Grammys, sisterhood, etc
Well… this is a good week for a newsletter?! Grammy Nominated. Still feels completely wild to type it.
Because it’s been with me for seemingly ever. Many little girls dream of weddings. I dreamt of Grammys.
The music, the company, the spectacle. As time passed, the outward facade of the Grammy faded in favor of its significance.
The lifelong nod from your peers.
The gravity of it.
Something solid in a career of uncertainty.
My first Grammy experience was at the legendary Michael Brecker’s house. I grew up with his daughter, and remember being over at their house when he generously let me hold one off of his enormous shelf’s worth. Magic incarnate.
Also, heavier than I expected.
Among other things, the weight of that gramophone, literally and figuratively, held me through the difficult times. The healthy amount of skepticism we all carry as musicians (“psh! Who needs this bogus head nod via a piece of metal!”) lived right alongside the childlike longing for it.
Through it all, I kept those dreams with me somewhere. I figured maybe they’d come true, I’d keep creating regardless. But this year didn’t look like any of my dreams.
This year looked like: Side swiped by a pandemic and economic crash that devastated my industry.
This year looked like: Three LPs and an EP out on our new record label, with none of the artists able to tour and promote.
This year looked like: 266,000 dead and counting.
Yeah. This year looked like a fucking nightmare. Dreams dashed. Income gone. On unemployment. Living with my parents.
So when José suggested we watch the nominations live I agreed, if only because I was certain he and Ben Williams would be nominated (still salty that they weren’t) and was ready to celebrate that. When my name came on the screen, I said, quietly, “Wait, that’s my name.” And then screamed the same sentence.
In the week since I’ve been thinking about why that was my first sentence. Did I need it to be this unexpected shock? The consummate middle child, watching with the intent of celebrating everyone else? Or did it happen exactly the way it was supposed to? Did it happen precisely to answer the question in that sentence?
Because that IS my name. The answer, in the form of a Grammy nomination, has been staggering for me. I honestly am stunned by how many cells of my body feel like they’re at rest since. I realize now that I’m wildly fortunate for what happened exactly the way it happened. In my parent’s house, next to my childhood Yamaha piano. After years of self work, this nomination allowed me to see myself, finally, as a bonafide songwriter. A… Grammy nominated one.
And, of course, this nomination allowed me to celebrate those with whom I was nominated.
So let’s talk a bit about the life force that is Becca Stevens, shall we?
Becca and I have a decade of friendship and Facetimes before this jubilant one together.
We’ve been through family Christmases, Passovers, deep joy and deep sorrow. I wrote my song “Climb” for Becca, in a moment where we both were in painful break ups. She filmed her first music video for Weightless minutes from my parents’ house.
We sang at her wedding, and she sang at ours.
Above all though, Becca is a firework. She’s astoundingly talented. The kind of once in a lifetime talent that knocks you upside the head and inspires you to be better. She’s also brilliant. She strives to be better, always. She puts in the work. She looks out for her people. She lights the way.
For years, Becca and I were inseparable. She was the first and only real friend I’ve had like that, the kind that expects the same level of excellence from you that they do of themself. She helped me book my first show in NYC at Cornelia Street Cafe (RIP), and then at Rockwood Music Hall. She heard my first ever song and helped me with my first album.
José still fondly remembers us both arriving to his session for While You Were Sleeping, right at peak “attached at the hip” energy. Becca got called in to lend her inimitable vocal stylings, and I got called in to write for the album.
That was the first time I ever wrote for someone else. Becca’s love, inspiration and get it done energy propelled me to it. And once again I got to watch her BODY that session, in true Becca brilliance form. One of hundreds of sessions where I have watched in absolute awe.
Her album, Wonderbloom, for which we both now have a Grammy nom, is a game changing innovative masterpiece that inspires similar reverence. It’s the best I’ve heard Becca, which is saying something. It’s all of her brilliance alongside a deep emotional maturity in lyrics that soothe, cut, and challenge. It’s the first of what will be many Grammys for an artist who is continuously changing the game.
I’m so grateful she gave me the opportunity to work on it, and I’m so grateful to have had her with me at nearly every significant milestone of my life.
When we found out we were nominated, I baked a pie and drove it down to eat it with her on her stoop in Brooklyn. Becca told me her sister (an equally epic goddess), has a policy that friendship is real only when you’ve been through hell and come out the other side. After so much game ending turbulence in other relationships, I’m grateful to have one that survived with Becca. The real real.
And hey, you. I’m grateful for you, too. Thank you for all of the love you’ve sent my way. I’ve felt it and needed it and basked in it. I know you’ve been with me, some longer than others, and this is yours too. I feel that in my soul.
Per newsletter regularity, this week’s music obsession has been the new Busta Rhymes album, specifically the songs YUUUU with Anderson Paak and Look Over Your Shoulder with Kendrick Lamar. I’m floored by how generous Busta Rhymes is with his talent and how he’s able to bring in a new generation with reverence and command. And YUUUU, with a beat by Anderson and unbearably tasty flows, is just …. the TITS. I’ll be voting for it next year in the Grammys because a bish CAN NOW! (!) (!) (!)
See you next week.
With infinite love,