Music, Movies, TV – An Insider’s Perspective

Tag: Grammy Award

The 63rd Grammy Awards Celebrate 50 Years of Hip Hop

Before we get into this week’s post, I want to thank all of my new subscribers who came in from Welcome to the Violet Brown Told Me Blog! And to all of my previous subscribers, thank you for always being here!

Hip Hop will celebrate its 50th birthday on April 11, 2023. Throughout 2023 there are many events planned to celebrate the first 50 years. I started preparing for the festivities a little early. In 2022 I created a series of features titled “Hip Hop Hooray.” The series features facts and personal stories of working in the entertainment industry during the rise and evolution of hip hop. Below I am including links to my “Hip Hop Hooray” series. I am so fortunate to be alive and to continue to work in entertainment and music. It is a true honor to have been present and a part of the most formative years of this global phenomenon we call HIP HOP.

Hip Hop has been as important to the history of music as the birth of Rock & Roll.

Both genres of music originated in America, and both continue to evolve into new styles and sub-genres of the original music. The rapid popularity of rock and rap came from young rebellious fans. Both genres were seen as a threat to the establishment and especially to parents. Parents feared this music because it literally took over the hearts and minds of their children. Some parents and older folks called it “disturbing…just noise…devil music…shocking…or a fad that would not last.”

Rock and rap music has withstood the test of time and continues to evolve and gain popularity each year. And despite what was once said…IT IS HERE TO STAY!

Rock and rap music is usually loud, bold, and provocative. It can also be socially conscious, political, and a way to promote the awareness of racial, cultural, and economic issues. The music has greatly influenced the culture of every country and their people.

Today we have rock and hip hop artists creating music together. They often share the same stage at massive music festivals. Most importantly they are sharing the same fans and audiences. The music has been a source of unity by bringing their fans together. Currently hip-hop artists are even collaborating and touring with country artists. Times have changed and…I LOVE IT!

We feel and see the impact of hip hop everywhere

The influence of hip hop has changed the course of music by bringing new styles in music, poetry, art, dance, technology, film, fashion, media, entertainment, and more.

Last year Hip Hop made its way to the Super Bowl with one of the most anticipated and SPECTACULAR half-time shows. On Sunday, February 5, 2023, Hip Hop stunned the world again at the 63rd annual Grammy Awards with a tremendous tribute to the first 50 years of the genre.

I have personal connections to the majority of performers who participated in the Grammy’s joyous celebration of hip hop. In my series “Hip Hop Hooray” I share personal stories with many of these performers, pioneers, visionaries, legends, and “ICONS” of hip hop. If you are a fan of the music I hope you will use the links below to read the first 3 parts of my ongoing series on the history of hip hop. I hope you will enjoy reading and viewing personal stories and photos that I have taken over the “golden and platinum” era of hip hop. Since I am still active in the industry I will continue to include stories and photos with new artists too.

Since this post is really about the joy I felt watching the some of my friends and favorite artists on stage at the Grammys, I want to tell you about a historical hip hop release that includes most of the performers with their BIGGEST…most BELOVED songs.

Last year the prestigious Smithsonian Folkways label released an anthology featuring 129 of the most important songs of the first 45 years of the genre.

This 9-disc set tells the story of hip hop through these powerful and enormously popular songs. Smithsonian’s Anthology of Hip Hop and Rap explores the foundation and the evolution of Hip Hop. It also includes a 300-page coffee-table book filled with essays and rare, never-before-seen photos that span the formative years of hip hop. This is a MUST-HAVE for all fans of the music and it’s culture.

Here is a fun fact about my personal connection to this release:
I am one of the music insiders who was invited to have a voice in the selection of the songs that would be included on this definitive anthology of hip-hop and rap.

The final songs that were chosen for this ground-breaking and historical release were compiled by a committee of well-respected rappers, scholars, writers, aficionado’s, music critics and industry leaders. The committee was led by rappers Chuck D of Public Enemy and MC Lyte, Jeff Chang, and Mark Anthony Neil (writers and scholars), Bill Adler and Bill Stephney (early Def Jam Executives), Questlove (Co-founder of The Roots, author, film maker and band leader of The Tonight Show) and 9th Wonder (rap artist and educator).

I was asked to submit 100 songs that I felt were worthy of being on this important piece of hip-hop history. I was quite pleased when I saw that many of my selections were loved by the whole group…they made the cut and are on SMITHSONIAN’S ANTHOLOGY of HIP-HOP and RAP.

You can add the “Smithsonian Anthology of Hip Hop and Rap” to your own collection by clicking here…If you have a special hip hop fan in your life, this makes an AMAZING GIFT!


HOP HOORAY (Part I)….How it all started



And….for more information about the Smithsonian Anthology of hip hop, follow the link below to a previous feature about this collectors dream:

GREATEST HITS – Violet Brown Told Me

Make sure you stop by often to check out new ‘HIP HOP HOORAY” features….coming soon.

Looking for the music from one of the Grammy WINNERS or NOMINEES…you can find them ALL with this link to the Grammy Sale on

For more rap and hip-hop music on sale, click here.

Why is Everyone Suddenly Talking About Jon Batiste?

Jon Batiste was the BIG WINNER at the 64th Grammy Awards Show.

Personally, I feel he also WON for “BEST ACCEPTANCE SPEECH” too…if you missed it, just keep reading!

Jon Batiste has had an amazing couple of years with his film score for “SOUL,” and his solo career.

He also is the Musical Director for the “Late Show with Stephen Colbert.” Some of you may not know Jon since the “Late Show” airs on Mondays through Friday at 11:35 p.m.

I started watching “The Late Show” because of Colbert but now I find Jon Batiste to be just as important as Stephen to the show. Every night I tune in or record the show just to see what this “musical genius” Jon will be performing that night.

The “Musical Director” gig could be enough to keep a musician busy for hours each day with the planning, rehearsing, and taping of 5 shows a week but Jon’s work does not end there. Jon is usually working on other projects while fulfilling his duties to The Late Show with Stephen Colbert. When Jon accepted the position of Bandleader and Musical Director of the show he was already on his way to stardom with 5 albums under his belt. It was a tough decision for Jon to commit to such a prominent position, but he does not see his job as work or just entertainment. In the beautiful words of his Grammy Award acceptance speech,  Jon said,

“It’s more than entertainment for me, It’s a spiritual practice” (keep reading there are more gems from Jon’s amazing speech)

Continue reading

Erykah Badu

When I was a music buyer for a large chain of music stores, I would often receive albums (promos) by new artists early so I could hear the music and hopefully love it enough to make a large purchase or the “perfect purchase” to supply all of my stores. It could be terrible if a title was released and sold out right away. If this happened a chain could lose a lot of business which would ultimately affect the record label and the artist.

I would usually receive early releases and promos from the sales rep of the label or the distribution company that sold the label’s product. Occasionally for BIG releases I would get special presentations directly from top executives from the record label who would sometimes bring the music and the artist to my office to meet me. I always knew the level of importance of a new artist or release based on the person that was bringing or sending the early promo to me.

In late 1996 I received a package from the President of Urban Music for Universal Music. Inside the package was a personal letter from the the President along with a letter from C.E.O. of the record label that was releasing a new artist named “Erykah Badu”.

It also contained a promo copy of her debut album “Baduizm” that was set to be released in 1997.

I received this album very early and with a very powerful letter from the top executives from the label. I knew it was going to be an important release, but I still wondered if the music was good?

After reading the letter that came with the album, I put the CD in the player, closed my door and pressed play. I understood the importance of the release based on who sent it to me and especially since it was so early before the scheduled release date of February 11, 1997. This seemed to call for my full attention, so I immediately stopped what I was doing to give this an uninterrupted listen. I had 2 ways that I loved to preview new music. I would start with headphones in my office and if it was something I liked I would take it to my car, crank up the volume and go for a drive to hear the whole album. If a CD or tape made it to the car, it was usually something that I ultimately fell in love with. Since most customers listened to music in their cars, it had to sound “great” in my car too.

Erykah Badu’s “Baduizm” went into my car’s CD player and that is where it stayed for about 2 months.

I could not get enough of this album. I had to know everything about this brilliant new talent. I spoke directly to Kedar Massenburg who was the the C.E.O. of Kedar Entertainment. This label was also distributed by the hottest distribution company in the business. Universal Distribution was known for their success with urban music.

Since Erykah’s music was so different at the time, Kedar gave it its own NEW sub-genre. He coined the term NEO-SOUL which stands for Progressive Soul. Neo-Soul can include elements of funk, hip hop, jazz fusion, pop, rock, electronic and African music. Erykah Badu is known as the “First Lady of Neo-Soul” and some call her the “Queen of Neo-Soul”. Her album  “Baduizm” opened the door for many great neo-soul artists.

I became obsessed with Erykah Badu and it was not long until the label invited me to come to the shoot for her first video.

The video was for the first single “On and On” which was released in January of 1997. I spent the entire day on the set of the video.

I hung out with Erykah and her mother as we watched the taping. In between breaks I would get a chance to speak to Erykah. I got to know her, and she continued to invite me to any and all events, shows or parties that took place near Los Angeles. When her debut single, “On and On” was released it shot straight to #1. This song also propelled her debut album to #1 when released on February 11, 1997. The song “On and On” also won a Grammy award for “Best Female R&B Vocal Performance” at the 1998 Grammy Award show. Soon the song was a world-wide hit. “On and On” topped all the prestigious music charts. Music critics loved Erykah Badu. Erykah is a gifted songwriter, singer, rapper, poet and performer. Through the years she has also proven to be a good actor. Erykah’s videos are always creative, thought-provoking, sometimes edgy and always worth the wait.

Erykah Badu has now released 5 successful studio albums and a live album. I recommend adding “Baduizm” to your collection and adding the rest in the order in which they were released. Erykah does not release albums often but when she releases one it becomes an “event” in music.

Here are a couple of fun photos taken at different events with Erykah

If you love what you hear from Erykah Badu, you may want to check out some of these other ‘Women in Music”

India Arie

Jill Scott



Meshell Ndegeocello

Chrisette Michelle

Janelle Monae


Jaguar Wright

Leela James

Jhene Aiko