meta-scriptNoah Kahan's Big Year: How The "Stick Season" Singer Became A Folk-Pop Hero | GRAMMY.com
Noah Kahan's Big Year: How The "Stick Season" Singer Became A Folk-Pop Hero
Noah Kahan

Photo: Aysia Marotta

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Noah Kahan's Big Year: How The "Stick Season" Singer Became A Folk-Pop Hero

On the heels of announcing an arena and stadium tour for 2024, Noah Kahan revisits some of the biggest moments that have led to it, from going viral with "Stick Season" to collaborating with Post Malone.

GRAMMYs/Oct 9, 2023 - 05:30 pm

In July 2019, Noah Kahan made a promise to his fans via Twitter: "I prolly won't sell out Madison square garden, or even all the shows on my tour but I'll keep writing songs for you all for as long as you'll have me."

Four years later, he's made good on his word about continuing to write songs. But he's also proved himself wrong; not only has the Vermont-born star sold out his entire 2023 tour, but 2024 will see him play a sold-out Madison Square Garden — twice.

While Kahan himself asserts that he's always had a "very dedicated" fan base — whether from his days of posting to SoundCloud and YouTube or since he signed with Republic Records in 2017 – he admits he still finds it hard to process the level to which it's grown. "It's f—ing unbelievable," he says. "It feels so fake that it's almost like, the more time I spend thinking about it, the more abstract it becomes."

His humility is a large part of his appeal (as well as his sense of humor, both on Twitter and on stage), which carries into his folk-pop music. It's matched with extreme vulnerability, as Kahan has been open about his struggles with mental health. Even one of his biggest hits has revealing lyrics: "So I thought that if I piled something good on all my bad/ That I could cancel out the darkness I inherited from Dad," he sings the second verse of "Stick Season."

"Stick Season" became Kahan's breakout song in 2022, first making waves on social media — catching the attention of stars like Zach Bryan and Maisie Peters — and earning him his first radio hit. Its namesake album earned Kahan top 5 spots on Billboard's Top Alternative Albums, Top Rock Albums and Top Rock & Alternative Albums charts in October 2022, but it was the 2023 deluxe edition that really showed his trajectory: all 18 tracks debuted on Billboard Hot Rock & Alternative Charts, making him one of only five artists to ever land 18 songs on the chart in one week. 

Kahan's disbelief in his success is only going to continue into the new year, as his 2024 tour will also include L.A.'s Hollywood Bowl and two nights at Boston's Fenway Park. At this rate, he's seemingly on his way to Taylor Swift-level stardom — though, as he jokes, three-hour shows will never be in the cards: "From a physical health standpoint, this is as big as it can get."

In the midst of his Stick Season Tour, Kahan reminisced on the wild ride he's been on for the past 18 months. Below, he details seven of his most career-defining moments to date. 

Watching "Stick Season" Blow Up

I wrote the song in 2020 and I posted the first verse and the chorus [on social media] the next morning. It was kind of an awkward time, because I had another album coming out right after that video was posted [2021's I Was / I Am] , and I had to promote that, and people were like, "What about that other song?" I'd be at shows and people would be like, "Play 'Stick Season'!"

I started to play it live, which is really what stoked the fire in terms of us realizing that it could be a big song. I played it in Syracuse, New York — and we hadn't posted any snippets besides what I would do on my Instagram Lives, or I'd perform it here and there on social media. Everyone in the room knew every single word to it. That was the song that got the biggest reaction all night, and it was a song that wasn't even out yet. That definitely opened my eyes to the desire for that song to be out in the world. 

A lot of my set at the time was more pop-leaning, and this song is definitely more folk-leaning. I could really see the desire for sing-along folk anthems after that performance. [I remember] talking to my team and being like, "I think this song is gonna be around for a long time."

It gave confidence to something that I had been trying to do for a long time, even subconsciously. I think I was always making folk music, and I would always gravitate toward those songs, but a part of me would be like, This isn't who you are, you make pop. So I would stay away from it. 

It took this one song — and playing it the way that I wanted to, and having people really respond — it opened my eyes to the audience that I didn't realize was there. It also opened my eyes to that confidence in myself that really comes through in this kind of songwriting. It let me look at folk music and storytelling as a bigger focus in my life instead of something that I did for fun or in the privacy of my home.

Seeing The Success Of Stick Season

When I was a kid, I would write my name on a blank CD, and I'd put it next to my Green Day CD, and I would pretend that we were the same. For a second it feels real, but it's really not.

Seeing my name on the charts and in conversations with all of these incredible famous artists, it kind of gave me the same feeling where I felt like, This just can't be real — I must be back in my childhood bedroom writing my band name on blank CDs. Because this doesn't happen to people making folk music, really. I was just kind of stunned into disbelief to the point where it took people reminding me that it was happening to actually process it.

I was in love with everything about the process of making this album, and honestly, that was enough for me. I felt so fulfilled. The organic nature of how it all came together felt so real to me, and it felt so important to me. And doing it in Vermont, and having the record be about Vermont and New England — it really felt like the album I've been waiting to make my whole life. 

I think my fans could see how much it meant to me, and it meant the same to them. We kind of shared this real emotional attachment to this album together. 

It just felt like a huge change in the way my life was gonna be. It meant that I could make music that fulfilled me that would fulfill others. I guess you could say it reinvigorated my faith in music in a lot of ways.

The chart success, and the radio play, and the co-signs from other really great artists and songwriters was incredible and overwhelming. I still haven't really processed it all. 

It definitely changed my life and put me into a place where I'm selling out shows, and there's lots of people that want me to work with them. It feels so nice, because it all came from following my heart — in the least cliché way.

Playing Boston Calling

It started to feel monumental when I got there. It's, like, three minutes away from my house, which is crazy. So I took a van from my house and I started walking around the festival, and it felt like I was Justin Bieber — people were chasing me around the festival and screaming.

It was one of the first times I've played in Boston since the deluxe [version of Stick Season] came out, and it was the second festival of the tour, so we were not expecting this crazy reaction. We get on stage and the crowd is just a sea of people. It looked like the crowd for a headliner, and it was only, like, 6 p.m.

We had a really good performance — objectively, we kind of crushed it — and all the fans were losing their minds, and then later, I went on stage with the Lumineers, which was so insane. It just felt like this moment of this hometown crowd really coming out in full force, showing their support and showing the world that I had this kind of fan base. I felt like I was kind of stepping out into a new world in a lot of ways when I got on stage. 

Singing "Homesick" was pretty incredible. It has a line about the Boston [Marathon] bombers, and we were literally right next to Watertown where the Boston bombers were caught. And hearing like 40,000 New Englanders sing "I'm mean because I grew up in New England" was incredible — it made me tear up watching videos the next day. Seeing all those people connect over this common understanding of who we are, and that region, all at once was really, really special. It was just such a Boston moment.

Ever since then, it was kind of just crazy show after crazy show. And every hometown show has been so unbelievable. It was kind of the start of the madness.

Headlining Red Rocks

A show that felt particularly special was Red Rocks. Having gone from being an opener there to a headliner in a little less than a year was really special for me. The growth was so evident.

The crowds at Red Rocks are in this trance of community and love — it felt like the crowd was connecting with each other, and watching that happen was really incredible. Every single person there had a smile on their face. I think that everybody there had an amazing time, and that made me so happy. 

Another thing that I've loved about all the shows, but Red Rocks in particular, is that some of these songs are filled with painful feelings and thoughts, and things that, for me, required a lot of vulnerability. And when the crowd is singing every single word, it just means that a whole crowd of — in Red Rocks' case, 9,900 people — are just being vulnerable, and yelling it out loud. 

That's the greatest gift a musician can ever get — watching people express themselves and free themselves from any kind of shame at a show. That's what I try to do with my music, and I feel like I saw thousands of people shedding their guilt, their fear and their shame, and singing the lyrics. 

We were playing the song "Maine," and there's a line that's like, "If there were cameras in the traffic lights, they'd make me a star," and I remember looking up at the crowd — that line is really about knowing that you have something special, but not knowing if anyone can ever see it. 

I remember singing that song and that line, and I looked up to the crowd — 9,,000 people, that's four times bigger than everyone in my hometown — screaming that line back to me, and I cried. I couldn't believe where I was in my life. 

And I still can't, but there are moments that I get numb to all of it and there are moments when the absurdity of it all slaps me in the face. That was definitely a moment where I felt just shocked by where I had gotten to, and how things have grown.

Launching The Busyhead Project

The Busyhead Project is an endeavor to raise a million dollars for mental health awareness, and these organizations that are doing so much for fighting the stigma and supporting people who suffer around North America. We wanted to start this organization because I have spent a lot of my career thinking and about my own journey with mental health, but I always felt like I was not doing enough, or just kind of providing lip service. 

I never wanted to feel like I was accessorizing it or commodifying it. So I wanted to do something that felt boots-on-the-ground, tangible, [and] would make a real difference. We set out with a goal to raise a million dollars [for these organizations], and we're getting really close. [Editor's note: As of press time, The Busyhead Project has raised $977,055.]

I think it just comes down to putting your money where your mouth is. Like, I'm playing bigger venues and I sell merch — I'm starting to make money, and part of my philosophy on wealth and making money is that you're supposed to use it to help other people. 

I don't need a lot for myself. I live on a diet of sunflower seeds and bananas — I'm literally eating both of them right now — so I wanted to give back as much as I can. It's really that simple; trying to raise money for people that really need it, and organizations that are doing miraculous work. We're definitely not going to stop at a million — I hope not, because that would be kind of lame. [Laughs.] If we can raise more money, we should raise it. 

When I was a kid, I would look up "Artists with depression" or "Artists on medication." I didn't find a lot of 'em, but when I did find somebody, it would feel like I was, like, saved by God or something. That became like religion to me, to see that someone who was in the music industry was also struggling with what I was really struggling with as a kid. I want to provide that for some kid making music out there.

Breaking Onto The Hot 100 (And Collaborating With Post Malone) With "Dial Drunk"

The chart is kind of, like, the one thing from movies about the music industry that signify when the band is doing well — like The Rocker, or Rockstar, where it's like, "Oh my god, the music's on the charts!" And they're doing a montage where the chart spins, and they're on a magazine cover, you know what I mean? And what's always followed by that is a horrible downward spiral, so I think when I saw the song charting well, I was like, Oh God, this is where my career starts to go bad. 

But I was really excited, and it was super cool — and, again, one of those things that's hard to actually understand from a human level. 

It was also really nice because I always feel like the last thing I did is the best thing I did, so after "Stick Season" was a big success, I was like, I have to have another song! And I was touring so much, and I was on Zoloft, so I was feeling emotionally kind of numbed-down. Writing this song was kind of a wake-me-up from what was going on. 

It was kind of a personal victory in a lot of ways — I challenged myself to make something new, and I did, and then it had this massive success. It felt like I can get through anything and do this again if I have to. It reminded me that what was happening in my career wasn't lightning in a bottle, but a real reflection of an audience being hungry for my music.

So then when Post Malone started recording his verse in the song, I felt like I was in a fever dream. I felt like it was gonna elevate my career to a new place, and I think it did.

He's always been an inspiration to me in the way he approaches music. I literally just reached out to him on DMs randomly one day, I was like, "Bro, I think you might like this song, we should do it together." He responded two months later, like, "Yeah, I f—ing love it!" It felt really natural.

We sat cross-legged and drank beers at the show in Massachusetts that I went out with him [to perform "Dial Drunk"]. It was so Post Malone — we talked about adult diapers and The Dewey Cox Story. He was just so funny and fun to be around. 

Announcing An Arena & Stadium Tour For 2024

They had been talked about for a while when we were starting the tour in the spring, but they never felt real — I always kind of think, That'll happen later. At the point that I'm doing those shows, I'll feel like I belong in those rooms.

Having these shows scheduled is truly surreal. I just don't know how we're gonna sell that many tickets. [Laughs.] I think I'll believe it when I'm in the room — like, Madison Square Garden, to me, has always felt like just where Paul McCartney goes, and I can't believe that I get to be having my name on the marquee.

I told my managers on the phone when they booked Fenway, "I'm actually going to retire after this." [Laughs.] There's really no way to describe what that means to someone from New England. 

As someone who grew up loving the Red Sox, going to Fenway Park all the time with my friends — getting drunk and stealing somebody's seats, and screaming at the opposing players over the dugout — that place has meant so much to me and so many people in my life. And the fact that I'm going to be one of not many people that have headlined that venue is just the craziest f—ing thing in the entire world. It feels like there's no other higher peak than playing songs about New England in the mecca of New England.

There was, like, a limit to my dreams when I was a kid — what I could do for a living and how big it could be. I'm trying to have my 8-year-old self be proud of me. I don't think he could even imagine where I'd be now. 

I'm so proud of the people I work with, I'm so proud of myself, because I have really worked hard for this, and I've sacrificed a lot of things in my life to make music happen. To get to this place, it just feels like all those hard decisions were worth it. 

I'm grateful for all the people that have supported me, and the people that have taken time out of their day to believe in my music when I couldn't believe in it. I'm just happy to feel like I belong here.

Lizzy McAlpine’s Big Year: The Viral Singer Details The Biggest Moments Behind Her Fast-Rising Career

Post Malone Goes Country for “America The Beautiful” at Super Bowl LVIII
Post Malone Performs at Super Bowl LVIII.

Photo:  Jamie Squire/Getty Images

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Post Malone Goes Country for “America The Beautiful” at Super Bowl LVIII

Post Malone kicked off Super Bowl LVIII with the annual performance of "America The Beautiful." Watch below.

GRAMMYs/Feb 12, 2024 - 12:21 am

Post Malone opened Super Bowl Sunday LVIII in Las Vegas with a tender performance of “America The Beautiful.”

Clad in a bolo tie and brown suede, the 10-time GRAMMY nominee self-accompanied on acoustic guitar for the patriotic number, crooning, “O beautiful for spacious skies / For amber waves of grain / For purple mountain majesty / Above the fruited plain / America, America / God shed his grace on thee / And crown thy good with brotherhood / From sea to shinin’ sea.” 

Days before his big moment at Allegiant Stadium, the rapper admitted he found the opportunity more than a little “nerve-wracking.” 

“I’m very nervous, but excited. I’m excited,” he said during Apple Music’s official pre-game press conference. “It’s just fun and super epic to be able to go out there and sing a song so many beautiful artists [sang] before on this stage, and I’m just gonna do my best. Just do my best and give it what I’ve got.”

“America The Beautiful” has been included in the Super Bowl pre-show dating back to 1974, when it was first performed by country singer Charley Pride. Other artists who’ve belted out the American standard by Katharine Lee Bates and Samuel A. Ward in years past include Babyface, Jhené Aiko, Chloe x Halle, John Legend, Mary J. Blige, and Ray Charles among others.

Posty’s patriotic number comes less than a week after Taylor Swift revealed the rapper would be featured on opening track “Fortnight” off her upcoming eleventh studio album The Tortured Poets Department, which she announced during her acceptance speech for Best Pop Vocal Album at the 2024 GRAMMYs. Swift, of course, was also in the stands to cheer on her boyfriend, Kansas City Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce, after flying back to the U.S. from four sold-out shows in Tokyo, Japan.

Prior to Malone’s performance, Andra Day belted out “Lift Every Voice and Sing,” known as "The Black National Anthem," penned by NAACP leader James Weldon Johnson, before the San Francisco 49ers and the Kansas City Chiefs rushed the field at Las Vegas’ Allegiant Stadium.

2024 GRAMMY Nominations: See Miley Cyrus, Ice Spice, Noah Kahan, Kelsea Ballerini, & More Artists' Reactions

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2024 GRAMMY Nominations: See Miley Cyrus, Ice Spice, Noah Kahan, Kelsea Ballerini, & More Artists' Reactions

The 2024 GRAMMY nominations have been announced! Here’s how nominated artists from boygenius to Jelly Roll reacted on social media.

GRAMMYs/Nov 10, 2023 - 10:09 pm

This afternoon, the highly anticipated 2024 GRAMMY nominations were announced, bringing loads of excitement to music enthusiasts.

After the announcements were made, nominated artists shared their reaction on social media. A series of appreciation posts flooded the timeline from the likes of first-time nominee Tyla, trend-charting rapper Coi Leray, country star Kelsea Ballerini, and more.

Dive into the social media celebration posts, while catching up on the full nominees list. Make sure to tune into the 2024 GRAMMY awards on Sunday, Feb. 4 at Crypto.com Arena in Los Angeles.

The 2024 GRAMMYs, officially known as the 66th GRAMMY Awards, will air live (8:00-11:30 PM, LIVE ET/5:00-8:30 PM, LIVE PT) on the CBS Television Network and will stream on Paramount+ (live and on demand for Paramount+ with SHOWTIME subscribers, or on demand for Paramount+ Essential subscribers the day after the special airs).

"On My Mama" singer/songwriter Victoria Monét shared pre-nomination nerves last night, comparing the feeling to the anticipation of draft day. Little did she know, she'd be one of the most nominated artists of the year. She received six nominations in total: Record Of The Year, Best New Artist, Best R&B Album, Best R&B Performance, Best Traditional R&B Performance, and Best R&B Song.

After Coil Leray found out she was nominated for Best Rap Performance for "Players" and Best Pop Dance Recording for her feature with David Guetta (“Baby Don't Hurt Me"), the rapper took to X, formerly known as Twitter: "Wow I'm really Grammy Nominated ? That's crazy. Let me let this sink in real quick and I'll brb."

Miley Cyrus specifically highlighted the women in the music industry, while celebrating her fans and team:

Afrobeats star Davido's latest album Timeless was nominated for Best Global Album, while also receiving nominations for Best African Music Performance and Best Global Music Performance.

Americana musician Jason Isbell thanked The Recording Academy for the Best Americana Performance, Best American Roots Song, and Best Americana Album nominations.

Rising artist Tyla, whose song "Water" was nominated for Best African Music Performance, posted a series of tweets capturing her immense shock:

Atlanta based R&B singer-songwriter, Summer Walker, shouted out all the "lover girls/boys" after CLEAR 2: SOFT LIFE EP was nominated for Best R&B Album.

Several artists took to Instagram to share more reactions to their nominations, including Best New Artist nominees Noah Kahan, Jelly Roll, Gracie Abrams, Ice Spice and The War & Treaty:

Country star Kelsea Ballerini shared a live-reaction video to her Best Country Album nomination.

Boygenius was nominated for Record Of The Year, Album Of The Year, Best Rock Performance, Best Rock Song, Best Alt Music Performance, Best Alternative Music Album, and Best Engineered Album, Non-Classical. The trio posted a photo of them hugging while staring at the TV displaying their nominations.

Latin singers Pedro Capó and Gaby Moreno celebrated their Best Latin Pop Album nominations, while fellow Latin star Juanes rejoiced over his Best Latin Rock or Alternative Album nod:

And despite writing GRAMMY-winning and GRAMMY-nominated hits for the likes of Kacey Musgraves and Julia Michaels (respectively), songwriters Shane McAnally and Justin Tranter were both shocked their names were included in the Songwriter Of The Year category — proving that a GRAMMY nomination is always magical, no matter how many times it happens.

2024 GRAMMY Nominations: See The Full Nominees List

Get To Know The Best New Artist Nominees At The 2024 GRAMMYs
(Clockwise From Top-Left): Coco Jones, Ice Spice, Gracie Abrams, Victoria Monét, Noah Kahan, The War And Treaty, Fred again.., Jelly Roll

Photos: Def Jam Recordings, Capitol Records, Image from TiVO, Paras Griffin/Getty Images for BET, Image from TiVO, Austin Hargrave, Image from TiVO, Ashley Osborn

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Get To Know The Best New Artist Nominees At The 2024 GRAMMYs

From new rap sensations to a country star with a second life, the 2024 GRAMMY nominees for Best New Artist are nothing short of inspirational.

GRAMMYs/Nov 10, 2023 - 04:21 pm

The Best New Artist category is perhaps one of the GRAMMYs' most exciting. Each year honors artists from all genres who have the potential to become timeless legends in the future.

Whether the nominees have been in the game for decades or are fresh debutantes, the Best New Artist honor highlights the moment they are living now, and how they are breaking through the noise with distinctive voices, visions, and sounds.

The Best New Artist nominees for the 2024 GRAMMYs are Gracie Abrams, Fred again.., Ice Spice, Jelly Roll, Coco Jones, Noah Kahan, Victoria Monét, and The War And Treaty. Though only one of them will win the golden gramophone, their nominations speak to their excellence, and foreshadow exciting journeys ahead.

Below, get to know the nominees for Best New Artist at the 2024 GRAMMYs.

Gracie Abrams

Since her 2019 debut single "Mean It," Gracie Abrams has been making every listener feel like her closest friend. Through confessional lyrics and a soft, raspy voice, she's caught the attention of fans, media and even other singers alike.

On her list of admirers are names like Olivia Rodrigo and Taylor Swift — both of whom invited Abrams to be an opening act for their respective tours. Amid those prestigious gigs, Abrams still found the time to release her debut studio album, Good Riddance, in February.

Co-written by her and The National's Aaron Dessner (who also produced the album), Good Riddance was recorded at Dessner's famous Long Pond Studios, which added to the record's intimate atmosphere. "I think working with Aaron allowed for so much to come up that I don't think would have for me otherwise. So much of that is because of the trust that he and I share,," Abrams told GRAMMY.com earlier this year.

The 24-year-old grew up surrounded by art (she's the daughter of Hollywood director J.J Abrams and producer Katie McGrath), but that only made her talents bloom further. In a generation filled with remarkable female songwriters, Abrams' delicacy leaves a deep, gripping mark.

Fred again..

Fred Gibson, better known as the viral producer and DJ Fred again.., rose to popularity during the pandemic. When people couldn't go to clubs or even leave their homes, his mix-and-match dance tracks brought us just the right amount of nostalgia and euphoria.

His Actual Life album series started as an EP in 2020, but quickly expanded into three studio albums — the latest of which, Actual Life 3, arrived in October 2022. In each project, the trivialities of the world find a new veneer: voice notes from friends, clips from social media, and even the restlessness of public transport all become main characters, surrounded by Fred again..'s larger-than-life synths.

But before diving into his own complex creations, Gibson was already lauded as one of the UK's most prominent producers. He co-wrote and/or produced hits for a number of artists, from Ed Sheeran to Rita Ora, and was mentored by Brian Eno — who was his family's neighbor growing up. In 2020, he won Producer of the Year at the Brit Awards, becoming the youngest producer to do so at 26 years old.

Though Gibson has admitted that he's "not really fussed" by the glitz and the glamor, he's undeniably become the dance scene's hottest new star. And as the only dance act in the Best New Artist category, that may be evident at the 2024 GRAMMYs, too.

Ice Spice

Who hasn't heard of Ice Spice? The rapper's chill bars and fiery curls dominated the world this year, whether it was on TikTok's latest viral hit or the Met Gala red carpet.

Born and raised in the Bronx, New York City, the 23-year-old had a breakthrough with 2022's "Munch (Feelin' U)," followed by the equally popular "Bikini Bottom" and "In Ha Mood." The singles led up to her January debut EP, Like..?, and propelled Ice Spice — whose birth name is Isis Gaston — even higher.

In less than a year, she released collaborations with PinkPantheress ("Boy's a Liar Pt. 2"), Nicki Minaj ("Princess Diana" and "Barbie World," featuring Aqua), and Taylor Swift ("Karma"), becoming the first artist to land four top 10 singles on Billboard's Hot 100 Chart in 2023.

While Ice Spice hasn't even released a debut studio album yet, she's an undeniable phenomenon who is pushing the drill scene far and beyond. Her style and bravado have made a mark on the music industry, and will likely continue to do so.

Jelly Roll

"I want to write a conceptual album that kind of outlines my journey of religion, my journey of spirituality, my journey of redemption, my journey of wrongdoings," Jelly Roll explained to GRAMMY.com earlier this year.

That album is his first country LP, 2023's Whitsitt Chapel. It was named after Whitsitt Chapel Baptist Church in his hometown of Antioch, Tennessee, where he was baptized at 14 years old.

Jelly Roll had a turbulent journey before becoming one of country music's most exciting new artists. After breaking a cycle of felonies, he still spent almost two decades treading the waters of the music industry. Born Jason DeFord, the 38-year-old star spent a good amount of the early 2000s selling rap mixtapes out of his car. But the hard work paid off — he has since developed a unique mix of hip-hop, rock and country, which led him to a Grand Ole Opry debut in 2021, and to last year's smash hit "Son of a Sinner," off his 2021 album, Ballads of the Broken.

The success of "Son of a Sinner" inspired a full pivot to country, and his decision has proven right with the success of singles "Need a Favor" and "Save Me," the latter of which earned him a nomination for Best Country Duo/Group Performance this year for his duet version with Lainey Wilson. Along with coming full circle musically, Jelly Roll mends his past while becoming a new artist — and we're lucky to witness his becoming.

Coco Jones

You might remember Coco Jones from the 2012 Disney Channel film Let It Shine. In it, she played the prodigious teenage singer Roxie — and offered a glimpse of her dazzling talents.

Although Let It Shine was the most watched movie of the year for kids and tweens in 2012, it took a whole decade for Jones to truly gain the recognition she deserves. The South Carolina-born, Tennessee-raised star spent the majority of the past years as an independent singer and actress, dropping four EPs and scoring roles in films like 2018's Flock of Four and in the 2022 television series Bel-Air.

It was only last year, after she signed a contract with High Standardz and Def Jam Recordings, that her efforts started to pay off. She released her first major label EP, What I Didn't Tell You, featured on Babyface's GRAMMY-nominated Girls Night Out ("Simple"), and earned her first No. 1 on Billboard's Mainstream R&B/Hip-Hop Airplay chart with the sultry "ICU."

Now, she attests to her potential as R&B's next soulful diva with her first GRAMMY nomination.

Noah Kahan

When Noah Kahan named one of his songs "Stick Season" — the Vermont-specific term to describe the dreary, gray days between Halloween and the first snow — he didn't know that this period of time would be more bountiful to him than any blossoming spring.

First teased on TikTok in 2020, "Stick Season" went viral in the next two years, culminating with its official release as the lead track off Kahan's 2022 LP of the same name. The album followed suit as a smashing success, earning the top spot on five Billboard charts upon its release (including Top Rock & Alternative Albums) and prompting collaborations with Kacey Musgraves, Hozier and Post Malone.

The 26-year-old folk-pop singer is still adjusting to all the prestige, which will only grow as he starts 2024 with a stadium/arena tour that includes dates at L.A.'s Hollywood Bowl and New York's Madison Square Garden. "It's f—ing unbelievable," he told GRAMMY.com in October. "It feels so fake that it's almost like, the more time I spend thinking about it, the more abstract it becomes."

Kahan's main strength is this unflinching honesty — he talks openly about his struggles with depression and anxiety, and his lyrics resonate because of their sharp vulnerability. His openness as well as his charming wit have helped him continue to reach bigger audiences, and have now helped him earn his first GRAMMY nomination. 

Victoria Monét

While Victoria Monét has been releasing solo music since 2014 with her debut EP Nightmares & Lullabies: Act 1, she used to be best known for her work behind the scenes. Her expertise was writing hits for many of today's biggest pop stars, including Ariana Grande, Chloe x Halle, BLACKPINK, and more.

She has even been nominated for three GRAMMYs thanks to her songwriting prowess: two in 2020 for her work with Grande (Album of the Year for Thank U, Next and Record of the Year for "7 Rings") and one in 2021 for her work with Chloe x Halle (Best R&B Song for "Do It.")

Gradually, people started to notice the 34-year-old songwriter for her own singing as Monét came into her artistry more and more. Her 2020 independently released EP, Jaguar marked a breakthrough in her career and was critically acclaimed for its luxurious R&B melodies and classy undertones.

Following suit came her debut solo album, 2023's Jaguar II, through RCA Records. The album was equally acclaimed, and its supporting tour sold out minutes after being announced. Add to that  seven nominations at the 2024 GRAMMYs — including Best New Artist and Record Of The Year for "On My Mama" — it's more than clear that Monét is already a superstar to be reckoned with.

The War and Treaty

Tanya and Michael Trotter Jr. found each other in 2010, when they both played at Maryland's Spirit of Love festival. The name was a good omen, as the couple soon began a lasting partnership — both in love and in music.

The War and Treaty is their way to let us peek into their rich universe. While originally formed in 2014 under the name Trotter & Blount, they changed it in 2017 after several discussions. "Michael, calm down," Tanya said one day, as retold by Michael on BobbyCast. "This is not a war, we need to come to some sort of treaty about this."

Since then, they have been stirring hearts with emotional anthems inspired by soul, country, and gospel music. However, it was only in 2022 that they signed with UMG Nashville, already carrying one EP and three studio albums under their belt. In March 2023 came the devotional Lover's Game, their first major label LP, with production credits by GRAMMY winner Dave Cobb.

"This album isn't about whether you like the music or not," Michael said in an interview with NPR. "This album is about, 'Do you understand what we're trying to say? Can you get with this? Do you feel the inclusion in our voices? Do you feel the resilience? Do you feel the overcoming? And if you feel it, do you have a heart for the War and Treaty?"

As one of only eight artists with a Best New Artist GRAMMY nomination for 2024, it seems at least their peers do..

The 2024 GRAMMYs, officially known as the 66th GRAMMY Awards, returns to Los Angeles' Crypto.com Arena on Sunday, Feb. 4, 2024, and will broadcast live on the CBS Television Network and stream live and on-demand on Paramount+ at 8-11:30 p.m. ET/5-8:30 p.m. PT.

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2024 GRAMMY Nominations: See The Full Nominees List

Teddy Swims Is Letting Himself Be Brutally Honest On 'I've Tried Everything But Therapy'
Teddy Swims

Photo: Aaron Marsh

interview

Teddy Swims Is Letting Himself Be Brutally Honest On 'I've Tried Everything But Therapy'

As the world continues to discover the magnitude of Teddy Swims' soulful voice, he realized the power of opening up and letting go with his debut album, 'I've Tried Everything But Therapy.'

GRAMMYs/Sep 21, 2023 - 04:38 pm

Four years into his career, Teddy Swims made a promise to himself to be more honest. With that in mind, he decided to be unflinchingly real with his debut album title: I've Tried Everything But Therapy.

While the title may be true for now, Swims is incredibly vulnerable. Across 10 tracks, he divulges the raw emotions of heartbreak, from reeling over what could've been in opener "Some Things I'll Never Know" to leaning into new love — while still in repair — on closer "Evergreen."

"It's the most honest I've ever let myself be," Swims, born Jaten Dimsdale, says of the album. "I'm proud of it, and I'm proud of myself. And it's a f—ing relief to just get it off my shoulders."

For someone who bares his soul in his music, both lyrically and vocally, it's rather surprising to think that he wouldn't be the type for therapy. But now that the album is out, his next step is seeking professional help — another promise he made to himself upon choosing the candid title.

In the meantime, Swims is already seeing the impact of being more and more open in his music. "Lose Control," the album's lead single, has earned Swims his first entry on the Billboard Hot 100 and first solo radio hit (in 2022, his Meghan Trainor collab "Bad For Me" reached No. 15 on Billboard's Adult Pop Airplay chart). But perhaps more notably, his powerful vocal runs on the song's dynamic chorus are stopping listeners in their tracks. As one YouTube commenter put it, "Man has a voice that speaks to the core of your soul."

Just before the album's arrival, Swims talked with GRAMMY.com about how I've Tried Everything But Therapy has helped him understand the impact of wearing his insecurities on his sleeve — and how his bewitchingly soulful voice ties it all together. 

How does this album feel different from what you've put out before this, whether it's lyrically or sonically, or even how you feel mentally based around the process?

I feel like this is maturity. I can listen to these songs and I feel proud of them. 

Everybody kinda doesn't like their own voice, you know? But I feel like I belong on those songs, and nobody could say what I needed to say the way I could say it. I feel like I'm saying something that I need to say and get off my chest in an entirely different way than I ever have. 

I'm kind of an emotional toddler. I'm getting more of a grasp on what I want to say and how to say it, how to talk about my feelings more. I feel like the more I do it, the longer I do it, the more honest I become, the more I get out of the way of things. I'm learning to get out of the way and let the creative flow just be what it is now.

Going into writing this album, like, what were you going through? And did you have a goal in mind about what you wanted the album to be?

I really didn't know at the time. In the last four years, I've written maybe four or five hundred songs. I didn't write it knowing that it was an album, or write it knowing that this was going to be the album; but more so, when it started coming together, it just felt like things fell into place. 

I realized that I've been circling around the same feelings and emotions for a very long time. It's always about — I was in a very toxic relationship, and I have been a lot in my life. This is me kind of learning that I can be loved, and that I am beautiful, and I deserve love. That's kind of what the struggle is and always has been.

The album title is interesting to me, because so many artists compare songwriting to therapy. But has songwriting always felt like therapy for you? 

Songwriting can be therapeutic if you have a feeling that you need to get out, and you write that feeling down, and you get it out. But what I tend to do a lot in my life, I'll write it down into a song, and then I'll write it into another song from a different perspective. And I'll write it down 100 different ways, in 100 different perspectives, to the point that it ends up that that small problem has now turned into the biggest problem in my life, because I've thought about so many different ways. 

Instead of being more therapeutic, [songwriting has] been more of a way of highlighting what I'm going through, sometimes way too much.

The title itself was kind of a promise to myself that I would go to therapy when the album comes out. I think it's something that everyone can benefit from, especially me. But there's still something about me — maybe it's a generational mindset, like, I'm not crazy, I don't need that, or maybe there's answers to questions I don't really want to ask that I'm gonna get. 

I like my coping mechanisms. I like how I am and who I am when I do cope. So there's a part of me that's afraid that I'll have to change.

But I made a promise to myself, put a deadline on myself where I'll go and I'll seek help, and I'll try. It's also me being honest and open about that, to you and to everyone, that I'm like, "I need help, that's okay." I'm gonna ask for help, and that's a liberating and equally terrifying thing.

The nice thing is, there has been a lot more public acceptance of mental health in recent years. How have you felt that change since you started releasing music, and how has it impacted your songwriting?

I think what's so great about our industry these days is that I'm not held to the same standard as, like, Stevie Wonder or Michael Jackson, where I have to be such a star, and you don't know anything about me. These days, as an artist, I get to be absolutely insecure and absolutely terrified, and it's what makes my artistry beautiful. And people that feel the way I feel can look at me and say, "That guy's so insecure, and he's so scared. But he's doing it, and we want him to win." 

I don't want to swallow my insecurities. I don't have to wait until I feel like I'm worthy of love to put myself out there. Every bit of insecurity, and everything that's going on in my life, I'm allowed to just wear it and put it on for everybody to see. That has helped me in more ways than me trying to be anything I'm not.

You've said that for a long time, you worried about giving too much of yourself in your music, but seeing people connect to the music has made you realize it's actually making a difference. When did you start realizing that? 

I am very lucky — every show we do, I have a meet and greet where I can talk to 100 people, and they tell me things that have changed their life, ways that I've affected them, and the ways that I've touched their lives. 

I also want them to know that I'm just that fat kid from Rockdale County, Georgia, and still feels like that. And they make me be able to be honest and have an outlet to turn my trauma into something positive in me. 

I feel like I learn it more and more every day that I am in a safe space, and I've created a safe space for people, and I become safer in that all the time. And I'm becoming more honest with myself, with them, in the safe space. It's just sacred, you know?

Was there a song of yours that kind of opened that up for you, because of the way that people connected to it? 

I've had a few like that, but "Simple Things" that I released on one of my EPs is still a song I sing all the time. I thought the verses were only specific to my life and what I was going through — that was the first time I was honest, and I wrote from only what I was going through specifically to my life, and that connected and did more for people than anything I did [previously]. 

You've said that you're insecure, but would you consider yourself an introvert?

I think the more that I do this, the more I become one. I used to be the biggest extrovert in the world, but the more I do this job, the more I have to be social, I feel myself becoming more of an introvert. 

Well, I brought that up because so many artists consider themselves introverts, when you are pouring your heart out in music that is then heard by thousands, if not millions, of people. Has that dichotomy ever crossed your mind? 

Yeah, but that's kind of why I think I've become more introverted, because I gotta figure out what's still mine or if there should be anything that I should hold to myself. That is the question: What is still for me, or should there still be anything just for me?

That's so interesting to think about — I've never really thought about the battle that an artist can have when they share so much. Because it's like, at that point, you're so exposed, how are you even supposed to function as a private person in any regard? 

Yeah. You figure it out, you let me know. [Laughs.]

It's cool that you're feeling so proud of this album, though, because I'd say that means that you haven't gone too far. 

It's the most honest I've ever let myself be. And I don't feel exposed — I just feel like I said what I needed to say.

I've heard that I've Tried Everything But Therapy is coming in multiple parts and this is just part one. Is that true?

Yeah, we're planning on part two, but I don't know what that looks like yet. But I want to put out more music. And I think I want to come from a different place of what I've learned from how I've healed. I just don't feel like this story's done yet. 

But you said you're going to start therapy after this album releases — so you're going to release a part two of I've Tried Everything But Therapy after you've been in therapy?

Yeah, I guess that doesn't make sense. But it will!

It would be kind of interesting to have part two be the response to therapy after you have done it.

Yeah, exactly. That's the vibe. Maybe we just go straight to part three and skip part two altogether. 

Before you even released part one, people were going crazy over "Lose Control" because of how soulful you sound on it. When did you realize you had such a captivating voice?

It wasn't really a realization — I was bad for a long time. But I love this, and I wanted this, so I worked hard to become good at it. I wanted to be the best I could at it, because using my voice means everything to me, and I want to know how to do everything I can with it. 

Well, you're doing something right, because people are exclaiming about it left and right. I saw a comment on one of your Instagram posts that said, "I just threw my shoe across my damn office, you better sing!" Do you feel the power of your own music?

I know, technically and dynamically, I am a good singer. When I listen to myself, I can't say I can't sing, because it's all there. Any singer or vocal coach could tell "That kid knows what he's doing. He can sing his ass off." 

But also, there's part of me that still doesn't like my voice, too, just like anyone else. And I think that might be why I became so good at it. Because I want to hear it and be like, "Well, you can't tell yourself you ain't good, 'cause that was f—ing — that takes skill." I've learned enough to know that I can't tell myself I'm bad. [Laughs.]

And I have to say, I've been impressed with all of the people you've posted singing their own versions of "Lose Control."

People can sing! And people have been writing verses to it too. The love on it has been so rewarding.

I feel very justified [that the music] is connecting. I feel like it's already helping. I feel very humbled, appreciated and loved.

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