I have to admit that I didn't watch much of the Grammy's at all last night. Just some red carpet stuff, the awesome tribute to Aretha Franklin, and that's about it. My favorites on the red carpet included Selena Gomez, Kelly Osbourne, Nicole Kidman, and Keith Urban (in that order). Ricky Martin's pants? Yeah, Liberace called....he wants his casket lining back (just joking...you know I love you Ricky). Lady GaGa's arrival? It must have been a long trip from planet Ork...I'm really surprised Mork let her borrow his egg (Nanu, Nanu). (Man, I'm really showing my age on this aren't I?) In fact, I can't believe it's been twenty-one years since the Grammy Awards show where Milli Vanilli got their first (and only, and later snatched away) Grammy. How many of you remember that debacle?
It is definitely a case study in the role image plays in the music industry when it's gone too far...when the emphasis on image is at the expense of real talent. When Frank Farian developed the concept of Milli Vanilli, he chose to feature vocals by Charles Shaw, John Davis, Brad Howell, and twin sisters Jodie and Linda Rocco. Despite the talent of these singers, Farian felt they lacked a marketable image, so he recruited two models/dancers, Fab Morvan and the late Rob Pilatus, to pose as the actual singers (man, I loved their music...or what I thought was their music). He made them lip sync to the other singers' recordings and tried to pass Fab and Rob off as the talent. It's one thing for an artist to lip sync to their own recordings for technical reasons for special performances. It's a whole other thing when deceit is involved just to make a buck. It's sad that even though this incident should have been a lesson in upholding integrity, there are still some people in the music industry who will stoop to such deceit for the almighty dollar, and there are still young artists out there so desperate for any kind of opportunity at fame they will allow themselves to be used by the industry in such a way.
Now before you industry leaders reading this get all up in arms, please understand that I am not saying this is the rule, but it is instead the exception. We all know that as long as there is a music industry, things like this will continue to go on, but on a much more subtle level. But just because it's not so blatant as the Milli Vanilli farce doesn't make it any more right. I thank God for the people in the music industry who do operate in integrity and set the bar high for others to follow that level of integrity, especially those here in Nashville that I've been fortunate enough to have a great working relationship with.
I've said it time and time again, and I will always say it: even though I am an image consultant, I believe talent should come first before image. Unfortunately, that is not a reality in today's world with images surrounding us before we even get a taste of what the music sounds like (yes, the speed of light will always be faster than the speed of sound). I believe that image should never take precedent over talent, but instead I believe the two should work hand-in-hand toward the legitimate success of the artist. This is why I spend time listening to my clients' music before we ever start on their image. I want their music to be what gives me the vision of their look, along with other factors involved in developing an image. Ideally, I prefer to hear their music before I ever see what they look like. But with artist web sites and YouTube videos it's nearly impossible to do that. My goal is to help my artists stay true to themselves and their music while they trust me to refine their image into something that is still them, but an enhanced version of them. This is why I love what I do. I encourage young artists to only work with people they can trust, be flexible enough to let those experts do the job they've hired them to do, and stay true to themselves by knowing what their deal-breakers are and being upfront about them with everyone involved from the beginning.
I want to say congratulations to all the Nashville winners from last night's awards show, including Lady A, Miranda Lambert, Keith Urban, Alan Jackson, Zac Brown Band, and many more. Also, a big congrats to the Nashville symphony who won three Grammy's last night. It's been a long hard road for the Nashville symphony after being displaced due to the flooding of the Schermerhorn symphony hall in May. Even a massive flood doesn't have the power to drown out the sounds of Music City!