meta-scriptWhere Do You Keep Your GRAMMY: Brenda Lee |

Brenda Lee


Where Do You Keep Your GRAMMY: Brenda Lee

The Lifetime Achievement Award winner shows the Recording Academy where she keeps her golden gramophone

GRAMMYs/Sep 19, 2019 - 02:57 am

Brenda Lee keeps her golden gramophone where she can see it, but rest assured, "It's nothing to do with vanity," she told the Recording Academy in the latest edition of Where Do You Keep Your GRAMMY?

The "I'm Sorry" singer, who became a big pop star in the '60s, has been nominated for a GRAMMY four times, but it was her Lifetime Achievement Award that came as a surprise to her. The award "was far beyond anything I'd ever hoped for," she said.

Lee also reminisces about the period of time when she, Peggy Lee, Elvis Presley and Diana Ross were all over the charts. Though longtime producer Owen Bradley and songwriter Ronnie Self contributed to her success, it was country star Red Foley who ultimately helped her get her start in the music industry. "I was just lucky to be a part of that era, I don't think they'll be another one like it," she said. "I truly don't, so I am so proud to be a part of that and to be recognized as a part of that."

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Tricky Stewart at the 2010 GRAMMYs
(L-R) Kuk Harrell, The-Dream and Tricky Stewart at the 2010 GRAMMYs.

Photo: Courtesy of the Recording Academy


Where Do You Keep Your GRAMMY?: Christopher "Tricky" Stewart Recalls Winning Song Of The Year For Beyoncé's "Single Ladies"

Fourteen years after R&B songwriter and producer Christopher "Tricky" Stewart won two GRAMMYs with Beyoncé for "Single Ladies (Put a Ring on It)," he still proudly displays his Song Of The Year golden gramophone "where the heart is."

GRAMMYs/Mar 27, 2024 - 06:15 pm

Though Christopher "Tricky" Stewart has won three GRAMMYs during his career, the acclaimed songwriter's most memorable GRAMMY victory was thanks to Beyoncé's "Single Ladies (Put a Ring on It)" — not just because it was his first, but because he had to accept it on on Queen Bey's behalf.

When "Single Ladies" won Song Of The Year at the 2010 GRAMMYs, Beyoncé was in the midst of getting ready to perform on the telecast. As Stewart recalls, accepting the award without Bey made him sweat — literally. "My collar went from being cool and lookin' good to lookin' like 1970s and s—," he laughs.

So, where does Stewart keep his Song Of The Year GRAMMY? Right at home. As he puts it, "Home is where the heart is, so that's where the GRAMMY should be."

All three of Stewart's GRAMMYs are proudly displayed in his home — and all three are because of his work with Beyoncé. "Single Ladies" also won Best R&B Song at the 2010 GRAMMYs, and 13 years later, his co-writing work on Bey's "BREAK MY SOUL" helped him win Best Dance/Electronic Recording.

Press play on the video above to hear more about Tricky Stewart's Song Of The Year win and what his GRAMMYs mean to him. Check back to for more new episodes of Where Do You Keep Your GRAMMY?

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Brenda Lee
Brenda Lee

Photo: Alexa King Stone


A Good Old-Fashioned Classic: Inside The Improbable Rise Of Brenda Lee's "Rockin' Around The Christmas Tree"

"Rockin' Around The Christmas Tree" is more than a yuletide classic; it's breaking records decades later. Here's the rockin' history behind Brenda Lee's enduring earworm.

GRAMMYs/Dec 11, 2023 - 03:43 pm

It may only have been October, but the atmosphere in Nashville's Quonset Hut Studio on the 19th of that month, way back in 1958, was downright festive.

"We had a Christmas tree up and Christmas lights," recalls four-time GRAMMY nominee Brenda Lee 65 years later, of what would be a fortuitous recording session. "The lights were turned down low. It was wonderful."

Little did she know that one of three songs Lee would cut that day would go onto become an indelible Christmas classic. One of the most instantly-recognizable hits in the holiday music canon, "Rockin' Around the Christmas Tree" has only grown in popularity since its initial release.

Most recently, it vaulted to No. 1 status on the Billboard Hot 100 for the very first time, a record for the longest gap between a song's initial release and hitting No. 1. The milestone also minted Lee as the oldest recording artist to ever top the charts.

"It's honestly still surreal to me whenever I hear it on the radio," Lee told mere hours after the jolly news was announced. "It's hard to believe. Of all the songs, I could have never thought that I would have a Christmas standard. But I do, and I'm grateful."

Lee may have been only 13 years-old when she recorded the track, but she  was already a veteran singer by the time she hit her preteen years. After belting out songs weekly in church with a voice respectively husky and sweet, she quickly became a regional success and soon inked a deal with Decca Records.

"When it comes to my label, Decca, I don't have the words," Lee says. "They are the best. And the reason they are the best is that, to this day they don't forget who helped build the label. I'm a part of that, and I'm proud to be a part of that."

Along the way, she joined forces with Owen Bradley, a dynamo producer known for his stable of female singers.

"He was such a songman," says Lee of the country music legend who is considered a chief architect of the Nashville rockabilly sound. "I don't know how he did it, but on his roster he had Patsy Cline,
Loretta Lynn, Kitty Wells and me; all the girls." Not that there was any competition: "I don't know how he traveled that road without us having a catfight," she adds, "but we didn't, and we all did well."

Another legendary force who took a liking to Lee was Johnny Marks, the songwriting giant behind classics like "Rudolph The Red Nosed Reindeer" and "A Holly Jolly Christmas." "One of the reasons I got 'Rockin'' was that Johnny said, "I want her to sing it. And if she won't do it, send it back to me.'"

Marks and Lee formed a friendship which would last for the rest of his life. "I used to talk to Johnny just about every day. He was precious. He'd get on the phone and here was his opening line from when I was 13 on was, 'Hi Brenda, it's Johnny! Just wanted to let you know there's not a lot of us older folks left!' I'm like, How old does he think I am?'"

For the "Rockin'" session, Bradley set up a session with a murderer's row of session players, also known as Nashville's A-Team. Among them was the seven-time GRAMMY nominee Floyd Cramer on piano (he'd later top the charts as a solo act with the melancholy piano tune "Last Date") and Hank Garland on the guitar (who can also be heard on the Bobby Helms classic "Jingle Bell Rock" as well as a bevy of Elvis records). Meanwhile, it was Boots Randolph, of "Yakety Sax" fame who ripped through on the song's iconic saxophone solo.

"They were the best of the best, and were like all my big brothers," remembers Lee. "With those guys, nothing was ever written. Whatever they played came from their heart, and that's what you hear in those records. We kept in touch and saw each other over the years, but most of them are not here with us anymore."

Bradley also recruited the Anita Kerr Singers for the back-up vocals which listeners hear right away crooning those carol-esque "Ahhs.". Headed by the three-time GRAMMY-winner Anita Kerr, the vocalists were staples on many of Bradley's productions including notable recordings for Patsy Cline, Willie Nelson and Perry Como.

"Rockin' Around the Christmas Tree" was recorded live, on the spot. "Back then that was the way you did it," Lee says of the method, which amounted to a high-wire act. "I recorded that way until I retired. I never wanted to come in and overdub afterwards. I wanted everybody there." Along with "Rockin'," Lee also recorded the southern Christmas classic "Papa Noel" which boasts mile-a-minute lyrics about a New Orleans-style holiday.

Released the Monday before Thanksgiving in 1958, "Rockin'" was by no means a smash during its initial release; in fact, it barely made a blip. The song  didn't gain popular recognition until the early '60s, as Lee's non-seasonal discography began to grow — including songs like "I'm Sorry" and "Break It To Me Gently" and "Sweet Nothin's."

Lee vividly remembers the moment when the song solidified itself as a Christmas classic. "Somebody called me on the phone: 'Brenda, have you seen that new movie Home Alone?' she said. "I said, 'No, I have not.' They said, 'Your song is all over it.' And I said, ''What song?' And they said 'Rockin!' Well, that was the start of it."

In recent years everyone from Kacey Musgraves and Camila Cabelo to Justin Bieber have released their own rollicking covers. But it's Lee's version that has lasted the test of time. 2023 has not only seen "Rockin'" finally hit No. 1, but this year also saw Lee shoot her first-ever music video for the track.

"What can I say? I want to thank everybody out there who's as big a part of that song as I am," Lee marvels. "It's a testament to good family, good fans, good DJs, good publicist and the list goes on and on. Whenever anybody thinks it's just them, they're gonna look around the corner one day and they're not gonna have a career. You can't get heard if you're not played."

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Kendrick Lamar GRAMMY Rewind Hero
Kendrick Lamar

Photo: Jeff Kravitz/FilmMagic


GRAMMY Rewind: Kendrick Lamar Honors Hip-Hop's Greats While Accepting Best Rap Album GRAMMY For 'To Pimp a Butterfly' In 2016

Upon winning the GRAMMY for Best Rap Album for 'To Pimp a Butterfly,' Kendrick Lamar thanked those that helped him get to the stage, and the artists that blazed the trail for him.

GRAMMYs/Oct 13, 2023 - 06:01 pm

Updated Friday Oct. 13, 2023 to include info about Kendrick Lamar's most recent GRAMMY wins, as of the 2023 GRAMMYs.

A GRAMMY veteran these days, Kendrick Lamar has won 17 GRAMMYs and has received 47 GRAMMY nominations overall. A sizable chunk of his trophies came from the 58th annual GRAMMY Awards in 2016, when he walked away with five — including his first-ever win in the Best Rap Album category.

This installment of GRAMMY Rewind turns back the clock to 2016, revisiting Lamar's acceptance speech upon winning Best Rap Album for To Pimp A Butterfly. Though Lamar was alone on stage, he made it clear that he wouldn't be at the top of his game without the help of a broad support system. 

"First off, all glory to God, that's for sure," he said, kicking off a speech that went on to thank his parents, who he described as his "those who gave me the responsibility of knowing, of accepting the good with the bad."

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He also extended his love and gratitude to his fiancée, Whitney Alford, and shouted out his Top Dawg Entertainment labelmates. Lamar specifically praised Top Dawg's CEO, Anthony Tiffith, for finding and developing raw talent that might not otherwise get the chance to pursue their musical dreams.

"We'd never forget that: Taking these kids out of the projects, out of Compton, and putting them right here on this stage, to be the best that they can be," Lamar — a Compton native himself — continued, leading into an impassioned conclusion spotlighting some of the cornerstone rap albums that came before To Pimp a Butterfly.

"Hip-hop. Ice Cube. This is for hip-hop," he said. "This is for Snoop Dogg, Doggystyle. This is for Illmatic, this is for Nas. We will live forever. Believe that."

To Pimp a Butterfly singles "Alright" and "These Walls" earned Lamar three more GRAMMYs that night, the former winning Best Rap Performance and Best Rap Song and the latter taking Best Rap/Sung Collaboration (the song features Bilal, Anna Wise and Thundercat). He also won Best Music Video for the remix of Taylor Swift's "Bad Blood." 

Lamar has since won Best Rap Album two more times, taking home the golden gramophone in 2018 for his blockbuster LP DAMN., and in 2023 for his bold fifth album, Mr. Morale & the Big Steppers.

Watch Lamar's full acceptance speech above, and check back at every Friday for more GRAMMY Rewind episodes. 

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Franc Moody
Franc Moody

Photo: Rachel Kupfer 


A Guide To Modern Funk For The Dance Floor: L'Imperatrice, Shiro Schwarz, Franc Moody, Say She She & Moniquea

James Brown changed the sound of popular music when he found the power of the one and unleashed the funk with "Papa's Got a Brand New Bag." Today, funk lives on in many forms, including these exciting bands from across the world.

GRAMMYs/Nov 25, 2022 - 04:23 pm

It's rare that a genre can be traced back to a single artist or group, but for funk, that was James Brown. The Godfather of Soul coined the phrase and style of playing known as "on the one," where the first downbeat is emphasized, instead of the typical second and fourth beats in pop, soul and other styles. As David Cheal eloquently explains, playing on the one "left space for phrases and riffs, often syncopated around the beat, creating an intricate, interlocking grid which could go on and on." You know a funky bassline when you hear it; its fat chords beg your body to get up and groove.

Brown's 1965 classic, "Papa's Got a Brand New Bag," became one of the first funk hits, and has been endlessly sampled and covered over the years, along with his other groovy tracks. Of course, many other funk acts followed in the '60s, and the genre thrived in the '70s and '80s as the disco craze came and went, and the originators of hip-hop and house music created new music from funk and disco's strong, flexible bones built for dancing.

Legendary funk bassist Bootsy Collins learned the power of the one from playing in Brown's band, and brought it to George Clinton, who created P-funk, an expansive, Afrofuturistic, psychedelic exploration of funk with his various bands and projects, including Parliament-Funkadelic. Both Collins and Clinton remain active and funkin', and have offered their timeless grooves to collabs with younger artists, including Kali Uchis, Silk Sonic, and Omar Apollo; and Kendrick Lamar, Flying Lotus, and Thundercat, respectively.

In the 1980s, electro-funk was born when artists like Afrika Bambaataa, Man Parrish, and Egyptian Lover began making futuristic beats with the Roland TR-808 drum machine — often with robotic vocals distorted through a talk box. A key distinguishing factor of electro-funk is a de-emphasis on vocals, with more phrases than choruses and verses. The sound influenced contemporaneous hip-hop, funk and electronica, along with acts around the globe, while current acts like Chromeo, DJ Stingray, and even Egyptian Lover himself keep electro-funk alive and well.

Today, funk lives in many places, with its heavy bass and syncopated grooves finding way into many nooks and crannies of music. There's nu-disco and boogie funk, nodding back to disco bands with soaring vocals and dance floor-designed instrumentation. G-funk continues to influence Los Angeles hip-hop, with innovative artists like Dam-Funk and Channel Tres bringing the funk and G-funk, into electro territory. Funk and disco-centered '70s revival is definitely having a moment, with acts like Ghost Funk Orchestra and Parcels, while its sparkly sprinklings can be heard in pop from Dua Lipa, Doja Cat, and, in full "Soul Train" character, Silk Sonic. There are also acts making dreamy, atmospheric music with a solid dose of funk, such as Khruangbin’s global sonic collage.

There are many bands that play heavily with funk, creating lush grooves designed to get you moving. Read on for a taste of five current modern funk and nu-disco artists making band-led uptempo funk built for the dance floor. Be sure to press play on the Spotify playlist above, and check out's playlist on Apple Music, Amazon Music and Pandora.

Say She She

Aptly self-described as "discodelic soul," Brooklyn-based seven-piece Say She She make dreamy, operatic funk, led by singer-songwriters Nya Gazelle Brown, Piya Malik and Sabrina Mileo Cunningham. Their '70s girl group-inspired vocal harmonies echo, sooth and enchant as they cover poignant topics with feminist flair.

While they’ve been active in the New York scene for a few years, they’ve gained wider acclaim for the irresistible music they began releasing this year, including their debut album, Prism. Their 2022 debut single "Forget Me Not" is an ode to ground-breaking New York art collective Guerilla Girls, and "Norma" is their protest anthem in response to the news that Roe vs. Wade could be (and was) overturned. The band name is a nod to funk legend Nile Rodgers, from the "Le freak, c'est chi" exclamation in Chic's legendary tune "Le Freak."


Moniquea's unique voice oozes confidence, yet invites you in to dance with her to the super funky boogie rhythms. The Pasadena, California artist was raised on funk music; her mom was in a cover band that would play classics like Aretha Franklin’s "Get It Right" and Gladys Knight’s "Love Overboard." Moniquea released her first boogie funk track at 20 and, in 2011, met local producer XL Middelton — a bonafide purveyor of funk. She's been a star artist on his MoFunk Records ever since, and they've collabed on countless tracks, channeling West Coast energy with a heavy dose of G-funk, sunny lyrics and upbeat, roller disco-ready rhythms.

Her latest release is an upbeat nod to classic West Coast funk, produced by Middleton, and follows her February 2022 groovy, collab-filled album, On Repeat.

Shiro Schwarz

Shiro Schwarz is a Mexico City-based duo, consisting of Pammela Rojas and Rafael Marfil, who helped establish a modern funk scene in the richly creative Mexican metropolis. On "Electrify" — originally released in 2016 on Fat Beats Records and reissued in 2021 by MoFunk — Shiro Schwarz's vocals playfully contrast each other, floating over an insistent, upbeat bassline and an '80s throwback electro-funk rhythm with synth flourishes.

Their music manages to be both nostalgic and futuristic — and impossible to sit still to. 2021 single "Be Kind" is sweet, mellow and groovy, perfect chic lounge funk. Shiro Schwarz’s latest track, the joyfully nostalgic "Hey DJ," is a collab with funkstress Saucy Lady and U-Key.


L'Impératrice (the empress in French) are a six-piece Parisian group serving an infectiously joyful blend of French pop, nu-disco, funk and psychedelia. Flore Benguigui's vocals are light and dreamy, yet commanding of your attention, while lyrics have a feminist touch.

During their energetic live sets, L'Impératrice members Charles de Boisseguin and Hagni Gwon (keys), David Gaugué (bass), Achille Trocellier (guitar), and Tom Daveau (drums) deliver extended instrumental jam sessions to expand and connect their music. Gaugué emphasizes the thick funky bass, and Benguigui jumps around the stage while sounding like an angel. L’Impératrice’s latest album, 2021’s Tako Tsubo, is a sunny, playful French disco journey.

Franc Moody

Franc Moody's bio fittingly describes their music as "a soul funk and cosmic disco sound." The London outfit was birthed by friends Ned Franc and Jon Moody in the early 2010s, when they were living together and throwing parties in North London's warehouse scene. In 2017, the group grew to six members, including singer and multi-instrumentalist Amber-Simone.

Their music feels at home with other electro-pop bands like fellow Londoners Jungle and Aussie act Parcels. While much of it is upbeat and euphoric, Franc Moody also dips into the more chilled, dreamy realm, such as the vibey, sultry title track from their recently released Into the Ether.

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