I grew up watching the Grammy Awards. I would sit on the couch in the living room on “music’s biggest night” and watch my favorite celebrities in these super extravagant dresses as they walked down the red carpet and accepted their awards.
I dreamt of getting the opportunity to one day head to LA and see the GRAMMYs live. It was a dream I thought would never happen, until Erik Bradley, B96’s awesome music director, walked into my office and asked me to go.
“Me,” I asked.
Then, thinking back to the book I’m currently reading – Shonda Rhimes’ “Year of Yes,” I quickly responded, “HECK YES.”
About a week later, I was standing with my bags at O’Hare Airport waiting to board a plane to Los Angeles, unsure of what to expect. All I knew was that I was more excited than I’d ever been.
Now don’t be fooled, the tickets weren’t just “handed” to me… I had to put in some major work. And not Fifth Harmony’s idea of working from home.
Thursday and Friday, Rebecca Ortiz and I woke up bright and early, got some Starbucks and headed over to the Staples Center for a full day of interviews with celebrities like Chance the Rapper, Austin Mahone, Dua Lipa, Bea Miller, Fat Joe and Remy Ma. (You can see all the interviews HERE!)
Two full days – I was exhausted but so inspired- working with people in the industry who I adore and admire.
When it was all done, we packed our things, guzzled down some drinks from the open bar and took in private performances from Ocean Drive Standoff, Marian Hill and Train. (All incredible performances!)
Saturday was my day to “relax” and so I did… hiking the Runyon Canyon,hoping to work off all the In & Out so that I could find into my Grammy dress.
Then came Sunday… the big day.
“Can you imagine how it must feel to actually be NOMINATED for a Grammy,” I nervously asked Rachel, US99’s producer and my date for the night.
Even though the show began at 5pm, we started getting ready early in the day because unlike all the celebs that you see dolled up on the red carpet, this doll had to do her own hair and makeup.
After some stress and a lot of misplaced eyelash glue, we were out the door and hopping into our Uber, which I pretended was just my own personal limo. It’s got a driver – same thing right?
Upon arrival, we were enthralled by all the beautiful dresses, crisp tuxes and carefully crafted hairdos. Seriously, EVERY single person looked like a celebrity so I wasn’t surprised to see folks in normal attire squinting and eyeing us to see if maybe, just maybe, we were the pop-star they were dying to see.
And we did LOOK like celebrities thanks to Rent The Runway, who hooked us up with gorgeous dresses so that we felt like a million bucks all night long.
When I was looking for a dress, I wasn’t really sure what to wear since I wasn’t a celebrity… I just knew it had to be FIRE.
I asked a friend who attended the GRAMMYs multiple times before and she told me to stay “classy” but keep it short.
Pro tip: After attending myself, I say – wear whatever the heck you want. You can wear a long dress, a short dress, a pantsuit. There’s absolutely no such thing as being too glammed up here… You can even wear a dress made out of balloons…. you wouldn’t be the craziest person to walk the red carpet, I promise.
Simply standing in the hotel lobby surrounded by attendees was enough to get us hyped up for the show.
Walking into the Staples Center we passed by Twenty One Pilots, who would later go onto win a Grammy and accept it in their boxers. (HECK YES!)
Another pro-tip: always keep your eyes peeled for celebs – you never know where they’ll pop out of. (I also ran into Skrillex, James Lafferty from One Tree Hill, and Neil Portnow, Grammy President.)
The GRAMMYS LIVE are a complete party celebrating artists, those working in the music industry and anyone whose ever had a song or a lyric speak to them.
However, those sitting in the upper sections were merely folks peering into the glamorous lives of the celebrities we hear on the radio, see on TV and read about in blogs.
We were all invited to the same party but we definitely weren’t partying together.
Still, it was exciting and surreal to be sitting in the same (smaller than imagined) room, looking down at the main floor, where guests like Lady Gaga, Beyonce, and Rihanna gathered, mingled, took pics, hugged, drank (I’m looking at you Riri – my spirit animal).
And despite thinking the show would be structured for television for the viewers who weren’t fortunate enough to be holding a platinum ticket, it felt very present.
Almost as if James Corden was speaking just to me…. almost.
“Please clear the aisles celebrities,” a voice was heard speaking into the arena before counting down to the live broadcast.
Then suddenly, the room went dark and an angelic Adele appeared on the round stage, one of 3.
“Hello, it’s me,” she began singing as the room erupted in cheers.
My jaw dropped… completely unaware that I was getting ready to witness abundant talent crammed into a mere 4 hours.
Each “portion” was separated by commercial breaks, which was the time you were allowed to head down to grab some food, a drink or go to the bathroom, but I couldn’t look away scared I would miss something.
It wasn’t an unjustified fear – if you didn’t return before the commercial break was up, the doors would close and you’d be locked out until the performance ended.
So yeah, definitely not like watching in your living room while scarfing down pizza and wine….
Speaking of pizza, I was starving so I grabbed some in my fancy dress. Take that GRAMMY diet.
One of the best parts about being at the GRAMMYs live? You get to see everything in real time.
When Adele restarted her performance, we heard her swear…. unlike the viewers at home who got the “bleeped” out version.
When James Corden lead the audience in a “Carpool Karaoke” of “Sweet Caroline,” we all sang along together, the rows shaking as we belted out the notes.
And not only was my jaw dropped in awe most of the time, Rachel and I also sat on the edge of our seats!
Maybe it was too see better, maybe it was because there were sequins digging into every part of my body or maybe it’s because we didn’t know what to expect, but we just knew we never wanted it to end.
When the show finally did end, groups dispersed to different after parties.
We weren’t that cool so we headed over to Yardhouse for celebratory drinks, guac and chips and a chicken avocado sandwich.
The GRAMMYs were a little lesson for me – we might not think we’re doing our best all the time but if our dreams are coming true, we’re doing something right.
This was my first Grammy experience, but hopefully not my last. But if I don’t make it back next year, I won’t be disappointed. As much as I loved dressing up and playing celebrity for the day, there was no better feeling than coming home, kicking off my heels and throwing on some sweatpants.
Like James Corden said, YOU the viewers had a better seat at the Grammys than Beyonce… but this year, I wouldn’t have traded my seat for anything.