Having always dreamed of attending the Grammys (as a performing nominee!), I finally made it last night. It was an exciting weekend here in L.A., beginning with the kids music Grammy nominee concert at The Mint, where Justin Roberts and Judy Pancoast were among the performers. Pete Seeger and Julie Andrews did not make it (and I am lucky to have seen Pete recently at Jazzfest in New Orleans, but I digress).
Sunday morning I put on a DidiPop show for kids at our local farmers’ market, ran home, took off my pink-sequined skirt, threw on my new over-the-knee leather boots (thanks Zappos), a double coat of mascara and dashed out the door to the Grammy party hosted by my music publisher, Bug Music.
Kara DioGuardi looked dramatic in her black dress as she gave Bug’s “Hitmaker” award to Ari Levine (he’s cranking out the hits with Bruno Mars and I was fortunate enough to work with Ari on my X-files song, “Ooh La La”). Los Lobos was honored and martinis and doughnut holes were flowing. Weird combination right?
“We’ve got go. Now.” said my husband, quite seriously, who’s the president of Bug and negotiated me through my first Grammys. If you are not in your seat before the going-on-air countdown, they won’t let you in. So there we were, scuttling across the street, my leather jacket pockets filled with Cliff Bars and a water bottle stashed in the back of my pants (at the belt line) and under my new Kenneth Cole strappy top. I’d been warned by seasoned Grammy-goers, to sneak in food and water as the show lasts forever and ushers don’t let you out of your seats much. And by the way, we WERE allowed to get up, but I was happy I didn’t have to spend $45 on a couple bottles of water and a Kit-Kat bar.
I squeezed into my seat between my husband and a music publisher from Toronto (just met him last night, nice guy!) and the show started. The 5 powerhouse women sang the Aretha Frankin medley, Christina looking kind of plump and luscious (and falling as she took in the applause). Lady Gaga apparently got out of an egg, but from our seats, it looked more like a Cinderella coach. My favorite part was when she played the organ. What a hard working artist she is. And, during her song I turned to the music publishers on either side of me (my husband and my new friend from Toronto) and said two words “Express Yourself”.
My favorite part of Bruno Mars’ “set” was when he played drums. As an artist, I love to see true artists like Gaga and Bruno. Ones who WORK: practicing, rehearsing, writing and studying because that’s truly what it takes. (Sometimes I think people get caught up in the clothes, make-up and current body weight, without really acknowledging how much work goes in). Mick Jagger was mesmerizing and filled Staples Center with almost a church-like magnificence. What an energy that man has.
But in the middle part of the show, the whole glitzy Grammys became more like a family and kids music show. When Jada Pinket Smith and hubby Will, stood up and proudly applauded their little boy rapper, it felt as though I was at our kindergarten auditorium and they were just another couple of proud parents, and really, isn’t that what they are? I also saw Cyndi Lauper just below me, seemingly annoyed at her teenage son for doing something. Mothering never stops, even at the Grammys.
When Cee-lo and Gwyneth Paltrow came on with the Muppets, the night, in my perception, became more like a night of kids music for adults. And maybe that what POP music really is. Rihanna in her yellowish Princess dress, Katy Perry in the pink little Bo peep outfit, pretty on a swing showing her own wedding photos on her magnificent wing-like train, and Cee-lo in his multicolored chicken get up….how uplifting and free-spirited it all was.
(My theory on Gwyneth: she is one of the most gifted actresses of our time. Maybe she’s been auditioning all these roles in her movies, just to try out what she REALLY wants to be in life. She marries Chris Martin (from Coldplay) and watches him do his thing for a while. Then she says, “Wow! I wanna be a ROCK STAR!” and of course she can. She was electrifying.
Then Barbra Streisand came on. I am a huge fan and was excited to see what she would do. She looked more like a woman than a superstar, settled and calm. She choose one of the hardest songs I’ve ever sung (Evergreen) and that was interesting, because she just can’t get the notes like she used to. And she knows it, but still she went for it which was brave and real. I appreciate her courage, her talent and her hard work.
We all thought Justin Bieber would win as he is such a teen phenomenon, yet he lost to Esperanza Spalding, the talented jazz bassist/vocalist/producer/composer from Portland. I just listened to her CD tonight and it’s pretty remarkable. The other unexpected win went to Arcade Fire. They are dynamic group of multi-instrumentalists that includes two drummers, two women musicians, a husband and wife team that play cool instruments like glockenspiels and French horns. I believe that Arcade Fire’s CD was the only “concept album” of the five nominated for Best Album. And that, along with their incredible musicianship, could be why they took it. These days artists tend to record a bunch of singles and then compile them onto a CD, where in the old days, artists would think it out and create 40 minutes of story/vibe/concept.
All in all, the day (performing for kids and families with my new band), the day (at the party, reconnecting with musicians I haven’t hung with since I’ve been breeding), and the night (the legendary Grammys, complete with real legends) was one of the best days of my life. I know that’s quite a statement, but sharing all this music with my daughters (4 & 6) at my show, and my wonderful husband all day long (our 7 year anniversary is tomorrow), made me look up to the sky (after parking my minivan in our driveway) and thank god out loud. Just then a song came into my head, a wonderful song from the Sound of Music with the lyric: “Somewhere in my youth or childhood, I must have done something good”. What a lucky mom/wife/musician I am. And how important music is for all us, to inspire us and bring us (children, adults and families) together to feel and thrive in its magic. And just like raising kids, making music takes a lot of work, dedication and love.