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How The Pandemic And Political Turmoil Inspired 2022 GRAMMY Nominees: Alicia Keys & Brandi Carlile, Foo Fighters & More
Alicia Keys

Photo: Kevin Mazur/WireImage

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How The Pandemic And Political Turmoil Inspired 2022 GRAMMY Nominees: Alicia Keys & Brandi Carlile, Foo Fighters & More

The past two years have been some of the most trying times in recent memory, shrouded in uncertainty and a need for change. Eight of this year’s GRAMMY nominees used their art to cope, restore hope and create beautiful moments even in the darkest times.

GRAMMYs/Mar 22, 2022 - 03:37 pm

Among the many nominees at the 64th GRAMMY Awards, several albums, songs and releases could've only come out of our world as it is now. The COVID-19 pandemic, as well as the global racial reckonings and protests, that defined 2020 and 2021 also galvanized some of the best music and comedy.

This soul-searching work wasn't limited to any one genre or release format, presenting a spectrum of emotions from hopeful optimism, to despair, to ultimate catharsis. From rock titans Foo Fighters to comedy veteran Dave Chappelle, those who took on the tumult of the present did so from their own unique perspective.

For many, art is a refuge in a dark time, and these 2022 GRAMMY nominees rose to the moment. The eight nominated works below reflect the pandemic and fight for social justice in all its exhausting and uncertain — yet inspiring — contradictions.

Alicia Keys & Brandi Carlile — "A Beautiful Noise" (Song of the Year)

Released in October of 2020, right at the peak of United States’ presidential election jitters, two dynamic singer/songwriters came together for a rousing call to action. "A Beautiful Noise" is both an appeal for voter turnout and a showcase for the potent talents of Alicia Keys and Brandi Carlile.

The "A Beautiful Noise" music video features the two stars on duelling grand pianos in a warmly-lit room, and that's about it — but that’s all it needs. All the fireworks are contained in the two vocal performances and the subtle-yet-meaningful looks exchanged between Keys and Carlile.

In a statement accompanying the release, Carlile said she's "forever inspired" by Keys and jumped at the opportunity to "deliver this beautiful message through song" at a time when voting felt more urgent than ever.

H.E.R. — "Fight For You" (Song of the Year)

When R&B/soul sensation Gabriella Wilson — better known as H.E.R. — was approached to write a song for the film Judas and the Black Messiah, she drew an immediate parallel with the Black Lives Matter movement of present day.

Directed by Shaka King and released in February 2021, Judas and the Black Messiah dramatizes the complex relationship between Black Panther leader Fred Hampton (Daniel Kaluuya) and FBI informant William O'Neill (LaKeith Stanfield) in late-1960s Cleveland. "They called me and said they need a song to bring the movie home," H.E.R. told Variety in a video interview.

Working alongside songwriter Tiara Thomas and producer D'Mile, H.E.R. created a protest song that deftly links past and present, drawing on the classic soul records that soundtracked her youth. "I really wanted the song to bring the two generations together," H.E.R. added. "I wanted to create a universal message that represented that fight that is still happening today."

Caribou — "You Can Do It" (Best Dance/Electronic Recording)

When the COVID-19 pandemic put Caribou's 2020 tour on hold, band leader Dan Snaith found himself with a lot of free time. Taking shelter with his family at home in London, the producer saw the first glimmer of good news in March 2021 as the vaccination rollout ramped up. To reflect his hope for the future, Snaith sat down at his home set-up and made 'You Can Do It,' a bright and infectious (in a good way) ode to optimism.

Snaith knew the single had to come out right then, before the world changed again. "People have had so much fear, anxiety and negativity in the last 18 months; the thought of being able to put something out into the world that was just positive, that just allowed people to feel happy and joyous again, was something that felt so right," he told Billboard last year. Its music video — featuring an array of cute dogs bouncing gleefully through open fields — only amplified the song’s joyful mood.

Foo Fighters — "Waiting On A War" (Best Rock Song)

Growing up outside Washington, DC, in the 1970s and 1980s, Foo Fighters frontman Dave Grohl lived in fear of nuclear war. His anxiety about a nuclear attack, fueled in equal parts by the real-life Cold War and the 1983 made-for-TV movie The Day After, invaded his dreams and became a defining childhood memory. Four decades later, on a school run, Grohl's 11-year-old daughter casually asked if a war was coming. That weekend he wrote "Waiting On A War" to make sense of a fear that now crosses generations.

"This song was written for my daughter, Harper, who deserves a future, just as every child does," Grohl wrote in a statement to introduce the single, which appears on the band's tenth studio album, Medicine at Midnight. Beginning with the frontman's gravelly vocals over strummed guitar, "Waiting On A War" builds to an all-out anthem in the classic Foo Fighters mold.

Despite its heavy themes, Grohl revealed in a track-by-track album breakdown that he imagined "Waiting On A War" as "a song that we play every night for the rest of our lives, that everybody will sing along to."

Brandi Carlile — "Right On Time" (Record Of The Year, Song Of The Year, Best Pop Solo Performance)

Six-time GRAMMY winner Brandi Carlile spent the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic consumed by the same uncertainty as the rest of us, weathering the storm on her "compound" in Washington State with her wife, Catherine, and two young daughters. Out of that strange, fretful time came Carlile's seventh studio album, In These Silent Days. "Right on Time," the album's opening track and lead single, reflected all those stirred-up feelings as only Carlile can.

"In these silent days and this time that's been imposed on us spiritually as a global community, really significant things have happened," Carlile told Entertainment Weekly of "Right On Time." "Babies were born, divorces were had, people died, and there's something really human about the obstacles that we've put in front of ourselves, and then deciding to just somehow explode through it and say, maybe I didn't come out of this right, maybe I didn't handle this the right way, maybe it wasn't right, but something had to happen — so it was right on time."

Carlile stars in the video for "Right On Time" (artfully directed by Carlile's friend Courtney Cox), conveying the full sweep of emotions that she examines in the song's three and a half minutes.

Dave Chappelle — 8:46 (Best Spoken Word Album)

In June 2020, with the pandemic raging, comedy vet Dave Chappelle pulled together a socially distanced outdoor show in Ohio, billed as "A Talk with Punchlines." It was a forum for Chappelle to grapple with his anger and sadness about police brutality against Black Americans, with a particular focus on the murder of George Floyd by Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin. On this night, jokes were a secondary concern.

Later that month, Netflix uploaded the 30-minute set to its YouTube channel as 8:46, with the title referencing the length of time Chauvin had his knee on Floyd's neck. Directed by documentary filmmakers ​​Julia Reichert and Steven Bognar, 8:46 is raw and unpolished by design — and every bit as sobering as Chappelle intended.

Editor's Note: In October 2021, another Chappelle Netflix special, The Closer, was widely criticized for the comedian's comments about transgender people; it sparked a walkout in protest from hundreds of Netflix employees.

Maren Morris — "Better Than We Found It" (Best Country Song)

In October 2020, in advance of the U.S. presidential election, Texas-born country sensation Maren Morris released "Better Than We Found It," which she described as "a protest song" in the tradition of Bob Dylan and Nina Simone. Morris also committed a portion of proceeds from the single to the Black Women's Health Imperative.

"I still have hope for this country and for the future of it," Morris said in a statement at the time of the release, "and as a new mother I wanted to promise my son that I'm going to do everything in my power to leave this world better than the one I came into and the one I see right now."

The powerful music video is intercut with real-stories from people in Morris's Nashville community, including young activists for racial justice, teenagers facing fears of deportation and the family of Daniel Hambrick, a Black man killed by a Nashville police officer in 2018.

Bo Burnham — Inside / 'All Eyes On Me' (Best Music Film / Best Song Written For Visual Media)

In May 2021, Netflix uploaded Inside to its platform with a deceptively simple description: "A musical comedy special shot and performed by Bo Burnham, alone, over the course of a very unusual year." Within weeks, Inside had become one of the defining documents of our pandemic age.

Burnham masterfully flips quarantine-induced narratives — FaceTiming Mom, internet deep-dives — into catchy tunes, creating a commentary as entertaining as it is thought-provoking. The 90-minute special crescendos with Burnham's achingly intimate performance of "All Eyes On Me," which sees the comedian riff on the dark period that followed his decision to quit stand-up.

At once a razor-sharp pop music parody and a deep dive into its creator's psyche, "All Eyes On Me" is Burnham at his most unforgiving. Burnham has avoided interviews following the release of Inside, preferring to let the art speak for itself.

The Official 2022 GRAMMYs Playlist Has Arrived: Get To Know The Nominees With 146 Songs By Lil Nas X, BTS, Olivia Rodrigo, Doja Cat & More

The Rise Of Brandi Carlile: How Her Emotive Songwriting & Delivery Made Her One Of Americana's Most Versatile Stars
(L-R) Brandi Carlile in 2019, 2022, 2007 and 2014

Photos: (L-R) Kevin Winter/Getty Images for The Recording Academy, Kevin Mazur/Getty Images for The Recording Academy, Lyle A. Waisman/FilmMagic, Mat Hayward/Getty Images

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The Rise Of Brandi Carlile: How Her Emotive Songwriting & Delivery Made Her One Of Americana's Most Versatile Stars

Brandi Carlile's seven nominations at the 2023 GRAMMYs epitomize the superstardom she has achieved in recent years — the kind of success she's been destined for since her 2005 debut.

GRAMMYs/Jan 27, 2023 - 03:21 pm

Brandi Carlile's soaring performance of her song "The Joke" at the 2019 GRAMMY Awards didn't necessarily make her a superstar, but it showed the world that she is one. And judging by her own reaction, she knew it, too: Carlile ended the performance with a flourish, throwing her head back to drive the final notes even higher, grinning and jumping up and down as she finished.

Already, she had six albums and plenty of critical acclaim to her name, but that night Carlile won her first GRAMMYs — three, to be exact — including two for "The Joke." Since then, she's added three more golden gramophones to her collection, and now boasts a total of 24 nominations — including seven at the 2023 GRAMMYs

Her 2021 album, In These Silent Days, is nominated for Album Of The Year and Best Americana Album; "You and Me on the Rock" is up for Record Of The Year, Best Americana Performance and Best American Roots Song; and "Broken Horses" earned nods for Best Rock Song and Best Rock Performance — Carlile's first in the Rock Field. (The album's lead single, "Right on Time," also earned her three GRAMMY nominations in 2022: Record Of The Year, Song Of The Year and Best Pop Solo Performance, the latter of which was another first for Carlile.)

Over her nearly 20-year career, Carlile has built a diverse fan base. Although she considers Americana to be her "home base," Carlile's music often doesn't fit neatly into any one genre, which is abundantly clear in her wide array of nominations for In These Silent Days. In fact, since her first GRAMMY nomination in 2016, Carlile has been nominated across six different Fields: American Roots Music, Country, General Field, Rock, Pop, and Music for Visual Media. 

While Carlile's genre-bending prowess is essential to her musical vision, it's her powerful voice and range that captivates listeners. Beyond those, Carlile's canny ability to convey universally-relatable sentiments through songs, often based on her own experiences, solidified her standing as one of the most beloved stars in Americana and beyond. 

From the get-go, Carlile established her broad appeal with her debut self-titled album in 2005, laying the foundation for her breakout album, The Story, released in 2007. The title track, a lilting love song — which spoke to millions with honest, relatable lyrics about how our personal histories make us who we are today — remains her biggest hit to date. (Though she didn't write it herself, the track was penned by Phil Hanseroth, one half of the Hanseroth twins, with whom Carlile has performed and written for most of her career.)

After The Story's resounding success, the singer continued honing her voice and performance on her 2009 and 2012 LPs, Give Up The Ghost and Bear Creek. Then in 2015, Carlile foreshadowed the precision and strength of 2018's By The Way, I Forgive You, with The Firewatchers's Daughter — which earned her her first GRAMMY nomination, for Best Americana Album. The album shifts from the powerful and personal "Wherever is Your Heart," to the rowdy, cathartic jam "Mainstream Kid" and the haunting "The Stranger at My Door," whose central character lends the album its name.

With By the Way I Forgive You, Carlile sharpened her songwriting chops, zeroing in on the same blend of candor and levity that makes her live performances so riveting. "The Joke," a profound love letter to kids who don't fit in, is arguably one of the strongest displays of Carlile's ability to distill emotion into lyrics. But "The Mother" is the album's lyrical standout, wherein Carlile neatly packages her profound and funny experience of becoming a mother.

As her own star continued to rise, Carlile made a point of speaking up for other artists, and even produced and co-wrote Tanya Tucker's powerful comeback album, While I'm Livin', in 2019. The album, the country icon's first in 10 years, earned Tucker her first two GRAMMYs, which she shared with Carlile (Best Country Album and Best Country Song for "Bring My Flowers Now").

Largely written by Carlile and the Hanseroth twins, While I'm Livin' showcases some of Carlile's best writing to date. Demonstrating her deep knowledge of the country music history, she penned tracks that fall within the country music canon but adeptly reject the roles the genre often outlines for women. 

Keeping her outlaw evolution going, just two weeks after While I'm Livin', Carlile released the eponymous debut album with her country supergroup, The Highwomen, comprised of Carlile, Maren Morris, Natalie Hemby and Amanda Shires. Together, they turned the male-dominated outlaw country genre on its head with a series of smart, hard-driving tracks, including "Redesigning Women," "My Name Can't be Mama," and "Crowded Table," the latter of which won Best Country Song at the 2021 GRAMMYs.

Carlile's most recent release,  In These Silent Days, opens with "Right On Time," which, according to Carlile herself, picked up where "The Joke" left off. By mining her own past and experience for inspiration, Carlile produced her most poignant album yet. Written in the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic, its 10 tracks delve into how isolation liberates and confines us, love's many forms, and the pain and catharsis of exploring the past. A clarity of emotion permeates the album, making each track feel like a window into Carlile's life.

She follows up "Right On Time" with the sweet and catchy "You and Me on the Rock," a love song that delights in the small pleasures in the life she's built with her wife, Catherine. With backing vocals by Lucius, it shows off Carlile's dynamic ability to layer meaning into a seemingly simple song.

The slow burn of Carlile's career served her well, allowing her to perfect her writing and performance without the pressures of instant success. Reaching superstar status in her late 30s enabled her to realize its full potential, Carlile, who's now 41, says.

"You only have so many shots anymore," she told NPR last year. "And if you're not ready for that — like, musically ready, emotionally ready, physically ready and just mentally ready to, like, seize that moment, really take the bull by the horns, and go, 'This is my shot, I'm going to do this' — I don't think you can do that in your 20s on purpose."

In addition to scoring her most GRAMMY nominations in one year, Carlile had several other superstar moments in 2022. She was the cover star of Billboard's Pride Month issue in June; in July, she surprised the world by bringing Joni Mitchell on stage with her at the Newport Folk Festival (Mitchell's first full performance in 20 years), and became the first woman to headline Tennessee's Pilgrimage Music & Cultural Festival in September.

Carlile closed out the year with a return to "Saturday Night Live," her second appearance on the late-night sketch show in the last 14 months. Neatly linking her early breakout with her current hit, she performed "The Story" and "You and Me on the Rock" back to back. 

As her most recent "SNL" performance hinted, Carlile delicately balances her roots with her present success. Wherever Carlile's star power takes her next, she's poised and ready for a bright and captivating future.

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A GRAMMY Salute To The Beach Boys Tribute Concert To Feature Performances By John Legend, Brandi Carlile, St. Vincent, Beck, Fall Out Boy, Mumford & Sons, Weezer & More; Tickets On Sale Now
A GRAMMY Salute to the Beach Boys

Graphic: The Recording Academy

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A GRAMMY Salute To The Beach Boys Tribute Concert To Feature Performances By John Legend, Brandi Carlile, St. Vincent, Beck, Fall Out Boy, Mumford & Sons, Weezer & More; Tickets On Sale Now

Taking place Wednesday, Feb. 8, at the Dolby Theatre in Hollywood, California, the live concert special will feature a star-studded lineup that also includes Charlie Puth, LeAnn Rimes, My Morning Jacket, Norah Jones, Pentatonix, Lady A, and many others.

GRAMMYs/Jan 26, 2023 - 05:44 pm

A few days after the 2023 GRAMMYs, the Recording Academy, along with Tenth Planet Productions and CBS, will present A GRAMMY Salute to the Beach Boys, a special tribute concert honoring the legendary, GRAMMY-nominated music icons, the Beach Boys. Taking place Wednesday, Feb. 8, at the Dolby Theatre in Hollywood, California, the live concert special will feature a star-studded performer lineup that includes GRAMMY-winning artists and past and current GRAMMY nominees including Beck, Brandi Carlile, Fall Out Boy, Andy Grammer, Hanson, Norah Jones, Lady A, John Legend, Little Big Town, Michael McDonald, Mumford & Sons, My Morning Jacket, Pentatonix, Charlie Puth, LeAnn Rimes, St. Vincent, Take 6, and Weezer, who will all celebrate and honor the Beach Boys’ everlasting music and impactful career.

Tickets for A GRAMMY Salute to the Beach Boys are available now.

A GRAMMY Salute to the Beach Boys will air on the CBS Television Network and will be available live and on demand on Paramount+ at a later date. More info on the event is below.

WHEN:

Concert:
Wednesday, Feb. 8
Doors: 5:30 p.m. PT
Concert: 6:30 p.m. PT

WHERE: 
Dolby Theatre
6801 Hollywood Blvd
Los Angeles, CA 90028

Take A Look Back At The Beach Boys' Pet Sounds | For The Record

2023 GRAMMYs Performers Announced: Bad Bunny, Lizzo, Sam Smith, Steve Lacy, Mary J. Blige & More Confirmed
(Clockwise, L-R): Bad Bunny, Kim Petras, Sam Smith, Luke Combs, Steve Lacy, Brandi Carlile, Lizzo, Mary J. Blige

Photos Courtesy of the Artists

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2023 GRAMMYs Performers Announced: Bad Bunny, Lizzo, Sam Smith, Steve Lacy, Mary J. Blige & More Confirmed

The first wave of 2023 GRAMMYs performers has been announced: Bad Bunny, Mary J. Blige, Brandi Carlile, Luke Combs, Steve Lacy, Lizzo, Kim Petras, and Sam Smith. Catch them all on Sunday, Feb. 5, on CBS, Paramount+, and live.GRAMMY.com!

GRAMMYs/Jan 25, 2023 - 03:00 pm

(Editor’s note: since this post’s publication, Harry Styles has been added as a performer, and Questlove announced he is co-curating the Hip-Hop 50 tribute performance at the 2023 GRAMMYs.)

We all knew Music's Biggest Night would be explosive this year. Now, GRAMMY night just got bigger! The first round of performers for the 2023 GRAMMYs has been announced. Taking the GRAMMY stage will be current nominees Bad Bunny, Mary J. Blige, Brandi Carlile, Luke Combs, Steve Lacy, Lizzo, Kim Petras, and Sam Smith.

Live from Crypto.com Arena in Los Angeles and hosted by Trevor Noah, the 2023 GRAMMYs will be broadcast live on Sunday, Feb. 5, at 8 p.m. ET/5 p.m. PT on the CBS Television Network and will be available to stream live and on demand on Paramount+.

Prior to the Telecast, the GRAMMY Awards Premiere Ceremony will be broadcast live from the Microsoft Theater at 12:30 p.m. PT and will be streamed live on live.GRAMMY.com. Additional performers will be announced in the coming days.

On GRAMMY Sunday, fans can access exclusive, behind-the-scenes GRAMMYs content, including performances, acceptance speeches, interviews from the GRAMMY Live red-carpet special, and more via the Recording Academy's digital experience on live.GRAMMY.com.

Read More: Where, What Channel & How To Watch The Full 2023 GRAMMYs

Learn more about the 2023 GRAMMYs performers and host here and below:

Two-time GRAMMY winner Bad Bunny is up for three GRAMMY nominations: Album Of The Year (Un Verano Sin Ti), Best Pop Solo Performance ("Moscow Mule") and Best Música Urbana Album (Un Verano Sin Ti).

Nine-time GRAMMY winner Mary J. Blige is nominated for six GRAMMY Awards: Record Of The Year ("Good Morning Gorgeous"), Album Of The Year (Good Morning Gorgeous (Deluxe)), Best R&B Performance ("Here With Me"), Best Traditional R&B Performance ("Good Morning Gorgeous"), Best R&B Song ("Good Morning Gorgeous"), and Best R&B Album (Good Morning Gorgeous (Deluxe)).  

Six-time GRAMMY winner Brandi Carlile is nominated for seven GRAMMY Awards this year: Record Of The Year ("You And Me On The Rock"), Album Of The Year (In These Silent Days), Best Rock Performance ("Broken Horses"), Best Rock Song ("Broken Horses"), Best Americana Performance ("You And Me On The Rock"), Best American Roots Song ("You And Me On The Rock"), and Best Americana Album (In These Silent Days). 

Listen Now: The Official 2023 GRAMMYs Playlist Is Here: Listen To 115 Songs By Beyoncé, Harry Styles, Bad Bunny, Kendrick Lamar & More

Luke Combs is up for three GRAMMY nominations: Best Country Duo/Group Performance ("Outrunnin' Your Memory"), Best Country Song ("Doin' This") and Best Country Album (Growin' Up). 

Steve Lacy is up for four GRAMMY nominations: Record Of The Year ("Bad Habit"), Song Of The Year ("Bad Habit"), Best Pop Solo Performance ("Bad Habit"), and Best Progressive R&B Album (Gemini Rights). 

Read More: A Look At The Nominees For Album Of The Year At The 2023 GRAMMY Awards

Three-time GRAMMY winner Lizzo is nominated for five GRAMMY Awards: Record Of The Year ("About Damn Time"), Album Of The Year (Special), Song Of The Year ("About Damn Time"), Best Pop Solo Performance ("About Damn Time"), and Best Pop Vocal Album (Special).

First-time nominee Kim Petras is up for Best Pop Duo/Group Performance ("Unholy").

Four-time GRAMMY winner Sam Smith is nominated for Best Pop Duo/Group Performance ("Unholy").

Keep checking back here on GRAMMY.com for more details on the 2023 GRAMMYs — and tune in on Sunday, Feb. 5, at 8 p.m. ET/5 p.m. PT to watch who takes home GRAMMY gold. And head to live.GRAMMY.com for a dynamic and expansive online experience where you can explore Music's Biggest Night in full.

2023 GRAMMY Nominations: See The Complete Nominees List

Press Play On GRAMMY U Mixtape: New Year, It’s Poppin'! Monthly Member Playlist

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Press Play On GRAMMY U Mixtape: New Year, It’s Poppin'! Monthly Member Playlist

The GRAMMY U Mixtape is a monthly, genre-spanning playlist to quench your thirst for new tunes, all from student members. GRAMMY U celebrates new beginnings with fresh pop tunes that will kickstart 2023.

GRAMMYs/Jan 6, 2023 - 12:17 am

Did you know that among all of the students in GRAMMY U, songwriting and performance is one of the most sought after fields of study? We want to create a space to hear what these students are creating today!

The GRAMMY U Mixtape, now available for your listening pleasure, highlights the creations and fresh ideas that students are bringing to this industry directly on the Recording Academy's Spotify and Apple 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 20 to 25 songs that match that month’s theme. This month we're ringing in 2023 with our New Year, It's Poppin'! playlist, which features fresh pop songs that bring new year, new you vibes. Showcasing talented members from our various chapters, we felt these songs represented the positivity and hopefulness that GRAMMY U members embody as they tackle this upcoming year of exciting possibilities.

So, what’s stopping you? Press play on GRAMMY U’s Mixtape and listen now on Spotify below and Apple 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 February 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 student member (an original song) and you must be able to submit a Spotify and/or Apple Music link to the song. Students must be a GRAMMY U member to submit.

About GRAMMY U:

GRAMMY U is a program that connects college students with the industry's brightest and most talented minds and provides those aspiring professionals with the tools and opportunities necessary to start a career in music.     

Throughout each semester, events and special programs touch on all facets of the industry, including the 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.