Saturday, February 20, 2016

THE HIGHS AND LOWS OF THIS YEARS GRAMMY AWARDS

By Katharine W. Poole
For Women of Music Music of Women

The highs and lows of this years Grammy Awards appeared in all forms, shapes and sizes. A pleasing montage of female representation that may be a catalyst of change for women in music. Those representing the face of the music industry certainly had their work cut out for them. In these challenging times – when female artists are trying to take a stand and become more “the norm” of airplay rather than the anomaly – it is imperative to keep the momentum of augmentation going. In short, to be taken seriously not only in art but in business demonstrating this kind of portrayal is invaluable. But there are still underlying issues to unlearn and redefine.

Women are caught up in the industry expectations so much so that they have become dangerously habitual. To make change one must create change. Lady Gaga clearly used her understanding of this concept to propel herself, both in artistry and in business, to a successful and independent creative standing. She is able to now work on her own terms. She is asked to risk where others are not. Brava! She receives the highest note of all for the Grammy performance and Bowie Tribute.

The highs and lows of each performer and presenter were a combination of technical issues, wardrobe choices and execution. Some are debatable, others clearly inarguable. There were a few unfortunate circumstances that come with live performance. There were some unique choices that come with personality. And there were some stellar tributes to musicians both living and lost. Contemplated in this week’s Women in Music Wednesdays are The Nashville 7 Grammy Performance highest and lowest notes hit by the girls of the 58th Grammy Awards show.

1. A Swift High/Low
It’s too bad Taylor Swift could not be as compelling in her choice of wardrobe as she was in her brief and empowering acceptance speech for Album of the Year. Though the speech may have been directed in part to a certain individual, it was truly and simply poignant and eloquent. Possibly the most intelligent call-out of this performer’s career thus far. However, it is hard to take the words seriously while watching them delivered by a young woman sporting an extremely visible fuchsia undergarment – that looked like a pair of grandmother’s underwear, or Bridget Jone’s enormous panties – connected to a fully-slit taffeta prom skirt. This garment awkwardly combined with a clashing red 70’s style tube top, that could not help but perpetuate the subjection of women in the music industry, made for a brazen statement. Shiny? Check. Bold? Check. 1989? Perhaps, but it fell flat. Check please.

Her performance? Well she’s Taylor. She took the stage by storm in a glittering cat suit with crystalized boots. There’s no stopping this tornado. She is clearly always seeking the spotlight.

2. Carrie Me Please!
Carrie Underwood was certainly the high of the duet as she carried Sam Hunt through his less than impressive performance. Underwood was exceptional as ever in both Hunt’s Take Your Time and the transition to her own Heartbeat, but the songs fell short as Hunt was no match for her ability. The performance seemed endless, taking up too much Grammy time.

3. Crush This.
Little Big Town’s performance of Girl Crush did just that. Crushed it. Their simple rendition of their timeless hit was a joy to experience. Sometimes keeping it true to form is all it takes.

4. All About that Bass huh?
Megan Trainer’s acceptance speech was a painful whine of treble tears. No bass in this high pitched thank you to her parents and pointing out that she was “…a mess. I have to go cry.” The beautiful moment for Megan came in the form of actual tears visible on her father’s face. His pride silent, but clearly true.

Trainer also unfortunately did not have the gravitas or spirit to be included on the Lionel Ritchie tribute. Her performance lacked skill, execution and flair.

5. Lovato Vibrato
First time attendance, first time performance by young songstress Demi Lovato brought highs and lows all together. In the Tribute to Lionel Richie, she opened with the first Hello of 1984 #1 fame. She is a strong and beautiful presence, and in it’s simplest form her voice complimented the song. But trying to step it up brought a screeching halt to the joy of hearing this familiar greeting. Keeping it simple would have made the performance more consistent and captivating.

6. Uh Oh! Can you hear me?
Unfortunately due to technical errors, Adele’s performance was thrown at the onset. Reportedly one or more of the piano mics fell into the piano resting upon the strings. The professionalism of Adele was never more apparent as in this moment. She persevered and as the issues were remedied ended her ballad All I Ask in the stellar form. Adele brought her incredible presence and power to the stage – overcoming the sound issues with – what may not have been pure perfection but certainly was pure professionalism. Her grace and ability to move on from the moment by tweeting she was treating herself to In n Out as consolation only adds to her universal appeal.

7. The Queen of Kings
Bonnie Raitt never disappoints. And true to her form, in a short cameo amidst male artists in the B.B. King Tribute she rocked the house with her sultry, bluesy vocals and masterful guitar. Always about the music and clearly dressed to play, her understated signature black highlights her strength and iconic elegance in a male dominated genre.

Bonus: The Highest Note of the Night: I’m So High It Makes My Brain Whirl…

Lady Stardust

The highlight of the night – Lady Gaga – in the form of her stunningly executed and outfitted tribute to David Bowie. A visionary of class, talent and artistry, GaGa took the concept of tribute to a new level. From Major Tom opening; to Ziggy stardust technical effect makeup; to Fashion and Fame and beyond this medley was a complete show stopper. Costume changes seamlessly flowing on stage, transitioning as smoothly as the spot on vocals and impressionist performance. If only David could see the love he brought to the business and the musical metamorphosis he has compelled across genders, space and time. GaGa proved a champion representing the iconic heroism of Bowie, proving women have the ability to be Heroes of music mastery.

Women of Music Music of Women is an alliance for women in the music industry to network, support, promote, and recognize the many talented women in the industry by bringing them together with all aspects to include artists, attorneys, agents, managers, artist development, label execs, publishers, media, songwriters, past present and future talent to discuss and address the issues that concern women in the industry.

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*The material included in this article is the sole property of the writer, (Katharine W. Poole,) and the photographer and President/Founder of WMMW, (Cilene Bosch.) All elements may be used in other publications as determined by the owners. Permission must be obtained for reproduction.

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