outpouring has been relentless, and he's still early in his career. 

The 30-year-old actor and singer has performed in Broadway musicals like "Parade" and "Dear Evan Hansen," sold out Madison Square Garden and the Hollywood Bowl as a solo artist, and starred and co-wrote the film Theater Camp. Each project has marked a step into a new direction, but none more so than Honeymind — an album that captures what it's like to chase tender and safe intimacy in partnership, and the ecstasy that follows once found. 

His professional growth between 2021's Reverie and Honeymind is apparent not just thematically, but sonically and in production. This latest album sounds natural and lush, with input from GRAMMY-winning producer Dave Cobb and producer/songwriter/multi-instrumentalist Alex Hope. While  Honeymind shows a version of Platt some listeners may not be accustomed to, he's never sounded more comfortable in his own skin. 

To celebrate the release of Honeymind, Platt will headline a three-week residency in New York City's Palace Theatre and a subsequent nationwide summer tour and serve as the keynote speaker at this year’s GRAMMY U Conference. He spoke with GRAMMY.com about his latest album, upcoming residency, and the beautiful and, at times, tricky trappings of romantic love.

This interview has been edited for clarity.

Honeymind shifts away from the '80s electro-pop of Reverie and your Broadway roots. What made you gravitate towards a more tender, folky sound that exudes warmth and serenity?

The biggest catalyst was that I wanted to go and write Nashville because I admired so many songwriters there. When I started with my first round of writing sessions for this record — which was back in the spring of 2022 — what just very naturally started coming out was this super unadorned, very storytelling-forward type of music. 

When I made my first record [2019], it was very close after I had been on Broadway for a long time, and it was theatrically linked. Then, I experimented with leaning into pop and this Peter Gabriel vibe, but it felt like a landing pad this time. I closed my eyes and went, What's the most natural way to communicate in terms of what is specific to me? This seemed to fit really nicely. 

You worked with renowned producers like Dave Cobb on this album. There are times when the producer’s work stands out most, but Honeymind sounds like you. How did you ensure that all tracks sounded distinctly like you versus a Dave Cobb song?

​​I loved the idea of working with Dave! His specialty is unadorned things that are as essential as they can be. When it comes to my own sound, my priority is always obviously storytelling and songwriting, but certainly, to have the vocal performance be very much the focus. Dave was very amenable to that. 

I went and wrote the songs with my co-writers before starting work with Dave, and I sort of came in with all of his songs completed. He did a beautiful job of preserving the integrity of the songs I’d written. [He wanted] to present them in as organic and straightforward a way as possible, as opposed to trying to sort of put a secondary sound onto it. 

Your previous work has been personal to varying degrees, but your lead single, "Andrew," feels particularly candid.

I wrote that song with Alex Hope, one of my favorite longtime collaborators, and I had a session earlier in the week with someone else who was also wonderful. [This first songwriter] was talking to me about her son, who was 10 or 11, and how he had his best friend, a boy he loved so much. She shared that she had an inclination that more love was going towards this friend and was coming back to him [than] he could even really communicate. 

It reminded me so deeply and immediately of so many different experiences growing up: having straight friends in high school and middle school, who you just love and who aren't doing anything wrong, but just by virtue of chemicals and how we're born, you develop feelings that just can't be reciprocated. [That's] such a special kind of melancholy. It's no one's fault, and I hadn't heard that strain of unrequited love and that particular type of melancholy expressed in a song. 

The next day, I went in with Alex and pitched them a song, and they're queer as well and understood the perspective, so it came out very quickly.

What about queer love do you find most challenging to articulate?

Developing feelings for people that just don't have it in their blood to feel the same way is a uniquely queer experience, [as is] boundarylessness both positively and negatively. It's very particular to queer love in the sense that there are a lot less societal examples, and sort of prerequisites, for what queer relationships look like or shouldn't be. Which is so freeing and wonderful and makes for a really beautiful, honest relationship. Still, it's also a little scary because you're flying blind in a way that is very particular to being a queer person. 

There's an inherent sort of rebellion and statement that you have to be making every day when you're out in the world with your partner as a queer person because there remain so many people who are intolerant, don't understand, and are still fearful and judgmental. It requires an extra bit of courage just to engage in the relationship.

You have a three-week residency at New York City's Palace Theatre, where legends like Elvis Presley, Diana Ross, and Judy Garland performed and will tour afterward.  How are you feeling as you prepare for these concerts?

When I finish the record and sit on it, it exists in limbo; I start to second-guess it, feel like I'm losing my connection to it, or forget. I don't feel like I'm in the same place as I was when I wrote these things because they're so intimate. 

But for me, the whole shebang has always been getting to perform live, and that's just my greatest joy. The songs are the most mine when I'm singing them live. I also love sharing music with people, and hearing in person and online conversations, about how it applies to their lives, how it reminds them of things, and how they use it. The tour is always the part where I'm the most in love with the album, and when the tour ends, I'm ready to let it out into the world and say goodbye for a minute.

Beyond the risk of trying something new in your career, what roles do failure, trial, and error play in your creative process or other parts of your life?

For every song I've written that I love or even come out, there are eight to 10 that I never want to see in the light of day. 

It's hard to find the good things until you throw everything at the wall, and if you're too afraid to fall, then you'll never really try in the first place. And I was privileged because I started working quite young; things went from A to B to C in the sense that they went steadily. As I get older, I learn that a career is more about this longer journey that is not at all linear. Now that I have some hindsight, it's easy to appreciate the down moments and the valleys because that's the only way you recognize when something is going well. I try to be grateful for those moments of failure or misstep when they come because it's an essential part of being an artist — not the funnest part always, but necessary. 

You'll be the keynote speaker at the 2024 GRAMMY U Conference for young professionals. What do you want to share most with conference attendees?

I must share my transparency and experiences and try to help learn by failure and success. I've found, in all facets, that specificity begets universality, and I'm trying to be as specifically honest about my role in how I approached songwriting in my own artistry — whether that's something someone will directly connect to, create a tangential connection to something else, or be an example of something that doesn't work for someone. 

Art is so tailor-made, so it's just about sharing ideas and seeing what sticks.

New Broadway Musicals To See This Spring: "Hell's Kitchen," "The Wiz" & More

GRAMMY U NYC Conference flier

Photo: GRAMMY U

list

What To Expect At The 2024 GRAMMY U Conference In NYC

On April 20, music’s next generation will be in New York City for the 2024 GRAMMY U Conference, presented by Amazon Music. Read on for everything you need to know about the day of career-driven discussions with Broadway icons and pop stars.

GRAMMYs/Apr 12, 2024 - 03:56 pm

Shaneel Young contributed to this article

It’s been an unparalleled year of programming for GRAMMY U. 

Lainey Wilson and Greta Van Fleet connected with crowds at the 2023 Fall Summit in Nashville; Halle Bailey and Muni Long shared wisdom with the world during GRAMMY Week in Los Angeles at the GRAMMY U Masterclass. Now, music’s next generation of creative professionals will head to New York City for the 2024 GRAMMY U Conference presented by Amazon Music.  

This year it's all about show biz, and music has a hand in every part of the entertainment industry. Featuring a star-studded lineup of guests, the GRAMMY U Conference will dive deep into how your favorite musical performances on television are created, and offer insight into music careers on Broadway. 

GRAMMY U members will be able to learn all about the live performance industry through educational panels, a speed networking session, and even a performance workshop. You won’t want to miss what the big names have to say: GRAMMY, Tony, and Emmy Award winners Ben Platt will be the conference's keynote speaker, and Billy Porter (also a GRAMMY, Emmy, and Tony Award winner)O will work up close and personal with young talent, and Remi Wolf is going to talk about the music of late night shows. 

The action begins Friday, April 19 at the Chelsea Music Hall. Members from all over the country will gather for the GRAMMY U Showcase, where five GRAMMY U contest winners will perform original music. Catch a set by Jawan and stay for Infinity Song’s closing set.

Below, GRAMMY.com has gathered all of the information you need to get excited for the massive event.

GRAMMY U Welcomes Amazon Music

GRAMMY U has officially welcomed Amazon Music as a cornerstone partner. To kick off what will be an instrumental relationship, Amazon Music is proudly bringing their knowledge to the table as a presenter of the 2024 GRAMMY U Conference. Mastercard will also be returning as a participating sponsor for the event. GRAMMY U will kick off the conference with remarks from Ruby Marchand, Chief Awards and Industry Officer, Recording Academy;, Amazon Music's Global Head of Artist & Label Relations Andre Stapleton, and GRAMMY U Sr. Director Jessie Allen.

Hang With Ben Platt, The Star Of The Show

Starting the Saturday strong, Ben Platt will sit down with Beanie Feldstein to talk all about his storied career as an actor and singer ahead of his 18-date run at the Palace Theater in NYC, kicking off May 28th before his album release.

Growing up on the stage, Platt quickly became a leading force on Broadway, and has since shared his talents with the screen, starring in multiple films and TV series. Platt is also releasing music — his third album, Honeymind, drops May 31, beginning with an 18 date residency at the Palace Theatre in NYC followed by his national tour with special guest Brandy Clark this summer — and will discuss the significance of music within his various projects.

As the GRAMMY U Conference keynote speaker, Platt will share insights from the recording studio.

Share The Stage With Billy Porter

During a workshop, Billy Porter will share his best performance practices and advice for GRAMMY U members trying to make it big. Porter is no stranger to putting on a show, with over 30 years in the industry and numerous awards under his belt — and GRAMMY U is eager to learn and take guidance as they begin their music careers. Roy Gantz, GRAMMY U's National Membership Representative, will then take the stage and receive live performance coaching directly from Porter.

Making Music On Late Night TV With Remi Wolf & More

In a discussion moderated by talent booking pro Siobhan Schanda, members of "Late Night with Seth Meyers" will discuss bringing music to late-night television. The discussion will feature "Late Night" Associate Producer Yeji Cha-Beach and Marnie Stern, former guitarist for "Late Night" house band, the 8G Band and recording artist.

Singer/songwriter Remi Wolf, who performed recently on "The Late Show With Stephen Colbert," will also join the discussion. In anticipation of supporting Olivia Rodrigo’s GUTS World Tour and her upcoming sophomore album Big Ideas, Remi will discuss how a special performance like hers comes to life onscreen.

Learn What Happens Behind The Curtains

Have you ever wondered what happens behind the Broadway stage? This dynamic panel will highlight the brilliant minds that work to make the big show happen. Moderated by Michael Kushner, Founder and Creator of Michael Kushner Photography, hear from Broadway producers, directors, record label executives and more on how they put together a Broadway production behind the scenes. 

Panelists include renowned Broadway producer Christen James, Adam Hess of DR Theatrical Management, Pete Ganbarg, the President of A&R at Atlantic Records, and Erich Bergen, producer, actor and director at 6W Entertainment. From set design to marketing, this panel will reveal that whether on stage or behind the scenes, there's a place for every passion in the world of theater. 

Hear How Professionals Produce The Sounds Of Drama

In this panel, Broadway professionals will dive into the inner workings of theatrical sound in live theater, and how their expertise in Broadway audio production translates into other facets of the music industry. 

Experts Tom Winkler, Kurt Deustch, David Lai, and Kathy Sommer will detail the dynamic challenges that producers and composers must navigate to make productions possible. 

Learn How To Build Your Brand In The Career Center

At the start of the conference, attendees can learn from the experts and level up their profiles at the GRAMMY U Career Center. Learn how to present your best professional self, take a professional headshot, get a review of your resume from real recruiters in the industry, and network with professionals from Amazon Music, the Recording Academy and more. Networking mentors include AC Gottlieb, Asmita Khullar, Billy Seidman, Haley Bennett, Jameka Pankey, Jessica Fusco, John Ochoa, Leah Dowdy, Madeline Nelson, Nick Cucci, Nikisha Bailey, and Sarah Crane. So get there early and make the most out of your professional development at the GRAMMY U Conference!

Don’t forget to stop by the GRAMMY U Mixtape Listening station, too, and see the process behind how we select music for the GRAMMY U Mixtape every month.

Reserve Your Seat

Mark your calendars now, the 2024 GRAMMY U Conference will take place in New York City on Friday, April 19, and Saturday, April 20, and with more announcements to come, this is an event you surely won’t want to miss. Reserve your spot now with a RSVP.

For members who aren’t able to attend, the GRAMMY U Conference will be livestreamed on the Recording Academy’s YouTube and Twitch channels at 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. ET.

GRAMMY U Reps Experience GRAMMY Week Like Never Before Thanks To The Recording Academy & United Airlines

grammy u monthly member playlist updated look

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Press Play On GRAMMY U Mixtape: Dear Diary Monthly Member Playlist

The GRAMMY U Mixtape is a monthly, genre-spanning playlist to quench your thirst for new tunes, all from our talented members. Much like a diary entry, this month's mix of rock, alternative, and indie tracks reflect a range of emotions.

GRAMMYs/Apr 3, 2024 - 06:47 pm

Did you know that among all GRAMMY U members, songwriting and performance are some of the most sought after fields of study? This playlist dedicates a space to hear what these members are creating today!

The GRAMMY U Mixtape, now available for your listening pleasure, highlights the creations and fresh ideas that members are bringing to this industry directly on the Recording Academy's Spotify, Apple Music, and Amazon Music pages. Our goal is to celebrate GRAMMY U members, as well as the time and effort they put into making original music — from the songwriting process to the final production of the track.

Each month, we accept submissions and feature 15 to 25 songs that match each month’s theme. This month's curated mix of rock, alternative, and indie tracks that evoke a range of emotions from vengeance to hopefulness. So, what’s stopping you? Press play on GRAMMY U’s Mixtape and listen now on Spotify, Apple Music and Amazon Music.

Want to be featured on the next playlist? Submit your songs today! We are currently accepting submissions for songs of all genres for consideration for our May playlist. Whether you write pop, rock, hip-hop, jazz, or classical, we want to hear from you. Music must be written and/or produced by the member (an original song) and you must be able to submit a Spotify, Apple Music and/or Amazon Music link to the song. Artists must be a GRAMMY U member to submit.

About GRAMMY U:

GRAMMY U is a program that connects aspiring professionals and creatives ages 18-29 with the music industry's brightest and most talented minds. We provide a community for emerging professionals and creatives in addition to various opportunities and tools necessary to start a career in music. Throughout the program year, events and initiatives touch on all facets of the industry, including business, technology, and the creative process.

As part of the Recording Academy's mission to ensure the recorded arts remain a thriving part of our shared cultural heritage, GRAMMY U establishes the necessary foundation for music’s next generation to flourish.

Not a member, but want to submit to our playlist? Apply for GRAMMY U Membership here.

Former GRAMMY U Reps Heather Howard and Sophie Griffiths contributed to this article.

15 Must-Hear Albums In April 2024: Taylor Swift, Vampire Weekend, St. Vincent & More

Benson Boone performing at 2023 KCON
Benson Boone performs at KIIS FM's K-Pop Village at KCON LA in August 2023.

Photo: Tommaso Boddi/Getty Images

list

Get To Know Benson Boone, The "Beautiful Things" Singer & Rising Pop-Rock Sensation

As Benson Boone's erupting smash "Beautiful Things" continues to dominate Billboard's global charts, GRAMMY.com rounded up seven things to know about the budding star, from his reality TV roots to his rock star mentor.

GRAMMYs/Mar 15, 2024 - 08:25 pm

Benson Boone's swift rise to stardom has been a beautiful thing to witness. Over the past three years, the Monroe, Washington native has gone from viral TikTok influencer to one of Gen Z's most promising pop talents.

Remarkably, the 21-year-old pop-rock artist didn't even discover his voice until he reached high school, after his best friend asked him to play the piano in their school's battle of the bands competition and the singer dropped out at the last second. Boone found himself filling in, an impromptu decision that would unwittingly alter the course of his entire life.

"It's just like I unlocked something I didn't know I had," he mused recently to MTV. "And I stopped, like, halfway through the first verse and just looked around, and I was so shocked that I had just sang…It was, like, the best feeling of my life."

Cut to the present day, and Boone's voice has helped him soar to the top of multiple Billboard charts. His latest single "Beautiful Things," a desperate prayer of a love song that pinballs between warm, folksy verses and a rollicking chorus reminiscent of Freddie Mercury's electrifying vocals, has positively exploded since its January release. Boone's breakout hit has spent six consecutive weeks in the Top 10 of the Billboard Hot 100, peaking at No. 3 as of press time and topping both of Billboard's global charts for multi-week runs.

"My life has changed dramatically since the song came out," Boone reflected earlier this month in a sit-down with Variety. "It's so, so, so insane to me that this is happening. I'm trying so hard to formulate words. I have so much trouble processing it all right now…But when I sit back and look at what's happening, it really, truly blows my mind. Because it's something a lot of people dream of, and [I'm] one of those people."

Benson is steadfast in building on the runaway success of "Beautiful Things," too. The singer/songwriter's forthcoming debut album is expected some time later this year, and his just-announced Fireworks and Rollerblades World Tour kicks off April 3 in Chicago, with legs in North America, the U.K., Europe, Australia and New Zealand.

As Boone's rise to superstardom continues, GRAMMY.com rounded up everything you need to know about the buzzy star-in-the-making, from his brief stint on reality TV to the A-list rocker who's taken him under his wing.

He's A Proud "American Idol" Dropout

Before he became a rising star on the charts, Boone initially attempted to get his start in music on "American Idol." During Season 19, the then-18-year-old auditioned for the reality show with a piano-playing cover of Aidan Martin's 2017 single "Punchline" after producers came across his videos online.

Boone's jaw-dropping audition earned a standing ovation from judges Lionel Richie and Luke Bryan before Katy Perry confidently declared, "They're gonna swoon over Benson Boone." All three judges were baffled to learn that the teenager had only discovered his obvious musical talent the year before, and the "Roar" singer doubled down on her praise by predicting, "I'm gonna tell you something that you may not believe. But if you believe it, it might happen…I see you winning 'American Idol' if you want to."

"That is the biggest compliment I've ever gotten, thank you," a starstruck Boone replied. However, by the time Hollywood week rolled around, the fresh-faced teenager had apparently decided he didn't want to win the long-running reality competition, and withdrew after advancing to the Top 24. 

"The reason I quit 'American Idol' is because I wanted to do music," he explained a couple of years later during an appearance on The Zach Sang Show. "I don't want people to be like, 'Oh, Benson Boone, 'American Idol' blew him up. Like, that's where he comes from. No. I want to be Benson Boone 'cause I write smash hits and they love my music…I just didn't want that label on me."

He Has A Bonafide Rock Superstar For A Mentor

Part of Boone's success as a solo artist can be attributed to Dan Reynolds of Imagine Dragons, who came across the young talent and personally signed him to Night Street Records, the rock singer's own Warner Records imprint that has also boasted K.Flay on its exclusive roster, in 2021. 

"We sign artists so rarely at Night Street — it was one of those moments where you know you have no choice," the frontman told Billboard at the time Boone inked his record deal. "That's how I felt when I first sat in a recording booth with Benson. I'm excited for the world to get to know him the way I have these last months."

Since then, Reynolds has also served as a sort of industry mentor figure for Boone, as the burgeoning rocker explained in a 2023 interview promoting the release of his EP Pulse. "He makes you feel comfortable in your own skin, he's very gifted in that way," Boone told iHeartRadio Canada. "So working with him has been incredible, and him taking time for an artist very much smaller than him is just…he's a very kind soul. 

"I think that the main thing that he's taught me is that in this industry, everybody wants something different from you," he continued. "Everybody has a different outlook on yourself than you actually do. And regardless of what that is, you are the leader of your own career and your own life. You have to do things that make you happy, write music that you want to be writing, releasing things that you're proud of…He's just taught me to stick to my gut and just follow my own dreams."

His Earlier Singles Pack An Emotional Punch (No, Seriously, Grab Some Tissues)

The runaway success of "Beautiful Things" may have earned Boone's legions of newfound fans in the last two months, but it's actually not his biggest song on streaming platforms (at least just yet). Before his soul-baring folk-rock anthem was burning up charts around the world, the singer released his debut single "Ghost Town" and heartbreaking follow-up "In The Stars," both of which are included on his debut 2021 EP Walk Me Home… (As of press time, the former has more than 336 million streams on Spotify, and the latter has a whopping 617 million.)

Another smoldering torch song, "Ghost Town" became Boone's first official entry on the Hot 100 after it was released in October 2021. "Maybe you'd be happier with someone else/ Maybe loving me's the reason you can't love yourself/ Before I turn your heart into a ghost town/ Show me everything we build so I can tear it all down," he laments on the soaring chorus over a running piano line and booming, orchestral percussion.

On the heels of "Ghost Town," Boone then penned "In the Stars" in 2022 about the death of his beloved great-grandma. "That kind of loss can be more emotional and heartfelt than a relationship," he told Genius about the song's tender meaning. "I wanted to write about something that was real. It's something I've never really talked about or dealt face to face with. Songwriting is very new to me, and so I'm still learning that process of figuring out how to cope with something through a song. And I think this is kind of where that starts for me." 

Other pre-"Beautiful Things" tracks worth checking out in Boone's quickly blossoming discography include the addictive TikTok smash "Sugar Sweet," wistfully upbeat bop "Coffee Cake" and the introspective "What Was."

His Stage Presence Is Downright Acrobatic

Boone may be a relative newcomer in the music industry, but he's already developed a magnetic stage presence at his packed live shows. In fact, one of his signature tricks on stage is landing a backflip mid-song without so much as missing a beat.

To tease his upcoming world tour, the singer posted a clip of himself in late January belting out "What Was" in front of an ecstatic crowd. In the video, he impressively nails a flip before effortlessly transitioning right into the power ballad's bombastic climax, wailing, "Let me/ Start over/ The moment that I left you in tears/ Is a mem'ry that will haunt me for years/ And years and years and years and years."

"My dad is 49 years old and still backflips, I get it from him," the singer confessed to Australian outlet The Project on his first trip Down Under in the fall of 2022. "I always thought he was, like, the coolest…but yeah, I've been flipping since I was, like, four and it's just always been my thing."

He Has Roots In Mormonism

Boone grew up in small-town Washington as the only boy in a Mormon family with four sisters. He's never really spoken publicly about growing up in the clean-cut, high-demand religion, but he actually briefly attended Brigham Young University—Idaho, the Mormon university in Rexburg, for a semester before pausing his education to focus on music.

Mormonism is a trait he coincidentally shares with his mentor Reynolds, who's been outspoken throughout his career about his Mormon background and actually got kicked out of Brigham Young University around the same time he formed Imagine Dragons. 

While Boone grew up outside the "Book of Mormon Belt" — the geographic area that radiates from Mormonism's Salt Lake City headquarters to include parts of Idaho, Arizona, Nevada, Colorado, Wyoming and even southern Alberta, Canada — his Mormon roots have shown up in his music in subtle ways. He even filmed the official music video for "Beautiful Things" against the majestic backdrop of the red rock bluffs outside St. George, Utah (which just so happens to be this writer's hometown!).

He Serves As His Own Creative Team

Boone's creative side extends beyond the realm of music: he's also a talented artist who often draws the cover art for his own singles. When "Ghost Town" was released in 2021, he showed off his skills by sketching the song's artwork for Spotify's Today's Top Hits — even admitting it was his first time attempting to draw a self-portrait with charcoal.

"I've always loved drawing and painting," Boone said of his artistic flair in a 2023 interview, also noting that he designs all his own merchandise. "I get that from my dad…My dad's, like, a crazy artist, he's so good. And so it's kinda just always been something that I've done."

He's An Avid Rollerblader

As the name of his upcoming Fireworks and Rollerblades World Tour would suggest, Boone is both a self-proclaimed adrenaline junkie and has a not-so-secret passion for rollerblading. In fact, the singer's TikTok feed is littered with videos of himself landing tricks, stunts and, of course, flips on wheels in between the requisite promo material teasing new music like his upcoming single "Slow It Down," footage from live shows and other viral TikTok content.

What other tricks does Benson Boone have up his sleeve for the rest of 2024? Judging by his meteoric chart success thus far, the world is eagerly waiting to find out.

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