Photo: Olof Grind
The Phoebe Bridgers Songs That Helped College Students Through Tough Times
Ahead of her appearance on GRAMMY U and MusiCares’ conversation around mental health, students talk about how Phoebe Bridgers’ music is helping expand the mental health conversation
In honor of Mental Health Awareness Month, folk-rock singer/songwriter Phoebe Bridgers is sitting down for an open and honest conversation about mental health with GRAMMY U, the Recording Academy’s university network, and MusiCares. Bridgers will touch on her journey with mental health, how her experiences have inspired her music and how music itself has helped her get through it all.
While music has helped Bridgers with her mental health wellness, her music has also inspired fans in their journeys. In anticipation of the discussion with Bridgers streaming on May 27 on YouTube and Facebook at 4 p.m. P.T., fans within GRAMMY U opened up about the Bridgers songs that have helped through their times of need.
Victoria, a GRAMMY U Member in the Philadelphia Chapter, shares that she has a personal connection to "Steamroller" off Bridgers’ 2015 Killer EP. The melancholic song about being in love with your best friend but being afraid to ruin the friendship makes Victoria feel a part of a collective grief. "[The lyrics] helped me be able to grasp my sadness [and] that other people are also dealing with what I’m going through," she tells GRAMMY.com. Whether about struggles stemming from the pandemic or other problems that life throws her way, the song acts as a safe place for her to express her emotions. She adds that many of Bridgers’ songs make her feel understood as they express similar feelings she has; While Victoria may not release those feelings out into the open, Bridgers does, and that gives her hope it will make others feel like they’re not alone either.
A GRAMMY U Member in the Nashville Chapter, who wishes to remain anonymous, agrees with Victoria. When discussing Bridgers’ song "Chinese Satellite" from her Punisher album, which describes her lack of faith and struggles of not feeling able to, the student says it helped them "understand my own mental health while also making me feel like I’m not the only one going through these things." The past year, especially, has been hard for students—remote learning has many feeling isolated amid an overall atmosphere that has disconnected people from each other. The pandemic has really taken a toll on college students across the world, and Alonda, a GRAMMY U Member in the Los Angeles Chapter, having been personally affected by COVID, including the loss of a close relative, was soothed by the same track. "'Chinese Satellite' [eased] my pain from all the trauma my family and I went through," she shares. "Her song was basically like a detox of releasing my emotions."
Aryana, a GRAMMY U Member in the New York Chapter, appreciates the brutal honesty Bridgers features in her tracks. She accredits her breakup anthem, "Motion Sickness," on the Stranger in the Alps album about her emotionally abusive ex-boyfriend "for getting [her through] some of the toughest moments," even considering her music to be a form of "free therapy." After going through her own breakup and feeling some of the same emotions that Bridgers’ sings about, the song really acted as a comfort in her time of need.
James, a GRAMMY U Member in the New York Chapter, talks more about appreciating the honesty that Bridgers provides through her lyrics in songs like "Kyoto" which appears on Punisher. Like most of Bridgers’ songwriting, he says "‘Kyoto’ is brutally honest, demonstrating her frustration with a person in her life as well as feelings of dissociation." It’s for this reason, he notes, that he believes her music to be refreshing. In a world dominated by happy pop, Bridgers chooses to be vulnerable and extremely literal in most. Her fanbase definitely reflects this and can celebrate her music on a whole new level, digging into their deepest emotions to truly appreciate it.
Although Bridgers is known for her sad songs, which seem to revolve mostly around death, they still bring joy to listeners. Liz, a GRAMMY U Member in the Los Angeles Chapter, touches on this concept within her song "I Know the End," also on Punisher, saying, “I find a lot of joy in the dichotomy between a not-quite-obsession with death, or in this case the end, and yet an obvious love for life.” What started as a breakup song about the depression Bridgers was feeling turned into a song about the depression she had from touring, ultimately resulting in screams about the entire world needing to end and wanting to visit her grandpa up north. This song is cathartic to Liz, especially while screaming along to it during the peak of COVID in Los Angeles, when she says it truly did feel like the end.
Each of these fans show just how much Phoebe Bridgers’ music touches each of them in a special way—whether it helps them feel like they’re not alone or shows them that it’s okay to not be okay. "That is what I love about Phoebe's music," Allison, a GRAMMY U Member in the Chicago Chapter says, "It can really transcend every listener's experience."
Tune into Mental Health and Music with Phoebe Bridgers, presented by GRAMMY U and MusiCares, on May 27 at 7 pm ET/4 pm PT to hear more about her own journey.
Press Play On GRAMMY U Mixtape: Late Night Drive Monthly Member Playlist
The GRAMMY U Mixtape is a monthly, genre-spanning playlist to quench your thirst for new tunes, all from our talented members. This month, we’ve crafted the perfect mix of nostalgic tunes to sing as you’re driving around your hometown for the holidays.
Did you know that among all of GRAMMY U’s members, songwriting and performance is one of the most sought after fields of study? We want to create a space to hear what these creators are making today.
The GRAMMY U Mixtape, now available for your listening pleasure, highlights the creations and fresh ideas that members are bringing to this industry directly on the Recording Academy's Spotify, Amazon Music 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 15 to 25 songs that match that month’s theme. This month, we’ve crafted the perfect mix of nostalgic tunes to sing with your friends as you’re driving around your hometown with the windows down and music on full blast.
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 December playlist. Whether you write pop, rock, hip-hop, jazz, or classical, we want to hear from you. Music must be written and/or produced by the member (an original song) and you must be able to submit a Spotify, Apple Music and/or Amazon Music link to the song. Artists must be a GRAMMY U member to submit.
About GRAMMY U:
GRAMMY U is a program that connects aspiring professionals and creatives ages 18-29 with the music industry's brightest and most talented minds. We provide a community for emerging professionals and creatives in addition to various opportunities and tools necessary to start a career in music. Throughout the program year, events and initiatives touch on all facets of the industry, including business, technology, and the creative process.
As part of the Recording Academy's mission to ensure the recorded arts remain a thriving part of our shared cultural heritage, GRAMMY U establishes the necessary foundation for music’s next generation to flourish.
Not a member, but want to submit to our playlist? Apply for GRAMMY U Membership here.
Former GRAMMY U Reps Heather Howard and Sophie Griffiths contributed to this article.
Photo: Steve Jennings/Getty Images
The Sound Of Collision: Boygenius Discuss Creating 'The Rest,' Their Deepening Friendship & Identities
Boygenius have experienced a year of exponential growth, culminating with a new EP. In a candid and wide-ranging interview, Julien Baker, Phoebe Bridgers, and Lucy Dacus discuss five years of music-making and 'the rest,' which drops Oct.13.
Quite a lot has changed for boygenius in the months following the release of their debut album, the record, in March.
The indie supergroup of Julien Baker, Phoebe Bridgers, and Lucy Dacus initially joined forces in 2018, offering a self-titled EP and North American tour. Despite positive reception for both, the trio were largely quiet for several years and shifted to their solo projects.
So when their reunion and debut full-length was confirmed in January 2023, much attention was given to boygenius' trajectory. Once the record was released, the group seemingly went skyward.
Fast forward to the present and the band is on the third leg of their tour in support of the record, recently performing for 25,000 people at Gunnersbury Park in London and selling out Madison Square Garden. Continuing their exponential growth, boygenius recently announced the rest, a four-track EP set for release Oct.13.
Sonically, the rest is a revisitation. "We veered away from our folkier roots on the record in a way that was fun to come back to for the EP," says Bridgers sitting alongside Baker and Dacus on a Zoom call from the Westville Music Bowl in New Haven, Connecticut.
Even deeper rooted than their love of folk music, and what has remained consistent throughout the five years after their initial connection, is the trio's shared dynamic.
"We were never not a band," says Bridgers. Yet, "it doesn’t just mean that we’re all great musicians and therefore our talent gets exponentially multiplied," Baker says of their "supergroup" designation. "It’s the dedication to how we mediate music between the three of us as a conduit. That’s the important part."
Their impact and connection extends beyond music as well. The trio has moved into other forms of media, producing a music film directed by Academy Award nominee Kristen Stewart, and have become icons for the queer community after performing in drag in Nashville to protest the city’s anti-drag legislation (among other pro-queer activities).
Ahead of their new EP, boygenius candidly dive into their songwriting process, relationships with queerness, and using music as a conduit of their connection.
This interview has been edited for clarity.
When you think back on who you were professionally and personally when you wrote the first EP, what is it like to bring those songs into the present on much bigger stages?
Phoebe Bridgers: I think about it more from a fan perspective now. I’m like The kids are singing it to me. They get excited when we play older songs 'cause they feel a part of it.
Julien Baker: It's sweet imagining them having anticipated it. Having been at that [older] show or missed that show. We’ve aged with them and they can trace our parallel aging.
Bridgers: When we play "Me & My Dog," I was singing about myself and from my perspective. Now I’m so far away from it that it’s like the fans are singing it. I feel that way about "Souvenir." This is one for the fans to sing to us.
How did you view yourselves at the start of the group in 2018, and how does that compare to you are today?
Lucy Dacus: I’m a bigger fan of who I am now than who I was, but you gotta root for yourself, so I’m retroactively rooting for who I was.
Baker: I have more grace for my past self. I don’t know if I would have the wisdom to admire current me… think overall I’d be stoked. Some of the stuff [I've done] would surprise me.
Bridgers: We talk sometimes about how there’s a certain hometown mentality that can be poisonous. Like your friend whose band never took off says, “You guys f—ing sold out,” and we’re like “Well you didn’t get a chance to my friend. 'Sold out' means people buy the album.”
Baker: In 2018 when I met you guys I was straight edge and vegan and now it’s nice to have a lobster roll when you’re in New England. I’m a lot more lax but more mature and I don’t know if I would have had the foresight as such a young kid. I was so neurotic then and really principled in a misguided way, but I think I have to have retroactive grace for that person more than I need to admire.
You’ve mentioned that much of the writing for boygenius takes place separately, but the songs are finished together. How did writing the record compare to the first EP?
Bridgers: The main way is that we talk about each other now. We were just writing, trying to help each other with songs that already existed or little ideas that already existed. Now we have so much context for each other that the record starts eating its own tail and becomes about making the record, which is cool.
Baker: There’s an ease of communication that maybe wasn’t quite available when we were first working together, where each of us brought a verse that then got gently edited.
A lot of the record is an exquisite corpse of working out line by line with each other. Then there are huge swaths that are just s— [Phoebe] wrote or just s— that Lucy wrote, but it’s nice to feel an entitlement to something that’s being created corporately instead of pieced [together].
Dacus: It’s never been difficult [communicating], so it’s not like it even had the chance to get easier. We do a lot of work to avoid difficulty. We do group therapy together and try to foresee what our pitfalls could be and avoid them.
Not like it’s all easy. We’ll encounter really difficult math problems — [that’s] what it feels like in the studio where none of us will get it and we’ll be frustrated but it’s not at each other.
The final lines of "Powers" are "The force of our impact, the fission/The hum of our contact/The sound of our collision." From my perspective, the sound of your collision as human beings includes the music you’ve made together, but also the way you’ve presented yourselves to the public, for example, in standing up for causes you believe in, and then there is the sound no one else hears within your dynamic as a band. With all this mind, how would you describe "the sound of your collision?"
Baker: Those are both semi-stolen lyrics. I read this book Cruising Utopia by José Esteban Muñoz and he talks about the idea of the lived experience being its own work of art, and then that art needing a witness to be savored and appreciated.
He talks about the hum of our contact. It’s evocative of all the things that aren’t explicitly stated that take place. All the communication that’s extra-lingual. That is witnessed only in time and action and accrued over years and years. It’s so incremental that you can barely observe it as it's happening. Then you look back and realize that you’ve spent your life with people that have become like your family and they’ve been the driving force in what motivates you. It’s small and daily and powerful.
So the album and all the other things you guys have done together are all the particles accruing?
Dacus: It’s just a gradual deepening all the time. I think that the closeness has been a pleasant surprise for all of us. Now that we’ve discovered it, we want to interact with it and protect it however we can. Originally it was just a fun lightweight idea. Now it’s my whole life.
Baker: There’s the real face-to-face friendship that we have, but we’ve always been making music together. It feels very much like music is the water that you’re swimming in. Music is the language that you’re speaking.
The album artwork on the rest is in many ways the counterpart to the record, which feels very hopeful with the three of you looking towards the horizon like a team of superheroes. Whereas on the EP cover, the surroundings are dark, your faces are darkened, and you’re huddled together for support. Through that lens, how would you compare the two releases?
Dacus: That photo was taken during the same shoot for the original album art. We always liked the image, but when we chose these four songs to put out together, they all have this spacey, eerie quality about them. I think the wind being in our hair, the natural elements messing us up, it’s a little more unsettling and I feel like these songs — I don’t think they lack optimism, but they’re a little more focused on fear and unsteadiness.
Bridgers: We had wanted it to be a different time of day in the photo. The back of the EP is dusk at the beach. Not a very hidden meaning in that.
You three have been celebrated very much of late for standing up for the queer community, trans community, and other marginalized communities, but you’ve also stated that doing so doesn’t necessarily make you “role models.” How has the time you’ve spent together as a band affected your relationship with your own queerness?
Dacus: I’m definitely gayer because of these guys. [All laugh.]
Baker: That’s true! And I’m straighter somehow.
Bridgers: I was thinking that it makes me feel straighter to be around a bunch of gay people all the time. Like when I’m with only straight people.
Baker: You’re the gayest one.
Bridgers: I’m so gay and when I’m around gay people I’m like, damn. But that doesn’t hold true all the time.
Dacus: A serious answer would be that my favorite thing about queerness is how undefined it actually is. Having less allegiance to who I was, being willing to betray my idea of myself in service of what actually feels best and is most honest to the moment at hand — that’s a skill that I think I’ve been getting better at through my life. Not in small part to the people who love me and will accept me at any point of understanding myself, and these guys are included in that.
Baker: It’s like finding a new vernacular around queerness. It’s how you carry out the outfit, or it's how you carry out dancing, or it’s how you carry out some sort of body language that determines whether it’s queer. Not what the action is. It’s how you employ, and I think being around people who see the core static parts of myself …makes me feel more secure to play with the mutable parts of my identity.
Referring to what Julien said earlier about the lived experience being a work of art that needs a witness, how have you served as witnesses for each other? How has your lived experience with queerness influenced your art?
Baker: Queerness is inherently creative. Queerness exists in opposition to a standard. Not to replace it with a superior thing, but to dismantle a dominant prevailing view of how things should be just because that’s how they’re traditionally understood.
Queerness involves creating a different future for yourself. Imagining yourself towards a different embodiment of you. An embodiment of you that isn’t naturally going to be fomented any other place than by these guys or by your community or by the community you construct.
Dacus: Julien has a banjo that she drew on and has “queer joy” on it, and I think that queerness and joy are inextricable themes. Why be queer if you aren’t trying your very best to access more joy in your life or more authenticity?
So it’s actually amazing to realize I’m living in it so thoroughly now that I don’t actively think about it as much because it’s a part of everything that I do to the point where I don’t even see it sometimes, which is such a privilege.
In listening to “Without you, without them” I get the impression you guys are telling each other to share everything, so I ask a version of the question that’s posed in the final line of the song: after years of growing together, who would you guys be without each other?
Dacus: Impossible to know.
Dacus: The idea of it from here feels really lonely. But it’s also weird to think [about] who would I have cared deeply about or who haven’t I met yet that [would be] as important as these people. Life is so various, and no matter how much you prepare for it it always will catch you off guard in sometimes the best ways.
Bridgers: I think if we had individually gotten more famous and then made friends even with each other from this point of view, it would be great, but I feel lucky that we met when we did. We were all on the same plain with a dream of selling out a 2000-capacity venue. Laying awake at night thinking about it as the end goal.
So it's weird that I met two people with as close to the same life experience as possible and then it changed into another version of as close as possible. We all come from an indie space. We all are queer. It would be s—y to have nobody that was in my shoes around me.
Baker: Y’all have been additional rudders in my trajectory since we met, and I have no way of knowing — nor do I care to know — how my character would differ if I didn’t have y’all as a whetstone of sharpening my own wit and honesty and musical practice.
Photo: Jeff Kravitz/FilmMagic
Met Gala 2023: All The Artists & Celebrities Who Served Fierce Looks & Hot Fashion On The Red Carpet, From Rihanna To Dua Lipa To Billie Eilish To Bad Bunny To Cardi B To Doja Cat & More
Fashion and music have always been inextricably linked, and the strong longs were on fully on display at the 2023 Met Gala — one of the most anticipated style events of the year. See the red carpet outfits from Rihanna, Lil Nas X, Anitta & more.
It's that time again! The 2023 Met Gala — one of the fashion bonanzas of the year — is in full force. And given that fashion has always been the yin to music's yang, GRAMMY winners and nominees were among the stars studding this glamorous, fashion-forward event.
Presented by gala co-chair Anna Wintour, the editor of Vogue and global editorial director of Condé Nast, the Met Gala this year is co-chaired by Penélope Cruz, Michaela Coel, Roger Federer and three-time GRAMMY winner Dua Lipa.
GRAMMY winners and nominees as well as today’s leading artists in music are already setting the Met Gala red carpet on fire, with everyone from Dua Lipa, Phoebe Bridgers, Rita Ora, David Byrne, rising rap sensation Ice Spice, and more showing off their fierce fashion looks. Plus, Rihanna and her partner ASAP Rocky made a last-minute surprise arrival on the 2023 Met Gala red carpet, setting the fashion and music worlds ablaze.
Below, check out some of the most eye-catching red carpet fashion looks from music’s biggest stars at the 2023 Met Gala.
Rihanna attends the 2023 Met Gala Celebrating "Karl Lagerfeld: A Line Of Beauty" at the Metropolitan Museum of Art on May 01, 2023 in New York City | Photo: Jeff Kravitz/FilmMagic
Dua Lipa arrives for the 2023 Met Gala at the Metropolitan Museum of Art on May 1, 2023, in New York | Photo: ANGELA WEISS / AFP
(L-R) Finneas O'Connell and Billie Eilish attend The 2023 Met Gala Celebrating "Karl Lagerfeld: A Line Of Beauty" at The Metropolitan Museum of Art on May 01, 2023 in New York City | Photo: Matt Winkelmeyer/MG23/Getty Images for The Met Museum/Vogue
Bad Bunny attends The 2023 Met Gala Celebrating "Karl Lagerfeld: A Line Of Beauty" at The Metropolitan Museum of Art on May 01, 2023 in New York City | Photo by Jamie McCarthy/Getty Images
Jennifer Lopez attends the 2023 Met Gala Celebrating "Karl Lagerfeld: A Line Of Beauty" at the Metropolitan Museum of Art on May 01, 2023 in New York City | Photo: Jeff Kravitz/FilmMagic
Cardi B attends the 2023 Met Gala Celebrating "Karl Lagerfeld: A Line Of Beauty" at the Metropolitan Museum of Art on May 01, 2023 in New York City | Photo: Matt Winkelmeyer/MG23/Getty Images for The Met Museum/Vogue
Doja Cat attends the 2023 Met Gala at the Metropolitan Museum of Art on May 01, 2023 in New York City | Photo: Jamie McCarthy/Getty Images
Lil Nas X attends The 2023 Met Gala Celebrating "Karl Lagerfeld: A Line Of Beauty" at The Metropolitan Museum of Art on May 01, 2023 in New York City | Photo: Matt Winkelmeyer/MG23/Getty Images for The Met Museum/Vogue
Usher attends the 2023 Met Gala Celebrating "Karl Lagerfeld: A Line Of Beauty" at the Metropolitan Museum of Art on May 01, 2023 in New York City | Photo: Mike Coppola/Getty Images
Sean "Diddy" Combs attends The 2023 Met Gala Celebrating "Karl Lagerfeld: A Line Of Beauty" at The Metropolitan Museum of Art on May 01, 2023 in New York City | Photo: Mike Coppola/Getty Images
Phoebe Bridgers attends the 2023 Met Gala at Metropolitan Museum of Art on May 01, 2023 in New York City | Photo: Jeff Kravitz/FilmMagic
Anitta attends the 2023 Met Gala the Metropolitan Museum of Art on May 01, 2023 in New York City | Photo: Mike Coppola/Getty Images
Halle Bailey attends the 2023 Met Gala Celebrating "Karl Lagerfeld: A Line Of Beauty" at the Metropolitan Museum of Art on May 01, 2023 in New York City | Photo: Kevin Mazur/MG23/Getty Images for The Met Museum/Vogue
Janelle Monáe attends The 2023 Met Gala Celebrating "Karl Lagerfeld: A Line Of Beauty" at The Metropolitan Museum of Art on May 01, 2023 in New York City | Photo: Jamie McCarthy/Getty Images
Photo courtesy of GRAMMY U
7 Highlights Of GRAMMY U's Fall 2022 Mentorship Program
GRAMMY U's mentorship program pairs college students with music industry professionals, with the goal of becoming successful in the industry. GRAMMY.com shares the stories of seven participants from across the country.
Beginning a career in the music industry can be a winding and often rocky path, with few signposts to guide the way. But when you combine the enthusiasm of eager students and young professionals with the wisdom and guidance of industry veterans, no mountain is too difficult to climb.
Every semester, the GRAMMY U mentorship program sets out to create these connections, pairing professionals with student members pursuing a career in the same field. In some cases, mentors give their mentees a chance to get their hands dirty, working firsthand on industry projects and participating in professional settings.
With the GRAMMY U fall 2022 program wrapped up for the holidays, hear from student members and mentors for a glimpse at some of the opportunities and connections from this semester.
Jeff Silverman | Mentor | Nashville Chapter
Alex Wons | Mentee | Nashville Chapter
Alex Wons is a student at Middle Tennessee State University, double majoring in commercial songwriting and audio production, with several of his own releases out on all major platforms. He was paired with Jeff Silverman, a producer, engineer, songwriter, composer for film and TV, and former Motown staff writer with nearly 40 years of experience in the music industry. Silverman took to his social network pages to share his mentorship of Wons. "I looked at it as an opportunity to introduce Alex to all of the people that support me, with hopes that they too will support his work."
What started out as a Zoom meet and greet turned into an in-studio lesson on production, engineering, and the future of audio via Dolby Atmos. Silverman invited Wons to his studio, where they listened to 7.1.4 mixes and discussed go-to programs and plugins. The veteran listened to one of Won’s recent productions that he produced, mixed, mastered, and performed on. "I was so impressed that I asked if he would mind if I pass it around to a few of my film TV licensing contacts and see if there would be any interest," Silverman rounted, before encouraging Alex to always seek legal advice before signing an exclusive deal on his songs.
"We all need a mentor at some point in our lives if we’re going to grow. And I have many to thank for those landmark growing times in my lifetime in the music business," says Silverman.
Call Me Ace | Mentor | San Francisco Chapter
Vinal Chand | Mentee | San Francisco Chapter
Vinal Chand, an economics and communications student and rising senior at the UC Davis was paired with Ace Patterson, a strategy and operations consultant, marketer, designer, and hip-hop recording artist. The pair’s original focus for mentorship was securing an internship in the industry, a goal that proved attainable with Ace’s help, offering Chand an internship at his record label, Heir Quality.
"When my mentee told me that he wanted to work in music marketing but felt his recruitment options were limited by a lack of tangible experience in that space, I devised a plan with him to create an internship program through the new label I started, granting him a sizable opportunity to flex his digital marketing experience and demonstrate impact before he graduates college," Ace says.
Chand says one of the most transformative lessons he learned from Ace is that you need to create your own opportunities in the industry. "We don’t need a specific role or title to gain experience. The best people in the music industry are those that actively gain experiences on their own, whether it’s helping to promote local artists, editing your own projects, or creating content," Chand says. "The thing to remember is that you must trust in your own capabilities. You, too, deserve to be a part of this industry, just as anyone else."
Gene More | Mentor | Texas Chapter
Victor Fernando Aguilar | Mentee | Texas Chapter
Victor Aguilar, a student at Visible Music College studying modern music and looking to pursue a career as a performing and touring musician, was paired with Gene Moore, a gospel artist, GRAMMY nominee, and radio announcer based in Houston. The two met weekly, talking through any roadblocks Aguilar faced that week and how to push himself to the next level. They met in person for their first session, in which Aguilar played a few songs while Moore's good friend, Chris Walker, offered feedback via FaceTime. Victor says he learned essential lessons about working hands-on during that session, noting "the most important thing … was to stay calm under pressure. Never let them see you sweat."
Aguilar emphasized his mentor's drive to go the extra mile for him numerous times, creating an invaluable experience with priceless advice. "We will stay in touch even after this semester is over. I am planning a trip to Houston soon so that I can keep learning from him," Aguilar says. "These past months have been full of improvements thanks to his teachings, and his work ethic has inspired me to give my very best."
Michael Wansley | Mentor | PNW Chapter
Isaac Selby | Mentee | PNW Chapter
Isaac Selby is a recent Emory University marketing graduate, rap artist, and music marketer working for Yonas Media as well as a day-to-day manager for Latin GRAMMY nominated rock band Making Movies. He was paired with Michael Wansley, or Wanz, a GRAMMY-winning artist and vocalist based in Seattle. The pair met several times over Zoom and in person, including a recording session to track their collab song, the perfect project for Selby to put Wansley’s lessons in songwriting into action.
Selby recognized that he needed a deeper understanding of song structure to improve on his existing talents, and applied his mentor's lessons in structure, hook writing, and building interest. "He has gained a widened perspective of music outside of his preferred genre. The songwriting concepts we've discussed have gotten him excited about writing in a 'new' way," Wansley says.
Witness the mentorship magic as they have paired up to do a show on Jan. 11 at The Highdive in Seattle.
Geronimo Vannicola | Mentor | Philadelphia Chapter
Dannon Johnson | Mentee | Philadelphia Chapter
Dannon Johnson is a junior at Duquesne University majoring in sound recording, and is the owner/operator of a recording studio and live sound reinforcement company. She was paired with Geronimo Vannicola, a member of the production team for Fox’s music catalog and a vendor for Paramount providing music for sync.
Although the pair primarily connected virtually because of their location in different states, they met at the Audio Engineering Society convention in New York where Vannicola connected Johnson with professional peers. "To hear Geronimo speak so highly of me to his peers and for him to take the time to take my career as seriously as he has, has helped to validate my place in this industry," Johnson says. "He's shown me that my aspirations are possible and my dreams are closer to being reached than they may seem."
Vannicola encouraged Johnson to "build her own empire" by learning to delegate work and share workload — a key ingredient to the growth of any business. "Being so busy with work makes things like keeping up on my studio's social media difficult, and he's taught me to enlist those around me for help," Johnson says.
Working remotely didn’t stop the two from getting hands-on. Johnson updated Geronimo’s previous ProTools mixes and received expert feedback. "To have him look at my workflow and shoot back his own iteration of my mixes is something I cannot stress the invaluable nature of enough," she said. Vannicola spoke to the importance of this hands-on work, emphasizing that good mentorship is as much about shaping mindset as it is "about giving something tangible, whether it's a skill or opportunity to move forward with, shaping a bright future."
Craig Campbell | Mentor | Nashville Chapter
Sydney Pasceri | Mentee | Nashville Chapter
Sydney Pasceri — a student at Wake Forest University studying communications, and pursuing a career in music journalism, marketing, and public relations — was paired with Craig Campbell, the President of Campbell Entertainment, working in publicity and artist management.
Since Pasceri is based in North Carolina and Campbell in Nashville, the two didn’t work in person, but Campbell still found ways to engage with his mentee. He added Sydney to his press release distribution list so she could see how he writes about new releases, announces festivals and other related topics. "I still plan to get her the bones of a release, so she can write one!" Campbell says.
Pasceri said she appreciated how intentional Campbell was in getting to know her — the same skill and care that makes him stellar in the world of A&R. "I admire this dedication to getting to understand the person, rather than just the artist, and hope to carry this into my own career." Through their conversations, Pasceri learned that the music scene is very small, with Campbell knowing someone from every corner of the industry she mentioned. "It made me realize how important it is to make meaningful relationships with people in all different jobs in the business."
Campbell joined the mentorship program with an open mindset to potentially learn from someone at any point in their career. "As a mentor, I want to impart knowledge, but I also want to be challenged… I welcome someone questioning why or offering a different viewpoint." Campbell was thrilled to get the chance to mentor Pasceri: "Sydney is driven, curious, interesting, ambitious, and very focused; I'll probably be working for her one day!"
Al Thrash | Mentor | Atlanta Chapter
Jasmine Gordon | Mentee | Atlanta Chapter
Spelman College student Jasmine Gordon hopes to pursue a career in branding and marketing for clients in the music, sports, and entertainment industry, and is studying comparative women’s studies with a focus on branding and marketing in the media. Gordon was paired with Al Thrash, the Professor of Practice at Georgia State University and Project Manager at Thirty Tigers — one of the premiere music distribution companies in the industry.
"My mentor and I visited the record label, LVRN, and I sat in on one of his meetings with the CEO of the label. I learned how to adequately build and nurture relationships and the importance of your network," Gordon says, adding that she participated in the meeting and learned about opportunities at the label.
Thrash also introduced Gordon to the founders of Project Go Dark, an Atlanta-based intensive music industry pipeline for college students. Thrash highlighted that he collaborated with Gordon’s organization, Spelman College Women in Hip-Hop, for an alumni mixer during the historic SpelHouse Homecoming weekend. "This was an awesome experience, and I look forward to continuing to work with Jasmine as she develops into a professional," Thrash says.
The GRAMMY U Mentorship program is not only an invaluable experience for students to get direct feedback and career advice from an industry professional, but it can be the seed of a life-long relationship and the roots of a rich network. Applications are now open for the spring GRAMMY U mentorship program, which runs from Feb.y 13 – May 5, 2023. Apply to be a mentor or mentee by Jan. 27.