Photo: Gabriel Chiu
NIKI Is Ready To Reveal Her True Self On 'Nicole': "I Have A Better Idea Of Who I Am And Who I Want To Be"
One of 88rising's most promising rising acts, NIKI has gone from self-made YouTube artist to a history-making star. On her second album 'Nicole,' the singer reintroduces herself while paying homage to her roots.
Growing up, Indonesian singer NIKI didn't see many mainstream artists that she could relate to. But that didn't stop her from pursuing her dreams.
Born Nicole Zefanya, NIKI taught herself to play guitar and write songs, eventually winning a contest to open for Taylor Swift at age 15. She first posted her music to YouTube in 2014, quickly garnering more than 40,000 followers. Fast forward eight years, and the now 23-year-old NIKI boasts over a billion streams, is headlining her own tour, and recently became the first Indonesian artist to perform at Coachella — cementing herself as a star.
Now based in the U.S. and signed to Asian-American management company 88rising, NIKI is working to change the entertainment landscape for her fellow aspiring young artists who had to pave their own way. Not only does her sound evolve with each new project — blending pop, alternative and R&B — but NIKI has full creative control, writing, recording and producing her own music.
NIKI's self-made journey has amounted to her self-titled album, Nicole. Due Aug. 12, the project feels like a journey from her upbringing to now, thanks to autobiographical songs like "Before" and "High School in Jakarta." Plus, the album is made up of re-recordings of her YouTube clips, showing both her growth and the prowess she's had as a songwriter since the start.
Ahead of the release of Nicole, GRAMMY.com spoke to NIKI via Zoom to discuss her inspirations, hopes and next steps of her career.
You wrote the song "Oceans & Engines" when you were 17. There's a lot of other songs on Nicole that you recorded years ago. Why did you want to re-record them for this album?
During the pandemic, I sat with myself and did a deep dive of all of these songs and kind of did an audit of my life, essentially, and my music. And I had this realization that I still very much relate and resonate with all of this old music. It represented me in a way that the music I put out thus far has not, in a way. I wanted to show my fans that side of me that I think has been hidden for a while.
"Before" and "Oceans & Engines" were the first two singles from the album. Why did they feel like the right songs to release first?
Essentially, I'm telling the story in reverse chronology. So "Before" is the end, and "Oceans & Engines" is sort of the middle of the story. "High School," is the last one that's not out yet. It's sort of like the start of everything. I'm just trying to piece together a timeline through the music.
I can tell that you're a really good songwriter. What goes into your process when you're writing a song?
Usually, I will start with a lyric bank — it's a note in my Notes app that I keep adding to whenever I have a thought or a lyric idea. And usually I parse through that note, and start singing random melodies with whatever lyric I choose from that note. It normally starts with me freestyling melodies while I play guitar or while I have Logic open.
Has that process changed over the years?
Absolutely. I think I'm also completely generalizing when I say that it normally starts like that. It's changed for sure. I'm a much better producer than I was when I was 17. It started with GarageBand and a really cheap mic. Honestly I still absolutely prefer cheap mics.
Do you have any musical inspirations or any songwriters that you look up to?
Taylor Swift was pretty formative. Lyrically, I looked up to her a lot. Now, I look up to people like Phoebe Bridgers, musically and sonically.
I also have been listening to a lot of Beck. That's not something that I was conscious of until recently — I guess I've been like, unconsciously or passively listening to Beck over the years. But he's awesome.
I also grew up with a lot of R&B as well, which is a different end of the spectrum. I grew up with a lot of different influences.
So how would you describe the sound or genre of this album?
I would say organic alt, nostalgic pop.
I feel like we got a good sense of your upbringing from this album, especially songs like "High School in Jakarta," "Before," etc. Is this kind of nostalgia intentional?
Yes, absolutely. It's paying tribute to younger me that put up music — I sort of feel like I owe it to her to publish these songs.
So what do you think this album really tells listeners about you?
That I feel too much. I am a serial feeler. I just love feeling things, is what I've discovered about myself over the years. I have no problem feeling sad, feeling angry, feeling whatever. I have friends that are confused by that.
It makes me feel alive to be in touch with my emotions. The best way I know how to externalize all of it is through writing and music. And so that's kind of what I did with this record.
Is there a song that has a really interesting or memorable story?
"Oceans & Engines" was done as I was taking a nap. I was at the producer's house. We were working on the song, and I just was so incredibly sleepy that day, I fell asleep.
He worked on it for three hours. It was done when I woke up, and I was like, "It's perfect. I have no notes." I call it my Sleeping Beauty song. [Laughs.]
How does this album differ from your debut album, Moonchild?
I think Moonchild was a very important step towards me figuring out what I liked musically. What's great about being with 88rising is that they have never really dictated what my sound should be. I always had free rein and control over what I wanted musically.
I started so young. I was 18, and I didn't really know what I wanted. I knew what I liked, and what I like changed, and kept changing over the years. I'm not saying that I've landed on [a] style forever.
Moonchild was more exploratory, I would say. This one feels a little bit more settled. I feel like I have a better idea of who I am and who I want to be now.
How did growing up in Jakarta affect your artistry?
Jakarta was always extremely, uh, Indonesia. I think generally, everyone was so warm, and so friendly and alive. Nobody was jaded. Now living in the States, and coming back home every now and then, it's so interesting to be immersed in the spirit of truly just being happy to be alive.
I grew up in church, with my mom singing. Every Saturday, our house was the place where they would rehearse for Sunday service. So I always was around music.
It absolutely formed my tendencies, my sensibilities, my taste, what I gravitate to. Even the melodies in church formed what I like and gravitate to. That's a recent thing I discovered about myself.
I read that representation is important to you. Did you have any Asian or Indonesian people you looked up to growing up?
It's kind of a loaded answer, but yes and no. There were definitely artists that my mother listened to, that my family listened to, that I liked and admired growing up.
But also, in terms of what, I guess, I defined as success was being on the international stage. So, transparently, as an Asian person, I didn't really see much of myself growing up.
I think now is a really electric time for Asians in general. It's been really exciting to be a part of it and see it transformed [from] how it was literally only like 15 to 20 years ago.
Who are some Asian artists you're digging now?
I obviously love BLACKPINK. They're just awesome. They're like the Asian Spice Girls.
I've been listening to a lot of Indonesian artists as well. I think music has developed so much from back then, with the internet and people learning from one another through, like, globalization and YouTube. The music has just transformed.
All that to say, I really love this artist in Indonesia. His name is Tulus. He makes amazing music. And there's this girl named Nadin Amizah, who makes really beautiful music as well. Constantly shouting them out because they're awesome.
With all that you've accomplished already, are there any goals you're still looking to achieve? Or anything you're looking forward to doing?
Honestly, [the] tour is a big goal. I really am curious to see what it's like to tour for months on end. I've always seen other artists that I look up to do that, and just feel so connected to the fans and feel so connected to themselves through that experience.
So yeah, touring — and adding a second garden bed in my backyard.
Press Play At Home: Singer And Producer Scarlet Parke Manifests Her Dreams In Immersive New Single, "369"
The self-produced soul-pop singer channels retro jazz vocals and a mesmerizing beat in a performance of her new single, "369." The song details how Parke set intentions and carefully laid the foundation for her dreams to come true.
Scarlet Parke blends luminous, Amy Winehouse-inspired jazz vocals with a danceable pop beat in her performance of "369." The brand-new single chronicles Parke's experience of manifesting her dreams through journaling, growth and gratitude.
In this episode of Press Play At Home, Parke pairs her new song with a mesmerizing throwback look. Standing at a microphone against a bright red background, Parke dons a corseted, off-the-shoulder jumpsuit that’s part rockabilly and part Marilyn Monroe. She rounds out the visual with a retro cateye and a flared, fringed haircut.
Parke's aesthetic reflects her use of genres; her style incorporates soul and jazz elements, with a healthy dash of feel-good pop. It’s a signature blend that she created herself, signing on to her musical projects as a self-made producer in order to create the music she hears in her head, down to the last detail.
"I’ve been holding onto some of the songs on my upcoming album for as long as nine years. I’ve just been searching for the right producer, and it was me the whole time," she says of her creative process, underscoring the gender imbalance in the industry. Currently, only two percent of music producers are women.
"It’s been a journey and I really want to talk about how women are treated in the industry. I really want to talk about how important it is that women support each other more than ever," Parke continues. "There’s nothing like the freedom that I’ve felt producing my own music."
That freedom allowed her to tackle a deeply personal subject in "369": how journaling and self-manifestation helps her fulfill her dreams.
"Three, six, nine are divine numbers, and I journal a lot using the '369 Method.' In the morning you write something down three times, in the afternoon six times and at night nine times," Parke explains. "You envision it, you feel it, you experience gratitude and you receive it. I’ve had a lot of really cool experiences because of it, and that’s what this song is about."
"369" comes off of Parke’s upcoming album, Simulation, and she has described it as the heart of the record. Press play on the video above to watch Parke’s full performance of her self-realized new song, and keep checking back to GRAMMY.com for more new episodes of Press Play at Home.
Photo: James Goodwin
Bonny Light Horseman's New Album 'Rolling Golden Holy' Is The Voltron Of Folk Music
Folk supergroup Bonny Light Horseman's ambitious new album, 'Rolling Golden Holy,' is out Oct. 7. Anaïs Mitchell, Eric D. Johnson and Josh Kaufman spoke with GRAMMY.com about mining the breadth of folk music and harnessing their collective superpowers.
"Form feet and legs! Form arms and torso! And I'll form the head!"
That line of dialogue frequently appeared in ‘80s kids cartoon "Voltron," where Voltron Lions created the giant robot Voltron. For musical supergroup Bonny Light Horseman — the trio of Anaïs Mitchell, Eric D. Johnson (Fruit Bats) and Josh Kaufman (Muzz, Craig Finn, the National) — songwriting is not too different. They especially used that collaborative method while writing their sophomore album, Rolling Golden Holy, which is out Oct. 7.
"We form the Voltron robot with each of our individual strengths," says Johnson during a recent interview with Mitchell and Kaufman. "Voltron is a mega robot that was formed by smaller, powerful robots."
"We’re certainly not a baseball team," he continues, citing Holy's "Summer Dream." "We don't have defined roles in how we collaborate on a song, but that song was one where I think we each did our thing. That is, we were like 'Here's my superpower.'"
The song is hypnotizing with a jazzy, breezy melody, and reflects the album’s contemplative themes of looking back, looking forward and longing for something. Mitchell recalls Kaufman playing it on the piano at Aaron Dessner’s Long Pond studio and later returning to "Summer Dream," hoping to work on it in a different way.
"With this one, we just were throwing lyric lines out there on the floor at the recording room, and then singing them, and it got just right. There couldn't be any other word," Mitchell says of their sessions at Hudson, NY-based Long Pond studio and at Dreamland Recording, an old church in Hurley, NY. "We really all were in there imaginatively, even in some of those lyrics.
Produced by Kaufman, Rolling Golden Holy follows their 2020 self-titled debut, which was nominated for Best Folk Album and Best American Roots Performance at the 63rd GRAMMY Awards.
Unlike that album, which pulls from folk music’s rich history, the new material are all originals that pay homage to traditional folk while expanding and building the genre in new directions. Bonny Light Horseman also kept collaboration with others minimal, only featuring drummer JT Bates and bassist/saxophonist Mike Lewis.
GRAMMY caught up with the trio to learn about their eventful year, and how their growth as individuals and as a band helped lead them through new — but still familiar — folk terrain.
The band has had a busy year so far. What's one of your favorite stories of late from touring?
ANAÏS MITCHELL: We got to open a whole tour for Bon Iver in June, basically like a month run. That was fun to just hang out with that band and it felt really fun to play on their stages. I had my little 2-year-old along on this. She loved the band. But she loved Eric and Josh. She always asks about them. We actually had a pretty epic time together.
ERIC D. JOHNSON: Josh K, when we saw Rosetta in the UK, she was very confused that you weren't there, but I was. I think she thinks that we live together like Bert and Ernie.
JOSH KAUFMAN: Oh, I love that. We started our June tour with a bunch of traveling COVID cancellation things. A bunch of drama happened. Our first bassist got COVID. Then it was also my wife. And then our friend Michael Mendes, who was going to come and sub for her, travel got messed up and he couldn't get up in time.
Then we had to have a third bassist, this guy Jake Silver come in, and it was just kind of frantic, fun energy of trying to cram all this music into his head right before we went on stage.
It was at Levon Helm's Barn, and if you're going to have a moment like that, I hope you're in a space that feels that relaxed and cool and welcoming. It ended up being really joyful and cool and just an awesome show the first night of the tour where everything kind of "went wrong" but then flipped and went so right.
It sounds like the writing and recording of the album was much more collaborative compared to the band’s debut. How did the tighter chemistry and increased confidence help you explore folk music?
MITCHELL: I don't think this record is more collaborative, it's just different in that we were relying on a lot of traditional material the first time around, and this one is an original record. It was a lot more us dreaming things up together.
KAUFMAN: From a recording aspect…we were with our rhythm section, JT Bates and Mike Lewis. It was just the five of us, whereas the first record was a much different environment; it was like at our first residence in Berlin where there were like lots of people to pull in and collaborate with. This was a much more sort of closed setting and that probably is the biggest difference in recording.
Everyone in the group helped push each other out of their comfort zones to some degree. Why was that an important process?
JOHNSON: I wouldn't even call it a comfort zone, but I think [it's] almost better described as bringing different things out of each other. When you're just going at it alone, you have your method. It’s just we all three are really hard workers and each have a completely different style, as just anybody would. The cliched answer is we're learning from each other, but it's totally true.
"Gone by Fall," I'd never written a song like that. If I was writing that song by myself and not the three of us, I wouldn't have done it that way. We refer to it as improv comedy. It’s like you answer, "Yes," and then say, "and let's try this, too." But I've never felt outside of my comfort zone because this is just a comfortable band, but maybe outside of my normal zone, I guess you could say.
MITCHELL: I feel emboldened. I think we all trust each other's instincts a lot and it means a lot. With this band, I started to play my guitar in an open tuning. I never really had done that, but Josh Kaufman showed me how, and there's a lot of times where Josh will come up with a rhythm guitar part, but he'll want to be free to improvise so he's like, "Anais, play this." And I'm like, "I can't play that." And he's like, "Actually, you can." [Laughs]
And then it turns out I can. This is just another way of saying it's not where I would intuitively go, but it's totally within the wheelhouse.
There's a dulcimer on this record, which was an inspiration. I'm not sure whose idea it was but we all had to play dulcimer on this record at some point. I'd never picked up a dulcimer in my life, but I felt emboldened by the guys encouraging us all to do it.
KAUFMAN: It's interesting because it's not an instrument that I necessarily see us touring with, the bass dulcimer but it is a really nice metaphor for the center of the sort of creative process of this band. It's like, "No, no, you can get in on this." [Laughs]
You just have to come with your experiences almost, you know, and it's folk music, so don't sweat it. It's not a lot of chords and you can just hop in any old way. And I say that because this instrument is tuned modally, and it's tuned diatonically to another key the song is in, so you're safe. All rivers lead to the same place, which is you're making a cool, zingy sound in a song. The three of us found a different way into this instrument and used it as a textural expander on the record.
Anais, you mentioned in your previous interview with GRAMMY that one of the biggest goals for the album was not to overthink things. Why was that important and how have recent projects factored into that mindset?
MITCHELL: It’s interesting because this is our second record and the first record we made we almost didn't know we were making it. [Laughs]
It was almost a field recording. And then we put it out there in the universe not knowing if anyone would respond to it, and we were pretty surprised and really grateful for the people who actually gave a s— about the music that we were making.
We just want to stay in the flow and that's what this record really is. We love to think that we made it in the pandemic. We weren't touring the songs; we weren't testing stuff out on the road. We just kind of went in a new direction and laid this stuff down.
JOHNSON: Josh's production style has a minimalist, maximalist process a little bit. He finds the thing and…he’s thinking very hard about it, but he makes it feel like we're not when we're in there. He finds the thing and he's like, "Here's the thing. Go chase that thing."
You can cross the threshold where you're trying so hard that you're trying to try. You're in your head and you can really spend a lot of time in a studio in that environment if you don't steer around those things, so a lot of it is like navigating things.
Josh, as a producer, it seems like one of the things you strove for was giving enough sonic space for all the different elements to breathe naturally. Why is it important, that process?
KAUFMAN: It’s kind of getting the lighting right and the feeling in the room right. That room is something that you're going to then take with you everywhere you listen to that, so it's like a movable venue. I think of this as a new kind of vocal music and even though there's quite a bit of space between the vocals.
A lot of it is framing that stuff, and often Eric and Anais are singing together in the room live, so there's getting that balance right. I feel like the sort of charm of the blend is the fact that they're not too altered and they're just two lead vocals, basically.
MITCHELL: This music is different [from] what I would do on other projects in that it's committed to a kind of impressionism lyrically. Equally important is the brass and the bass to process those images in, not silence, but to be carried on this river of music, and not to fill all the spaces to tell the truth. I love that this band prioritizes that kind of space.
The music is deceptively simple, and it creates this [space] that a lot of exploring can happen, and that that can be different every night, and that's what keeps it feeling alive.
The creation of the song "California" was quite a journey. What was it like seeing that song change so drastically from inception to finished product?
JOHNSON: It started off as a little bit more like a modal folk tune…It was almost like a banjo or fiddle song. It had this very modal, sort of Dock Boggs spooky folk music vibe to it. We worked on that for a good long while and it wasn't bad sounding, but it was just one of those where you're just like, "I don't know why, but this isn't it."
It was crooked. Rhythmically, too crooked, and then melodically and tonally, a little too... not dark, but emotionally ambiguous. We usually like emotionally ambiguous, but it was too emotionally ambiguous. And then maybe 75 percent the way through, we added these major key chords…It was the kind of thing where I think if we'd started with those big, bold simple major chords, I don't know if we would have [gone in that direction.]
JOHNSON: I feel like the breakthrough happened when we hit those chords and then the lyrics were just written that afternoon, too. Once we had the breakthrough with those chords, then lyrically it was a little bit of a roadmap.
Speaking of lyrical roadmap, "California" is a bit of a thematic detour. What was the inspiration for that one?
JOHNSON: So many songs are about heading west and this myth of the wagons heading west riding into the sunset, and the song is a little bit like the opposite. It's leaving the west, leaving this land of promise for the old world.
The lyrics are meaningful, but there's impressionistic aspects to them too, where you could apply your own meaning. We've introduced the new world a little bit into it, but also we're questioning our place in the new world or something like that.
Another thoughtful song is "Summer Dream," where the band explores this theme of the ghost of summer. What about that theme fascinated you?
KAUFMAN: It’s like a thing that you maybe didn't even want but you can't stop thinking about it. And it keeps on coming back.
MITCHELL: There's that amazing Leonard Cohen song, "Chelsea Hotel," where he sings this entire song about this woman. Then he's like, "That's all. I don't even think of you that often." It's like, "Okay, but you did write an entire song about her."
JOHNSON: That's one of the favorite love songs where he's just like, "See if I care." And he's like, "Yeah, but I just wrote a whole song about it."
Beyond this upcoming tour, what goals do you have for the band?
JOHNSON: Touring has been so crazy this year. We're planning the tours and we're excited about that, presenting the songs. But I think we're always just working towards "hey, let's do this so we can keep doing more, keep making more music." We're excited to get going again.
MITCHELL: I'm excited for us to just surprise ourselves. I have no idea what our third record would be. I'm excited to surprise ourselves.
Honoring The Legacy Of Loretta Lynn: Jeannie Seely, Amanda Shires, Ingrid Andress, Connie Smith & The Oak Ridge Boys Pay Tribute
Country icon Loretta Lynn died on Oct. 4, months after her 90th birthday. The multiple GRAMMY winner and Lifetime Achievement Award recipient's influence ricochets through the decades. In a roundtable tribute, Lynn's peers and fans reflect on her legacy.
Country music lost one of its singular icons with the passing of Loretta Lynn, who died on Oct. 4 just months after her 90th birthday.
A creative beacon for singers and songwriters who was also beloved by fans, Lynn’s deep influence ricochets through the decades. Her work and life is an example of a true artist who sang from her heart, preached empowerment and gave voice to the voiceless.
A self-taught artist who was born into poverty, Lynn later became known as the Coal Miner’s Daughter — the title of her signature hit and her first song inducted into the GRAMMY Hall of Fame in 1998. The artist received a slew of GRAMMY honors during her lifetime, with three wins and eighteen nominations in addition to a Lifetime Achievement Award bestowed on her in 2010.
"It has been a privilege for the Recording Academy to honor Loretta throughout her illustrious career and celebrate her contributions to the music community," said Recording Academy CEO Harvey Mason Jr. "Loretta has had an indelible impact on country music and her voice will continue to resonate with generations of music lovers for years to come."
Lynn's first GRAMMY honor came during the ninth-ever GRAMMY Awards in 1967, with a nomination for "Don’t Come Home A Drinkin'," an upbeat track where she tells her husband to sober up, famously crooning, "liquor and love just don’t mix." Her first GRAMMY win arrived in 1972 for "After the Fire Has Gone," a duet with fellow country legend Conway Twitty.
"The main thing about country music is that I love to sing it and there’s a lot of people who love to hear it," she said during her acceptance speech after her most recent GRAMMY win, this one for Best Country Album in 2005 for Van Lear Rose, a collaboration with Jack White. It was a succinct way to encapsulate a seismic career.
In tribute to Lynn, GRAMMY.com gathered a disparate group of Loretta’s peers and fans to reflect on her legacy.
The Trailblazin’ Queen Of Country
Jeannie Seely (GRAMMY-winning singer, Grand Ole Opry legend): As an artist/songwriter, her impact will be felt and studied by historians for years to come. Aside from being such a legendary artist, Loretta was my Opry sister, a connection that has always meant the world to me. That is a special bond to us as we’ve all shared the same dreams, same disappointments, the same personal challenges, and, most of all, the same love of the Grand Ole Opry.
Joe Bosnall (GRAMMY-winning member of The Oak Ridge Boys): She was truly the Queen of country music. One of the greatest American success stories of all time. Humble beginnings to iconic legend, with a meaningful career and body of work that may never be equaled.
Sunny Sweeney (Country singer-songwriter): Loretta Lynn was a trailblazer for all of us following in her footsteps, making it ok to write and sing about real-life situations, even if they weren't always pretty.
Ingrid Andress (GRAMMY-nominated singer/songwriter): There are not enough words to thank Loretta Lynn as one of the first to make a path for women in country to ride on. She paved the way for so many by sharing her talent and voice at a time when women’s voices weren’t being heard. May we be so lucky as to have artists and songwriters continue this country music tradition of sharing the stories that unite us in the most important ways.
Connie Smith (GRAMMY-nominated singer-songwriter): Loretta was always my favorite singer and a great friend.
Rita Wilson (Actress, singer): She was smart, she was strong and she was kind. As she said, "I ain’t got much education but I got some sense."
"Grace, With Vocals That Sounded Like A Million Bucks"
Amanda Shires (GRAMMY-winning singer-songwriter, member of The Highwoman): My grandad listened to a lot of music. When we’d go selling flowers (he was a wholesale nursery man), one of the artists he loved to play was Loretta Lynn. I admire the way he loved fearless women. Loretta was fearless. Both Garland Shires and Loretta Lynn helped me learn how to lean into my gut feelings and strength inside my own self. And I’m grateful that he introduced me to her music."
Connie Smith: The first time I came to Nashville I went to the Ernest Tubb Record shop and a guy said my wife wants to meet you and it was Loretta. She said "I heard you up there and you’re going to make it. I’m going to do for you what Patsy Cline did for me." She even brought me out on stage for the Grand Ole Opry during her show for the first time.
Sunny Sweeney: She was such an inspiration to me personally. I carry the words of advice she gave me many years ago to every writing appointment: "Just write what you know, baby, just write what you know."
Joe Bosnall: I joined the Oak Ridge Boys 49 years ago and right away we found ourselves on a Loretta Lynn CBS special. We wore these checkered coats that exist today in Loretta’s museum. I thought she was beautiful, gracious and kind. That never changed over the years.
Sierra Hull (Bluegrass singer, guitarist and mandolinist): I first saw Loretta perform six or seven years ago from backstage at the Grand Ole Opry in Nashville. I was so struck by how gorgeous she was in her long, flowing, red sequined dress. I couldn’t stop watching her as she took the stage with such grace and her vocals still sounded like a million bucks. I’ll never forget it. I went home and started obsessing over her albums with a fresh excitement.
Michael Trotter (Singer-songwriter, The War And Treaty): Growing up, in my bedroom was my grandmother's old school ACME radio. FM was happening back then....playing all the latest in Hip Hop and R&B. AM played all the religious stuff like Moody Bible. But at night the classic country western music played all night long. Mama rigged my radio to only play that AM station and I went to sleep to Loretta Lynn nightly.
Rita Wilson: You didn’t have to be from the south to love Loretta Lynn. Her force of talent reached me as a young woman in another kind of south, Southern California. To hear a woman singing "You Ain't Woman Enough To Take My Man" was shocking. It was the ultimate diss track and ahead of its time. She enabled women to have a voice literally and metaphorically. It was so empowering to hear this in a song.
A Discography Of Country Classics
Jeannie Seely: My favorite song is "Blue Kentucky Girl." It’s so sincere you have to believe every word she’s singing because she makes you feel it. And anyone can relate it to wherever they are from, like I did.
Connie Smith: I love all of her songs, but my favorite is "Here I Am Again."
Michael Trotter: The first song I ever heard from Loretta was back in the '80s.... "Don’t Come Home A Drinkin'." In fact when Daddy would come home drunk and he and Mama were fighting I’d go in their room and start singing that song to Daddy and they’d actually stop fighting. That’s when I knew she had super angelic powers. I will never forget the first time I ever heard her.
Joe Bosnall: [My favorite Loretta song is] "Don’t Come Home A Drinkin'." Every man alive knew what that meant.
Amanda Shires: "The songs I love the most are the ones I can relate to the most: "Don’t Come Home a Drinkin'," "The Pill." She was pro-choice. And when I read that in her memoir, I thought, amen…glad there’s more of us than I thought."
Sunny Sweeney: "She was already my queen with her music from her first single on, but when she released Van Lear Rose she was placed on the highest of high pedestals. "Miss Being Mrs" is quite possibly one of the greatest songs of all time."
Rita Wilson: [My favorite song is] "Coal Miner’s Daughter." My dad was an immigrant and came to America on a freighter ship where he shoveled the coal powering the boat’s engines. Loretta seemed to be singing about my family.
Loretta’s family didn’t have a lot of money but they were happy and they had love. She sang about her life with pride, not embarrassment. In this song she embraced the values that are important in life: family, love, hard work and a spiritual life.
Tanya Trotter (Singer-songwriter, The War And Treaty): "You Ain’t Woman Enough To Take My Man" was my first song [of Loretta Lynn's that I loved]. It was the most classy way I had ever heard a woman tell another woman off, ha!
Hard Hitting And Meaningful
Joe Bosnall: She wrote songs that were hard hitting and meaningful. Great Britain lost their long reigning Queen and now we have lost OUR Queen as well.
Tanya Trotter: She leaves this world with no regret, no recourse or no shame and we’ll work hard on earth's playground with her in memory.
Amanda Shires: I’m grateful for the times I got to be in her presence or sing for her. We’re all in a better world because of her. Loretta will always remain a hero and a light.
Sunny Sweeney: I'm so brokenhearted that we have lost another of my heroes. My deepest sympathy is with Miss Loretta's family.
Photo: courtesy of artist
Behind The Board: Nashville Producer Jordan Brooke Hamlin Explains Why She Leads With "Curiosity" And Take Risks In The Studio
Hamlin reflects on the complex relationship between artist and producer, and shares an experience that taught her to leave extra room for creativity in her recording sessions.
Nashville fixture Jordan Brooke Hamlin has produced records for artists including Danni Nicholls, Missy Higgins, Rachel Yamagata, and GRAMMY-winning duo Indigo Girls — and she's been a multi-instrumentalist and a touring and studio musician for more than a decade and a half.
Indeed, music is in Hamlin's blood, as she explains in this episode of Behind the Board.
"My parents loved music so much, and that I think is such a gift," she says, speaking from the residential, women-owned Nashville studio Møxe. "I honestly don't remember a time that it wasn't a given that I would do music. Or musician and botanist. Those were the two options in my mind."
Inspired by her parents' musical tastes, Hamlin grew up loving the immersive albums of the late 1960s and early '70s — and today, she applies that holistic approach to her studio work.
"I really love working with artists over the course of their career and exploring different spaces and different depths they can go to every time," she explains. "I probably come into the room starting with curiosity. I'm wanting to get their GPS coordinates. I want to know where they are, what they love right now, what they loved growing up, what their sauce is."
She's also always learning, thanks largely to the creative minds she surrounds herself with when she steps into a recording session. For example, she points to one session with a group of artists, when the team started improvising an arrangement in real time.
"We're coming up with this incredible arrangement on the fly," Hamlin recounts, "and we were talking about how that's a risk, to not go in with an arrangement, and only in a certain space would it be like, 'Yeah, let's take an hour' — which was probably what it would have taken anyway to record it — and everybody had so much fun."
"I thought it was a good reminder to me to leave space not just for engineering, but we're here to capture people playing their instruments to a high degree, and their creativity manifest," she concludes.
Press play on the video above for more reflections and insights from Hamlin, and keep checking GRAMMY.com for more new episodes of Behind the Board.