Photo: Courtesy of Caroline Jones
Quarantine Diaries: Caroline Jones Is Working On Her Sophomore Album, Meditating & Exploring New Zealand
As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to rock the music industry, GRAMMY.com reached out to musicians to see how they were spending their days off the road
As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to rock the music industry, GRAMMY.com reached out to a few musicians to see how they were spending their days indoors. Today, Caroline Jones shares her Quarantine Diary. Her latest single, "All of the Boys," is out now.
[6:30 a.m.] Wake-up rituals. I love to wake up early so I have a few hours to meditate and exercise or do Egoscue postural therapy. My physical and mental health are both of utmost importance to me, and my health/wellness routine is designed for optimal energy that I can then devote to my creativity. I also love to walk in nature, daily if possible, or at least spend some time outdoors in some sort of surrounding greenery. I have been quarantining and working on new music in New Zealand for the past few months, so there is a lot of magical scenery to take in.
[10:00 a.m.] Vocal warm-up. The voice is a muscle, and I consider myself an athlete. Singing, just like producing, songwriting and playing instruments, is a craft that I am constantly honing. I am a classically trained vocalist; I grew up singing opera and jazz. I typically need 45-60 minutes of vocal exercises to feel really warmed up, whether going in the studio or on stage. For those interested, the vocal exercises I have been doing for decades are on my YouTube channel.
[11:30 a.m.] Studio time. My team and I have been conducting remote recording sessions while I am here in New Zealand for a few months. The technology is staggering and the execution has been remarkable, thanks to the team at Roundhead Studios in Auckland, New Zealand, and my team in America: Ric Wake, my co-producer, Gustavo Celis, engineer and mixer, and Jorge Stelling, assistant engineer. We have redundant communication between Audio Movers, Zoom and Gus running Pro Tools in real time from Miami through TeamViewer. Whew! I get tired just thinking about it. But it's been working beautifully and we are able to continue the momentum of my second album!
[2:30 p.m.] Tracking with the Trenwiths. New Zealand being [almost] COVID-free, once I arrived here I was eager to engage in the in-person musical connection I have been missing this year. As anyone who follows me knows, I am always open and excited to dip my toes in the waters of different styles of music. I researched The Hamilton County Bluegrass Band, which is a more-than-50-year-old institution here in New Zealand, and of which Paul Trenwith is a founding member. We were able to get in touch with Paul and begin jamming with him, mandolinist Keith MacMillan, and Paul's sons, Sam and Tim, who together are known as the Trenwiths.
The Trenwiths and I recorded two Christmas songs (dropping Nov. 20!), stomping down-home bluegrass style at Neil Finn's famous Roundhead Studios. We are now working on a full set to livestream, and hopefully, we will also record a few traditional folk songs. It's hard to put into words how truly down-to-earth, genuine and funny this family band is, but hopefully, folks will feel it in the music we have made thus far and see it in the accompanying videos. We are having an absolute blast!
[5:30 p.m.] Overdubs. When my team and I are not tracking with the Trenwiths, we are completing overdubs on songs for my forthcoming second album (expected early 2021). We tracked most of the album in Nashville in August with an A-list band, and now I am tweaking vocals, singing stacks of harmonies, and overdubbing guitars, banjo, dobro, keys, etc. I absolutely love the process of producing and arranging, and I love challenging myself as a musician in the studio.
An example is my current single "All of the Boys," which I co-wrote with my good friend and mentor Zac Brown and co-produced with Ric Wake. I have the utmost respect for the talents and expertise of producers, engineers and studio musicians. I have been obsessed with the craft of record making since I first stepped into a Nashville session with Mac McAnally in my early 20s.
[7:00 p.m.] Adventuring in New Zealand. Typically, after a workday, we will cook or go out for dinner, then wind down and go to sleep! However, on weekends or days off, I have been blessed to adventure in this extraordinarily beautiful country. In the past month, I have found myself in some of the most remote, beautiful and otherworldly settings I have ever seen, by driving just one or two hours outside of Auckland. Piha and Raglan break have some of the world's best surfing; see picture below—not of me surfing, but playing guitar on the beach, ever true to form. We also went camping at South Head on a completely deserted beach. It was magical.
[10:30 p.m.] Bedtime. What an inspiring time in my life this is for me—to have the opportunity to create, write and adventure in a country 10,000 miles [away] from my home! I am soaking in every moment of it.
Rotimi On Performing At ESSENCE Fest, Growing Up African-American & More
The Nigerian-American singer and actor sat down with the Recording Academy to talk about what inspired his latest album, 'Walk With Me'
In 2015, Rotimi stepped into the New Orleans Superdome for the first time to experience the magic of ESSENCE Fest. Four years later, in 2019, the "Love Riddim" singer returned to the celebration as a performer, something he said was spoken into existence.
"Last year me and my manager had a conversation and I said, 'Listen, I'm going to be on the [ESSENCE] mainstage this year. 365 days later, we did it," Rotimi told the Recording Academy at the 25th annual ESSENCE Fest.
Rotimi, also an actor on Starz' "Power," has evolved since his last album, 2017's Jeep Music, Vol.1. The singer said he really hit home with its follow-up, the recently released Walk With Me, a project he worked hard for, putting in hours in the studio after filming on set.
"Walk With Me is the first time I actually felt like I was giving myself as an artist, and personally I feel like with everything else I have going on I wanted to show people that this is really what I do," he said. "I wanted people to understand who Rotimi is, who Rotimi was before, who I want to be and just understand my growth and the journey and my passion for what I do."
Part of why the album felt like such a representation of him is because it embodies beats of his African roots, something he said was very present growing up Nigerian-American.
"I grew up with a lot of Fela Kuti and I grew up with Bob Marley," he said of his musical roots. "But I also grew up with Carl Thomas and Genuine and Usher, so there was a genuine mixture of who I am and what I've grown up to listen to. The actual Walk With Me project was a mixture of influences of Akon and Craig David."
Find Out Who's Nominated For Best Rap Album | 2020 GRAMMY Awards
Dreamville, Meek Mill, 21 Savage, Tyler, The Creator, and YBN Cordae all earn nominations in the category
The 2020 GRAMMYs are just around the corner, and now the nominations are in for the coveted honor of Best Rap Album. While we'll have to wait until the 62nd GRAMMY Awards air on CBS on Jan. 26 to find out who will win, let's take a look at which albums have been nominated for Best Rap Album.
Revenge of the Dreamers III – Dreamville
Dreamers III, the third installment in the label’s Revenge of the Dreamers compilation series, debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard 200 chart and achieved gold status this past July. In addition to a Best Rap Album nod, Dreamers III is also nominated for Best Rap Performance next year for album track “Down Bad,” featuring J.I.D, Bas, J. Cole, EARTHGANG, and Young Nudy.
Championships – Meek Mill
In many ways, Championships represents a literal and metaphorical homecoming for Meek Mill. Released in November 2018, Championships is the Philadelphia rapper’s first artist album following a two-year prison sentence he served after violating his parole in 2017. Championships, naturally, sees Meek tackling social justice issues stemming from his prison experience, including criminal justice reform. The album debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard 200, his second chart-topper following 2015’s Dreams Worth More Than Money, and reached platinum status in June 2019. Meek Mill's 2020 Best Rap Album nod marks his first-ever GRAMMY nomination.
i am > i was – 21 Savage
Breakout rapper and four-time GRAMMY nominee 21 Savage dropped i am > i was, his second solo artist album, at the end of 2018. The guest-heavy album, which features contributions from Post Malone, Childish Gambino, J. Cole, and many others, has since charted around the world, topped the Billboard 200 – a first for the artist – in the beginning of 2019, and achieved gold status in the U.S. As well, nine songs out of the album’s 15 original tracks landed on the Hot 100 chart, including multi-platinum lead single “A Lot,” which is also nominated for Best Rap Song next year. 21 Savage’s 2020 Best Rap Album nomination, which follows Record of the Year and Best Rap/Sung Performance nods for his 2017 Post Malone collaboration, "Rockstar,” marks his first solo recognition in the top rap category.
IGOR – Tyler, The Creator
The eccentric Tyler, The Creator kicked off a massive 2019 with his mid-year album, IGOR. Released this past May, IGOR, Tyler’s fifth solo artist album, is his most commercially successful project to date. The album debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard 200, marking his first time topping the coveted chart, while its lead single, "Earfquake,” peaked at No. 13, his highest entry on the Hot 100. Produced in full by Tyler and featuring guest spots from fellow rap and R&B stars Kanye West, Lil Uzi Vert, Solange, and Playboi Carti, among many others, IGOR follows the rapper’s 2017 album, Flower Boy, which received the Best Rap Album nod that same year.
The Lost Boy – YBN Cordae
Emerging rapper YBN Cordae, a member of the breakout YBN rap collective, released his debut album, The Lost Boy, to widespread critical acclaim this past July. The 15-track release is stacked with major collaborations with hip-hop heavyweights, including Anderson .Paak, Pusha T, Meek Mill, and others, plus production work from J. Cole and vocals from Quincy Jones. After peaking at No. 13 on the Billboard 200, The Lost Boy now notches two 2020 GRAMMY nominations: Best Rap Album and Best Rap Song for album track “Bad Idea,” featuring Chance the Rapper.
Photo: C Brandon/Redferns/Getty Images
Brittany Howard, Brandi Carlile, Leon Bridges, 2 Chainz & More Join Small Business Live Benefit Livestream
Proceeds from the event will be go toward loans to small businesses founded by people of color, with additional support to women-owned and immigrant-owned businesses, via Accion Opportunity Fund
This Saturday, June 20, artists including Brittany Howard, Brandi Carlile, Leon Bridges, 2 Chainz and more will come together for Small Business Live, a livestream fundraiser event for small businesses facing challenges from the COVID-19 pandemic.
Proceeds from the livestream will go to Accion Opportunity Fund to support small businesses founded by people of color, with additional support to women-owned and immigrant-owned businesses.
“Entrepreneurs of color are denied credit more often and charged higher rates for money they borrow to fund their businesses. We need to accelerate support to underserved businesses in order to reach our full potential,” Accion Opportunity Fund CEO Luz Urrutia said. “We have to decide what we want our Main Streets to look like when this is over, and we must act decisively to keep small businesses alive and ready to rebuild. This is a fun way to do something really important. Everyone’s support will make a huge difference to small business owners, their families and employees who have been devastated by this pandemic, the recession, and centuries of racism, xenophobia and oppression.”
Tune in for Small Business Live Saturday, June 20 from 4:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m. EDT on smallbiz.live. The site also provides a full schedule of programs and links to watch the livestream on all major digital platforms. To learn more about Accion Opportunity Fund, visit the organization's website.
DJ Khaled, Samantha Smith and John Legend
Photo: Kevin Winter/Getty Images
DJ Khaled, Nipsey Hussle And John Legend Win Best Rap/Sung Performance For "Higher" | 2020 GRAMMYs
DJ Khaled, Nipsey Hussle and John Legend take home Best Rap/Sung Performance at the 62nd GRAMMY Awards
DJ Khaled, featuring Nipsey Hussle and John Legend, has won Best Rap/Sung Performance for "Higher" at the 62nd GRAMMY Awards. The single was featured on DJ Khaled's 2019 album Father of Asahd and featured Hussle's vocals and Legend on the piano. DJ Khaled predicted the track would win a GRAMMY.
"I even told him, 'We're going to win a GRAMMY.' Because that's how I feel about my album," DJ Khaled told Billboard. "I really feel like not only is this my biggest, this is very special."
After the release of the song and music video -- which was filmed before Hussle's death in March -- DJ Khaled announced all proceeds from "Higher" will go to Hussle's children.
DJ Khaled and co. beat out fellow category nominees Lil Baby & Gunna ("Drip Too Hard"), Lil Nas X ("Panini"), Mustard featuring Roddy Ricch ("Ballin") and Young Thug featuring J. Cole & Travis Scott ("The London"). Hussle earned a second posthumous award at the 62nd GRAMMYs for Best Rap Performance for "Racks In The Middle."
Along with Legend and DJ Khaled, Meek Mill, Kirk Franklin, Roddy Ricch and YG paid tribute to Hussle during the telecast, which concluded with "Higher."
Check out the complete 62nd GRAMMY Awards nominees and winners list here.