Grammy winners on the political party trail
While Mumford and Sons, Gotye and the Black Keys all came up big winners at this week's Grammys, many of their fellow singers and songwriters have helped various politicians win big as well. Among the musicians who took home the coveted golden gramophone are several who have also appeared in Party Time's database of political fundraisers, hitting the high notes and raising cash for lawmakers, including Beyonce and Yo-Yo Ma.
Two of the most politically active members of the music world are mega-stars Jay-Z and Beyonce, and each won at least one Grammy this year: The former captured Best Traditional R&B Performance with "Love on Top," and the latter got three nods for his album with Kanye West, "Watch the Throne." The one-name wonders have not been shy about their support of President Barack Obama -- at an Obama rally last November Jay-Z performed a remix of his hit "99 Problems," changing the lyrics ever so slightly: "If you got world problems, I feel bad for you son/I got 99 problems but a Mitt ain't one."
The first couple of hip-hop hosted multiple funders during the President's re-election bid. The biggest of these was a $40,000 per plate dinner at Jay-Z's own 40/40 Club in New York City, a star-studded event that raised a remarkable $4 million in a single night. Earlier in the year, Beyonce hosted a fashion show benefitting the Obama Victory Fund where tickets ran as much as $2,500. And each attended both Obama inaugurations, with Beyonce singing (err, not quite) the national anthem last month.
Obama also took advantage of the musical stylings of Yo-Yo Ma, one of the greatest cellists of all time. Ma has garnered 17 Grammys, this time winning (surprisingly) Best Folk Album for "The Goat Rodeo Sessions." Over the course of 2012, Ma was the centerpiece of at least three private performances that directly benefitted the Obama Victory Fund. The first concert took place in March and had a max price of $10,000; the second event occurred in August, included a reception, and also maxed out at $10,000; and the last performance happened in September, fetching a cool $5,000. Ma also performed at Obama's first inauguration in 2009. But their relationship doesn't end there -- Obama awarded Ma the Presidential Medal of Freedom last year.
Several Grammy winners also performed throughout this year's inauguration festivities as well. fun., which claimed major wins in Best New Artist (despite lead singer Nate Reuss making music for over 10 years) and Song of the Year for "We Are Young" (despite being 30 years old), performed at the Inaugural Ball. Kelly Clarkson, America's first idol, sang at Obama's inauguration and merely attended the Inaugural Ball; she scored the Grammy for Best Pop Vocal Album for "Stronger." (Clarkson also admitted voting for Obama twice.) Winner of Best R&B Performance for his track "Climax," Usher performed at the Kid's Inaugural Concert, though not without incident - he had his own sort of wardrobe malfunction. What a great role model for all those kids!
While Bonnie Raitt, the legendary singer-songwriter who picked up the Best Americana Album award for "Slipstream," had no hits in the PT database, she erupted in Influence Explorer: She's contributed over $225,000 over the years, mainly to various Democratic state parties. Raitt might not host fundraisers, but she doesn't need them -- she just gives straight to the source.
Honorary Bonus Mention: James Taylor has won five Grammys in his lifetime, but hasn't released any major recordings since 2010's "Live at the Troubador." Despite coming up empty this year, PT is making an exception due to Taylor almost single-handedly funding Obama's 2012 campaign. The two have deep ties, and Taylor supported the President steadfastly during each of his elections (though he initially supported Hillary Clinton in 2008). The quiet guitarist was the featured performer in almost 15 separate fundraisers for the Obama Victory Fund, attracting thousands of donations along the way. Taylor also lent his dulcet tones to each of Obama's inauguration ceremonies, most recently crooning "America the Beautiful." For his prolific fundraising efforts, PT salutes him.
This year's Grammy winners appear to gravitate towards Democrats with one (sort of) exception: Southern music idols the Zac Brown Band, winner of the Grammy for Country Album of the Year with "Uncaged." PT spotted the boys performing at an American Petroleum Institute event billed as "Fueling the Future" that promoted API's Vote4Energy campaign. It took place in at a cruise ship terminal in Tampa during the Republican National Convention, though the event itself was nonpartisan.
Absent from the PT database were the winners of jazz, classical, gospel, Latin and electronic Grammys; looks like they're no fun.
(Contributing: Lindsay Young)