Photo: Danny Clinch
Valerie June & Other Black Artists Call For Voter Mobilization With Upcoming Livestream Benefit Concert
The star-studded virtual show will take place on Sun., Oct. 18 in partnership with City Winery, with proceeds supporting Fair Fight and Movement Voter Project's Black-Led Organizing Fund
Americana songstress Valerie June is curating a stacked livestream concert to encourage voting in the upcoming election and benefit two organizations fighting voter suppression. Voice Your Vote will take place on Sun., Oct. 18 in partnership with City Winery and is inspired by June's "Young, Gifted and Black" Spotify playlist and the spirit of Nina Simone (the playlist's name is a nod to her groundbreaking 1969 song).
June will perform during the virtual event, along with the Black Pumas, Brittany Howard, Chastity Brown, Deva Mahal, Jon Batiste, Kandace Springs, Amythyst Kiah, Leyla McCalla, Lizz Wright, Rhiannon Giddens with the Resistance Revival Chorus, and others. More artists will be announced soon.
According to the press release, "Voice Your Vote will feature an array of Black artists, musicians, and poets, who will share their art and use their voice to uplift efforts to mobilize voting and stop voter suppression, a tactic commonly used to primarily target Black and brown communities. Proceeds from the event will be distributed to Fair Fight and Movement Voter Project's Black-Led Organizing Fund, two organizations working to support fair elections and grassroots voter mobilization around the country."
"This year, 2020, has unveiled so many wounds that we have the power to change by voting," June wrote in the release. "From systemic racism to climate change, it can feel overwhelming to look at the countless issues we're facing in the world today and to decide which ones to focus on changing, but collectively showing up in record numbers to cast our ballots is one of the simplest ways we can raise our voices. I believe that by voting in this year's election we have the power to end the year on a high note, so voice your vote."
The event will be aired on music streaming platform Mandolin on Oct. 18 at 3:00 p.m. PT / 5:00 p.m. ET / 6:00 p.m. ET. Tickets are available on City Winery's website for $15.
Photo: Kevin Mazur/WireImage for Parkwood/GettyImages
How Beyoncé Is Honoring Black Music History With "Texas Hold Em," 'Renaissance' & More
From ventures into country and dance music, Bey's drive for creativity is an exercise in freedom.
The most powerful thing for a Black woman to be is free; to embrace freedom of expression, freedom of agency and freedom of autonomy. In all aspects and areas of our lives, Black women strive to be free.
In the Black American consciousness, freedom takes on a political nature. But the ways in which we reach our freedom, individually and collectively, are complex and nuanced. Take Beyoncé for example: To the average African American, she is free; her billionaire status frees her from participation in a capitalist state plagued by classism, sexism, and racism.
Yet an individual actor (regardless of star status or income bracket) cannot free themselves from the system at large. And one of the few spaces where people who live on the margins can find a freedom similar to that of a 32-time GRAMMY winning icon is on the dancefloor.
Dance has always been a source of liberation for Black people, where "...shakes of the head, bending of the spinal column, throwing of the whole body backward may be deciphered as in an open book the huge effort of a community to exorcise itself, to liberate itself, to explain itself," philosopher Frantz Fanon wrote in The Wretched of the Earth. In a scene from Renaissance: A Film by Beyoncé, the singer shares a similar sentiment: "This tour…I feel liberated. I have transitioned into a new animal."
This is not Beyoncé’s first attempt at liberation, but it may be her most vocal. Her journey first began in 2013 with the release of Beyoncé, followed by 2016’s Lemonade, and continued on 2022’s Renaissance. Throughout these three albums, she has made declarative statements about her role in 21st century pop culture feminism, reveled in the exploration of Black Southern womanhood identity, and blended these intersecting identities to form a new being.
It’s poetic how Beyoncé uses music to define herself. In lieu of speaking directly to the press, she has used the vehicle of pop culture to communicate her needs, desires, as well as her understanding of the world. The strategy has proven successful: Through her groundbreaking and popular works, Beyoncé has dominated much media for the past decade. She knows that whoever controls the media, controls the mind.
Her last two albums have consciously explored genres created by Black artists, whose contributions had disappeared from the narrative. In the media frenzy that inevitably follows Bey's releases, the icon put this history — as well as contemporary artists — back on the global consciousness.
When Renaissance dropped, the artistry and voices of Big Freedia, Grace Jones, Honey Dijon, Moi Renee, and TS Madison were heard across the world. However, their presence was more than a simple collaboration or feature."This a reminder," Beyoncé says on "Cozy," the album’s second track.
The album — an auditory homage to the house music her late uncle Johnny loved — introduced audiences to the above artists, all of whom have made their own impacts on dance music. But it also educated listeners about the Black trans and queer underground dance scenes that birthed dance music and culture. In "chocolate cities," such as Baltimore, Chicago, Detroit, dance music was liberation music. Renaissance is and continues to be a call for liberation.
But liberation becomes confusing when it is Southern. Although the South has a long history of Black liberation — extending as far back as maroon communities to the freedom rides movement to protests against police training facilities in Atlanta — it still is associated with enslavement in the African American mind.
Country music, a genre with roots in the musical styling and traditions of Black people in Appalachia and the South, becomes whitewashed over time. This erasure, amplified through gender and racial discrimination policies, paints the South and country music as a hostile environment for Black Americans.
As a result, the banjo, "an instrument of innovation and collaboration," an instrument that is of African origin often used in minstrel shows and artists in blackface, becomes associated with the degradation of Black people. It is no coincidence that the banjo takes prominence on "Texas Hold Em"; when Rhiannon Giddens plays the banjo on the track she recontextualizes a fraught relationship between African Americans and country music.
So what happens when the most powerful entertainer in the world reminds people that she is not only Southern, but country in nature? The world begins to lose its mind.
Prior to the release of "16 Carriages" and "Texas Hold Em," Beyoncé had attended two significant events in western wear: The 66th GRAMMY Awards and Super Bowl LVIII. Donning a Stetson hat and a bolo tie (the official state tie of Texas), everything signaled a return to home. A return to the South.
As a little girl, Beyoncé spent summers in Alabama with her paternal grandparents; her grandfather would play and sing country music to her. With such foundational experiences, it makes sense why Beyoncé would use country music to describe the theft of her girlhood on "16 Carriages."
Throughout her discography, Beyoncé has alluded to her country origins — from costuming in her early days as the frontwoman of Destiny’s Child to songs like "Creole" and "Formation." And while she may not have held country in a full-on embrace, its spirit has never left her.
Yet, she needed to experience liberation of the Renaissance World Tour to bring this version of herself forward. On tour, she found liberation in the booming voice of ballroom legend and commentator Kevin JZ Prodigy, and through the joy of her daughter Blue Ivy Carter. Beyoncé found liberation not only through her dancers, narrator and her daughter, but in the ways in which the stage provided an opportunity for them all to be free.
She needed to be liberated in order to be the most actualized version of herself. A self, unlike the little girl in Alabama, who knows how unwelcoming the country music industry can be.
One singular action cannot bring forth liberation, and Beyoncé cannot take down the country music industry by herself. However, she can work in unison with Black country musicians like Rhiannon Giddens and Robert Randolph on "16 Carriages" and "Texas Hold Em" to make a change in the industry.
Her presence is giving visibility to the artists who have been working in country music long before Bey entered the playing field. Shortly after the release of "16 Carriages" and "Texas Hold Em," Black female country artists such as Tanner Adell, Reyna Roberts, K. Michelle, Rhiannon Giddens, and Rissi Palmer received a significant increase in streams. Palmer is one of the few Black women in the genre to chart on Billboard, prior to Beyoncé breaking the mold as the first Black woman to top the Billboard country chart.
Although she is one powerful person, Beyoncé understands each movement in music, culture, and politics is the byproduct of those who have come before her like Linda Martell, the first Black woman country star.
There is much to be speculated about the lasting impacts act ii, scheduled for release on March 29, will have on the country music industry, Its arrival certainly heralds an important impact on the artist herself.
Beyoncé is free, in her career, sound and attitude toward life. And the unintended (or possibly intended) consequence of her freedom and self actualization is that Black people in country music are allowed to be free too.
Photo: Ebru Yildiz
Who Is Rhiannon Giddens? 3 Things To Know About The Banjoist & Violist On Beyoncé’s "Texas Hold ‘Em"
Rhiannon Giddens has been esteemed in various folk circles for years — and her appearance on Beyoncé’s "TEXAS HOLD ‘EM" just broke her into the mainstream. Here are three things to know about the eclectic singer, songwriter and multi-instrumentalist.
After the club-storming Renaissance, its Act II begins with an unexpected sound: a burble of banjo, later joined by flowing viola. Welcome to "TEXAS HOLD ‘EM," one of two advance singles from Beyoncé’s forthcoming album, along with "16 CARRIAGES."
Beyoncé’s recently announced Act II promises to be an immersion into country music — which is both a fresh aesthetic and one deeply rooted to her Texan upbringing. The 32-time GRAMMY Winner has spoken about the "overlooked history of the American Black cowboy" and nodded to the culture with a Western getup at the 2024 GRAMMYs.
All of this is a completely natural fit for Rhiannon Giddens, who played said fiddle and viola on "TEXAS HOLD ‘EM."
"The beginning is a solo riff on my minstrel banjo — and my only hope is that it might lead a few more intrepid folks into the exciting history of the banjo," Giddens explained on Instagram. "I used to say many times as soon as Beyoncé puts the banjo on a track my job is done.
"Well, I didn’t expect the banjo to be mine," she continued. "And I know darn well my job isn’t done, but today is a pretty good day."
The "job" defines Giddens. Sure, she may be completely new to certain contingents of the Beyhive, but the two-time GRAMMY winner and 10-time nominee’s been on the scene for almost two decades.
Since making her mark with the Carolina Chocolate Drops in the mid-aughts, Giddens has forged a singular legacy. She’s not only a purveyor of traditional musics, but as an investigator of the racial and cultural cross-currents that forged our modern-day understanding — and misunderstanding — of Americana.
At the 2024 GRAMMYs, Giddons was nominated for two golden gramophones — for Best Americana Album (You’re the One) and Best American Roots Performance ("You Louisiana Man"). You’re the One was her first album of all-original material; in that regard, these noms show that a new, exciting chapter for Giddens is just beginning.
Here are five things to know about the artist who just played "TEXAS HOLD ‘EM" with Queen Bee.
Her Interrogation Of Black Music History Is Indispensable
Giddens has worked in a diverse array of fields, including opera, documentary, ballet, podcasting, and more. Her mission? To explore "difficult and unknown chapters of American history" through musical lenses, like the evolution of the banjo from Africa to Appalachia.
"In order to understand the history of the banjo, and the history of bluegrass music, we need to move beyond the narrative we've inherited," she’s stated. Elsewhere, she noted, "People seem ready for a more in-depth idea of folk music, culture and history.
Which extends beyond merely other people’s stories — but to her own.
…And It Led Directly To You’re The One
Speaking to GRAMMY.com about her GRAMMY-nominated first album of original material, Giddens was quick to note that "autobiography" doesn’t hit the mark.
"It doesn't express how I feel… they're still songs, and it's still a performance," Giddens said. "I'd say I'm drawing a little bit more from my experience, but I had to draw from my experience to write other people's stories.
"There's emotions that I feel that I then translate into these other stories," she added, "so I don't think this record is completely different from that."
She’s Made Killer Appearances With Paul Simon
Paul Simon’s ended his touring years, but he does make sporadic appearances, including at 2022’s "Homeward Bound: A GRAMMY Salute to the Songs of Paul Simon."
There, they performed a version of his epochal "American Tune," where he changed the words in nuanced ways as relates to the American origin story — and he enlisted Giddens to sing it with him.
"He didn't have to do nothing but sit back and collect his checks," Giddens told GRAMMY.com. "He made a statement with that song, and I don't want to take that away from him. I didn't change those words; he changed those words."
Where will Giddens go from her star turn with Bey? Wherever it might be, we’ll feel — and learn — something profound, one banjo strum at a time.
Photo: Valerie Macon / AFP) (Photo by VALERIE MACON/AFP via Getty Images
2024 GRAMMYs: Miley Cyrus Wins The GRAMMY For Record Of The Year for "Flowers"
2024 GRAMMYs: Miley Cyrus Wins The GRAMMY for Record Of The Year for "Flowers"
Accepting the award with her production team, Cyrus was irreverent and self-effacing, especially after having already won her first ever Golden Gramophone for Best Pop Solo Performance earlier in the evening.
“This award is amazing, but I really hope it doesn’t change anything, because my life was beautiful yesterday,” Cyrus said.
The pop singer beat out Lana Del Rey, Taylor Swift, Jon Batiste, Dua Lipa, SZA, Olivia Rodrigo, and Billie Eilish for the award, which was presented by Mark Ronson and his mother-in-law, the actress Meryl Streep. “Flowers” was a massive commercial hit, debuting at Number One on the Billboard Hot 100 and spending eight consecutive weeks in the top spot.
As she finished her speech, during which she thanked her collaborators, their partners, and her fans, Cyrus said “I don’t think I’ve forgotten anyone, but I might’ve forgotten underwear.”
Keep checking this space for more updates from Music’s Biggest Night!
Photo: Courtesy of artists
2024 GRAMMYs To Pay Tribute to Tony Bennett, Sinead O'Connor, Clarence Avant & Tina Turner With In Memoriam Segment
The GRAMMY Awards segment will feature performances by Stevie Wonder in tribute to Tony Bennett; Jon Batiste honoring Clarence Avant; Annie Lennox for Sinead O'Connor; and Fantasia Barrino remembering Tina Turner, airing live on Sunday Feb. 4.
The 2024 GRAMMYs will feature a special In Memoriam segment to honor the lives of some of the incredible individuals that the music world lost this year with performances by GRAMMY-winning and -nominated artists.
Jon Batiste is set to honor Clarence Avant, the "Godfather of Black Music," with a performance dedicated to the influential figure's impact on music and culture. Lenny Kravitz, one of this year's Global Impact Award recipients, will also play a significant role in this segment, both participating and introducing the tribute, linking two generations of music icons.
In a tribute to the Queen of Rock 'n' Roll, Tina Turner, Fantasia Barrino will perform, capturing the spirit and energy of Turner's music. Oprah Winfrey will also be part of this segment, introducing the performance, and adding a layer of gravitas to the tribute to one of music's most powerful voices.
In addition to the In Memoriam segment, the 2024 GRAMMYs will feature breathtaking performances from the leading artists in music today. Performers at the 2024 GRAMMYs include Billie Eilish, Billy Joel, Burna Boy, Dua Lipa, Joni Mitchell, Luke Combs, Olivia Rodrigo, SZA, Travis Scott, and U2.
Several confirmed GRAMMY performers will make GRAMMY history at the 2024 GRAMMYs this weekend: Mitchell will make her GRAMMY performance debut, while U2 will deliver the first-ever broadcast performance from Sphere in Las Vegas. Click here to see the full list of performers and presenters at the 2024 GRAMMYs.
Trevor Noah, the two-time GRAMMY-nominated comedian, actor, author, podcast host, and former "The Daily Show" host, returns to host the 2024 GRAMMYs for the fourth consecutive year; he is currently nominated at the 2024 GRAMMYs in the Best Comedy Album Category for his 2022 Netflix comedy special, I Wish You Would.
2024 GRAMMYs: Explore More & Meet The Nominees
The 2024 GRAMMYs, officially known as the 66th GRAMMY Awards, will broadcast live from Crypto.com Arena in Los Angeles on Sunday, Feb. 4, 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 2024 GRAMMYs Premiere Ceremony will broadcast live from the Peacock Theater at 12:30 p.m. PT/3:30 p.m. ET and will be streamed live on live.GRAMMY.com.
On GRAMMY Sunday, fans can access exclusive behind-the-scenes GRAMMY Awards 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.
The 66th GRAMMY Awards are produced by Fulwell 73 Productions for the Recording Academy for the fourth consecutive year. Ben Winston, Raj Kapoor and Jesse Collins are executive producers.
Paramount+ with SHOWTIME subscribers will have access to stream live via the live feed of their local CBS affiliate on the service, as well as on demand in the United States. Paramount+ Essential subscribers will not have the option to stream live but will have access to on-demand the day after the special airs in the U.S. only.
Stay tuned for more updates as we approach Music's Biggest Night!