Monday, February 9, 2015

Where to be Merry: GRAMMY Week

This past Sunday was the 57th Annual GRAMMY Awards.

Ever since I can remember, it's been on my bucket list to attend the GRAMMY Awards, but since my invite clearly keeps getting lost in the mail, in the meantime, I just have to resort to attending all the unofficial and official events leading up to the GRAMMY ceremony, in what's informally known as "GRAMMY week."

This year I went all out, attending six events in five nights. It was tough to do--to have to post up at open bars, hear tons of amazing music and watch so many intimate performances--but somebody had to do it, so it might as well have been me!

From gifting suites to tour announcements and mini-concerts, here's a look at the events I attended for GRAMMY week:


WEDNESDAY

The Next2Shine Champagne Room



The Next 2 Shine took over Hollywood's Sadie Kitchen and Lounge, turning it into the #ChampagneRoom, for an intimate evening of networking and performances from up-and-coming recording artists.

The night commenced with guests mingling by the bar and taking advantage of the fabulous all-night-long $6 happy hour. Favorites included Moscow Mules, Whiskey Sours, French Fries with a house-made ketchup and Brussels Sprouts with bacon.

Mostly everyone eventually made their way to the covered outdoor patio for the main attraction of the night--the performances--which included one by Tess Henley, who played a mean version of Alicia Keys' “Fallin'.” DJ Lady Fox spun hits in between acts.

The three singers I saw had a jazzy flair and the crowd was really into the performances. Audience members swayed side to side emotionally, nodded their heads emphatically, and appeared to be engrossed in the music. Glad to see that the support is out for the next generation of the artists!

THURSDAY

Imagine Dragons Tour Announcement



Imagine Dragons invited 200 guests to The Mayan in downtown L.A. for a very special announcement: their Smoke + Mirrors summer tour with Metric and Halsey.

Metric played a few songs before Billboard's Andrew Levy and Imagine Dragons came onstage for a brief Q&A session. Then, the band played five songs, including a new song before ending with the ever so famous hit, “Radioactive.”

The tour will stop in Los Angeles on Friday, July 24 at The Forum. Tickets go on sale Tuesday, Feb. 17.

ESSENCE Black Women in Music 



Essence magazine held its 6th annual ESSENCE Black Women in Hollywood event at Avalon Hollywood, honoring GRAMMY Award-winning singer/actress Jill Scott, with performances by Brandi (pictured above), Chaka Khan and Lianne Las Havas.

For the first year ever, the publication opened up the traditionally invite-only affair to "fans," to be part of the Fan Experience, which is how I went. Hundreds of fans arrived about two hours prior to the start of the event to hang out in a lounge area, with an interesting selection of "mocktails" and pretzels with honey mustard dip. Lincoln and Colgate set up interactive booths and a DJ spun music.

While this was going on, I also made my way outside in the "Fan Zone," where a group of about 20 fans watched the red carpet arrivals. Some guests in arrival included: some of the cast of The Real (Tamera Mowry-Housley, Adrienne Bailon, Jeannie Mai and Loni Love), Jordin Sparks (pictured below), Chaka Khan, Elise Neal, Zendaya, Tasha Smith, Goapele, Chrisette Michelle, Taj Mowry, Flex Alexander, and of course, the woman of the hour, Jill Scott.



Once the event started, we fans were ushered onto the balcony, overlooking the club’s floor, which had been transformed into an intimate lounge, where guests schmoozed throughout the night and performers graced the stage.

We caught the first performance of the night—Brandi belting out throwback hits like "Sittin’ Up In My Room" and "Almost Doesn't Count." MC Lyte came out to join her for the "Baby" remix.

But, then I had to leave, because I had to head to the....

OK! 2015 Pre-Grammys Party 


The OK! magazine’s annual function was at Lure Nightclub, packed to the brim with industry types and lots of fun booths with complimentary services and giveaways.

Immediately upon entrance, Vevo provided samples of their updated product—which is now 70% alcohol proof (and yes, you can taste and feel the difference). And, an open bar with select libations kept the liquor flowing all night long.

There were tons of free goodies stationed throughout, including mini-manicures by Sally's, a giant candy station with literally all the candy you could ever imagine, and Chapstick and Zico coconut water giveaways.

But hands down, the highlight of the night was a powerful, commanding performance by Nico & Vinz, who have the hit single “Am I Wrong.”

Afterwards, guests tore it up on the dance floor to a mix of EDM, Top 40 and hip-hop/rap, before the event eventually ended.



FRIDAY

Went to a party so terrible I left five minutes after being there and it's not even worth mentioning.


SATURDAY

The Official GRAMMY Gift Lounge presented by MTG




I got a chance to head into the official GRAMMY Gift Lounge presented by MTG, where GRAMMY performers and presenters were able to pick up official talent gift bags (filled with $25,000 worth of goodies!) and also peruse through the backstage gift lounge, which included more than 10 stations providing amazing complimentary items to take home.

I saw some great swag, like the original Sean John velour track suit, with a slight upgrade: a thin strip of vegan leather down the middle. Sean John also gave away a candle with the latest Sean John scent, which will be released in a couple of months (its name hasn’t even been revealed yet; I tried to get at least a hint, but was sadly denied). More giveaways included a branded duffel bag and a “Dream Big” t-shirt, which is part of a campaign including participants like Troy Ave, Terrence J and John Wall, to inspire young men to dream big.

Another cool station that had a great giveaway was Gibson, providing 100th anniversary Les Paul guitars, featuring his signature and a hologram of his face on it. Those who stopped by to pick up this gift could also sign a guitar that will be auctioned off for charity, with proceeds going to the MusiCares Foundation.


Other lounge participants included MTG, New Era, the luxury train line Rocky Mountaineer, SIS by Simone I. Smith, Devicewear, Rouse, WowWee, the national tobacco prevention campaign truth, Tisanoreica and a new app called Rouse Social.

Celebrities who went to the Gift Lounge included in MC Lyte, Bow Wow, Jermaine Dupri, Herbie Hancock, Deborah Cox, TLC’s Chili, Ashanti, members of AC/DC and Chaka Khan, to name a few. It was open Thursday, Friday and Saturday.

SUNDAY

Keurig 2.0 GRAMMY After-Party


Keurig definitely came through for the Grammy after party on Sunday night. The coffee brewer brand transformed The Continental Club in downtown L.A. into a beautiful setting, with fragrant candles and big floral arrangements.

An open bar kept guests—or at least, me—happy all night, with premium liquors on stock and also Continental’s killer, signature cocktails. Passed savory hors d’oeuvres and stationed sweets were also available to munch on.

The Norwegian multi-instrumentalist/singer Bernhoft came onstage about halfway through the affair to play a mean set, filled with funky Blues tunes. He had pretty much everyone captivated and grooving to his songs, which often featured him playing different instruments over pre-recorded tracks. A DJ kept the crowd dancing with a good mix of hip-hop, R&B and rap the rest of the time.

Some guests left with a voucher for an actual Keurig coffee machine and all guests left with a commemorative Keurig GRAMMY After-Party coffee mug.