Siedah Garrett's Grammy Awards Story

My 50th Annual Grammy Awards Celebration Story
By Siedah Garrett


It was 8:00 am on Sunday, February 10th, 2008, when I awoke to another
classically beautiful, warm and sunny Southern California day.
Beautifully bright blue sky and not a cloud in sight.  A perfect day
for an awards ceremony, and I've been nominated!  In the song-writer's
category of "Best Original Song From a Film or Television Series.  I
co-wrote, "Love You, I Do," for Oscar(c) winning actress, Jennifer
Hudson, in the blockbuster film, "Dreamgirls," along with original
"Dreamgirls" composer, Henry Krieger.

I was so excited as I brushed my teeth and showered.  I reviewed my
My 50th Annual Grammy Awards Celebration Story
By Siedah Garrett


It was 8:00 am on Sunday, February 10th, 2008, when I awoke to another
classically beautiful, warm and sunny Southern California day.
Beautifully bright blue sky and not a cloud in sight.  A perfect day
for an awards ceremony, and I've been nominated!  In the song-writer's
category of "Best Original Song From a Film or Television Series.  I
co-wrote, "Love You, I Do," for Oscar(c) winning actress, Jennifer
Hudson, in the blockbuster film, "Dreamgirls," along with original
"Dreamgirls" composer, Henry Krieger.

I was so excited as I brushed my teeth and showered.  I reviewed my
previous evening's choices for a handbag, shoes and accessories, as I
toweled off, moisturized and applied my signature scent of perfumed
oils.

I'd made the final decision on the dress I was going to wear, weeks
ago.  It was a fabulous Diane Von Furstenberg couture dress.  A
high-end version of her signature style, wrap dress, with thousands of
hand-sewn sequins, in a fabulous, eye-pleasing hombre` palate, in rich
shades of gray, that flowed from matte black, to gunmetal silver, to
charcoal.  It was truly a work of wearable art.  I fell in love with
that dress the moment I saw it.  It stood out from among the many
beautiful things I had to choose from.

Satisfied with my decisions, I began to get myself ready for the hair
and make-up people, which were soon to arrive.  The first knock at the
door was my make-up artist, Lalette.  She hurried in, picked a room
with the most natural light, which was the kitchen, and began setting
up her products.

We were just getting started when my dear friend, Karen White arrived.
(No not THAT Karen White! This Karen White, really is white, doesn't
sing and was never married to music producer, Jimmy Jam!)  Anyway,
Karen was my "date" for the evening.   She'd flown in the night
before, from San Francisco, and had come over to the house to get
dressed, finish her hair and have her make-up.  And we'd leave
together when we were ready to go.

We sat in separate, but adjoining rooms.  She, in my home-office just
a few feet away, getting all dolled with her hair in giant, dark curls
that looked like a shampoo commercial.  And me, getting dolled up at
the kitchen table, with my chocolate locks twisted up in curly
ringlets, piled high atop my head, and a few renegade dreads falling
down to frame my face, and cascading down my neck.

During the whole process, we were giddy, as we laughed and talked
about excited we both were, all the fun we were going to have, and all
the people watching we would get to do.

By 11:00 am, my home and cell phones were ringing off the hook.  And
so began an intermittent parade of humans marching up the walk,
knocking on the front door, and bringing with them, last minute
deliveries of everything from accessories, jewelry, and floral
arrangements, to catered food for our limo ride to the Staples and
Convention Centers.  In that number were a peppering of friends and
neighbors who stopped by to wish me good luck.  (And to see what I was
wearing, of course!)  No thoughts of winning, or losing.  There was
electric energy in the air, and my spirits were soaring, completely in
the moment.

When our make-up and hair was done, Karen and quickly ran into the
bedroom, and started to get our selves dressed.  I slipped into a
stunning, mid-length, A-line, Diane Von Furstenberg sleeveless,
couture, wrap-dress.  It was almost completely covered in hand-sewn
sequins, except for an irregular, wavy width of black chiffon that
lined the hem.  It served to lead the eye upward towards an
exquisitely colored sequined palate with hues ranging from black
matte, to charcoal, to gunmetal silver.  It had a sexy open split
right down the front of my chest that required a several strips of
strategically placed Top-Stick to stay secure!  (In order not to be
too revealing, if you follow my drift!)  Chicka-boom-boom-boom, it was
hot, hot, hot!!!

I accessorized with a borrowed bling!  Long, dangling diamond and
platinum earrings, in an elongated teardrop shape with dark sapphire
dangling at the bottom.  They complimented the bluish tones in my
dress to perfection.  I paired them with a trio of diamond and
platinum bangle bracelets.  The only jewelry of my own that I wore,
was an elegant black and white diamond band.  All the pieces looked
like they were made to be worn together.

I carried with me, a small, beautifully quilted, leather bag, with
that same gunmetal silver hue, by Italian handbag designer Anthony
Luciano.  When my long-time, Grammy(c) winning songstress, Patti
Austin saw it, she said, "That's not a bag, that's a Bentley!"

I matched my borrowed "Bentley," with a pair of beautifully simple
black silk pumps, by Manolo Blahnik.  The circular patterned
rhinestone design of the straps wrapped around my legs like ankle
chokers.  It was love at first sight.

Karen wore a beautiful full-length champagne colored, sequined gown,
with a bias cut, by designer Naeem Kahn.  She's tall and gorgeous, so
she looked amazing in it.  With her outfit, she donned a pair of gold
toned, open-toe stiletto heels, also by Manolo Blahnik.  Her Anthony
Luciano bag was gold-toned snakeskin.  It was the perfect match to her
shoes, lipstick and nail polish.  If she'd met a hot, single man that
night, she could have heeled him, kissed him, and nailed him, in the
same shade!  We looked gorgeous, felt fabulous, and were ready to hit
the town!  We were ready for anything!  Or so we thought...

I'd known for weeks that I was scheduled to participate in the
Pre-telecast portion of the ceremony, which began promptly at 1:00 pm.
It was already 12:30 pm, and the driver still hadn't shown up.  Only
then did Karen express her concern that we could be late for the
ceremony. I was so busy scurrying around, getting ready, that I hadn't
noticed the time.  Evidently, Karen had been trying, for about twenty
minutes, to find out where our driver was.  And what her estimated
time of arrival was going to be.     Wisely, Karen waited until the
last minute possible minute to share that little chestnut of
information with me, because I was already so nervous, that I was
starting to perspire.  (Which was not making Lalette, the make-up
artist very happy with me at all!)

When the 12:15 pm limousine finally showed up at12: 45, Karen and I
were trying to keep it together, and not freak out.  We were both in
such a rush to get into the car and get going it was difficult not to
feel panicked.  I was still perspiring,  (blot, breathe) because I was
supposed to be in downtown L. A., and we weren't even in the car, yet!
(What me, worry?!)

We gathered up our car bags filled with our Grammy(c) essentials:
Pressed powder, lipstick, pashmina shawls, comfortable shoes to change
into, cameras, all-access passes, show and party tickets, cell phones
and our catered food, and like two couture bunnies, we hopped into the
car, ready to go.

Our driver was a heavy-set woman, who moved with remarkable slowness,
and didn't make a move to help us put our things into the car, until
she was asked to do so.

As soon as she got into the car, we handed her an envelope containing
a Grammy(c) press kit.  In it was a limo pass, parking instructions
and driving directions, with detailed instructions on which route to
take.  As usual for an event like this, many downtown streets in that
area were blocked off from through traffic, for the purpose of crowd
control, and traffic flow.  Normal traffic routes did not apply.  She
took the envelope, casually scanned it, and then tossed it onto the
dash above the windshield.

Once we were on the road, she told us that she'd been in a
fender-bender in route to my house.  That, coupled with the fact that
she'd initially gone to the wrong address, she offered, was the reason
why she was late in picking us up.  Didn't she understand that at this
point, we didn't care WHY she was late?  She was late.  Period.  End
of story.  We didn't have the luxury of time to listen and fully take
in the long storied excuses (which were really a veiled attempt to
cover her own butt).  Sorry, but by then, the pendulum of emotion and
concern had swung from, "I hope she's okay," to "Damn it lady, just
shut up and drive!"

Karen and I were happy to be on our way as we mapped out our
post-ceremony party plans.  I looked up just in time to see our driver
motor right passed the freeway entrance.  We called her name, louder
and louder, to be heard, from the long distance we sat from her, above
the hiss of the air conditioner and through the thick, closed glass
window and partition.  After what felt like an uncomfortable amount of
time, we were almost yelling, when she rolled down the glass window
and partition that separated us for her.  We told her to turn around
immediately, because she'd long since missed the turn onto the
freeway.  Without so much as a word from her lips, or a nod of her
head, she rolled up the partition, and continued to drive forward for
several long, city blocks before she prepared the car for a
three-point turn.

Karen and I sat back in our leather seats, gob smacked.  I remember
telling myself to close my mouth, which I found hanging open in
disbelief!  Now, on a less important day, at a less historical event
in my life, the whole situation would have been very funny.  But by
then, the pendulum of empathy for her went swinging from "Well, she's
trying her best."  To the moment it swung back and stayed stuck on,
"Oh no she didn't!!!"

Desperate not to lose any more precious time, and for our 'driver from
another planet,' to get back on track, Karen yelled at her to roll the
partition down and leave it down, so that we could communicate with
her about where we were going.  She was acting like she was a
truculent teenager.  Until our tone went from an exaggerated volume
to, something much more fierce, the woman simply ignored us.

We instructed her to turn the vehicle around immediately and make her
way back, in the opposite direction to the freeway entrance.

We eventually made it onto the Santa Monica freeway, heading east
towards downtown Los Angeles.  Karen and I breathed a temporary sigh
of relief, but we both knew there was no chance of us being able to
just sit back and enjoy the ride.  Oh no, not with this driver!

We paid close attention, so we were aware, if she even made so much as
a lane change!  She managed to get off of the freeway at the correct
exit, but she then began to meander her way around the one-way
streets.  It was obvious she didn't know where she was going, but she
refused ask for our help, or engage us in any way.   She ignored us as
we tried to tell her where to go.  I then noticed we'd just been
driven in three-block circle.  We we're literally being driven in
circles by this woman.

Karen and I sat in the back, frustrated, angry and trapped in the back
seat, but what could we do?  Getting out of the car and walking
couture gowned and designer heeled, the three or four blocks to the
street entrance of the Convention Center, was not an option.

As you can imagine, tensions were high and tempers were flaring. I
calmed myself, by thinking "happy" thoughts of champagne and caviar,
parties and applause.  I closed my eyes, and silently chanted, the
Buddhist mantra, "Nom myoho ren ge kyo," in an effort to keep my mind
off calling that woman everything, but the child of God!  There was no
way we could just sit back and casually enjoy a pleasant worry-free
ride.  Uh-uh, not with this woman at the wheel.  I simply tell myself
to breathe. Breathe, and don't think about how you'd like to slap this
woman into next Thursday.  Don't fantasize about how you could
probably justify pinching her little hard head off with your thumb and
forefinger.  That's not very Buddha-like!  Besides, who would drive
then?

Just then, I noticed a really cute cop, standing in the street,
directing the flow of traffic.  I firmly tell the driver to stop,
right here.  And I said to Karen, "Roll down the window, and ask him
if he would let us through the blockade that stood just beyond him.
It was only a few city blocks away, but I'd seen it.  I'd glimpsed an
oasis in the desert of the lost and confused.  There, yes there, just
on the horizon, that was where we wanted to be.  But how, how were we
going to get there?  How would we reach that holy media Mecca under
those giant, exaggerated tents of white vinyl, that seemed in
cartoonish contrasted against the Crayola, Sky-Blue sky.

We were probably whining as we explained how late we were, and the
drama we'd just endured that brought us to his street, in front of the
blockade that he controlled.   We batted our long fake lashes and
after a brief internal deliberation, he let us through, and we were
just yards from our appointed destination.  I could have sworn I heard
harps and angels sing as the concrete barrier was slowly being pushed
aside, so that we could pass

Once we got passed the blockades and police bomb search, Karen and I
ran as fast as our designer heels could take us, to meet with my "Red
Carpet Girl."  (See, when you're a nominee, you've got to hire someone
with "Grammy Press Credentials" to usher you down the red carpet and
officially introduce you to the press that wants to interview you.)
But we were so late, when I got there, I had to rush passed the press
and hurry into the auditorium, praying all the while that my category
hadn't come up yet.

Karen and I found our seats.  I asked the gentleman seated next to me
if my category had been come up yet.  He said, Yeah, I think so.  Just
about ten minutes ago!  My heart went heavy and sank so low, I felt
like it dropped to my stomach.  Then I asked him if he remembered
who'd won the Grammy(c).  "Was it, Prince?"  "No, he replied."
Cautiously, I asked, was it Siedah Garrett?"  "Was she part of a duo,
he replied?" I said, "Yes," and he said, "Oh yeah, they won."

At that very moment, the whole room went silent.  I could no longer
hear the applause, for whomever had just won for best whatever.  I
could only hear his words echo, back at me in my head, "Yeah, they
won."  "...About ten minutes ago."  I was simultaneously happiest, and
the most depressed I'd ever been in my life.  Talk about an emotional
pendulum!  It was the weirdest feeling I've never had in my life.
I've never experienced like it.  It's like soaring on a rocket towards
the sky, while at the same time you're speedily plunging into a
downward spiral.  (It's not cute.  I don't recommend it.)

I only half heard the gentleman leaned over and said, that he would go
and let someone know that I was finally in the building, so that I
could at least take a photo with my Grammy(c), and the current
president, Jimmy Jam.  I wasn't able to take a picture with my
co-writer, Henry because I didn't know where he was.

I was mortified.  I sat frozen, face forward in the darkened
auditorium, tears streamed down my face.  I tried not to make an
audible sound, but I couldn't stop the tears.  My dear friend, sat
next to me whispering encouraging words she thought would soothe.
"There was nothing we could have done."  "You still won, whether or
not you got to say an acceptance speech."  "No one can take your
Grammy(c) away from you."

Yeah, I knew she was right, but damn, I was gutted, as my British
friends say.  I felt like the wind was knocked right out of me, but
there was nothing I could do about it.  Not even entertaining the
thought of carrying out my fantasy of doing harm to that lousy limo
driver wasn't enough to pull me out of my tailspin.

Minutes later I was getting myself together, because I didn't want to
mess up my flawless make-up.  I still had press and photos to do.  I
dried my tears and slapped a smile on my face, went up to the area
where they were taking photographs, and took my place next to Jimmy
Jam, as I held my Grammy(c) between us.

With that over and done, it was back to the red carpet to talk to the
press about my win.  I was ushered by my 'red carpet girl', through
the gauntlet of press and photographers.  Once that was done, Karen
and I were free to mingle until the televised portion of the ceremony
began.  We walked around, people watching.  Making our way back from
the Convention Center to where the event was going on live, at the
Staples Center.

After passing through several check points, having to present my
credentials every step of the way, we made our way into the venue. We
milled around for nearly an hour, seeing folks we hadn't seen in
years.  Everyone was there, it seemed.  (Karen's a venture capitalist,
and she was even seeing some of her peers there.)  I'm telling you, it
was THE place to be.

I ran into the production team that produced the soundtrack from
"Dreamgirls."  The Underdogs: Harvey Mason, Jr., and Damon Thomas.
Damon, I'd just met, but Harvey and I have written together in the
past, but I hadn't seen him for years, long before "Love You, I Do"
was ever written and recorded.  I finally meet Damon, and get a chance
to tell them both what a great job they did on my song, and the
soundtrack.  They were up for a Grammy(c) for "Best Original
Soundtrack," in the televised part of the show.  I wished them well,
but unfortunately I found out later, that they didn't win.

Karen and I found our seats, and happily sat down, anxious to take a
load off, and wait for the show to start.

After that amazing show, Karen and I were ready to party! We made our
way to the main dining room.  The room was huge, and elaborately
decorated.  There were Cirque du Soleil-type performers, hanging
perilously from velvet ropes strung from the ceiling.  There were
mimes, living statues, and living art, and live music and dance
performances.  The whole place was a buzz.  There were all kinds of
food and drinks everywhere.  Karen and I found a table where we parked
our selves and our plates.  We ate while we watched the dancers and
other performers.

After we ate, I sent a text message to Quincy's security guy, Glen.  I
asked him if Quincy was still in the building.  He responded with a
text that said they were at Barry Gordy's private party, in honor of
his having received the Grammy(c) Lifetime Achievement Award.  When he
told us to come over.  I let him know that Karen and I didn't have
tickets, so we couldn't just walk in.  Glen said for us to meet him at
the door, and he'd be out to collect us, and usher us inside.

Wow, the room was much smaller, and far more intimate compared to the
party we'd just left, but it was comfortably filled with the crème de
la crème of the music business.  We walked in as Stevie Wonder was
singing the praises of the many accomplishments of Mr. Gordy.  I saw
my mentor, Quincy Jones at one of the front tables, and made my way
over to him.  He was seated, with his head turned, talking someone at
the table.  I crouched down on the floor, next to his knee, and placed
my hand on him.  He turned his head to see who had put their hand on
his thigh.  When he turned to see me, he immediately started laughing,
yoked my neck in the crook of his arm and whispered into my ear,
something like, "Sid!  You finally got you one!" I hugged him tight
and he squeezed my neck.  We both laughed as quietly as we could, as
not to interrupt Stevie's speech.

Standing next to Stevie on stage, was Lionel Richie, 2007 Best Album
Grammy(c) winner, Herbie Hancock, and an impassioned, Smokie Robinson,
who was very emotional as he told the audience about his rich, 50-year
long friendship with Barry.  It was very touching.

There were music and movie stars dotted everywhere.  Neo sang a Marvin
Gaye song, as Stevie, Herbie and a handful of seasoned studio
musicians like, Paul Jackson, Jr. and Nathan East back him up.  He
sounded great.

As the evening wound down, I got a chance to reflect on the music
history that was made that night.  Herbie Hancock, a jazz musician,
won for "Album of the Year."  And to top it off, it was given to him
by his long-time buddy, Quincy Jones.  Eight-time Grammy(c) nominee,
Patti Austin, was a first time winner, along with yours truly.  Whew,
what a wonderfully magical night, in spite of the limo drama.  I feel
so blessed to be a songwriter, who's getting the respect and
acknowledgement of her peers.  I've been writing songs for over 20
years now, and I feel so honored to be recognized and rewarded for my
creative efforts.  But, music is something I would do, if I didn't get
paid  a dime, and got no rewarded at all.  It's powerful.  It moves
people, touches lives, and connects people to one another, a certain
time or event in their lives.  Music gets inside your soul.  It's cool
and it's good, clean fun.  That's why musicians say, let's 'play' some
music!" You'll never hear one say let's "work" some music.  Music is
the gift that keeps on giving.  It's vibrant and alive, always
changing and never static.  I'm proud to be a part of a world so
magically intangible, but has the power and majesty to change things
from the inside, out.  I love that does so much, for so many.

Yes music, love you, I do!

Siedah Garrett
2007 Grammy(c) Winning Songwriter!
 
Video of the Month - Kea Michaels - "I Love You"
Album of the Month - Will Downing - The Promise
Featured Album - Candace Bellamy - Soul for the Season
Choice Cut - Kenya - "Favorite Things"

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