Tag: Ariana Grande

NYT MUSIC FEATURE: Can the Weeknd Turn Himself Into the Biggest Pop Star in the World?

02weeknd1-superJumbo
The Weeknd (Photo Credit: Peter van Agtmael/Magnum, The New York Times)

The scene backstage last November at the American Music Awards, that annual gathering of pop perennials and idiosyncratic arrivistes, was carnivalesque: Niall and Liam of One Direction toddled about trying to snap a picture with a selfie stick, while Zayn, their bandmate at the time, smoked coolly out of frame; Ne-Yo was there in a leopard-­print blazer two sizes too small; Lil Wayne was wandering around, alone, wearing absurd shoes. In the middle of it all, Abel Tesfaye, better known as The Weeknd, remained calm, slow ­motion to everyone else’s warp speed.

Allergic to these sorts of scrums, he found his way to his trailer to hang with his friends, five or so fellow Canadians, all of them art-goth chic, wearing expensive sneakers and draped in luxurious, flowing black. Tesfaye, 25, was dressed down by comparison, in a black corduroy jacket and paint-­splattered jeans (Versace, but still). He stands 5-foot-7, plus a few more inches with his hair, an elaborate tangle of dreadlocks that he has been growing out for years, more or less letting it go where it wants. It spills out at the sides of his head and shoots up over it, like a cresting wave. Casually, Tesfaye did some vocal warm-ups and sat indifferently as his underutilized makeup artist dabbed foundation under his eyes and balm on his lips.

Abel Tesfaye, a.k.a. the Weeknd, at his apartment building in Toronto last December. (Credit: Peter van Agtmael/Magnum, for The New York Times)

He’d just had his first flash of true pop success: ‘‘Love Me Harder,’’ his duet with Ariana Grande, the childlike pop star with the grown-up voice, cracked the Top 10 of the Billboard Hot 100. He was scheduled to make a surprise cameo here at the end of a Grande medley. Until that song and, in a sense, that moment, Tesfaye had been a no-hit wonder: a cult act with millions of devotees and almost no mainstream profile.

When Tesfaye came out from the shadows midway through Grande’s performance, the crowd screamed. For two minutes, the singers traded vocal riffs and unflinching eye contact, Grande playing the naïf and Tesfaye the aggressor. The performance was quick and sweaty, and seconds after it was over, Tesfaye was already speeding for the exit, stopping only for a quick embrace from Kendall and Kylie Jenner. When he reached the parking lot, a yappy talent wrangler for an entertainment-­news show sensed an opportunity and asked for an interview. Tesfaye gave him an amused half-smile and kept walking. ‘‘Hey!’’ the guy shouted in desperation, fumbling for a name before landing on the wrong one: ‘‘A$AP Rocky!’’ Tesfaye turned his head and said, ‘‘C’mon, man,’’ arching an eyebrow, then picked up the pace.

Even though he had just performed for an audience of millions, Tesfaye was still, to many of them, a total stranger. When he began releasing music in 2010 — murky Dalí-esque R.&B., sung in an astrally sweet voice, vivid with details of life at the sexual and pharmacological extremes — Tesfaye chose to be a cipher. The only photos of him in circulation were deliberately obscured; he didn’t do interviews. His reticence was an asset — fans devoured the music without being distracted by a personality. Their loyalty was to the songs and, in a way, to the idea of the Weeknd. He was happy to stay out of the way.

Continue reading “NYT MUSIC FEATURE: Can the Weeknd Turn Himself Into the Biggest Pop Star in the World?”

Aretha Franklin To Receive Billboard Women in Music Icon Award

Aretha-Franklin

After making history as the first female artist to have 100 hits on Billboard’s Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs charts, Aretha Franklin blazes yet another trail as the first recipient of Billboard Women in Music’s Icon Award.

Franklin’s latest achievement was announced by Billboard, which gives the award to a female artist whose music has helped shape the industry. Although Jennifer Lopez received an Icon Award last year at the Billboard Music Awards, Franklin’s honor marks the first time the award has been at Billboard’s annual Women in Music awards luncheon.

The event, which will also honor Ariana Grande for Rising Star and Idina Menzel for Breakthrough Artist of the Year, will take place Dec. 12.

The Billboard Women in Music awards recognize female music executives for helping to make a difference in the music industry.

article by Qwest7 via eurweb.com

First Lady Michelle Obama Celebrating Female Soul Singers with Concert at White House

Michelle Obama

WASHINGTON (AP) — First lady Michelle Obama is bringing together an impressive group of female artists for a White House concert celebrating women of soul.  The lineup for Thursday’s concert includes Aretha Franklin, Patti LaBelle, Melissa Etheridge and Janelle Monáe. Also performing will be The Voice winner Tessanne Chin, Ariana Grande and Jill Scott.  The show will be streamed live Thursday night on the White House website and broadcast April 7th on PBS stations as Women of Soul: In Performance at the White House.

It is designed to celebrate what the White House describes as great “foremothers” of American music, with songs exploring the struggles and achievements of women.  In connection with the concert, the White House will hold a workshop for students to learn about the history of women in soul.

article via newsone.com