Michelle Obama Steals Show At The Grammys, Delights Crowd With Girl Power Message

LOS ANGELES, CA – FEBRUARY 10: (L-R) Lady Gaga, Jada Pinkett Smith, Alicia Keys, Michelle Obama, and Jennifer Lopez speak onstage during the 61st Annual GRAMMY Awards at Staples Center on February 10, 2019 in Los Angeles, California. Emma McIntyre/Getty Images for The Recording Academy/AFP Emma McIntyre / GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA / AFP

 

Michelle Obama made a surprise appearance on the Grammys stage Sunday to deliver a message about music and women’s empowerment alongside superstars Lady Gaga, Jennifer Lopez, host Alicia Keys and actress Jada Pinkett-Smith.

“Music shows us that all of it matters — every story within every voice, every note within every song,” said the former first lady, looking glam in a sparkling gunmetal pantsuit with a 1970s-esque wrap jacket.

“Is that right, ladies?” she said to resounding applause.

The Recording Academy behind the awards gala has faced a barrage of criticism for not embracing diversity within its ranks, after nearly muting women nominees at the show last year.

This year, five of the eight nominees for Album of the Year are women: rapper Cardi B, folk-rock singer Brandi Carlile, pop futurist Janelle Monae, R&B prodigy H.E.R. and country star Kacey Musgraves.

At the start of the segment, Lady Gaga — a triple winner so far on the night — said: “They told me I was weird… And music told me not to listen to them.”

READ ALSO: Full List Of Nominees And Winners At The 2019 Grammy Awards

Lopez — who has parlayed her successful music career into acting — said that music “kept me moving from the block to the big stages and even bigger screens.”

Pinkett-Smith added: “Every voice we hear deserves to be honored and respected.”

And Obama added: “Whether we like country or rap or rock, music helps us share ourselves, our dignity and sorrows, our hopes and joys. It allows us to hear one another, to invite each other in.”

Obama quickly started trending on Twitter.

The moment came at the start of a show showcasing the female talent in the music business, one year after women were largely snubbed in the major categories.

Neil Portnow, the head of the Recording Academy, told women last year to “step up” if they wanted to do better on Grammys night.

The brazen comment drew outrage and Portnow said he would step down when his contract expires this summer.

On Sunday, the message was unmistakable — one of diversity.

“Thank you so much, ladies, for your light, your message of love, your sisterhood,” said Keys, the first woman to helm the show in 14 years.

“Give it up for these magnificent goddesses!” said Keys.

 

AFP

Grammys Vow To Tackle Gender Bias Amid Resignation Calls

Recording artists Beyonce, Jay Z and daughter Blue Ivy Carter attend the 60th Annual GRAMMY Awards at Madison Square Garden on January 28, 2018 in New York City. PHOTO:
Christopher Polk / GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA / AFP

The chief of the body that hands out the Grammys vowed Thursday to do more to tackle gender bias as he faced calls to resign over his contentious explanation on why more women weren’t winning.

The Recording Academy, which is comprised of 13,000 music professionals who vote on the industry’s most prestigious prizes, said it was setting up an independent task force to address gender issues.

The task force will “review every aspect of what we do as an organization and identify where we can do more to overcome the explicit barriers and unconscious biases that impede female advancement in the music community,” the Academy’s president and CEO, Neil Portnow, said in a statement.

“We will also place ourselves under a microscope and tackle whatever truths are revealed,” he said.

Portnow, a music producer and label executive who has headed the Recording Academy since 2002, caused a furor on Sunday in a customary press appearance at the close of the awards.

Portnow said that the music industry needed to show a “welcome mat” to women and increase mentorship to new professionals — and he raised eyebrows as he explained how female artists could win more awards.

“I think it has to begin with women who have the creativity in their hearts and their souls who want to be musicians… to step up, because I think they would be welcome,” Portnow told reporters at New York’s Madison Square Garden.

‘Time’s up’

Pop singers Katy Perry and P!nk were among the prominent women who took Portnow to task for his remarks.

Just as Portnow was announcing the task force, nearly two dozen women executives in music called on him to resign.

Using the language of the growing movement against gender discrimination and harassment, they wrote in their open letter, “Time’s up, Neil.”
His remarks at the Grammys “do not constitute recognition of women’s achievements, but rather a call for men to take action to ‘welcome’ women,” they wrote.

“We do not await your welcome into the fraternity. We do not have to sing louder, jump higher or be nicer to prove ourselves.”

Signatories included Carla Sacks, the founder of the prominent public relations firm Sacks and Co., and pop star Pharrell Williams’ manager Caron Veazey.

They cited a recent University of Southern California study that found that men accounted for more than 90 percent of Grammy nominees — who include not only performers but songwriters, engineers and others in the business — between 2013 and 2018.

‘Poor choice of words’

Portnow, revisiting his remarks in his latest statement, said “I understand the hurt” caused by “my poor choice of words.”

“I also now realize that it’s about more than just my words. Because those words, while not reflective of my beliefs, echo the real experience of too many women,” he said.

Only one woman, Lorde, was nominated for the most prestigious Grammy of Album of the Year at the latest awards and none were in the running for Record of the Year, which recognizes best song.

Funk revivalist Bruno Mars won in both categories.

The Grammys rallied behind the #MeToo movement through an intense performance by Kesha, who sang her autobiographical song “Praying” about her alleged rape by her producer.

But “Praying” lost out for Best Pop Solo Performance to the only man among the five nominees in the category — Ed Sheeran for “Shape of You” about a drunken hook-up with a woman he meets in a bar.

The year, however, was not entirely representative. Adele won Album of the Year in 2017 and Taylor Swift took the top prize the year before.

Swift’s latest album came out too late for eligibility while Lady Gaga and Katy Perry, major forces in past years, enjoyed less acclaim with their most recent works.

Bruno Mars Grammy Award Sweep Sparks Criticisms

Recording artist Bruno Mars, winner of the Record of the Year award for ’24K Magic,’ Album Of The Year award for ’24K Magic,’ Song of the Year award for ‘That’s What I Like,’ Best R&B Performance award for ‘That’s What I Like,’ and Best R&B Album album for ’24K Magic,’ and production team pose in the press room during the 60th Annual GRAMMY Awards at Madison Square Garden on January 28, 2018 in New York City. PHOTO: Michael Loccisano / GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA / AFP

After a tumultuous political year, the Grammys took a stand for the rights of women and immigrants — but the top awards went to a singer whose mind is on sex, booze and parties.

The surprise sweep by Bruno Mars has renewed criticism in quarters that the music industry’s premier prizes are out of touch with the wider world, but for fans of the retro R&B and funk star, he is an undisputed talent who provides exactly the type of joy the world needs right now.

The Recording Academy, the group of 13,000 professionals who vote for the awards, had seemed set to change the narrative this year, with hip-hop for the first time dominating the nominations.

But rap mogul Jay-Z, who led with eight nominations, left New York’s Madison Square Garden empty-handed. Kendrick Lamar, who has given musical voice to the Black Lives Matter movement, for the second time swept the rap awards but was shut out in the general categories.

During the televised broadcast, President Donald Trump was skewered, stars defended immigrants facing deportation and Kesha’s powerful performance punctuated the growing #MeToo movement to end sexual harassment.

The singer, who fought her label to stop working with a producer she says raped her, delivered her autobiographical song “Praying” with palpable ferocity.

But Kesha was also passed over for awards, with “Praying” edged out for Best Pop Solo Performance by Ed Sheeran’s “Shape of You” about putting the moves on a woman at a bar.

– ‘Least threatening artist’ –

Mars won Album and Record of the Year for “24K Magic,” whose title track speaks of the sight of hot women “waking up the rocket” in his pants, and Song of the Year for “That’s What I Like” about making love in high style.

His victory triggered an avalanche of social media postings questioning whether Mars really represented 2017 in music.

The satirical site The Onion summed up much of the criticism with the headline: “Bruno Mars Takes Home Coveted ‘Least Threatening Artist’ Award.”

Justin Vernon of experimental rockers Bon Iver, who won the Best New Artist Grammy in 2012, wrote on Twitter that while Mars had a “fun voice,” the singer “made a name in the INDUSTRY by making hits OUT of hits of yesteryear.”

Others faulted the Grammys for snubbing “Despacito,” the most-streamed track in history.

At a precarious time for Spanish-speaking immigrants as well as hurricane-hit Puerto Rico, “Despacito” would have been the first non-English song to take a top Grammy since the very first awards in 1959.

The fate of “Despacito” entered the political arena, with Democratic Senator Bob Menendez tweeting that the song by Puerto Ricans Luis Fonsi and Daddy Yankee was “robbed.”

– Proud of roots –

But Mars, whose real name is Peter Hernandez, does not lend to a simple narrative. He is himself partially Puerto Rican and also has Jewish, Filipino and Spanish ancestry.

The 32-year-old from Hawaii in an interview last year with Latina magazine voiced pride in his Puerto Rican heritage and suggested that he took a stage name to avoid being pigeon-holed as a Latin artist.

He has rarely spoken overtly about politics, instead of explaining that he sees music’s power to excite and unite.

Alisha Lola Jones, an assistant professor of ethnomusicology at Indiana University, said Mars deserved praise for acknowledging his debt to R&B and funk greats rather than appropriating them.

At the Grammys, Mars credited towering African American songwriters Babyface, Jimmy Jam, Terry Lewis and Teddy Riley for inspiring him.

Many scholars of African American culture “actually appreciate that as he draws from the tradition, he’s telling us the history,” Jones said.

“African American tradition does not always have to protest. Folks who are true to the tradition do as Bruno Mars suggests, which is get people up and moving.”

But she said that Mars’s high-energy dance routines could be an easier sell at the Grammys than Lamar, who put on a symbolism-rich performance with camouflage-clad dancers dropping to the ground to simulated bullets.

Mars “does a palatable music industry performance that folks can digest, where Kendrick Lamar, in contrast, has folks on edge,” she said.

Another possibility for Mars’s victory is that with multiple hip-hop stars in competition, he benefited from a split in the vote.

Recording Academy president Neil Portnow hinted at that theory, telling reporters: “When you look at five nominations (in a category), the math of how that works out and who votes for whom is a little unpredictable.”

Whatever the reason, the Grammys also face another issue. Initial figures from Nielsen said that 19.8 million people watched the show, a drop of more than one quarter from last year and the lowest in a decade.

AFP

Hillary Clinton Reads Excerpt Of ‘Fire And Fury’ At The Grammys

Former Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton made a surpirse apparnce at the Grammy’s by reading from Michael Wolff’s controversial book “Fire and Fury.”

A pre-taped parody sketch saw Grammy Awards host James Corden audition celebrities, including John Legend, Cher, Cardi B and Snoop Dogg. They read excerpts from the deeply critical book about President Donald Trump’s first year in office, ostensibly as contenders for a spoken word Grammy prize.

Clinton, who lost the 2016 election to Trump, read an excerpt from the book about Trump’s eating habits. “One reason why he liked to eat at McDonald‘s: Nobody knew he was coming and the food was safely pre-made,” Clinton read.

Corden then praised her, saying “The Grammy is in the bag.”

The president’s family and members of his administration immediately criticized the segment.

His son Donald Trump Jr. tweeted: “Getting to read a #fakenews book excerpt at the Grammys seems like a great consolation prize for losing the presidency.”

In a follow-up tweet, he added: “The more Hillary goes on television the more the American people realize how awesome it is to have @realDonaldTrump in office.”

Nikki Haley, the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations who is known to post on social media about her love of pop music, tweeted that Clinton’s appearance “ruined the Grammys. Such a shame.”

Wolff’s book ”Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House” became an instant bestseller on Jan. 5 when its release was pulled forward after published excerpts set off a political firestorm, threats by Trump lawyers of legal action and an effort to halt publication.

The book, dismissed by Trump as full of lies, depicts a chaotic White House, a president who was ill-prepared to win the office in 2016 and aides who scorned his abilities. It is based on extensive interviews with Trump’s former chief strategist Steve Bannon and other aides.

Although Absent, Ed Sheeran Wins Two Pop Grammy Awards

English pop songwriter Ed Sheeran, one of the most successful artists of the past year, on Sunday won his third and fourth Grammys — both outside the major categories.

Sheeran won Best Pop Vocal Album for “Divide” and Best Pop Solo Performance for the album’s single “Shape of You,” a minimalist dance number about finding love in a bar.

He beat out fellow chart-toppers including pop superstar Lady Gaga, who was in the running for both awards.

Sheeran, 26, had been a favourite leading up to the nominations for the Grammys in light of his past recognition at the awards and his awesome commercial success, including his status as last year’s most streamed artist on Spotify.

But in a surprise seen as reflecting shifts in US pop culture, hip-hop for the first time dominated the major nominations, and Sheeran was left in the cold.

“Divide” generated a series of major hits for Sheeran including “Shape of You,” the rockier “Castle on the Hill” and the romantic ballad “Perfect.”

Sheeran was not present to pick up the awards.

AFP

Music Industry Hails Jay-Z Before Grammys

JAY-Z performs onstage during Day 1 of The Meadows Music & Arts Festival at Citi Field in New York City. / AFP PHOTO / ANGELA WEISS

Jay-Z, who once boycotted the Grammys as biased against hip-hop, was hailed Saturday by the music industry’s power brokers ahead of the latest awards where he leads nominations.

The rapper who rose from a broken home to become a hip-hop multimillionaire was contrite over his previous attacks on the Grammys when he accepted a prize as an “industry icon” at a pre-award gala thrown by veteran music executive Clive Davis.

Jay-Z refused to attend the Grammys in 1999 because the Recording Academy which administers the awards snubbed fellow rapper DMX.

He stayed away, upset at the lack of recognition for hip-hop, until coming in 2004 with wife-to-be Beyonce, who joined him on Saturday.

“I realize like, man, art is super subjective and everybody is doing their best and the Academy, they are human like we are,” Jay-Z told the packed ballroom in New York’s Times Square.

“We can pretend we don’t care, but we really care,” he said of Grammy recognition. “We care because we see the most incredible artists stand on that stage and we aspire to be there.”

A who’s who of top artists performed in Jay-Z’s honor, with soul legend Gladys Knight singing her classic “Midnight Train to Georgia” and Luis Fonsi dancing through his viral hit “Despacito.”

Alicia Keys weaved Jay-Z’s songs from “Hard Knock Life (Ghetto Anthem)” to their collaboration “Empire State of Mind” into a piano medley, in which she raised her hands and led a chant of the rapper’s nickname Hov.

 Breakthrough year for rap 

Jay-Z is in the running for eight awards at Sunday’s Grammys including Album of the Year for “4:44,” a strikingly introspective work in which the rapper apologizes for infidelity to Beyonce and supports his mother as she comes out as lesbian.

The music industry’s premier awards gala — which has returned to New York after 15 years in Los Angeles — is shaping up to be a big night for hip-hop, which for the first time makes up a majority of nominations in the top categories.

Jay-Z is already one of the most accoladed artists in Grammy history with 21 awards. But until this year he had always been passed over for the main categories.

Jay-Z grew up fatherless in Brooklyn and became a small-time drug dealer.

He is now worth an estimated $1 billion with Beyonce after amassing a business empire that includes fashion, entertainment and the Tidal streaming service.

In an interview aired Saturday on CNN for a new show of Van Jones, the community activist and former aide to president Barack Obama, Jay-Z urged African American entrepreneurship.

“Until we come to the table with our own… power base, nothing will change,” he said.

Jay-Z is nominated for Record of the Year, which recognizes the top song, for “The Story of O.J.,” which explores the persistence of racism with his own success as a backdrop.

 Tough competition 

While Jay-Z is ahead for Sunday, music industry prognosticators see fewer clear-cut favorites compared with previous years.

West Coast rapper Kendrick Lamar closely trails Jay-Z with seven nominations amid acclaim for his album “DAMN.,” a return to a classic hip-hop sound by an artist known for his experimentation.

Lamar’s previous album, “To Pimp a Butterfly,” offered an unofficial musical soundtrack for the Black Lives Matter movement against police brutality — but, to the disappointment of many music industry watchers, was denied Album of the Year two years ago.

Album of the Year contenders also include two high-selling pop albums — “24K Magic” by Bruno Mars, who has revived fun-loving retro funk, and “Melodrama” by Lorde, the 21-year-old pop prodigy from New Zealand.

A dark horse in the category is “‘Awaken, My Love!’,” the psychedelic, R&B-infused album of Childish Gambino, the rap alter ego of actor and comedian Donald Glover.

Lorde is the only woman nominated in one of the two top categories — despite the growing attention to gender discrimination in the entertainment industry following revelations of sexual misconduct by Hollywood mogul Harvey Weinstein.

In a show of support for the #MeToo movement, performers selected for the televised Grammy show include Kesha, who has taken on sexism in the industry after accusing her producer of raping her.

A group set up by female entertainment executives plans to hand out white roses as a show of solidarity with women fighting abuse.

AFP

Jay-Z Leads Nominations In 2018 Grammys

JAY-Z performs onstage during Day 1 of The Meadows Music & Arts Festival at Citi Field on September 15, 2017 in New York City. / AFP PHOTO / ANGELA WEISS

The Grammys – often derided as a tone-deaf music industry love-fest – will take on new relevance this year, as hip-hop artists for the first time are leading the pack.

But after a tumultuous 2017 marked by racial strife and a nationwide reckoning about sexual harassment, the Grammys also must face up to a glaring hole — only one woman is in contention in the two most closely watched categories.

Rap mogul Jay-Z leads the nominations for the music industry’s biggest night, which is taking place Sunday in New York — the first time in 15 years that the ceremony is back in the Big Apple.

For the first time, no white male has been nominated for the top prize of Album of the Year with Jay-Z’s “4:44” up against works by fellow rappers Kendrick Lamar and Childish Gambino, funk revivalist Bruno Mars and the only woman, New Zealand pop prodigy Lorde.

The awards come after several years in which the Recording Academy, the group of 13,000 music professionals, has been accused of snubbing hip-hop.

Only two rap albums have won Album of the Year and one of the most acclaimed young figures in hip-hop, Frank Ocean, has gone so far as to refuse to submit work for Grammy consideration.

This year’s shift may partially show structural reforms at the Recording Academy, which switched to online voting —
meaning that itinerant artists, not just industry veterans checking their home mailboxes, have a voice.

But the nominations also reflect a year in which racial divisions have come into stark focus in America with the election of President Donald Trump.

Jay-Z and Lamar have both delved extensively into race relations. Rap also dominates the second most-watched category of Record of the Year, which recognizes best song, with other nominees including Spanish-language viral hit “Despacito.”

Hip-Hop Blends Into Broader Culture

“Pop culture has always provided distraction and in some ways has echoed what’s going on in the world,” said Akil Houston, an associate professor of cultural and media states at Ohio University.

But Houston also said that hip-hop — initially a rebellious, outsider movement — has become more intertwined with broader US culture with its presence in fashion, cinema and other musical genres.

“In years past, there has been a lack of presence for hip-hop culture, but I think commercial rap music has become ubiquitous with other parts of pop culture, whether it’s music or films,” he said.

Another change is how young people discover music. The boom in streaming lets listeners quickly sample a wide variety of music in a way that downloads, store sales or commercial radio cannot.

And festivals, which have become a rite of passage for American millennials, have brought a new, diverse audience for rap performers.

In a sign of changing tastes, Coachella – the US festival with the highest profile — will have no rock acts among its headliners this year, for the first time ever.

“A lot of fans and audiences are coming into contact with new artists and forms that were on the edge of their taste palate,” said Murray Forman, a professor at Northeastern University in Boston.

Forman also pointed to rising stars such as Khalid and Lil Uzi Vert, both up for Best New Artist, who came to prominence by releasing music on their own through mixtapes or sharing site SoundCloud.

“It’s a sidestepping of traditional industry gatekeepers and barriers and hurdles. So it makes for a really robust moment that established artists are still hitting it, but younger artists have different ways in,” he said.
Absence of Women

But the Recording Academy’s embrace for hip-hop, a genre historically known for its hyper-masculinity, has been a male-dominated affair.

Two fast-rising women rappers, Rapsody and Cardi B, won key nominations in rap fields but not in the four most prestigious categories.

Lorde, in an interview with Billboard, said Cardi B deserved a nomination in a mainstream category as “she kind of defined 2017” with her song “Bodak Yellow.”

Women have always played a role in rap “but it’s hard to break through at the top because it is such a male-oriented aspect of an industry that is already inordinately male-oriented,” Forman said.

The Grammys’ absence of women is in part a fluke of the calendar.

The last two artists to win Album of the Year were both women — Adele and Taylor Swift — but works by Swift, Beyonce and other top women were released outside the eligibility period for the latest Grammys.

But in a likely recognition of the #MeToo movement, Grammy performers will include Kesha, who has fought to exit a contract with her producer, Dr. Luke, whom she accused of rape.

Tanya Pearson, the founder of the Women of Rock Oral History Project at Smith College, said the music industry had a deeply rooted gender problem as tastemakers such as journalists are predominantly men.

“The whole sex, drugs, rock ‘n’ roll narrative is misogynistic and masculine and that is still the context that women are up against,” she said.

Jay-Z Leads Grammys Race With Eight Nods

 Jay-Z led Grammy nominations Tuesday with eight nods, followed closely by fellow rapper Kendrick Lamar with seven, in a striking embrace of hip-hop for the music industry’s top prizes.

Jay-Z, who had never before been nominated in a major category as a solo artist, is up for Album of the Year for his “4:44” as well as for Record of the Year and Song of the Year.

“4:44” marked a return to music by the 47-year-old Jay-Z after years focused on business ventures.

The album put on display an unusually vulnerable Jay-Z who acknowledged his infidelity to wife Beyonce, explored his mother’s closet life as a lesbian and tackled the state of US race relations.

Bruno Mars, the fun-loving funk revivalist, also fared well with six nominations including Album of the Year for his “24K Magic.”

“Despacito,” the viral hit that tied for the most weeks ever on top of the US singles chart despite being in Spanish, was nominated both for Record of the Year, which recognizes the overall performance, and Song of the Year, which honors the songwriter.

The Recording Academy, which consists of more than 13,000 music professionals, will vote to decide the winners who will be unveiled at the annual Grammys gala on January 28.

The ceremony will take place in New York, Jay-Z’s hometown, to mark the awards’ 60th edition after 14 years in Los Angeles.

The industry was already set to honor Jay-Z at the pre-Grammy party thrown by music executive Clive Davis.

Hip-hop’s emergence as a major force at the Grammys comes after years of criticism about how little the entertainment industry recognizes African American artists.

In the past, only two rap-dominated albums have won Album of the Year.

Two years ago, Kendrick Lamar’s “To Pimp a Butterfly” — a widely acclaimed album that featured an unofficial anthem of the Black Lives Matter movement — controversially lost to Taylor Swift’s “1989.”

And last year, Adele expressed embarrassment over winning Album of the Year over Beyonce’s experimental and narrative-rich “Lemonade.”

This time, Swift was only nominated in minor categories, although her chart-topping new album “Reputation” came out too late for consideration for Album of the Year.

Ed Sheeran, another favorite for Grammy glory, was also shut out in the major categories.

Among other rappers, Childish Gambino — the stage-name of comedian Donald Glover who infuses funk and psychedelic R&B into his hip-hop — is up for Album of the Year and Record of the Year.

AFP

‘Despacito’ Sweeps Latin Grammys

Luis Fonsi accepts Song of the Year for ‘Despacito’ onstage at the 18th Annual Latin Grammy Awards at MGM Grand Garden Arena on November 16 in Las Vegas, Nevada. Photo: Kevin Winter/Getty Images/AFP

‘Despacito,” the viral dance hit that swept past borders, won big Thursday at the Latin Grammys where singer Luis Fonsi announced a new frontier for the song — the Chinese-speaking world.

“Despacito” won four awards including Record of the Year and Song of the Year, which recognizes writing, in the year’s biggest night for Spanish- and Portuguese-language music.

The infectious reggaeton tune, which Fonsi sings with a rap assist from fellow Puerto Rican Daddy Yankee, was already a global hit when a remix featuring Justin Bieber brought it into the US mainstream.

“Despacito” became the most-watched video ever on YouTube and tied for most weeks on number one of the US singles chart — a feat all the more impressive considering how few non-English songs fare well in the world’s largest music market.

“It’s been a beautiful year. Twelve or 11 months of hard work representing our language in the entire world and enjoying a song that, thanks to Latin audiences and many beyond, has become so influential and has united the entire world and broken language barriers,” Fonsi told reporters at the gala in Las Vegas.

Fonsi is not done with “Despacito.” He announced he will launch a new version in two weeks with Singaporean singer and producer JJ Lin, a star in Mandarin-language pop.

“I sang a little bit in Mandarin. The song has become a worldwide phenomenon and singing it in Mandarin is an honor,” said Fonsi, who will tour Asia next year.

– Rift with Daddy Yankee? –

After working with Bieber, Fonsi has a collaboration ready with another North American star — “Echame La Culpa” (“Blame Me”), a new song that comes out Friday featuring Demi Lovato.

Fonsi described “Despacito” as an “ode to Puerto Rico” — ravaged in September by Hurricane Maria — and thanked Daddy Yankee, who was noticeably absent from the Latin Grammys.

Daddy Yankee recently told Puerto Rican newspaper El Nuevo Dia that he no longer wanted to perform “Despacito,” explaining, “Songs have their moment and they have to evolve.”

Fonsi denied any rift, saying of both Daddy Yankee and Bieber: “They are my brothers and without them I would not have achieved this.”

Panamanian singer Erika Ender, a co-writer of “Despacito,” found a more political meaning to the song which triumphed in the United States just after Donald Trump won the US presidential election after campaigning to get tough against immigration.

“This is a song that can break any type of barriers or walls,” she said, in a clear allusion to Trump’s pledge to build a wall on the Mexican border.

– Supporting ‘Dreamers’ –

Another Panamanian, salsa legend Ruben Blades, took home the night’s biggest prize, Album of the Year, with “Salsa Big band,” recorded with his compatriot Roberto Delgado.

(L-R) Olga Tanon Alexandre Pires present the Album of the Year award for ‘Salsa Big Band’ to Ruben Blades onstage during The 18th Annual Latin Grammy Awards at MGM Grand Garden Arena on November 16, in Las Vegas, Nevada. Photo: Gustavo Caballero/Getty Images for LARAS/AFP

Puerto Rican rapper Residente of Calle 13 fame won Best Urban Album for his ambitious self-titled work, in which he undergoes a DNA test and records with musicians in each country in which he traces ancestry.

The album takes him as far afield as incorporating guitar from Burkina Faso and opera from Beijing and features a guest appearance by “Hamilton” creator Lin-Manuel Miranda who turns out to be a distant cousin.

Residente made a plea to a world awash in social media: “Art isn’t about numbers.”

“Stop posting about your number of followers and number of views and start talking about music,” he said.

Vicente Garcia, the Dominican singer who straddles bachata and reggae, won in three categories including Best New Artist.

Veteran Spanish songwriter Alejandro Sanz was feted Wednesday as the Latin Grammys’ Person of the Year and, accepting the trophy Thursday, dedicated the lifetime honor to “these guys who’ve been living in this country for many years and still have illegal status — the Dreamers.”

He was referring to the 700,000 undocumented immigrants who arrived in the United States as children and had been protected so long as they stayed out of trouble — until Trump in September set the stage to expel them.

“Dreamers!” Sanz shouted repeatedly as he performed a medley of his songs, young people rushing on stage to join him in an emotional embrace.

AFP

Grammys headed to New York City

Grammy AwardsThe Grammy Awards are headed to New York City.

The Recording Academy announced on Tuesday that the 60th anniversary of the music show will be held at New York’s Madison Square Garden on January 28, 2018.

The news came with a video by Spike Lee featuring the director, along with a host of iconic musicians, as they recount New York’s history with music.

The Grammys were last held in New York in 2003. It has since been at the Staples Center in Los Angeles for the last 14 years.

Performers At Grammys 2015 Are…

GrammysThe melancholic singer of ‘In The Lonely Hour’, Sam Smith and the “Happy” Williams Pharrell have been announced as some of the artistes to perform at the Grammys, next month.

The Recording Academy announced Wednesday , that Usher and Miranda Lambert also will take the stage at the Feb. 8 show in Los Angeles, while Common and John Legend will perform their Golden Globe-winning, Oscar-nominated song, “Glory,” from the movie “Selma.”

Smith, Pharrell and Beyonce are the Grammy leaders with six nominations apiece. They will battle Beck and Ed Sheeran for the top prize, Album of the Year.

More stars have been announced as performers for the night and it looks like it is going to be a full house with Sam Smith, John Legend, Pharrell Williams, Miranda Lambert, Usher, Ariana Grande, Madonna, Ed Sheeran, Eric Church and many more.

 

 

Photo Credit: Billboard

 

Rihanna and Chris Brown Set To Wed

Controversial singer Rihanna and On and Off boyfriend Chris Brown are set to tie the knot sometime in July.

The couple have planned to have one of the wildest weddings in Hollywood history.

Recently Rihanna was spotted wearing a diamond ring on her left hand ring finger at both the Grammys on Feb. 10 and in Hawaii on Feb. 20, at her 25th birthday.

According to the couple “They want tattoo artists, fire breathers and a near-naked waiters. They’re even talking about having pre-rolled joints at the reception.

They added that the wedding, which will be happening in Barbados in late July, will be “all about swagger, bling and sin. They want to celebrate their relationship with people who believe Chris has changed.”