The 58th Annual Grammy Awards were absolutely exceptional. After winning this year’s GrammyU Business Plan Competition, I was given the opportunity to attend the award ceremony and sit in the main floor area filling empty seats. I have always watched the ceremony on TV in years past, and so was so stoked to see what the live event was actually like.
It was a long and exciting day. So much coordination goes into making the show what it is, I was absolutely blown away. We had to show up at 1pm, check in and get ready for the show. It was great to see everyone looking super fresh, and to meet new people who were also volunteering as a seat-filler. We were able to watch and listen to a lot of the red carpet interviews, but the highlight for me was just watching a huge reunion of industry veterens unfold as everyone started to take their seats. That kind of vibe and community between all of the different people, of varying generations, who work in the industry and know each other was so inspiring to me – it made me hope that the friendships that I have now with my class of friends coming up in the industry continue to last forever as well!
The show started promptly at 5pm and I was sitting to the left of the stage alongside Diplo and Skrillex. Behind me was a family member of Earth, Wind and Fire, who ended up making me laugh for most of the night!! I loved how high energy the show was and yet how lowkey and stress free it felt in the audience. The entire show was so tight, it was amazing to me that an entire stadium of people could be so coordinated. I loved how seamlessly the sets changed, how the show moves between acts and awards, and how real the reactions, joys and disappointments can be palpable in the audience.
I felt most moved by how talented and raw each of the performers were. I had always thought that these shows are cleaned up or edited for television, but for anyone reading this, I want you to know, that what you see is what we are seeing live. Everyone is so well-rehearsed, enabling their performances to come super naturally and easily to them. I felt that each of the acts really owned their moment on the stage, and it was clear to me that they have been doing it for so long that it’s really the ease of it, how naturally it comes to them, that makes the performances so enjoyable to watch.
My favorites were Lady Gaga’s David Bowie tribute, the Weeknd, Demi Levato hitting some high Lionel Richie notes, Justin Bieber’s solo moment and of course Kendrick’s epic tribute to black history month, the present day struggles of black America and the messages he wants his art to stand for. I was absolutely blown away. I was on my feet the whole time cheering YESSS KENDRICK, hanging on every word, inspired that he was so fearless to speak his truth, to own his voice, and to say what so many Americans think but are not able to say. It inspired me to work on my own music, to want to use music as a medium to inspire young women around the world to own their voices too and not be afraid.
The live animation Gaga was able to do on her face blew my mind, and how soulful the Weeknd’s voice is live simply made me feel good. I loved the yellow and black light boxes behind Bieber and Pitbull when they sang, and how coordinated sound, lights, vocals movement were for every act.
One other element of the Grammy’s that makes it unlike any other show I have ever seen, is how rich in history it is. This show made a conscious effort to bridge generational gaps as well as gaps by genre, and I loved seeing all the past Grammy footage of these epic moments in Western music history! It was so moving to see younger artists pay tribute to those who came before them, as well as seeing many established artists supportive of what emerging artists are creating.
I came home that night inspired by how much work the artists, the Recording Academy and the production team at the Staples Center had put in. I sat down at my drums and started playing immediately, inspired by the exceptionalism I had experienced that day. This year, I want to play better, I thought. Thank you to the Recording Academy and to GrammyU for letting me be part of what you do each year, and for making me wanting to work even harder.