A handful of members from Grammy U sat in the bleachers of the Staples center waiting to see the final run-through of what would be the 52nd Annual Grammy Awards ceremony, Friday, Jan.29.
The Dave Matthews Band took their marks on stage, as the stand-in on the mic announced their performance.
As the song opened, Dave Matthews crooned out the first few stanzas of “You and Me”.
Then the bridge swelled as Matthews’ voice blasted full force against the walls of the nearly empty stadium.
A choir and brass section made up of high school students from the Grammy in the Schools program joined the band onstage, as they belted out the chorus while Matthews danced a jig.
Cheers erupted from the 20 people in the Staples center after the performance.
“That … was … awesome,” said Grammy U member, Amanda Holmes, still wide-eyed as the band set up for another run-through.
Created by the Recording Academy – the same organization that chooses the Grammy nominations – Grammy U is a network of college students interested in careers in the music industry.
Krystal Johnson, member of the CSUN Grammy U chapter said that membership extends to all students interested in music, regardless of their major.
“You can be in film, bioethics, or music itself. The program is open to everyone,” Johnson said.
Grammy U is designed to supplement the curriculum in schools by giving members a first-hand opportunity to a behind-the-scenes look into the music industry, she said.
“You’re getting the chance to meet with people at the top of their game, that have years invested in this and obviously know their craft,” Johnson said.
“This is the industry,” she said, “right here in this room.”
Membership costs $25 for the year, which “buys a world of unprecedented access to all of the events,” she said.
Events like the Grammy rehearsals are just some of the opportunities available to members through Grammy U.
Other events like career day include seminars, workshops and panel discussions that are available throughout the year — taught by industry professionals, including names like Justin Timberlake, The Red Hot Chili Peppers and Rhianna.
Panel discussions range from business and entertainment law to digital media and management.
“They’re really responding to how the industry is changing,” Holmes said.
Johnson agreed, “it’s a really cool opportunity to see the work behind the glamour.”
After the Dave Matthews Band finished their final rehearsal, the stage was prepped for Maxwell, nominee for Best Song of the Year.
While Maxwell prepared to take the stage, the organist played a jazzy, R&B instrumental.
The walls of the Staples Center seemed to melt away, as the stage went black and only thing visible was the blue glow of the platform under the piano and organ.
The scene was intimate as Maxwell, wearing sunglasses with a scarf wrapped around his neck, sang “Pretty Wings” in a high falsetto.
Dry ice spilled out onto the stage. The band sat knee deep in the fog, which gave the illusion that they were perched on top of clouds.
Maxwell then beckoned for Roberta Flack, R&B and jazz singer, to join him on stage
Flack, with bouncy golden curls and bright red lipstick, sang her hit song, “Where is the Love”, with Maxwell’s arm draped around her shoulders.
At the end of the rehearsal, Maxwell got down on one knee and kissed her hand.
The applause was palpable. The crowd had nearly tripled in size, as more media and Grammy U members started to trickle in.
After the performance, Flack was escorted out. As she passed by the Grammy U members, she gave a little wave and smiled, and was out the door.
Next to take the stage was Billie Joe, looking the exact same as he did nearly 20 years ago. Joe was busy giving directions to the cast of “American Idiot”, the Broadway play based off the album, “American Idiot.”
In a classically trained Broadway voice, cast member Rebecca Naomi Jones, led the song, and was soon joined by the entire cast.
Joe, in his classically trained punk rasp, turned the sweet ballad into an anthem as strobe lights flashed and the cast threw up their hands. Several Grammy U members threw up the rock sign and banged their heads to the beat.
Johnson said about half of Grammy U members are not even music majors.
“Many of them are interested in business management, PR, or even theater … even if you don’t know a lot about music or even want to be involved in the industry, it’s still really fun to attend,” she said.
“Who knows, you may attend an event, and see an new opportunity. It’s like an epiphany, and you found a new career.”
For more information about Grammy U visit www2.grammy.com/Recording_Academy/Member_Services/GRAMMYU/ or email Krystal Johnson at firstname.lastname@example.org.