Archives For grammy’s

A secret is safe with Long Island’s Hoodie Allen. Just ask his friend, Ed Sheeran.

“I knew for a little bit. I had to keep my mouth shut,” Allen said regarding Sheeran’s recent engagement to longtime girlfriend Cherry Seaborn. “I did a good job too; I think I passed the test of just zipping it up and not letting anyone know.”

There was no pun intended on Hoodie’s zipper comment, nor on his adjective use when describing the couple.

“It wasn’t that much of a shock because they’re perfect together,” the emcee, born Steven Markowitz, said. “I love them both so I was really happy.”

I ran in to Allen on the red carpet of The GRAMMYs outside of Madison Square Garden in Manhattan. The hip-hop artist, who was there alongside girlfriend Sadie Newman, took over Bulova’s Instagram Story for the award show weekend. Bulova is the official timepiece partner of The GRAMMY Awards; it was Allen’s first time attending the event.

“Overwhelming,” he responded when I asked what he thought of spectacle that is a GRAMMYs red carpet. “I don’t know (because) if it’s just cold out or the adrenaline but yeah, this is pretty cool.”

As for what is currently on the artist’s plate, he just wrapped a world tour in December and is currently working on his next mixtape. Allen noted that he’s been bouncing between the road and the studio so there could be both new music and concert dates in store for his fans this year.

At The 60th GRAMMYs on Sunday, one of the night’s more poignant moments was delivered from a likely source: the live performance of “1-800-273-8255” by Logic, Alessia Cara and Khalid. If you caught the trio’s rendition of the single at the MTV Video Music Awards then you knew it would be a can’t-miss part of the show. Just as memorable was Logic’s sermon that he delivered following the piece; he later revealed the Recording Academy asked him to speak there.

Still the song and its success are rather unlikely. It began when Logic, born Sir Robert Bryson Hall II, noticed fans on tour and online reacting to his music and story in a way he didn’t expect: by saying it changed or saved their life. The reactions inspired Logic to head in to the studio and channel that energy in to a track that he would eventually entitle with the Suicide Prevention Lifeline.

“I never thought in a million years thought that that song would take me (to The GRAMMYs),” Logic said at The Garden following the ceremony’s conclusion Sunday night. “I love to make fun music, all types of hip-hop and even over trap beats.

“And I always thought it was something more like that, like a more fun or clubby or happy kind of vibe that would get me on that stage. So I can’t believe that I made a song that I never thought would ever do any of that, just from a place in my heart, strictly for my fans and anybody it could reach – and the fact that it actually reached them… it’s crazy.”

The track was up for “Song Of The Year” and lost to Bruno Mars’ “That’s What I Like” but to Logic, it didn’t seem to matter much.

“I mean, I won. That’s how I feel!” he told me and the rest of the Media Center at The Garden following his performance. “This is insane.”


Bonus: I asked Alessia Cara a few questions following her GRAMMY win for Best New Artist.

Now that I’ve had a few days to process everything, some news and notes from my first ever GRAMMYs red carpet…

– The GRAMMYs red carpet is reminiscent of one for a big movie premiere in that it’s quite expansive, filled with top level stars, chaotic in spurts and covered by outlets of all shapes and sizes. Jayde Donovan and I were holding down the fort for our radio network, Westwood One. We were towards the end of the media lineup – to our left were The Garden social media team and WWD.com. To our right? A Japanese TV outlet that is clearly big across the Pacific because seemingly everyone stopped or attempted to stop and say hi to them.

– Always appreciate Scott Borchetta, the head of Big Machine Label Group, making a few minutes for us. He joked that NARAS had quite the wildcard on their hands sitting country group Midland in the front row. On a more serious note, he thought Taylor Swift had a good chance in both categories she was nominated, especially Best Country Song for writing Little Big Town’s “Better Man.” She came up empty for that along with “I Don’t Want To Live Forever” from “Fifty Shades Darker” in the Visual Media category, one that Borchetta believed is a “flip of the coin.”

– When we flagged Victor Cruz over and he revealed to Jayde that he was presenting the “Despacito” performance, my first thought was, “Oh, the irony!” Of course, it was two seasons ago that Cruz along with Odell Beckham Jr. and other Giants players flew to Miami the week before a playoff game to hang with Justin Bieber in Miami. Not only would the G-Men lose to the Packers, but some would point to the incident as the reason why Cruz wasn’t brought back to the team.

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– Speaking of “Despacito,” I think anyone and everyone who had anything to do with that song and wasn’t named Justin Bieber was on the red carpet. The producers, the artists, the principle songwriter, the guy who opened the studio door… it was incredible!

– The white roses Jayde and I wore were donated by 1800Flowers.com and the whole movement was championed in part by one of our colleagues, Melony Torres – very cool.

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– It always amazes me that sometime the biggest stars are the ones most generous with their time. With that said, it was cool to see Tony Bennett spend a few minutes chatting with Jayde.

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– Loved catching up with Long Island’s own Hoodie Allen, who told me he knew about his buddy Ed Sheeran’s engagement for a whole and to him and those around Ed it came as no surprise. I wonder if Hoodie is in charge of the bachelor party…

– Mayor Bill de Blasio and his wife told us that city officials worked hard to get The GRAMMYs to The Garden. Later, when I asked Recording Academy President Neil Portnow about New York as a host city, he went out of his way to mention the administration sang a rather different tune, stating tonight wasn’t the time to address the challenges working with them.

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Although for me, the best part of our interaction with Mr. Mayor was after I shook his hand, when I told the Boston-born lifelong Red Sox fan, “Let’s go Yankees.”

I’m sure the Mayor appreciated it as much as Mr. Portnow’s comments.

Believe it or not, one of the more inspirational moments I experienced on The GRAMMYs red carpet involved interviewing Danny Gokey. You may remember the singer as the third finalist on the eighth season of “American Idol.” After an introduction so vast on a show so popular, it usually becomes difficult for artists to be known for anything other than appearing on the TV competition. That usually leads the contestants to either embrace it or spend the rest of their career attempting to erase it.

Gokey took a path less traveled: a career-reinvention of sorts. However his goal was far deeper than shedding a label or scoring a hit record.

“I got to create from what was on the inside of me at the beginning,” Gokey, standing alongside his wife Leyicet, told me. “What I tried to do was create an impact.

“We’re all created uniquely. I know a lot of times we deal with insecurities like, ‘Oh man, that person is getting a lot more looks than I am,’ but really people have to think, ‘No, what you do – no one else can do.’”

Gokey further explained that by people not conforming to others’ standards and staying true to themselves, they will be able to travel to places never imagined. And for the singer, that place was The 60th GRAMMYs, earning his first career nomination in the Best Contemporary Christian Music category for his album, “Rise.” Gokey attributes the album’s success to his record label, BMG, affording him the freedom to practice what he preached. It serves as yet another example that the most impactful art is the most honest.

Even before he won The GRAMMY for Best Remixed Recording, DJ/producer Latroit knew he would be taking home a gramophone of some sort.

“My mom made a GRAMMY statue cake,” he told me last Thursday during an interview for Westwood One’s coverage of music’s biggest night. “No matter what happens, I’m leaving with a GRAMMY statue! I can eat the one I have though.”

The artist, born Dennis White, hails from Detroit but noted that family from across the country had descended on New York for his first nomination. Latroit won with his remix of Depesche Mode’s “You Move.” The award was handed out during the Premiere Ceremony, which took place inside The Theater at MSG.

“My friend Jason Bentley was working on a project with (‘You Move’) and he is familiar with my sound and thought maybe something interesting would happen there,” Latroit explained. “He asked the band if they would like a Latroit remix, someone said yes, asked if I wanted to do it and I fell over because I wanted to do it.”

For Latroit, this was far from the average collaboration.

“There was a ton of pressure because I knew these guys were going to hear my interpretation of their song and their fans are devout fans,” he noted of Depeche Mode. “It was important to me to create something that really spoke to and rose to the occasion of Depeche Mode’s legacy.”

That legacy includes five GRAMMY nominations and now, a song that led to an awarded gramophone – of both the edible and non-edible varieties.

PIX11 Entertainment Anchor Ojinika Obiekwe stopped by Hackensack Meridian Health Stage 17 to chat with me about GRAMMYs week in New York City – from the cool parties and events to the local women who were nominated by the Recording Academy. A big thanks to Oji and PIX11 for having me contribute to their coverage; check out both segments below.

I recently bore witness to a rather unique interaction: one of my favorite bands, Walk The Moon chatting and exchanging numbers with Diane Warren, who is a legendary songwriter. The guys from WTM were leaving my broadcast booth and thankfully, Warren was on her way in. I immediately wanted to know what they all chatted about.

“They were in the audience at the ASCAP Awards; I got a big award that night,” Warren recalled, later revealing that she might collaborate with the band. “Snoop gave (the award) to me, and I had worked with Snoop the year before. We were just joking that he had this giant blunt in his hand and I’m like, ‘Who has a match?’”

There is little if nothing that Warren, whose discography of penned tracks dates back to 1979, hasn’t seen or experienced. But if there has been one constant throughout her storied career, it is her approach to songwriting.

“I always went with my heart,” Warren insisted while noting that this very mindset led her to write “Stand Up For Something,” a song that Andra Day and Common performed for the movie, “Marshall.” She is proud of the final product and rightfully so; the track is up for Best Song Written For Visual Media at this year’s GRAMMYs. It is the eleventh time Warren has received a nomination in this category; she won the GRAMMY for it in 1997 thanks to Celine Dion’s “Because You Loved Me” from the 1996 film, “Up Close & Personal.”

Woke up early (or perhaps, stayed up late?) to join my friends at the PIX11 Morning News and talk about this year’s GRAMMY Nominations. Of course we covered some local artists who received nods, the major categories and who might have been snubbed. A big thanks to Dan, Oji, Betty and Marcia for having me!

A little over six years passed in between my last two interviews with the band All Time Low. During that stretch, I did run-in to the guys a couple of times. During a 2014 trip to Baltimore, the band’s hometown, for Derek Jeter’s last game at Camden Yards I ended up at the same bar as lead singer Alex Gaskarth. Talk about a small world: Gaskarth played a DJ set at that same venue the previous night. I was there the next day, Sunday, because it also served as Baltimore’s designated Buffalo Bills Backers Bar.

The place is owned by Alex’s bandmate Jack Barakat.

Then this past February while in Los Angeles for The GRAMMYs, I saw singer Cassadee Pope and her boyfriend, ATL drummer Rian Dawson outside of Microsoft Theater. They were chatting with friends and I was filming vignettes with Westwood One, so I just stopped briefly to say hello.

Of course, what I didn’t see was the engagement ring on Pope’s hand. Dawson popped the question that day. However a few weeks ago, the pending nuptials were reportedly called off.

Many things besides relationship statuses can change in six years. During the span in between our sit-downs, the Baltimore quartet added four studio albums to their discography and changed record labels twice. They switched up the band’s sound as well, although Gaskarth insists that the new sound has nothing to do with All Time Low’s new home at Fueled By Ramen.

“I think the change in direction of music was something that was already happening within the band,” the front man explained. “We knew we wanted to try some new things and go in some different directions on the album.”

With All Time Low’s previous deal at Hopeless Records up, the guys felt that signing with Fueled By Ramen made the most sense.

“Fueled By is rad, they always have been,” Gaskarth continued. “I love their roster now and I love what they do.

“I think the biggest part of us switching (to FBR) was that we sort of had the idea in mind that we kind of wanted to try some new things with our music, and (FBR) was all about it.”

Fueled By Ramen most notably housed Fall Out Boy and still counts Panic! At The Disco, Paramore, Twenty One Pilots and Young The Giant as a part of its roster.

“Fall Out Boy served as inspiration for us when we were younger,” Gaskarth noted. “Panic!, we kind of came up around the same time; obviously different trajectory and different path but (Brendon Urie) has been at it just as long as we have and works just as hard, if not harder than we do.”

For the three aforementioned groups, it is kind of fun to pause-and-reflect on both their longevity and evolution: FOB still headlines arenas, Panic! was nominated for a GRAMMY last year and All Time Low is charting a single at Adult Contemporary radio. Of course there have also been other acts that have come and gone not just from the label, but the scene; something ATL is cognizant of.

“Yunno, we’ve seen a lot of our friends’ bands and other bands fade out, and it’s amazing to sort of be in the other category of still being able to do it.”

And if All Time Low continues in that category for six more years, the band can celebrate a 20th anniversary.

I spent all of last week silent on Facebook, which no one probably noticed for a number of reasons: I was active on other social networks, I was still frequently in touch with family and friends and of course I was on live on the radio every weeknight.

To me, it felt weird. Last weekend I returned to Syracuse to catch the Orange (don’t get me started on the tournament snub) beat Georgia Tech and attend the annual WJPZ reunion dinner. On Monday I joined my friends on TV at “Chasing News” to talk about my Vinny Guadagnino interview. Wednesday I made the trek down to Brooklyn to watch the Orange lose in the first round of the ACC Tournament (and probably cement that aforementioned snub). And of course, I spent the week counting down the days until my trip to Las Vegas Tuesday, which yes I know might not even happen now with this pending blizzard.

But guess what? None of it mattered this week.

Saturday I was leaving the bookstore inside the Schine Student Center on SU’s campus when I looked down to see a new text notification on my BlackBerry. It was from a coworker with a link to an article on Billboard’s website.

My former colleague, Tommy Page, was found dead in an apparent suicide. I immediately felt numb.

I first met Tommy in May of 2009. I lived in Wilkes Barre, and was as Tommy would later refer to me, “a baby DJ.” At the time, Page was working A&R at Warner Bros. Records. He was so excited about his new act, a boy-band called V-Factory, that he decided to personally bring them by the studio for an interview.

Tommy and I hit it off right away, but to be honest a lot of it was more circumstantial; I think he immediately took a liking to me or at least gave me the benefit of the doubt because he was close with my Program Director at the time, A.J. He also was a bit fan of 97 BHT, particularly the station’s position in the market as the younger, hipper pop station that wasn’t afraid to lean rhythmic or electronic (example: WBHT broke Lady Gaga in the metro when other stations across the country declared that “Just Dance” was “too dance-y” – whatever that jargon means).

And of course, Tommy loved Northeastern Pennsylvania. He raved about his vacation home in East Stroudsburg, and also had recently purchased a fixer-upper in Jim Thorpe.

Tommy and I would spend 2010 through 2014 crossing paths at various events, either in New York or out in Los Angeles. I remember my first GRAMMYs; I attended Billboard’s after-party at The London in West Hollywood. Tommy was its publisher at the time, and immediately left his conversation when he saw me just to come over and say hello. That meant a lot.

Then in 2015, he joined our company as a Senior Vice President of Brand Partnerships. I enjoyed this because not only would I see Tommy in our building occasionally, but I’d get to work with him at some of our signature backstage broadcast events, including the Billboard Music Awards and the American Music Awards in addition to the aforementioned GRAMMYs.

The weekend after our first BBMAs working together in Vegas, Tommy and I both headed down the shore to Point Pleasant for 95.5 PLJ’s Summer Kick-Off. We sat down at the client party and talked about where the company was moving before he tasked me to help write a spec promo for an upcoming event we were working on called “Malibu Mansion Live.”

I’ll never forget, while music played and people partook in the open bar, Tommy and I sat alone in a corner of the room and wrote the script; Tommy throwing out ideas followed by me feverishly typing away on my BlackBerry and reading lines out loud to see what if any changes he wanted.

After a few more revisions, that promo was eventually voiced, produced and presented to company executives and our marketing department. The following November, Tommy and I were in Malibu for the two-night promotion that featured country singer Cam (who he sang “Happy Birthday” to while I walked out with a makeshift cake/candle for her), Nick Jonas, Tori Kelly and Fall Out Boy.

As the second, successful night winded down, Tommy pulled me aside.

“Remember when we first started talking about this and we wrote that promo in Point Pleasant?” he asked. “The whole thing came to life. It was like you and I wrote a hit record together.”

Of course, it was Tommy and his team that did all of the hard work. But coming from a guy who scored a number one hit in 1990 with the single, “I’ll Be Your Everything,” that compliment really struck a chord with me.

That was a unique trait of Tommy’s; working with others and making them feel like they belonged. It’s one of the reasons he was adored by so many, and certainly it’s one of the reasons why I and many others will miss him.