Janelle Monae Visits The Recording Academy Headquarters
The inifitely talented Janelle Monae recently stopped by the offices of The Recording Academy in Santa Monica, CA to treat guests to a very special acoustic performance. The organization is located in a gorgeous, multi-story building (I had the honor of visiting back in December) that houses not only offices, but also music listening rooms, an extensive music library and an extended board room with an area where artists come out to play.
Monae performed the touching "Smile" and "Sincerely, Jane," two tracks taken from her debut EP. The artists also sits down to briefly answer five questions, including her take on the overwhelmingly positive response to her debut LP "The ArchAndroid" and the impact of musical theatre on her style and delivery.
Being unique, innovative and forward-thinking in so many different ways, the Atlanta-based artists also comments on her GRAMMY nominiation for "Many Moons" in the "Best Urban/Alternative Performance" category back in 2009. (I greeted her during the ceremony and gave her a big hug, totally rooting for her to take the prize.)
My favorite video is when she explains why she considers both Judy Garland and James Brown her biggest heroes. Her passion and love for the both of them shines right through.
GRAMMYs 2009s Update: Janelle Monae Walks GRAMMYs Red Carpet
I was great seeing Janelle Monae and her band on Sunday at the pre-televised show as well. Monae was up in the Best Urban/Alternative Category for "Many Moons." I went over to see her in the crowd and she gave me a big hug. "You look so handsome," she said. "And so do you," I replied. I wished her good luck and fun for the evening.
Monae ended up not taking the GRAMMY, which was scooped by Chrisette Michelle for "Be OK."
On Saturday night, I went over the swanky Mondrian hotel on Sunset boulevard in West Hollywood to watch Monae perform at the outdoor Skybar. The singer performed most of the tracks from the "Metropolis: Suite 1" EP, including crowd favorites "Smile," "Sincerely, Jane" and her GRAMMY nominated song "Many Moons."
Monae is such firecracker on stage, moving and dancing around like her life depends on it (and it probably does). She amazed the crowd when she jumped into the audience at the end of the performance, pranced up and down, then jumped in the hotel pool, followed by a climb up a tree that was located next to the stage. She's a stage beast!
Look out for new Janelle Monae music later this year.
GRAMMYs 2009 Update: Interview With Robyn
One of the people I had a pleasure to meet on Sunday was Swedish pop singer Robyn who was nominated in the Best Dance/Electronic category for her album "Robyn." The category was part of the pre-televised show on Sunday afternoon that features a total of 100 GRAMMY categories that are not featured on the televised show.
I was sitting in the audience Twittering for GRAMMY.com when I saw Robyn walk in an hour into the show. She got seated two rows behind me with a small entourage. When her category was up and the GRAMMY was won by Daft Punk for "Alive 2007," I turned around introduced myself and asked if she was disappointed. She smiled and whispered, "It is okay. I still made the best album."
I sent Robyn some questions via email last week about the GRAMMYs. I guess our meeting served as a reminder because she sent me back her response yesterday. Some of the questions are not all that relevant anymore now that the show is over, but as many of you are big Robyn fans I'm sharing it anyways after the jump. (She's has an exciting update her foryhcoming new album.)
Arjan: Congratulations on your nomination! Where were you when you first received the GRAMMY nomination news? What went through your mind?
Robyn I got a text from Martin Kierszenbaum who signed me in the US. The first thing I thought was can Swedish people be nominated for an American Grammy? It was so unexpected. And then wow, I´m so happy that an album I made without any compromises makes sense to other people as well.
How are you preparing for the ceremony? What are you wearing on the Red Carpet?
There are so many dresses to wear and only one night. Don´t know yet! It´s difficult to be a pop star.
Are you going to be majorly disappointed if you don't win, or really surprised if you win?
I´m so exited about getting nominated that I feel like I already won. If I should win, I will be really surprised, but I will also think that the jury made the right decision. :)
Everybody will be at the event on Sunday. Is there anybody in particular you looking forward to meeting?
Max Martin, we see each other in Sweden, but not too often so it´s going to be nice to hang out at the Grammy´s together.
Is there a GRAMMY performance you're looking forward to?
Looking forward to see M.I.A, Lil Wayne, Radiohead, Smokey Robinson. But all performances are going to be interesting to see, I think it´s an event where everyone really tries their hardest to please the audience.
What is happening after the GRAMMYs for you? What are your immediate plans?
I´m doing a small tour in Germany in the end of the month and that is going to be super, but the most important thing for me this year is to be back in Sweden and make my new album. Klas Åhlund and I, who I made "Robyn" with, are going to the Grammy´s together. It´s a perfect ending to this album and great beginning for the new one.
GRAMMYs 2009 Update: There's More...
Tomorrow, I'll be sharing some final thoughts about reporting as the inaugural blogger for GRAMMY.com, which was incredibly exciting and a tremendous learning experience.
I've been live blogging the event for 9 hours straight on Sunday via Twitter. Thanks to everybody who joined the Twitter event, participated in the discussion, sent me questions and gave me feedback. It really made a huge difference to me.
Check back later on Monday for more.
GRAMMYs 2009 Update: A Big Night In Music
For the past 51 years, the GRAMMYs have garnered a reputation for celebrating music's diversity by pairing some of the best artists in the business and giving a global television audience something unique to remember. And this year was no different.
Tonight's ceremony easily lived up to the Academy's track record with its unusual and unexpected pairing of GRAMMY winners and nominees. By taking a chance on some of these duets while appealing to as many people as possible in one show comes the risk of alienating some fans and viewers. Some may consider GRAMMY shows a mixed bag, simply because the musical performances are so diverse.
One of the most noteworthy performances on Sunday was Radiohead's performance with the USC marching band.
Radiohead hasn't played for a live U.S. television audience in many, many
years, but agreed to it for this year's GRAMMYs.
Also, unexpected was Stevie Wonder's stomping duet with The Jonas Brothers. GRAMMY winner Herbie Hancock quipped backstage that he had been thinking about a duet with the Jonas Brothers as well, just because it would be so much fun, and to see it "would work." If it worked with Wonder is up to the television viewers to decide, but whether you liked or disliked it, it was a GRAMMY moment to remember.
Jennifer Hudson was one of my favorites of the night. She ripped it. Perfect vocals and a soul-stirring delivery that had me tear up for a second. Given her personal tragedy, Hudson's delivery comes from a place that is intensely personal but touches upon very universal emotions of loss and struggle that many can relate too. Hudson also was awarded with a GRAMMY for Best R&B Album.
The newly-formed Rap Pack emerged with Jay-Z, Kanye West, Lil Wayne, T.I, and a very pregnant M.I.A. who seemed to fully let loose on stage rolling and riffing with the hip hop gentlemen for "Swagga Like Us." Loving M.I.A.'s outfit too. so playful.
Coldplay picked up three GRAMMYs and were joined for their performance of their winning song "Viva La Vida" by Jay-Z.
Four Top's Duke Fakir spoke candidly backstage about his Four Tops performance with Smokey Robinson, Ne-Yo and Jamie Foxx. He wasn't sure if the four could pull it off as they had not rehearsed with all the four of them present.
Justin Timberlake made two appearances. He teamed with Atlanta rapper T.I. for a performance of "Dead & Gone," while singing earlier with the legendary Al Green and Boys II Men.
To honor the legendary Bo Didley Keith Urban, BB King, Buddy Guy and John Mayer jammed for a few minutes.
The ultimate teaming was the one of Robert Plant and Allison Krauss who won most of the GRAMMYs statues this year including Record Of The Year. Robert Plant told GRAMMY.com after the show that it only took a day for him and Krauss to struck a musical connection that has created a special bond that led to GRAMMYs most prestigous honor. (Photo via Wiremage.com)