Photo by Timothy Norris/Getty Images for The Recording Academy
Jason Daley Kennedy, Rebecca Drucker, Sherri Lewis, Chauntae Pink, Abby Sasser and Mark Poston
"Storiestelling: Music and HIV/AIDS" Highlights Impact Of HIV/AIDS Education, Storytelling, Activism On Music Communities
The 2020 GRAMMY Week event was hosted in collaboration with STORIES: The AIDS Monument at the GRAMMY Museum
As precisely stated by political activist and GRAMMY Hall of Fame Inductee and Lifetime Achievement award recipient Paul Robeson, "Artists are the gatekeepers of truth. We are civilization’s radical voice." The proposition is no exaggeration.
In 1994, hip-hop trio TLC famously released their chart-topping single "Waterfalls" which saw immediate success, landing at the No. 1 spot on Billboard’s top 100 chart shortly after its release. At the 38th Annual GRAMMY Awards the song was nominated for Record Of The Year and Best Pop Performance By A Duo. But beyond its accolades, the song perhaps did even better to openly address the HIV/AIDS crisis on a global scale during a time when speaking out was needed the most.
On Tuesday, Jan. 21, The GRAMMY Museum’s Clive Davis Theater played host to the panel "STORIESTelling: Music and HIV/AIDS" which focused conversation on the devastating impact of HIV/AIDS on artists, music communities and the music industry, as well as the impact of music on HIV/AIDS. The free-to-the-public panel was brought to life in collaboration with STORIES: The AIDS Monument as a part of the GRAMMY Museum’s GRAMMY week panel series, "Music in Action: conversations with those diversifying, preserving and changing the music industry."
Featured panelists included performing artist and "Poz Roz" actress Chauntae Pink, Director of Talent and Entertainment Relations at ONE Abby Sasser, Moscham CEO and former EMI Music Chairman Mark Poston, Manager Rebecca Drucker and Performer, AIDS Activist and STORIES Board Member Sherri Lewis. The panel was moderated by Producer and Content Creator John Daley Kennedy.
Lewis was a member of the '80s pop-band Get Wet, whose top 40 hit "Just So Lonely" helped launch music videos on MTV. She tested positive for HIV in 1997 and subsequently followed a path of activism, offering support and fully standing in a message of HIV empowerment for survivors of the virus as well as promoting HIV prevention through involvement with various HIV/AIDS service organizations. "Being able to educate young people based on my own experiences so that they don’t have to go down that path is what gives it purpose," she shared.
During the 1980s, also known as the "plague years" for HIV/AIDS, AIDS was considered a death sentence. There was no known treatment for the virus and HIV/AIDS was negatively stigmatized by the spreading of disinformation and heightened media propaganda, only causing more confusion and fear about HIV/AIDS and how it might affect us.
As for music’s impact on HIV/AIDS, Poston explained that its biggest push forward came in the form of speaking out and spreading awareness. "Music and artists help open the discussion and create the awareness," he said. "That’s something that has continued right up until the present day. Artists have a voice, they’re often leading the culture and their tapped in with young people." He continued, noting key moments such as Freddie Mercury’s 1992 HIV/AIDS tribute concert, which garnered over 1 billion viewers worldwide. After contracting HIV, he explained that Mercury’s death helped put a face to the devastation behind the virus for music communities, who began to rally together around the cause after his passing.
The fight against HIV/AIDS itself, for music communities and beyond, is not over. Knowledge around HIV/AIDS is often still mystified and links between healthcare and poverty are intrinsic. According to Sasser, HIV/AIDS is still the number one killer of young girls around the world and spikes in infection amongst black and brown communities and women of color are evident. She is working alongside the STORIES AIDS monument team, continuing to keep the fight for awareness and action alive. Education and storytelling are key in this mission, she stated, which hopes to memorialize lives lost, celebrate activism around the virus that has occurred and to equip future generations with the knowledge necessary to effectively mobilize around HIV/AIDS moving forward. You can find more information on STORIES the AIDS monument here.
The GRAMMY Museum’s educational programming will continue throughout the week including discussions on Careers in the Music Industry, Creating Collaborative Communities for Female Artists and more. For more information on the scheduled events, visit the museum’s programs page here.
Be sure to stay tuned to GRAMMY.com throughout the week for your behind-the-scenes pass into 2020 GRAMMY Week events, including the 62nd Annual GRAMMY Awards airing live on CBS this Sunday, Jan. 26, featuring performers Lil Nas X, Billie Eilish, Lizzo and more.
Photo: Rebecca Sapp/WireImage.com
Macklemore & Ryan Lewis Take Over The GRAMMY Museum
Hip-hop duo discuss their career beginnings and creating their GRAMMY-nominated album The Heist
Current seven-time GRAMMY nominees Macklemore & Ryan Lewis, along with their manager Zach Quillen, recently participated in an installment of the GRAMMY Museum's A Conversation With series. Before an intimate audience at the Museum's Clive Davis Theater, the hip-hop duo and Quillen discussed the beginning of the Macklemore & Ryan Lewis' career, having creative control over their work and recording their GRAMMY-nominated Album Of The Year, The Heist.
"I met somebody [who] had the same dedication as me, [who] put everything into the music, everything into the craft," said Ben Haggerty (aka Macklemore) regarding meeting Lewis. "I wanted a career and Ryan was somebody [who] had the same discipline and sacrificed everything."
"I think it took a little while before it became clear to me who [Macklemore] was going to be," said Lewis. "I think the first indication of that was with the song 'Otherside' from the VS. Redux EP]. … That song … embodied so much. It was a story nobody was telling. … It was just somebody who was dying to be on the mike and to say something."
Seattle-based rapper Macklemore and DJ/producer Lewis have been making music fans take notice since they released their debut EP, 2009's The VS. EP. They followed with VS. Redux, which reached No. 7 on the iTunes Hip-Hop chart. The duo made waves in 2011 with the release of their hit single "Can't Hold Us" featuring Ray Dalton. The next year Macklemore was featured on the cover of XXL Magazine's coveted freshman class issue, and Rolling Stone dubbed the duo an "indie rags-to-riches" success story.
Released in 2012, Macklemore & Ryan Lewis' debut studio album, The Heist, reached No. 2 on the Billboard 200, propelled by the No. 1 hits "Can't Hold Us" and "Thrift Shop," the latter of which reached multi-platinum status and remained on top of the charts for six weeks. The album garnered a nomination for Album Of The Year and Best Rap Album at the 56th GRAMMY Awards, while "Thrift Shop" earned a nod for Best Rap Performance and Best Rap Song. The duo's Top 20 hit "Same Love" featuring Mary Lambert earned a nomination for Song Of The Year and has been adopted by some as a pro-equality anthem. The duo garnered additional nominations for Best New Artist and Best Music Video for "Can't Hold Us."
Upcoming GRAMMY Museum events include Icons Of The Music Industry: Ken Ehrlich (Jan. 14) and A Conversation With Peter Guralnick (Jan. 15).
Walk, Don't Run: 60 Years Of The Ventures Exhibit Will Showcase The Surf-Rock Icons' Impact On Pop Culture
The exhibit, opening Dec. 7, will feature late band member Mel Taylor's Gretsch snare drum, a 1965 Ventures model Mosrite electric guitar, the original 45 rpm of "Walk Don't Run" and more
Influential instrumental rock band The Ventures are getting their own exhibit at the GRAMMY Museum in Los Angeles that will showcase the band's impact on pop culture since the release of their massive hit "Walk, Don't Run" 60 years ago.
The Rock Hall of Fame inductees and Billboard chart-toppers have become especially iconic in the surf-rock world, known for its reverb-loaded guitar sound, for songs like "Wipeout," "Hawaii Five-O" and "Walk, Don't Run." The Walk, Don't Run: 60 Years Of The Ventures exhibit opening Dec. 7 will feature late band member Mel Taylor's Gretsch snare drum, a 1965 Ventures model Mosrite electric guitar, the original 45 rpm of "Walk Don't Run," a Fender Limited Edition Ventures Signature guitars, rare photos and other items from their career spanning six decades and 250 albums.
“It’s such an honor to have an exhibit dedicated to The Ventures at the GRAMMY Museum and be recognized for our impact on music history,” said Don Wilson, a founding member of the band, in a statement. "I like to think that, because we ‘Venturized’ the music we recorded and played, we made it instantly recognizable as being The Ventures. We continue to do that, even today."
Don Wilson, Gerry McGee, Bob Spalding, and Leon Taylor are current band members. On Jan. 9, Taylor's widow and former Fiona Taylor, Ventures associated musician Jeff "Skunk" Baxter and others will be in conversation with GRAMMY Museum Artistic Director Scott Goldman about the band's journey into becoming the most successful instrumental rock band in history at the Clive Davis Theater.
"The Ventures have inspired generations of musicians during their storied six-decade career, motivating many artists to follow in their footsteps and start their own projects," said Michael Sticka, GRAMMY Museum President. "As a music museum, we aim to shine a light on music education, and we applaud the Ventures for earning their honorary title of 'the band that launched a thousand bands.' Many thanks to the Ventures and their families for letting us feature items from this important era in music history."
The exhibit will run Dec. 7–Aug. 3, 2020 at the GRAMMY Museum.
Scott Goldman and Julia Michaels
Photo: Rebecca Sapp/WireImage.com
Julia Michaels Deconstructs "Issues," Writing Songs | "Required Listening" Podcast
Go inside the bright mind of one of pop's most promising singer/songwriters and learn about her songwriting process, her transition to the spotlight and the three female artists she admires
Julia Michaels' career has soared within the past year. Already a talented songwriter with writing credits such as Selena Gomez, Justin Bieber, Demi Lovato, Ed Sheeran, and Fifth Harmony to her name, Michaels took a leap of faith with the release of her third solo EP, 2017's Nervous System.
Though Michaels has admitted to being nervous about moving to the forefront as an artist in her own right, the gamble paid off. The single "Issues" went gangbusters all the way to No. 11 on the Billboard Hot 100 and her EP cracked the Top 50. Plus, the Davenport, Iowa, native scored two nominations for the 60th GRAMMY Awards: Song Of The Year for "Issues" and Best New Artist.
What makes Michaels tick musically, how did she overcome her trepidation and why does she rely on feelings to guide her songwriting?
"It depends on the person. A lot of the times I'll just talk to them [first]," said Michaels regarding collaborating with other artists. "I mean we're all human. We all cry the same. We all bleed the same. So I try to make people feel as comfortable as possible to be able to tell me things, even if the artist that I'm with doesn't write, just having them talk is lyrics in itself. You know, them explaining their day or expressing how they feel. It's like, "That's amazing ... if that's how you're feeling we should write that.'"
As a matter of fact, Michaels told the host of "Required Listening," GRAMMY Museum Executive Director Scott Goldman, that she lets her feelings pilot her songwriting instead of traditional conventions — a process that has yielded gems such as "Issues."
"I'm not that calculated when I write," said Michaels. "I'm all heart when I write so I don't think about the algorithm of a song or the mathematics of a song. I just think, 'This feels good to me,' and just kind of go with that."
When peppered by Goldman with a question about coming into the limelight as a recording artist, Michaels was quick to point out that she has benefitted from plenty of help and encouragement.
"I think a lot of people have helped me get there," said Michaels. "My manager, Beka Tischker, she's been with me for six years. She's always believed in me. … And this year a lot of people have come into my life. I mean even my band — Dan Kanter, who's my guitar player … he's been with me since the beginning of the artist transition. I can't even do it without him at this point. ... There's a lot of people in my life, especially this year, that have made me feel comfortable and confident."
Speaking of confidence, Michaels has taken cues from plenty of her self-assured peers. She cited three artists, in particular, who have inspired her career path.
"I'm not that calculated when I write. I'm all heart." — Julia Michaels
"[Pink is] a bad*," said Michaels. "I love Fiona Apple. I love a lot of artists that are not afraid to say what they want to say. I love artists that write their own music. Laura Marling — she's very much from her point of view, very much whatever she wants to do. And plus her voice is so haunting and beautiful."
"Required Listening" launched on GRAMMY Sunday, Jan. 28, with the first episode featuring an in-depth conversation with GRAMMY winners Imagine Dragons and the second detailing "The Defiant Ones" with Allen Hughes and Jimmy Iovine.
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.