Meghan Trainor Grammy Awards 2016
Matt Sayles/Invision/AP

Best new artist winner Meghan Trainor relived her emotional display from the Grammy stage after she made it backstage. “It feels unbelievable. I still can’t breathe,” she said. “I’ve been crying ever since I got off that stage. I always wanted to be an artist, to be the face of the music, so to be named best new artist means more to me than anything in the world.” She expanded on her first meeting with producer-executive L.A. Reid, whom she thanked from the stage. “When I first auditioned for him I was wearing a backwards hat, a hoodie and cheetah pants…which I probably shouldn’t have. But I played ‘All About that Bass’ for him on ukulele, and he saw me as an artist.”

Mark Ronson recalled the first sessions that became “Uptown Funk,” which won record of the year at the close of the ceremony. “We were in Bruno’s studio that he used to have in Hollywood, and we just said ‘let’s jam.’ Bruno was on drums, (producer) Jeff Bhasker was on keys, and I was on bass. When Bruno came up with the ‘Michelle Pfeiffer/That white gold’ line, we knew we were on to something. But then it took us seven months afterwards to finish that song. But the roots of it came from that jam.” Although “Uptown” was Ronson’s biggest hit under his own name, he noted, “I would be just as happy and proud of the record if ‘Uptown Funk’ was a Bruno Mars song under his name, At the end of the day I’m a record producer, not a pop star, so any way I can make music, whether my name is on the back or the front, I’m satisfied.”

Chris Stapleton, whose debut solo album saw him win two Grammys in addition to an album of the year nom, explained how he had suggested adding Bonnie Raitt to the B.B. King tribute alongside himself and Gary Clark, Jr. “I was speaking with Ken (Ehrlich), the producer of the show, and I said we really need a bridge, generationally, to Mr. King. Because I never got to play with him, never got to meet him. And Bonnie was kind enough to step in and be there for it.” But Stapleton sought to make the moment more than a pure homage to the legendary blues guitarist. “If you’re covering a song, I’ve always felt that you should try to bring something a little different to it if you can. Here I was trying to make it as much like Mr. King as I could. Of course I don’t play like him, don’t sing like him, nobody does, but we tried to keep it as close to his spirit as we could.”

Brittany Howard of three-time winners Alabama Shakes enthused, “I didn’t even expect one time. I know it sounds cliché, but I never imagined even standing up there performing and having to speak to that many people with all our friends and family at home. It still feels kinda surreal.”

“Birdman” composer Antonio Sanchez won for best score soundtrack, despite having his percussive score ruled out of Oscar contention last year: “It’s great to get a Grammy after being nixed for an Oscar. So I wanted to thank this Academy, rather than the other one, because I don’t have anything to thank them for. On ‘Birdman,’ I did what I do. I didn’t do anything out of the ordinary, I just played my drums. And because it was so risky and so different, people noticed it. It was just the medium that it was on is so different.”

Best gospel performance winner Kirk Franklin promptly took an apple from Los Angeles Times critic Sasha Frere-Jones upon entering the press room, and discussed the influence of soul legend Al Green on “Wanna Be Happy” before addressing his presence on Kanye West’s new release, “The Life of Pablo.” “For me, wherever I am I want to be a light. I’m not trying to be a spiritual leader to the stars, that’s kinda scary, and wack, when people do that. But if you’re a Christian, you can’t just talk it, you have to walk the walk and be available to people. You want to be there with people who are broken to share your story.”

Recording Academy president Neil Portnow addressed the two no-shows from the night, Rihanna’s doctor-ordered silence, and Lauryn Hill’s failure to show up in time to perform with the Weeknd: “In terms of Lauryn Hill, we did not announce Lauryn, that was something that was worked on by the Weeknd as part of that performance. She came to dress rehearsal this morning, left the building, and then did not make it back in time to make the show. It was unfortunate for us, unfortunate for her. We were ready up until the moment of the downbeat of that performance to have her on the show.” Portnow challenged a statement from Hill’s camp that asserted that the artist never committed to joining the Weeknd in singing “In the Night.” “I don’t know how you turn that around to be anything other than the facts,” he said.

Earth, Wind and Fire were scheduled to receive a lifetime achievement honor prior to the death of founder and longtime frontman Maurice White, and White’s brother Verdine recalled telling him: “When we found out, I made the call to ‘Rice to let him know. I really tried to push him, like, ‘you might wanna go to this one, you know…’ But he was very aware of it, and he was very happy about it…”

Ben Bram of Pentatonix, who won best arrangement for the massive selling a cappella group’s “Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy,” revealed his immediate future plans. “I’m working with a group now called Hunkappella, which is a bunch of hunky shirtless dudes who sing a cappella.”

Versatile L.A. bassist and composer Thundercat, who won a number of Grammys thanks to his Kendrick Lamar collaborations, saw a crowd gather around the foot-long lightsaber hanging from his belt. When asked why he was wearing it to the Grammys, he seemed perplexed: “Why wouldn’t I?” He reminisced about the live jamming that went into creating Lamar’s “To Pimp a Butterfly”: “There was a lot of improv going on with the album. A lot of those loops are being created in real time, everything from ‘Mortal Man’ to ‘These Walls,’ even in the first song with Flying Lotus, I’m literally tuning my bass in the middle of the song, but it’s one of those things where it’s just that live. The sessions were all about trying about trying to capture it. The root will always be improvisation.”

Shawn Everrett, winner of best engineered album for Alabama Shakes’ “Sound & Color,” described his unorthodox methods to record frontwoman Brittany Howard’s voice. “Sometimes when you put a huge expensive mic in front of a singer, they freeze up a bit. But she was comfortable singing into a cheap crappy microphone, so we were okay with it. We were buying mics on eBay, using speakers wired the wrong way, propped up on the desk in the control room. We would wire headphones the wrong way and then strap them to her face. She looked like Bane from the ‘Dark Knight Rises.’”

Arguably the greatest living bluesman, Buddy Guy deflected a reporter’s question that posited him as the greatest blues guitarist of all time. “I don’t know about the greatest guitarist, man. I can’t accept that. The greatest guitarist passed away back in May and his name was B.B King,” Guy said. “He taught us all to squeeze the strings.”

Dave Aude, winner of best remixed recording for his take on “Uptown Funk,” was hardly shy about trumpeting his 111 Billboard dance No. 1s, of which “Uptown” was one. “The reason people use Dave Aude is because I usually keep the song there. Some people want to prove something by chopping up remixes, but when I do it you can always tell what the song is.”

(Pictured: Meghan Trainor)

Filed Under:

Want to read more articles like this one? SUBSCRIBE TO VARIETY TODAY.
Post A Comment 1