I awoke Sunday night like Rip Van Wrinkle to the Marvin Gaye-esque, Prince-like magic that is Miguel. He killed it last night at the Grammys, performing his Grammy winning “Adorn” with Wiz Khalifa, who appeared on a remix of Adorn on Miguel’s album Kaleidoscope Dream.
The Lumineers killed it too, taking to the stage with their joyous, infectious, Grammy nominated “Ho Hey,” as did Mumford & Sons, the down-home looking British Band whose Babel won Album of the Year.
One of my favorite Grammy moments was when Gotye and Kimbra took to the stage to accept their Record of the Year Grammy for “Somebody That I Used To Know” from none other than Prince (and, yes, they were as geeked up as you would imagine, and Prince was eternally cool). When Adele took to the stage to accept her Grammy (for Best Pop Solo Performance), her signature, game-dame, over the top charm reminded us all why she’s not only one of the best singers in the world, as more than one observer has noted, but a bonafide superstar who, like so many of the artists coming out of England these days, arrived at stardom the old fashioned way: by making great music that comes from the soul.
Lately I’ve been listening to Rihanna’s “Diamonds” while on my spin bike. It’s an anthem, a soul-stirring pop song with the power to remind you who you are — and that you live in a beautiful world. The chorus, “We’re beautiful, like diamonds in the sky,” is the kind of sentiment pop music is made for. When done well, when done from the heart, this kind of pop anthem has the power to bypass the mind, and fill the mind, heart, body and soul with the light that is our birthright.
We have come here to be luminous beings, to light this world up with the beauty that we are. And not just some of us; all of us. Rihanna lyrics, “We’re beautiful, like diamonds in the sky,” may have been written for a love, and at face value her song tells the story of one person speaking to another, but when I hear her lyrics, I hear her speaking to all of us. As Seal sings, “every single one of us is beautiful.” Rihanna continues that sentiment. Listening to her music while I spin in a dark, candlelit room in my house, I feel my deep kinship, to all who walk this beautiful Earth, and to this beautiful Earth itself. If a pop song can do that, then I bow down to the kings and queens of pop, and the work they’ve come here to do.
The legendary Ravi Shankar died this week at the age of 92. He gave his last performance on November 4th and was nominated last week for a Grammy for Best World Music Album. It is a fitting endpoint in a legendary life. This morning, while driving home from a spin class, I had the honor and privilege of listening to two musicians who studied under Shankar for longer than I’ve been alive pay homage to their friend and musical father. I could feel his great soul in between the lines of the words they said, and as Shankar’s music played in between the verbal commentary, I was reminded of why Shankar matters musically, and of how he used music to change the world.
If music is the universal language, then Shankar’s music spoke the language of our unity. Because Shankar walked this way, the world is a little smaller, and we walk with a greater awareness of the beautiful truth that we are one.