Music + Location + Tech: Mapping Memories with @theGRAMMYs

Jay Z MusicMapper tagJust a quick note to let you know my first post for the 53rd Annual GRAMMY Awards season is up on! The post is titled, “Map Your Music Memories,” and in the post I review the pretty spiffy MusicMapper app The Recording Academy launched earlier this month. I think the iPhone app is cool (it’s also available on Android phones), but the website that goes with it is even cooler: MusicIsLifeIsMusic.

When I was in LA earlier this month I had a chance to meet with some folks at The Recording Academy, and they are looking to add new features to the site and app in the coming months. One thing I’ve learned about working with them, they’re always full of surprises, especially as the awards get closer and closer 🙂

Right now I have tagged about 45 songs on the global map. You can check out my timeline here and get all up in my music memory business.

I’m a GRAMMY Community Blogger–Again!

the 53rd GRAMMY AwardsI’ve been keeping a secret for some time now and I guess it is finally time to let it all hang out. I have been invited to be a Blogger At Large for the 53rd GRAMMY Awards! You may remember that I was a GRAMMY Community Blogger At Large earlier this year for the 52nd GRAMMY Awards, and I am honored to be invited back for their blogger program for the ceremony in February 2011.

Sooo, what does this mean exactly? Well, as Blogger At Large I will be writing content for, attending related events (including the 53rd GRAMMY Awards and the official After-Party!), and I’ll be tweeting about these events and blogging about my experiences. I am so excited about this! I had so much fun this year, and this is such an awesome opportunity. I really dig what The Recording Academy is doing with bloggers because it’s not just simply flying us out for a one night event. We get to write content for, attend several events, and we work together for a few months leading up to the ceremony.

You might be wondering why I’m involved, as most of the other bloggers in the program are music bloggers. Well, specifically I will be writing content focusing on the social media aspect of the 53rd GRAMMY Awards and related events. I’ll be reviewing their mobile app, talking to staff about their marketing campaign (and its use of social media), and I’ll be covering scheduled events from the perspective of a web nerd. I think I am good at being a web nerd, right? I got this!

First up, I am flying to LA tonight so I can go to “The GRAMMY Nominations Concert Live!!” tomorrow night. I didn’t get to go to this last year, so this will be my first time! I’m excited to be back in LA and working with my friends over at The Recording Academy. On Thursday, I’ll be at The Recording Academy interviewing staff about their social media projects and tech initiatives for the 53rd GRAMMY Awards. I usually get a sneak peek at a lot of their projects, and they always have awesome secrets for me to keep 🙂  Last year’s campaign was quite impressive, so I am anxious to see what they have in store this year.

Anyway, be sure to follow me on Twitter, as a lot of my GRAMMY info will be there first!

You should also watch this tomorrow night:

The GRAMMY Nominations Concert LIVE!! — Countdown To Music’s Biggest Night

LL Cool J will host and Justin Bieber, B.o.B, Miranda Lambert, Bruno Mars and Katy Perry will perform live on Dec 1st (10/9c) on CBS.

#GRAMMYNoms is our official hashtag, so make sure you follow it on Twitter.

My Night of Seriously Hilarious Karaoke

Last week when meeting some new people, I was invited to watch a Karaoke League competition.

Karaoke LEAGUE? I thought. Since when do people compete at karaoke? In a league?

I was told that it’s serious business. To the point that it almost sucks the fun out of karaoke. But that’s what also makes it so hilarious.

So, I said I was down. Not to sing. But to spectate.

Last night I headed to Midtown, and found Pulse Karaoke right next to Bryant Park. The bouncer was nice and a little flirty. The bartender quick with the drinks and queuing up the songs. Oh, did I mention it has open bar everyday from 6-7pm? Then it goes to buy one get one free for a little bit after that. I guess you gotta have good deals on liquid courage if you’re in the business of karaoke, no?

While I was rolling deep with a bunch of Koreans, I was surprised to see the rest of the club was pretty diverse. All kinds of people were there.

Before the competition began, the floor was open for everyone. Someone killed an Anita Baker song. And not in a good way. Once I got comfortable at our table, this Black man got up and sang “Ain’t Too Proud To Bed” by the Temptations. Great selection. His tone was  beautiful, and I thought I wanted to marry David Ruffin on the spot 🙂

After a few more karaoke failures happened, my girl asked me if I wanted to sing with her. She said she loves R&B and you already know I’m an R&B girl, so why not? I couldn’t be worse than these other people.

After flipping through the book thinking of some of our favorite R&B artists, we settled on “Golden” by Jill Scott. This song was perfect. It would allow me to belt out my notes, move fast to a beat, and I had a partner to carry me if I got too shy all of a sudden. Usually when I do karaoke, I choose rap songs (salt N pepa, Jay-Z, word up!)…but I could be talked into a Jill Scott track.

Nobody really cared about who was singing at this point, which was GREAT. The stage at Pulse Karaoke is really nice. Between the screens, the lighting, the decor and the mics, you almost feel like you’re famous. “David Ruffin” seemed to be enjoying my singing and told me later I did a good job. 😉

I’m pretty sure I have fallen in love with karaoke because it allows me to pretend I’m some some singing superstar, even though I know full well I am always off key, pitchy and just flat out wrong when I’m singing. But I don’t care. Karaoke beats my other stage–my shower–and there’s nobody in my shower to appreciate all this singing goodness I have in me.

He was rapping to Lil Kim's "The Jumpoff"

Once the competition got started, you could see people were really serious. People had props. Most of the men dressed up as women and sang gay anthems. One chick sang a heavy metal song which I was a bit confused about. Either way, I spent the next 90 minutes in stitches. I haven’t laughed that much, for so long, in a while.

Karaoke league is not a game. I don’t think I’m ready for the pressure, but I do think everyone needs more karaoke in their life. I’m almost tempted to have a karaoke party for my birthday or something. I can’t decide which is better though: private rooms or the public stage. There’s something spectacular about watching strangers make fools of themselves.

Obligatory Michael Jackson Post

Today is the anniversary of Michael Jackson’s death.

A year ago today I was in Los Angeles, at the offices of a new client. Working. My client covers news for African-Americans, so as soon as news broke about MJ, we were all over it. Except, this was too real to be part of our everyday work storyline.

I remember crying at my desk in my client’s office. It was awkward. I was new, meeting all the staff that week, yet according to and my Twitter stream, MJ was dead. I was frantically surfing the web on my laptop, hoping this was a joke or not as serious as it seemed. But streams of tears fell down my face anyway. Uncontrollable tears. I mean I wasn’t sobbing, I wasn’t audibly crying. But the tears. They flooded my eyes and wouldn’t stop rolling down my face. Did anyone need any tears? Because I had plenty.

I cried on my way home from work. Bawling in my car on the 405 South freeway. Bawling. I hadn’t even watched a lick of TV yet, but the thought of the King of Pop dying hit me so hard. I was surprised it hurt me so much. In the past few years, MJ had been grating my nerves. While I loved Mike like an uncle, his antics were starting to annoy me rather than concern me. Most notably, his children were suspicious because they didn’t even look partially black, but here he was parading them around with face masks and butterfly wings. He was bizarre. I just wanted him to get his act together because it was bothersome that he had become such a joke to the American media.

After it sank in, I cried for what seemed like a month. When his funeral aired, I was back in New York. I remember I tried to take a day off from working and sat on my couch and watched his funeral coverage all day. Between CNN and Twitter, I was on all coverage like white on rice. I also cried all day, a box of Kleenex by my side for my fits of sadness, wailing and ugly crying. This was one of my more emotional days in recent personal history.

I played MJ on my iTunes for the next month and cried through all his tracks. MJ was the soundtrack of my childhood and coming of age, and he was an artist that spanned generations. My mother and I could both relate to MJs music, and we had our own MJ-related music memories. And now he was gone.

Today I am  obviously able to cope with things a little better. MJ songs bring a little sadness, but in the club I am definitely amped when any MJ track hits the speakers. He was a troubled man, but also one of the most unique human beings on earth. He lived a life nobody else on this planet endured, and for that, I give him a pass for all his eccentricities and bizarre behavior. He coped the best way he knew how and nobody else can judge him or tell him otherwise because they have not walked the path he has walked.

Anyway, I just wanted to write down my thoughts about MJ because last year was so painful, I couldn’t form my thoughts in a coherent manner.