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2013 GRAMMYs: View a full performer list

From Fun. and Justin Timberlake to Rihanna and Taylor Swift, view our handy performer rundown for the 55th Annual GRAMMY Awards

GRAMMYs/May 15, 2017 - 01:36 pm

With Music's Biggest Night quickly approaching, it's time to think about finalizing your to-do list for your official GRAMMY Sunday party. Snacks? Check. Favorite beverage? Check. Dessert? Check. Internet bill paid so you can stream GRAMMY Live? Check.

What's in store for GRAMMY Sunday, you ask? Plenty.

The star-studded performance lineup for the 55th Annual GRAMMY Awards has a bit of everything — the music comeback of a six-time GRAMMY winner, first-time artist collaborations, a tribute to an American legend, GRAMMY debuts, and generous sides of country, rock, pop, and hip-hop. Plus, the GRAMMYs are guaranteed to be cool with two-time GRAMMY-winning artist/actor LL Cool J serving as host.

It's a lot to keep track of, so we've compiled a handy alphabetical guide to artists who will be taking the GRAMMY stage. Of course, be sure to stay logged on to GRAMMY.com and follow our liveblog to complement your GRAMMY experience and join the conversation.

And the performers for the 55th GRAMMY Awards are: 

  • Travis Barker, Chuck D, LL Cool J, Tom Morello, and DJ Z-Trip

  • Dierks Bentley and Miranda Lambert

  • The Black Keys

  • Zac Brown, T Bone Burnett (as musical director), Alabama Shakes' Brittany Howard, Elton John, Mumford & Sons, and Mavis Staples, who will pay tribute to the late Levon Helm of the Band

  • Stanley Clarke, Chick Corea and Kenny Garrett in tribute to Dave Brubeck

  • Kelly Clarkson

  • Dr. John and the Preservation Hall Jazz Band with the Black Keys

  • Fun.

  • Elton John with Ed Sheeran, performing together live for the first time

  • Juanes

  • Alicia Keys and Maroon 5

  • The Lumineers

  • Bruno Mars, Rihanna, and Sting

  • Miguel and Wiz Khalifa

  • Mumford & Sons

  • Frank Ocean

  • Rihanna

  • Taylor Swift

  • Justin Timberlake

  • Carrie Underwood

  • Jack White

The 55th Annual GRAMMY Awards will take place live on Sunday, Feb. 10 at Staples Center in Los Angeles and will be broadcast in high-definition TV and 5.1 surround sound on the CBS Television Network from 8–11:30 p.m. (ET/PT). The show also will be supported on radio worldwide via Dial Global, and covered online at GRAMMY.com and CBS.com, and on YouTube.

For GRAMMY coverage, updates and breaking news, visit The Recording Academy's social networks on Twitter and Facebook.

PJ Morton
PJ Morton

Photo: Patrick Melon

interview

On 'Cape Town To Cairo,' PJ Morton Connects New Orleans To The Motherland — One Day At A Time

Maroon 5 keyboardist PJ Morton details creating his new album in an intuitive and freewheeling manner while traveling up and down the African continent.

GRAMMYs/Jun 12, 2024 - 01:40 pm

Maroon 5 keyboardist PJ Morton's guest-stuffed new album, Cape Town to Cairo, is built on an attention-grabbing conceit. He wrote and recorded it within a 30-day span, while journeying the African continent, visiting Johannesburg, Lagos, Accra, up to Cairo, back down to South Africa.

But a good story is just that, and the entire project — which features Fireboy DML, Mádé Kuti, the Soweto Spiritual Singers, and others — would collapse without quality songs. "The songs were the main thing," the five-time GRAMMY winner says. "It doesn't matter who I have on these songs if I don't have any good songs, so that was the priority."

It's a chicken-or-egg situation; the raw materials of Cape Town to Cairo are solid, but the guests helped them truly pop. Of Nigerian native Fireboy DML, who Morton worked with in his home country: "I had a bit of my song 'Count on Me' already, and he sat there and wrote that in 20 minutes," he says, with awe still palpable in his voice.

Elsewhere, Morton hails South African trumpeter and composer Ndabo Zulu's sense of instrumental space on "All the Dreamers" (which also features singer/songwriter Aṣa), and on the highlife "Who You Are," Mádé Kuti's channeling of his grandfather Fela Kuti's essence.

What was Morton's primary takeaway from the experience? Most of us abstractly understand how much Africa influenced American music; it's another ballgame altogether to witness it firsthand — as this native New Orleanian did.

"When I'm in Lagos, Nigeria, and I'm seeing the horn players play, I'm like, Man, this feels like home," Morton enthuses. "I'm in Ghana, and I hear highlife, I'm like, This feels like a second line or something. And then, I eat jollof rice, and I'm like, Man, this is jambalaya. This is their version."

Read on for the full interview about Cape Town to Cairo, and what Maroon 5's working on in 2024.

This interview has been edited for clarity.

When our CEO, Harvey Mason jr., traveled Africa, he called the experience "mind-bending," "game-changing" and "eye-opening." What was your reaction?

Oh, man. That was constantly happening for me over and over. When someone says, "Welcome home," or I look at money and see a Black man on the money, I'm like, Man. This is a different place, and so much love.

But for me, it was all the connections I was making to my home. I mean, being from New Orleans, a lot of the food, the music, the way they dance in the streets, and the way they celebrate, it just was really a bunch of connections happening for me. I'd say it was a life-changing trip for me.

I totally hear that syncopation and swing in Maroon 5.

Yeah. This is a big statement, but ultimately all our music is African music. It's hard to unsee once you see that. Now, all I see and hear is Africa a lot of times. We've used those three chords and the truth forever. These banjos, these things were created in Africa.

I've been in Maroon 14 years, and I think a reason I connected with the guys is because we're influenced by the same things — even in different worlds that we didn't realize were the same things.

Can you talk about the process of making Cape Town to Cairo while on the road?

That's what was so crazy about this — I created the album in 30 days while in Africa from scratch.

So, there was no time to process and then put it together, which was also just fascinating — something I never do. I take my time. I'm intricate. I cross every T and dot every I, so this was an experiment in trusting my instincts and just trusting what I know that has gotten me this far in music.

That was a really interesting part — because I had to quickly process what I was feeling, or not even fully process, but allow my soul and my body to process it and just write whatever was coming out, and create whatever music that was happening in South Africa.

Sounds like a heavy readjustment of your usual thinking.

As soon as I stepped on the ground and the first day we were in the studio, everybody was kind of on edge because they didn't know what I was going to write. I didn't know what I was going to write, but three songs came immediately.

Three ideas came that very first day I was in the studio, and that kind of relaxed me a bit, but that was the process. It was feel where you are, go in the studio, write some melodies, create some music, come back a few days later, put lyrics to that, and then redo.

And so, we did from South Africa, we started in Cape Town, obviously to Cairo, but with Cape Town. Then we went to Johannesburg, and all in between this, I was doing shows. We were doing concerts. I was doing radio interviews, TV interviews. I really wanted to just engulf myself as fast as I could.

When we got to Lagos, we landed on Fela Kuti's birthday, who's the father of Afrobeat. And man, it was so inspiring for me. I went in the studio the next day in Lagos, and the same thing happened — three songs just like that, three ideas.

One thing that was also different from my process is, sequencing is so important to me, but I couldn't leave Africa without knowing that these songs worked together. So I had to kind of work through that process in a truncated period of time, but I'm so proud of what happened. It's just really listening to my instincts, and it is raw emotion, this album is.

Some of the songs, I didn't realize what I was talking about until after I listened to them, and it was like, oh, I thought I was talking about this, but I'm talking about this.

Such as?

"Please Be Good to Me," specifically, it was like, I thought it was like a sexy love song, vibe song, but I feel like I'm talking to Africa.

Like, Take me to another place. I don't need to be in control. I've promised all these people I'm going to write an album in 30 days. Continent, please be good to me. Just give it to me. I have bad writer's block sometimes, so I was hoping that didn't happen, and it worked out.

Fela Kuti… speaking of people who should be on money. But what's his significance to you, personally?

I just think the way he was a fighter, the way he was a band leader, I really pride myself on musicianship.

Again, being from New Orleans — Afro Orleans is the name of my new band that we're going out with in the summer, and it's the horns, it's the percussion and all of that. So it is in that spirit of Fela. Also, his grandson, Mádé Kuti, is on one of the songs, "Who You Are."

He's the first person that made me pay attention to African music in general. My gateway was Fela. And so, to connect it this way, and to finally be in Lagos where he did it — to be at the shrine — was just special.

You made Cape Town to Cairo in such an intuitive and freewheeling manner. How did you ensure an album came out the other end, and not a bunch of outtakes or something?

It was trial and error, man, because initially I was trying to do so much stuff that I was like, Wait, I lost my voice. You know what I'm saying? I was just trying to do too much, and I was like, OK, let's kind of refocus and keep the main thing. So, I had to cancel some interviews; I had to cancel some things and really focus on the main things.

For me, it was trusting those ideas, the things that felt good. What happens in the studio with me is, sometimes I'll have a good idea, but I'm like, well, I can beat that. Let me try to beat it, and then I'll try to beat it. Sometimes, that first one was the one that was supposed to happen, but technically I'm beating it.

But am I beating it? I don't know, because maybe it wanted to come out in that pure form, and not have me get in the way with all my knowledge and years of [experience].

So I started to really trust that. I really just was like, OK, first idea, let's go. This first melody, that's what came out. Let's go with that. Then, I would write lyrics to my mumble track of the melody that I felt right, that moved me immediately. Thankfully, I've been writing songs for a long time, and we got to it, man.

But you're right — it wasn't just about writing songs in 30 days. It's about writing a complete album that I thought was good in 30 days, which is a completely different thing. But I just locked in, man, and I'm still kind of tripping that it happened this way, but I can literally place every song and remember where I was because it's such a short period of time.

I can't wait to fully see the footage of me creating from scratch. We're working on the documentary now, but I've never seen myself make something from nothing [like] this. So, I'm excited to see the inception to the full thing.

What's Maroon 5 up to?

We just did Questlove's podcast and talked about it a little bit, but we're definitely working on a record. Adam's been on fire writing lately, and we just finished the residency in Vegas days ago. We'll be back in Vegas in September, at Park MGM.

But it's going great, man. The music is coming out really cool. I joined at a unique time, which is after Hands All Over and before "Moves Like Jagger" and all of that stuff. It was a transition when Adam started to bring in co-work, and Hands All Over is the last time they didn't use co-writers.

So, now it's back to just him writing, and it's refreshing. I can't lie. It's exciting.

2024 GRAMMYs: How The New Best African Music Performance GRAMMY Category Is A Massive Win For The World

"American Idol" Season 1 Finale - Kelly Clarkson Performance Show
Kelly Clarkson performs on Season 1 of "American Idol."

Photo: Steve Granitz / GettyImages

news

On This Day In Music: "American Idol" Premieres On Fox Network

For decades, "American Idol" has been instrumental in discovering some of music’s biggest names and pioneering the reality TV contest genre. As the show enters its 22nd run, here’s a look at how it has become an iconic household staple across the country.

GRAMMYs/Jun 11, 2024 - 04:23 pm

For countless Americans, "American Idol" is intertwined with core memories as a show that had families eagerly glued to their TVs twice a week. It brought generations together, creating moments of both suspense and excitement that are still remembered today, as the show continues to run in its 22nd season.

Created by visionary entrepreneur Simon Fuller, "American Idol" premiered on June 11, 2002, as a fresh spin-off of the British program "Pop Idol." It revolutionized how Americans engaged with reality TV through its interactive, viewer-driven voting system, which encouraged audience participation in the success of their favorite contestants. The show also offered viewers a glimpse into contestants' candid backstories and personal journeys, anchoring emotional investment and skyrocketing the show's popularity.

The show's debut season featured a dynamic trio of judges: singer Paula Abdul, TV personality Simon Cowell, and producer Randy Jackson. Their contrasting personalities brewed a chemistry as captivating as the hopeful performances. Abdul’s warmth, Cowell's blunt wit, and Jackson’s humor added extra layers of entertainment, making the twice a week broadcasts a must-watch.

The first season of "American Idol" also unforgettably introduced the country to Kelly Clarkson. Since her debut — with a heart-tugging backstory about being the average girl-next-door with big dreams — Clarkson has gone on to tour the world, host her own TV talk show, and secured her spot as one of music’s most beloved talents. 

"I had dreams since I was a little girl that I wanted to be on the GRAMMYs, or some award show and sing on there," Clarkson mentioned in her pre-audition interview. Flash forward 22 years, the pop singer has accumulated 17 GRAMMY nominations and three wins, propelled by a powerful vocal gift.

Other artists who launched their careers from the show's platform include Jordin Sparks, Carrie Underwood, Adam Lambert, and Jennifer Hudson, who each serve as testament to the show’s impact in music.

"American Idol" has not only opened our eyes to some of our favorite musicians, but it also has given us some of our favorite pop culture moments.

A video that frequently resurfaces on social media captures a memorable moment between Katy Perry and contestant Noah Davis, where they bond over the slang term 'wig'

"No, it’s not your language. It’s just for us," Perry joked to her fellow judges, Lionel Richie and Luke Bryan, when they questioned the term’s meaning.

After two decades on air, "American Idol" has etched a lasting legacy in pop culture. It has paved the way for other reality TV music shows and created lasting memories for music fans along the way.

“The show transcends age, gender, ethnicity, everything,” Underwood told Billboard in 2005. 

How Many "American Idol" Winners Have Won GRAMMYs? A Rundown Of Wins And Nominations For Kelly Clarkson, Carrie Underwood & More

Moby performing on stage
Moby

Photo: Mike Formanski

interview

"Let Yourself Be Idiosyncratic": Moby Talks New Album 'Always Centered At Night' & 25 Years Of 'Play'

"We're not writing for a pop audience, we don't need to dumb it down," Moby says of creating his new record. In an interview, the multiple-GRAMMY nominee reflects on his latest album and how it contrasts with his legendary release from 1999.

GRAMMYs/Jun 11, 2024 - 01:29 pm

Moby’s past and present are converging in a serendipitous way. The multiple-GRAMMY nominee is celebrating the 25th anniversary of his seminal work, Play, the best-selling electronic dance music album of all time, and the release of his latest album, always centered at night. 

Where Play was a solitary creation experience for Moby, always centered at night is wholly collaborative. Recognizable names on the album are Lady Blackbird on the blues-drenched "dark days" and serpentwithfeet on the emotive "on air." But always centered at night’s features are mainly lesser-known artists, such as the late Benjamin Zephaniah on the liquid jungle sounds of "where is your pride?" and Choklate on the slow grooves of "sweet moon." 

Moby’s music proves to have staying power: His early ‘90s dance hits "Go" and "Next is the E" still rip up dancefloors; the songs on Play are met with instant emotional reactions from millennials who heard them growing up. Moby is even experiencing a resurgence of sorts with Gen Z. In 2023, Australian drum ‘n’ bass DJ/producer Luude and UK vocalist Issey Cross reimagined Moby’s classic "Porcelain" into "Oh My." Earlier this year, Moby released "You and Me" with Italian DJ/producer Anfisa Letyago. 

Music is just one of Moby’s many creative ventures. He wrote and directed Punk Rock Vegan Movie as well as writing and starring in his homemade documentary, Moby Doc. The two films are produced by his production company, Little Walnut, which also makes music videos, shorts and the podcast "Moby Pod." Moby and co-host Lindsay Hicks have an eclectic array of guests, from actor Joe Manganiello to Ed Begley, Jr., Steve-O and Hunter Biden. The podcast interviews have led to "some of the most meaningful interpersonal experiences," Moby tells GRAMMY.com. 

A upcoming episode of "Moby Pod" dedicated to Play was taped live over two evenings at Los Angeles’ Masonic Lodge at Hollywood Forever Cemetery. The episode focuses on Moby recounting his singular experiences around the unexpected success of that album — particularly considering the abject failure of his previous album, Animal Rights. The narrative was broken up by acoustic performances of songs from Play, as well as material from Always Centered at Night (which arrives June 14) with special guest Lady Blackbird. Prior to the taping, Moby spoke to GRAMMY.com about both albums. 

'Always centered at night' started as a label imprint then became the title of your latest album. How did that happen? 

I realized pretty quickly that I just wanted to make music and not necessarily worry about being a label boss. Why make more busy work for myself?

The first few songs were this pandemic process of going to SoundCloud, Spotify, YouTube and asking people for recommendations to find voices that I wasn’t familiar with, and then figuring out how to get in touch with them. The vast majority of the time, they would take the music I sent them and write something phenomenal.

That's the most interesting part of working with singers you've never met: You don't know what you're going to get. My only guidance was: Let yourself be creative, let yourself be idiosyncratic, let the lyrics be poetic. We're not writing for a pop audience, we don't need to dumb it down. Although, apparently Lady Blackbird is one of Taylor Swift's favorite singers 

Guiding the collaborators away from pop music is an unusual directive, although perhaps not for you? 

What is both sad and interesting is pop has come to dominate the musical landscape to such an extent that it seems a lot of musicians don't know they're allowed to do anything else. Some younger people have grown up with nothing but pop music. Danaé Wellington, who sings "Wild Flame," her first pass of lyrics were pop. I went back to her and said, "Please be yourself, be poetic." And she said, "Well, that’s interesting because I’m the poet laureate of Manchester." So getting her to disregard pop lyrics and write something much more personal and idiosyncratic was actually easy and really special. 

You certainly weren’t going in the pop direction when making 'Play,' but it ended up being an extremely popular album. Did you have a feeling it was going to blow up the way it did?

I have a funny story. I had a date in January 1999 in New York. We went out drinking and I had just gotten back the mastered version of Play. We're back at my apartment, and before our date became "grown up," we listened to the record from start to finish. She actually liked it. And I thought, Huh, that's interesting. I didn't think anyone was going to like this record. 

You didn’t feel anything different during the making of 'Play?'

I knew to the core of my being that Play was going to be a complete, abject failure. There was no doubt in my mind whatsoever. It was going to be my last record and it was going to fail. That was the time of people going into studios and spending half a million dollars. It was Backstreet Boys and Limp Bizkit and NSYNC; big major label records that were flawlessly produced. Play was made literally in my bedroom. 

I slept under the stairs like Harry Potter in my loft on Mott Street. I had one bedroom and that's where I made the record on the cheapest of cheap equipment held up literally on milk crates. Two of the songs were recorded to cassette, that's how cheap the record was. It was this weird record made by a has-been, a footnote from the early rave days. There was no world where I thought it was going to be even slightly successful. Daniel Miller from Mute said — and I remember this very clearly — "I think this record might sell over 50,000 copies." And I said, "That’s kind of you to say but let's admit that this is going to be a failure. Thank you for releasing my last record."  

Was your approach in making 'Play' different from other albums? 

The record I had made before Play, Animal Rights, was this weird, noisy metal punk industrial record that almost everybody hated. I remember this moment so vividly: I was playing Glastonbury in 1998 and it was one of those miserable Glastonbury years. When it's good, it's paradise; it's really special. But the first time I played, it was disgusting, truly. A foot and a half of mud everywhere, incessant rain and cold. I was telling my manager that I wanted to make another punk rock metal record. And he said the most gentle thing, "I know you enjoy making punk rock and metal. People really enjoy when you make electronic music." 

The way he said it, he wasn't saying, "You would help your career by making electronic music." He simply said, "People enjoy it." If I had been my manager, I would have said, "You're a f—ing idiot. Everyone hated that record. What sort of mental illness and masochism is compelling you to do it again?" Like Freud said, the definition of mental illness is doing the same thing and expecting different results. But his response was very emotional and gentle and sweet, and that got through to me. I had this moment where I realized, I can make music that potentially people will enjoy that will make them happy. Why not pursue that? 

That was what made me not spend my time in ‘98 making an album inspired by Sepultura and Pantera and instead make something more melodic and electronic. 

After years of swearing off touring, what’s making you hit stages this summer? 

I love playing live music. If you asked me to come over and play Neil Young songs in your backyard, I would say yes happily, in a second. But going on tour, the hotels and airports and everything, I really dislike it.  

My manager tricked me. He found strategically the only way to get me to go on tour was to give the money to animal rights charities. My philanthropic Achilles heel. The only thing that would get me to go on tour. It's a brief tour of Europe, pretty big venues, which is interesting for an old guy, but when the tour ends, I will have less money than when the tour begins. 

Your DJ sets are great fun. Would you consider doing DJ dates locally? 

Every now and then I’ll do something. But there’s two problems. As I've become very old and very sober, I go to sleep at 9 p.m. This young guy I was helping who was newly sober, he's a DJ. He was doing a DJ set in L.A. and he said, "You should come down. There's this cool underground scene." I said, "Great! What time are you playing?" And he said "I’m going on at 1 a.m." By that point I've been asleep for almost five hours.

I got invited to a dinner party recently that started at 8 p.m. and I was like, "What are you on? Cocaine in Ibiza? You're having dinner at 8 p.m.  What craziness is that? That’s when you're putting on your soft clothes and watching a '30 Rock' rerun before bed. That's not going out time." And the other thing is, unfortunately, like a lot of middle aged or elderly musicians, I have a little bit of tinnitus so I have to be very cautious around loud music.

Are you going to write a third memoir at any point? 

Only when I figure out something to write. It's definitely not going to be anecdotes about sobriety because my anecdotes are: woke up at 5 a.m., had a smoothie, read The New York Times, lamented the fact that people are voting for Trump, went for a hike, worked on music, played with Bagel the dog, worked on music some more went to sleep, good night. It would be so repetitive and boring. 

It has to be something about lived experience and wisdom. But I don't know if I've necessarily gotten to the point where I have good enough lived experience and wisdom to share with anyone. Maybe if I get to that point, I'll probably be wrong, but nonetheless, that would warrant maybe writing another book.

 Machinedrum's New Album '3FOR82' Taps Into The Spirit Of His Younger Years 

 

 

Billie Eilish performs at Lollapalooza Chile 2023.
Billie Eilish performs at Lollapalooza Chile 2023

Photo: Marcelo Hernandez/Getty Images

feature

The Environmental Impact Of Touring: How Scientists, Musicians & Nonprofits Are Trying To Shrink Concerts' Carbon Footprint

"It’s not just [about] a single tour, it’s every tour," singer Brittany Howard says of efforts to make concerts more sustainable. From the nonprofit that partnered with Billie Eilish, to an MIT initiative, the music industry aims to curb climate change.

GRAMMYs/Jun 10, 2024 - 01:30 pm

Beloved by fans around the globe, yet increasingly unaffordable for many artists, concert tours are central to the world of entertainment and local economies. After the pandemic-era global shuttering of concert venues large and small, tours are back, and bigger than ever.  

Taylor Swift’s Eras Tour is smashing records, selling more than four million tickets and earning more than $1 billion. But that tour made headlines for another reason: as reported in Business Insider and other outlets, for a six-month period in 2023, Swift’s two jets spent a combined 166 hours in the air between concerts, shuttling at most a total of 28 passengers. 

Against that backdrop, heightened concerns about the global environmental cost of concert touring have led a number of prominent artists to launch initiatives. Those efforts seek both to mitigate the negative effects of touring and communicate messages about sustainability to concertgoers. 

A 2023 study sponsored by Texas-based electricity provider Payless Power found that the carbon footprint of many touring bands was massive. In 2022, concert tours in five genres — country, classic rock, hip-hop/rap, metal and pop — were responsible for CO2 emissions totaling nearly 45,000 metric tons. A so-called greenhouse gas, carbon dioxide contributes to climate change by radiative forcing; increased levels of CO2 also contribute to health problems.  

No serious discussion of climate issues suggests a worldwide halt to live music touring, but there exists much room for improvement. Both on their own and with the help of dedicated nonprofit organizations, many artists are taking positive steps toward mitigating the deleterious effects that touring exerts upon the environment.  

Smart tour planning is one way to lessen an artist’s carbon footprint. Ed Sheeran’s 2022 European run minimized flights between concert venues, making that leg of his tour the year's most environmentally efficient. Total carbon dioxide emissions (from flights and driving) on Sheeran’s tour came to less than 150 metric tons. In contrast, Dua Lipa’s tour during the same period generated 12 times as much — more than 1800 metric tons — of CO2 

In July, singer/songwriter and four-time GRAMMY nominee Jewel will embark on her first major tour in several years, alongside GRAMMY winner Melissa Etheridge. During the planning stage for the 28-city tour, Jewel suggested an idea that could reduce the tour’s carbon footprint.

"I always thought it was so silly and so wasteful — and so carbon footprint-negative — to have separate trucks, separate lighting, separate crews, separate hotel rooms, separate costs," Jewel says. She pitched the idea of sharing a backing band with Etheridge. "I’ve been trying to do this for 25 years," Jewel says with a laugh. "Melissa is the first person who took me up on it!" 

The changes will not only reduce the tour’s carbon footprint, but they’ll also lessen the cost of taking the shows on the road. Acknowledging that there are many opportunities to meet the challenges of touring’s negative impact upon the environment, Jewel emphasizes that “you have to find [solutions] that work for you.”

Sheeran and Jewel aren’t the only popular artists trying to make a difference. A number of high profile artists have become actively involved in creating the momentum for positive change. Those artists believe that their work on sustainability issues goes hand in hand with their role as public figures. Their efforts take two primary forms: making changes themselves, andadvocating for action among their fans.  

The Climate Machine 

Norhan Bayomi is an Egypt-born environmental scientist at Massachusetts Institute of Technology and a key member of the Environmental Solutions Initiative, a program launched to address sustainable climate action. She’s also a recording artist in the trance genre, working under the name Nourey 

The ESI collaborates with industry heavyweights Live Nation, Warner Music Group and others as well with touring/recording acts like Coldplay to examine the carbon footprint of the music industry. A key component of the ESI is the Climate Machine, a collaborative research group that seeks to help the live music industry reduce carbon emissions. "As a research institution, we bring technologies and analytics to understand, in the best way possible, the actual impact of the music industry upon climate change," says John Fernández, Director of the ESI.  

"I’m very interested in exploring ways that we can bridge between environmental science, climate change and music fans," Bayomi says. She explains that the tools at the ESI’s disposal include "virtual reality, augmented reality and generative AI," media forms that can communicate messages to music fans and concertgoers. Fernández says that those endeavors are aimed at "enlisting, enabling and inspiring people to get engaged in climate change." 

The Environmental Solutions Initiative cites Coldplay as a high-profile success. The band and its management issued an "Emissions Update" document in June 2024, outlining its success at achieving their goal of reducing direct carbon emissions from show production, freight, band and crew travel. The established target was a 50 percent cut in emissions compared to Coldplay’s previous tour; the final result was a 59 percent reduction between their 2022-23 tour and 2016-17 tour.  

A significant part of that reduction came as a result of a renewable-energy based battery system that powers audio and lights. The emissions data in the update was reviewed and independently validated by MIT’s Fernández.  

Change Is Reverberating 

Guitarist Adam Gardner is a founding member of Massachusetts-based indie rockers Guster, but he's more than just a singer in a rock band. Gardner is also the co-founder of REVERB, one of the organizations at the forefront of developing and implementing climate-focused sustainability initiatives.  

Founded in 2004 by Gardner and his wife, environmental activist Lauren Sullivan, REVERB  began with a goal of making touring more sustainable; over the years its focus has expanded to promote industry-wide changes. Today, the organization promotes sustainability throughout the industry  in partnership with music artists, concert venues and festivals.  

REVERB initiatives have included efforts to eliminate single-use plastics at the California Roots Music & Arts Festival, clean energy projects in cooperation with Willie Nelson and Billie Eilish, and efforts with other major artists. Gardner has seen sustainability efforts grow over two decades 

"It’s really amazing to see the [change] with artists, with venues, with fans," Gardner says. "Today, people are not just giving lip service to sustainable efforts; they really want to do things that are real and measurable."  

The Music Decarbonization Project is one tangible example of REVERB’s successes. "Diesel power is one of the dirtiest sources of power," Gardner explains. "And it’s an industry standard to power festival stages with diesel generators." Working with Willie Nelson, the organization helped switch the power sources at his annual Luck Reunion to clean energy. At last year’s festival, Nelson’s headlining stage drew 100 percent of its power from solar-powered batteries. "We set up a temporary solar farm," Gardner says, "and the main stage didn’t have to use any diesel power."  

Billie Eilish was another early supporter of the initiative. "She helped us launch the program," Gardner says. Eilish’s set at Lollapallooza 2023 drew power from solar batteries, too.  

With such high-profile successes as a backdrop, Gardner believes that REVERB is poised to do even more to foster sustainable concerts and touring. "Our role now," he says, "isn’t just, ‘Hey, think about this stuff.’ It’s more how do we push farther, faster?"  

Adam Gardner believes that musicians are uniquely positioned to help make a difference where issues of sustainability are concerned. "When you’re a musician, you’re connecting with fans heart-to-heart. That’s what moves people. And that’s where the good stuff happens."  

Small-scale, individual changes can make a difference — especially when they’re coordinated and amplified among other concertgoers. Gardner provides real-world examples. "Instead of buying a plastic bottle, I brought my reusable and filled it up. Maybe I carpooled to the show." Conceding that such steps might seem like drops of water in a giant pool, he emphasizes the power of scale. "When you actually multiply [those things for] just one summer tour, it adds up," he says. "And it reminds people, ‘You’re not alone in this; you’re part of a community that’s taking action."  

Gardner understands that REVERB’s arguments have to be framed the right way to reach concertgoers. "Look," he admits, "It’s a concert. We’re not here to be a buzzkill. Our [aim] now is making sure people don’t lose hope." He says that REVERB and its partners seek to demonstrate that, with collective action and cultural change, there is reason for optimism.  

"There’s a wonderful feedback loop between hope and action," Gardner says with a smile. "You can’t really have one without the other."  

Sustainable Partnerships 

Tanner Watt is Director of Partnerships at REVERB; he works directly with touring artists to develop, coordinate and implement initiatives that bring together his organization’s objectives and the specific personal concerns of the artists. "I get to come up with all the fun, big ideas," he says with a wide smile.  

Watt acknowledges that like every concertgoer, each touring artist has a certain level of responsibility where sustainability is concerned. "And everyone can be doing something," he says, noting a number of straightforward actions that artists can put in place while on tour. "They can eliminate single-use waste. They can donate hotel toiletries that [would otherwise] hit the landfill."  

Watt stresses that artists can lead by example. "Nobody wants to listen to an artist telling them what to do if they’re not doing it themselves," he says. "But we believe that everybody cares about something." He suggests that if an artist has cultivated a following, "Why not use [that platform] to be that change you want to see in the world?"  

Each artist has his or her own specific areas of concern, but Watt says that there’s a base level of "greening" that takes place on every REVERB-affiliated tour. Where things go from there is up to the artist, in coordination with REVERB. Watt mentions Billie Eilish and her tour’s sustainability commitment. "The Venn diagram of food security, community health, access to healthy food, and the impact on the planet is a big cause for her," he says. "So there’s plant-based catering for her entire crew, across the entire tour." 

Speaking to Billboard, Eilish's mother Maggie Baird said championing sustainability starts with artists. "If artists are interested, it does really start with them telling their teams that they care and that it’s foremost in their thoughts." In the same conversation, Eilish called the battle for sustainability "a never-ending f–king fight."  

Watt acknowledges that with so many challenges, it’s important for a concerned artist to focus on the issues that move them the most, and where they can make the biggest difference. "Jack Johnson is a great example," he says. While Johnson is a vocal advocate for many environmental issues, on tour he focuses on two (in Watt’s words) "cause umbrellas": single-use plastics solutions and sustainable community food systems. Each show on the tour hosts tables representing local nonprofit organizations, presenting concertgoers with real-world, human-scale solutions to those specific challenges.  

Four-time GRAMMY winner Brittany Howard is another passionate REVERB partner. "Knowing that I wanted to make my tours more sustainable was a start," she tells GRAMMY.com, "but working with REVERB really helped me bring it to life on the road. REVERB has helped us with guidelines and a green rider to keep our stage, greenrooms and buses more sustainable." 

After listing several other specific ways that her tour supports sustainability, Howard notes, "By supporting these efforts, I am helping ensure future generations have access to clean water, fish, and all that I love about the outdoors." A dollar from every ticket sold to a Brittany Howard concert goes toward support of REVERB’s Music Decarbonization project. "I’m also excited to see industry-wide efforts that are reducing the carbon pollution of live music," Howard continues. "Because it’s not just [about] a single tour, it’s every tour." 

There’s a popular aphorism: "You can’t manage what you can’t measure." From its start, REVERB has sought not only to promote change, but to measure its success. "As long as I’ve been at REVERB, we’ve issued impact reports," says Tanner Watt. "We include data points, and give the report to the artists so they understand what we’ve done together." He admits that some successes are more tangible than others, but that it’s helpful to focus on the ones that can be quantified. "We’re very excited that our artists share those with their fans."  

Watt is clear-eyed at the challenges that remain. "Even the word ‘sustainable’ can be misleading," he concedes, suggesting that the only truly sustainable tour is the one that doesn’t happen. "But if folks don’t step it up and change the way we do business in every industry — not just ours — we’re going to get to a place where we’re forced to make sacrifices that aren’t painless." Getting that message across is REVERB’s aim. "We can’t stop the world," Watt says. "So we find ways to approach these things positively."  

Watt says that the fans at concerts featuring Jack Johnson and the Dave Matthews Band — both longtime REVERB partners — are already on board with many of the sustainability-focused initiatives which those artists promote. "But there are lots of artists — and lots of fan bases — out there that aren’t messaged to, or have been mis-messaged to," he says. "I’m really excited to find more ways to expand our reach to them, beyond mainstream pop music. Because these are conversations that are meaningful for everyone, regardless of political affiliation or other beliefs."  

Reimagining The Planet’s Future 

Singer, songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Adam Met does more than front AJR, the indie pop trio he founded in 2005 with brothers Jack and Ryan. Met has a PhD in sustainable development and is a climate activist; he's also the founder/Executive Director of Planet Reimagined, a nonprofit that promotes sustainability and activism through its work with businesses, other organizations and musicians.  

"I’ve spent years traveling around the world, seeing the direct impact of climate change," Met says. He cites two recent and stark examples. "When we pulled up to a venue in San Francisco, the band had to wear gas masks going from the bus into the venue, because of forest fires," he says. AJR’s road crew had to contend with a flash flood in Athens, Greece that washed out their hotel. "And in Rome, some of our crew members fainted because of the heat."  

Encouraged by representatives from the United Nations, Met launched Planet Reimagined. Met’s approach focuses on tailored, city-specific actions to empower fans and amplify diverse voices in the climate movement. Through social media and live shows, Met strives to galvanize climate activism among AJR fans. And the methods he has developed can be implemented by other touring artists.  

Met points out that one of the most climate-unfriendly parts of the entire concert tour enterprise is fans traveling to and from the concerts. And that’s something over which the artist has little or no control. What they can do, he says, is try to educate and influence. Working closely with Ticketmaster and other stakeholders, Met’s nonprofit initiated a study — conducted from July to December 2023, with results published in April 2024 — to explore the energy that happens at concerts. "In sociology," he explains, "that energy is called collective effervescence." The study’s goal is to find ways to channel that energy toward advocacy and action.  

Polling a quarter million concertgoers across musical genres, the study collected data on attitudes about climate change. "Seventy-three percent of fans who attend concerts believe that climate change is real, and that we need to be doing more about it," Met says. "Seventy-eight percent have already taken some sort of action in their lives." He believes that if his organization can activate even a fraction of the estimated 250 million people annually who attend concerts around the globe, "that’s the ballgame."  

Met’s goal is to do more than, say, get concertgoers to switch from plastic to paper drinking straws. "At scale those things make a difference. But people want to see actions where there’s a track record," he says; a return on investment.  

AJR will be putting a plan into action on the second half of their upcoming arena tour. Part of the initiative is encouraging concertgoers to register to vote, and then actually vote. Beyond that, Met has specific actions in mind. "At every single stop, we’re putting together materials around specific policies that are being debated at the local level," he explains. "We give people a script right there, so they can call their elected representative and say, ‘I want you to vote [a certain way on this issue].’"  

He believes the initiative will lead to thousands of people contacting – and hopefully influencing – their representatives. With regard to sustainability issues, Met is convinced that "the most impact that you can have as an artist is when you give fans ways to pick up the mantle themselves." 

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