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The 2024 Grammy Awards: Commentary from an unapologetic Jewish perspective.

Montana Tucker at the 66th Annual Grammy Awards wearing a dress emblazon  with a yellow ribbon to call attention to the Israeli hostages in Gaza. (Photo by Robyn Beck/AFP via Getty Images)
Singer and influencer Montana Tucker arrives for the 66th Annual Grammy Awards at the Crypto.com Arena in Los Angeles on February 4, 2024, wearing a dress with a yellow ribbon meant to call attention to the Israeli hostages in Gaza. (Photo by Robyn Beck/AFP via Getty Images)

Despite a pro-Hamas protest outside the Grammy Ceremony Arena and an attempt by Jew-hater/Israel basher Annie Lennox to ruin my evening, these events succeeded in energizing my Jewish soul.

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Ignoring the fact that psychopathic empathy-lacking Palestinian savages brutally murdered and kidnapped hundreds of innocent men, women and children on October 7, Annie Lennox felt compelled to show her true colors by raising her fist and calling for a cease-fire.  Lennox described the IDF’s actions in Gaza as “pornography of destruction,” and marched at the head of an anti-Israel demonstration in London attended by tens of thousands.

Why was this night different from all other nights?

Lennox wasn’t tolerated. After being abruptly cut-off by the Grammy’s quick response team, Lenny Kravitz, a 9-time Grammy nominee and winner of 4, replaced Lenox on the screen. How perfect. Kravitz has proudly declared that his Russian Jewish father made certain that he grew up in a Jewish household and observed Jewish traditions. When Lenny visited Israel, he called his trip, “Monumental”.

As the evening progressed, memories of Annie Lenox’s gothic milieu and ominous presence slowly slithered into the shimmering shadow cast by lovely Montana Tucker.

Montana, who was nominated for best new artist, wore a gown emblazoned with a striking yellow ribbon inscribed with, “Bring Them Home.”  Ms. Tucker, the granddaughter of Holocaust survivors, is a proud young beautiful outspoken Jewish Zionist influencer with 9 million followers on TikTok and 3.1 million on Instagram. She uses her platform to spread awareness of Holocaust education and antisemitism.

Also extinguishing Lenox’s smoldering cinders was Recording Academy CEO Harvey Mason Jr. who honored the 360 Israelis murdered by Hamas at the Supernova music festival in Israel on October 7. He also spoke of the mass shooting at the Route 91 Harvest Music festival in Las Vegas, the 2017 Manchester Arena bombing in Great Britain, and the butchery at the Bataclan music hall in Paris in 2015.

Of the four massacres mentioned, three were perpetrated by Islamic Terrorists.

GOOD NEWS: MORE JEWS!

Jack Antonoff won the Best Producer Grammy for the third year in a row, as well as best album. Over the years, this Jewish singer/songwriter/producer has been nominated 16 times and has won 7 Grammys.

Also in the spotlight of Judean pride was Eight-time Grammy award winner Mark Ronson who took home the Best Musical Score Grammy for “Dance the Night” from the film “Barbie.” The “Barbie Doll,” by the way, was invented by (Jewish) Ruth Handler, whose children were named Barbara and Kenneth.

Jewish rapper Doja Cat was nominated for Best Pop Solo Performance, best rap song and Best Melodic Rap Performance. Drake, who is loud and proud of his Ashkenazi Jewish mother was also nominated for best rap song and best melodic rap performance. Over the years Drake has been nominated 55 times, with 5 wins.

Gracie Abrams (daughter of film producer J.J. Adams of Star Trek fame), together with Noah Kahan (whose Jewish father taught him to play guitar) were nominated as best new artists, and Troye Sivan (raised in a South African orthodox Jewish family) was nominated for Best Pop Dance Recording and Best Music Video.

Jewish-American jazz pianist, composer, and music educator Fred Hirsch was nominated for Best Jazz Performance for, “But not for me,” as well as Best Jazz Vocal Album for, “Alive at The Village Vanguard”. Hirsch has the esteemed reputation of being nominated for 17 Grammys, but never yet a win.

The Grammy winner for Best Musical Theatre Album was the musical adaptation of the classic 1959 Billy Wilder (aka Shmuel Vildr) film “Some Like It Hot”. This is the seventh nomination and second win for Jewish lyricist Marc Shaiman.

Also nominated for Best Musical Theater Album was “Parade,” which dramatized the trial and lynching of Jewish American Leo Frank. Frank, born in 1884, studied engineering at the prestigious Pratt institute in Brooklyn, graduated from Cornell University in 1906, and studied pencil manufacturing at the Eberhard Faber Pencil Company in Germany. In 1913 Frank was falsely accused of raping and murdering a thirteen-year-old girl in the pencil factory he managed. When sentenced to life in prison, he was dragged from his cell by a Jew-hating mob and lynched.

“Parade” Grammy nominees included Jewish cast members Micaela Diamond and Ben Platt and lyricist Jason Robert Brown. Parade was written by Jewish-American playwright Alfred Fox Uhry who is the recipient of an Academy Award, two Tony Awards and a Pulitzer Prize. Uhry’s great-uncle owned the pencil factory where Leo Frank was the superintendent.

Nominees for “Best Audio Book, Narration, and Storytelling” included William Shatner for “Boldly Go: Reflections on A Life of Awe and Wonder,” Rick Rubin for, “The Creative Act: A Way of Being,” and Bernie Sanders for, “It’s Ok to Be Angry About Capitalism.”

Additional 2024 Grammy Nominees included Paul Simon for Best Folk Album and Sarah Silverman for Best Comedy Album.

The Grammy for “Best Immersive Audio Album” is a fairly new category. The National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences recognizes albums in this category as recorded and mixed in high-quality surround sound with a minimum of four channels. A newcomer nominee in this category is 24-year-old singer/songwriter Madison Beer for her album, “Silence Between Songs”.

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Madison began her career around the time of her bat mitzvah in 2012 by posting videos on YouTube. A year later she released her debut single, “Melodies” which achieved worldwide coverage after trending on Twitter. Three of her singles are certified “Gold” by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA). Madison’s upcoming 2024 52-date-tour is scheduled across Europe and North America.

For me, the pinnacle performance of the evening was that of legendary singer/songwriter Joni Mitchell who has been nominated for 18 Grammy’s and has won 10. I first saw Joni Mitchell in 1974, along with Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young, The Beach Boys, Jesse Colin Young and another 80,000 fans at the “New York ‘SUMMERSAULT’ ’74” music festival. Joni was billed as, “our special guest,” and that, she was, and still is at 80.

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Although Joni is not Jewish, if Judaism were contagious, she would be a Jew, for sure.

Jewish biographer, Professor David Yaffe, authored, “Reckless Daughter: A Portrait of Joni Mitchell.” Malka Marom, the Israeli child of Holocaust survivors authored, “Joni Mitchell: In Her Own Words”. According to Marom, “In her soul she is Jewish.”

Joni had close personal and professional relationships with the members of the New York City-based Blues Project, a band that included Steve Katz, Roy Blumenfeld and Al Kooper. Joni was admired by Bob Dylan, had a love affair with Leonard Cohen, immortalized her dear friend David Geffen in her 1973 hit song, “Free Man in Paris,” and was married to singer/ songwriter, and record producer Larry Klein.

At the age of 23, Joni’s megahit, “Both Sides Now,” was inspired by Pulitzer Prize winning Jewish novelist Saul Bellow. Joni recalls, “I was reading Saul Bellow’s “Henderson the Rain King” on a plane and early in the book Henderson the Rain King is also up in a plane. He’s on his way to Africa and he looks down and sees these clouds. I put down the book, looked out the window and saw clouds too, and I immediately started writing the song. I had no idea that the song would become as popular as it did.”

The grand finale of the 2024 Sixty-Sixth Grammy Award Ceremony was Billy Joel, who has been nominated 36 times, and has won Grammy’s for Music Legend, Male Rock Vocal Performance, Album of the Year, Male Pop Vocal Performance, Best Record, and Best Song.

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Joel’s parents lost family members in the Holocaust and his father Howard was among the American troops that liberated Dachau in 1945.

In a past sold-out performance at Madison Square Garden, Joel pinned a large yellow Nazi-inspired Star of David on his black jacket, making a statement against antisemitism and White Supremacy.

I thank Billy’s mother Rosalind (1922–2014) who, with great perseverance and unwavering determination, forced her son Billy to take piano lessons at an incredibly young age.

Joel, Billy (1993). “Billy Joel Interview”. The Charlie Rose Show (Interview). Interviewed by Charlie Rose. PBS

In closing, I wholeheartedly congratulate all Grammy-nominated artists and producers for their remarkable skills, expertise, talent, dedication, and sacrifice.

Grammy nominations are submitted by members of the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences, which are then reviewed by 150 recording industry experts. Being nominated for the prestigious Grammy Award is akin to being invited to compete in the International Olympic Games.

You don’t need to take home a medal to be called an Olympian.

In my book, all Grammy Nominees are Olympians.

About the Author
Gary Branfman, MD is co-founder of Israelnow.ca, past president of Congregation B’nai Israel in Victoria, Texas and singlehandedly had the IHRA definition of Antisemitism endorsed by the City. Dr. Branfman has lectured internationally on Racism and has written for several publications. He has appeared on CBS evening news with David Begnaud and Al Jazeera.
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