My first Country Music GRAMMY Blogger experience can be described in three words that may seem obvious, but run very deep in meaning. MUSIC, LOVE and COUNTRY. The experience is one a music lover from any genre would be able to learn and grow from.
Some of my favorite GRAMMY memories started before the cameras started rolling in the STAPLES Center. On Saturday evening (Jan. 25) I attended the Special Merit Awards where Kris Kristofferson was awarded the Lifetime Achievement Award for his outstanding career. The most moving and memorable part of the evening was when Kent Knappenberger , a music teacher from Westfield, N.Y., was awarded the very first Music Educator Award. Kent has worked for 25 years as a music teacher, choir director and also shares his passion for music when he volunteers in Brazil. His moving acceptance speech reminded us all the importance of fighting to keep music alive inside of our schools. Kent has set the bar very high for future nominees in this category and rightly so.
Three of country music’s honors were bestowed during the pre-telecast. Darius Rucker took home his first GRAMMY as a solo artist winning Best Country Solo Performance for “Wagon Wheel.” The Civil Wars took the GRAMMY for Best Country Duo/Group Performance for “From This Valley.” Jon Paul White took the stage to accept the award for the duo. During his acceptance speech he apologized to Dolly Parton for depriving her of anything at all and then thanked his wife, kids and the plumbers who were fixing his pipes at home. What was noticeably missing was a thank you to his duo partner Joy Williams. It was a bit disappointing and also eludes there is little to no hope to see these two reunite. Kacey Musgraves was emotional when she accepted her first GRAMMY award for Best Country Song saying “Merry Go Round” is a song that has “changed her life”. Kacey shares this GRAMMY with co-writers Shane McAnally and Josh Osborne. If you missed the pre-telecast this year remember it for next year. Winners in over 70 categories are announced and the winners deliver some of the most humble, emotional and honest acceptance speeches you will ever hear. The pre-telecast is streamed online at grammy.com.
When the lights went down and the music started playing Sunday night in Los Angeles country music held our own and was well represented. The Recording Academy did something very exciting for country music, they stayed traditional. While the popular choice may have been to bring bro-country to the GRAMMY’s they took the more traditional route and invited a few of country music’s pioneer outlaws to the stage. The Highwaymen were reunited with Merle Haggard and Blake Shelton stepping in for the late Johnny Cash and Waylon Jennings. The two original Highway Men, Kris Kristofferon and Willie Nelson, started the medley with their signature song “The Highway Men”, then moved onto Willie’s “Mamas Don’t Let Your Babies Grow Up to Be Cowboys” and ending with Merle’s hit “Okie from Muskogee.”
Keith Urban and Gary Clark Jr. tore up the GRAMMY stage with their performance of Keith’s new single “Cop Car.” The two guitar slayers entertained fans with an amazing show of musicianship, and as fans we expect nothing less from Keith Urban.
The hugely talented Hunter Hayes debuted his new single “Invisible” at the GRAMMY’s. The performance started on his piano with famous motivational quotes from singers and actors being shown on the giant screen behind him. The ballad was emotionally charged and although Hunter admitted to being “unbelievably nervous” about performing it at the GRAMMY’s he won the crowd over without effort.
Miranda Lambert performed a special In Memoriam tribute to Phil Everly of the Everly Brothers with Green Day’s Billie Joe Armstrong. The unlikely pair performed “When Will I Be Loved” impeccably while the late singer’s family was shown on camera at the awards.
Taylor Swift did not add to her collection of GRAMMY’s last night, however, she did prove to the audience she is a serious artist who has something to say. Halfway through her performance Taylor took her signature hair throwing to an all new level when she threw her head back and forth a total of seven times while flawlessly keeping in time with the ballad. The singer let her fans help choose what song she would sing and the stripped down piano performance of “All To Well” left the audience on their feet cheering.
Kacey Musgraves was the big country music winner of the evening taking home 2 GRAMMY Awards. Her second GRAMMY of the evening shut down country music veterans to take home Best Country Album for Same Trailer Different Park. Kacey’s performance of “Follow Your Arrow” sounded incredible, unfortunately, on social media her Christmas light boots, outfit and neon set seemed to take away from the simple and charming performance.
The 56th Annual GRAMMY Awards and my experience as their Country Music blogger helped me to remember the real reason I started Country Music Tattle Tale. Music is a universal language, it makes us feel emotion, it helps us reminisce and when we can’t find the words we are searching for there is always a song that can do it for us perfectly. Many of my closest friends were made through a shared love for music. The genre of music you listen to is not important, the GRAMMY’s proved this by pairing classical musicians with heavy metal bands, rappers with rock bands and robots with a legendary soul singer. A love for music is not only important to our world but it is necessary. The next time you find yourself telling someone you don’t like “that kind of music” stop and really listen for a minute. The music just might be trying to tell you something important.