As a musician and Worship Pastor in Las Vegas, I was beyond stoked for my wife and me to be invited to the Grammy Awards on April 3rd. My wife’s cousin is part of the recording industry and has been for decades. We were honored to join him and his wife and a couple of other friends for our day.
What a lot of people don’t realize is that the whole experience is about nine hours of stuff for you to attend and be present for, with only around three hours of that stuff ending up on TV. It was truly an extraordinary day, and I will do my best here to share how the interactions I had with other creatives impacted me and encouraged me to stay the path.
The first thing was for my wife and I to lead worship that morning. We woke up at 5:30 a.m., got the kids ready and out the door in an hour, lead worship for two services, and hurried to get to the Premier Ceremony on time. We had no real clarity on what to expect, but once we showed our passes and went through security, we were in the conference center with some of the most inspiring, talented, creative (and weird) people on the planet. In my wife’s words “We were surrounded by our people.”
During this ceremony we weren’t dealing with commercial breaks or watching the stage turnover from performance to performance. The house band stayed put, and the performers came to center stage to deliver their songs to the room. Some of the best performances of the day happened in this room. From Ledisi to Jimmie Allen, From Mon Laferte to Curtis Stewart…these performances were a treat. Sprinkle in some memorable presenters – LaVar Burton, Arlo Parks, Sylvan Esso, and Nate Bargatze, to name a few. In hindsight, this part of the awards for the day packed just as much punch as what was presented on TV.
During a break I got up to use the restroom. This was during the end of the classical music awards presentation, and I noticed a group of people that I recognized standing at the back. In a hushed voice, I walk past and say “MAVERICK CITY!!! YEAHHHH LET’S GO” and I get a few smiles from the bunch.
On the way back to my seat, I spoke quickly with Brandon Lake, who has a mutual friend of mine (so I felt less awkward approaching him). After that chat, we snapped a selfie. It was cool to interact with another worship leader, who was probably full of anticipation and butterflies waiting to hear if he’s won an award, and for him to take time for small talk with a random bald guy who says he knows your friend. I would hope that I could operate with such poise and grace as he did, in my most stressful and exciting moments.
As I got back to my seat, I suddenly had an emotional connection to MCM and their awards they were nominated for, so as Jimmie Allen announces the next awards, my wife and I let out our respective “Woos” as their names are called. It quickly became evident that there were also other artists on the list who are just as much deserving of these awards.
The first award was for Best Gospel Performance/Song.
The second was for Best Contemporary Christian Music Performance/Song.
The third award was for Best Gospel Album.
Daaaang Cece really just swept that!
Then the last award that had MCM attached to it was Best Contemporary Christian Music Album.
Finally. It was so cool to be in this room as people came to the realization that they had won. Peppered throughout the room you could have anyone who is part of any given project announced, so the excitement was scattered throughout the ceremony and room appropriately.
We stayed through the rest of this ceremony, which lasted for about 3 1/2 hours, and then we made our way to the red carpet.
The red carpet is actually more low-key than you would imagine. It is a fairly quiet space, with just a bunch of people cluttered – security, producers, media personalities littered the sides of the carpet, while the guests walk down the middle taking advantage of every photo opportunity possible. Again this was a space where quirky people roamed. People like you and I, with all the smiling and posing and absorbing the exciting atmosphere around them.
I would liken some of this experience to going to MLB Spring Training pre-covid (and even pre-copious amounts of fans.) Once you have your ticket, you just walk around and take pictures, and have conversations with whoever you want.
Once we were in the room for the broadcast and had taken our seats, it was evident to us that as we watched the artists mingle, this was a great breeding ground for collaboration and encouragement. Every artist down on the floor in front of us, took any time they could to go and chat with someone else. It was a cool thing to take in.
At this point we had seen about 70 awards given away, and the tv broadcast was just about to start. It was in this room where we saw 20 performances and saw 12 awards presented. It was also in this room that we became extremely hungry, so my wife and I staggered commercial breaks to go out in the hallway to drink and eat popcorn. (Another thing not many people know – they want the look on camera to be clean, so there’s not supposed to be food in the room).
On one of these breaks we took together, a familiar face was standing behind us. Dante Bowe was waiting for someone just outside of our section. We aren’t really the type of people to bug someone, but this was a once in a lifetime day… so we walked up to him.
“Are you Dante” I asked. He smiled and said yes, we were able to congratulate him on the nominations and the win. He was a a really relatable personality, but after a few minutes we figured it was time to leave him alone. Again, not without taking a selfie first.
The Maverick City performance at the Grammy’s was pre-filmed the week prior on top of the MGM Self-Parking Garage, and the performance during the broadcast was the lead-in and lead-out of a commercial break. It was still cool to watch them lead worship at that moment, if only for a few seconds, (and even with a lame “Sin City” quip from Trevor Noah.”
After the final performance, and Jon Batiste taking home Album Of The Year, it was time to clear out. We were extremely ravenous at this time after nine hours of Grammys, so we had to wait for our party in the lobby before we figured out what the next move was. As we filtered out of the arena, security cleared a path for us, and my wife and I felt a bit like stars as people on the casino floor of the MGM stopped what they were doing to film and take pictures of all of us leaving the arena. Most of them missed the Christian artists in the flow, but we did not. This is where I got a quick word in with Chandler Moore, and then made some jokes with Kari and Cody Carnes about no one recognizing them.
After a short wait, we went to an after-party where there was free food, we finally replenished ourselves and went home, exhausted.
In the days that followed we were asked so many questions about the experience, and I feel this was the best way for me to process it all today. I’ll forever be grateful of the random and cool opportunities that come my way, and the chance I have to observe and glean from other creatives. I take it all in as a challenge to not change who I am no matter the environment I’m placed in, to not be scared to be human around others is an important trait of life. I also feel challenged to mingle with others, a collaborative spirit that tells others that they are valuable and their voice matters is a huge encouragement when it comes to art. And finally, I’ll remember to always have a snack in my pocket, because who knows when another chance like this could fall in my lap.