LULU GARCIA-NAVARRO, HOST:
The 63rd Grammy Awards are tonight. And even with no winners announced yet, this year's ceremony has already made history. For the first time, the nominations for best rock performance and best country album are predominantly women, whether as solo artists or female leads of a band. We're going to talk now to one of those nominees. She is Grace Potter.
(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "DAYLIGHT")
GRACE POTTER: (Singing) I need the - I need the daylight.
GARCIA-NAVARRO: Potter's latest record is up for two Grammys - and no surprise when you listen to those vocals - best rock performance and best rock album. It's called "Daylight," and she joins me now. Welcome to the program.
POTTER: Hello. How are you, Lulu?
GARCIA-NAVARRO: I am well. Congratulations on the nominations. I mean, how are you preparing for the big night?
POTTER: It's a really interesting thing. I still go through the same rituals even though it's not really happening in person. You know, I actually cut my hair, and I filed my nails. And, you know, it's feeling like something to celebrate.
GARCIA-NAVARRO: Like an occasion.
GARCIA-NAVARRO: I want to take you back to the beginning of this album. I read you almost didn't release it. Why not?
POTTER: I didn't see it as an album. I saw it as a therapy session, and a very personal one at that. It was the kind of vulnerability that I didn't associate with myself as an artist. I thought of myself as, like, this strong goddess rock star. I've got to always sort of be badass. And when my band broke up and...
GARCIA-NAVARRO: The Nocturnals.
POTTER: Yes. My band and also my marriage sort of simultaneously fell apart. You know, a lot of people got hurt. And I couldn't help feeling like it was music's fault or something. So it didn't really make a lot of sense for me to just say, oh, well, you know, buck up? Your band's gone, and your husband's gone and - but, you know, you'll be fine, so let's get into the next record. I was not ready for any next at all.
GARCIA-NAVARRO: I want to listen to the song "Release." That's one of the very first songs you wrote for this album.
(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "RELEASE")
POTTER: (Singing) I - I release you, though it's hard to say the words. I - I release you from holding onto the bridge I burned. I believe...
GARCIA-NAVARRO: This is so powerful. I think it speaks to anyone who has had to leave a relationship. Tell me about where and how you wrote this song and who it's about.
POTTER: I wrote it in the bathtub, and I had been closing up the house that I had lived in with my ex. It was a home that we bought - sort of all of our dreams of California and sunshine and rock 'n' roll. And the very last thing I did was I took a bath in my favorite bathroom - bathtub that I actually had constructed myself and suddenly sort of having these words come out through music. And I guess I had the presence of mind to record it. I don't remember pressing record. But then that sat in, you know, my tape recorder and was not touched for another year and a half or so because I wasn't ready to release. I was just sort of trying to manifest that through my voice.
(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "RELEASE")
POTTER: (Singing) I hope that someday the sun will shine again and you'll release me, too.
GARCIA-NAVARRO: This is not your first Grammy nomination. You've also been nominated for your collaboration and work with country music artist Kenny Chesney.
POTTER: Mmm hmm.
GARCIA-NAVARRO: And you can hear some country on this album.
POTTER: Oh, yeah. Yeah.
GARCIA-NAVARRO: I'm thinking of the song "Repossession." Let's listen.
(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "REPOSESSION")
POTTER: (Singing) You say that I threw it all away for nothing. You carry on and say I'm just a fool.
GARCIA-NAVARRO: One of the things that I think is so interesting is that you do move between genres, right? And it brings up this question about what is rock 'n' roll now.
POTTER: Oh, yeah.
GARCIA-NAVARRO: Last week, I was speaking with one of the quintessential rockers, Alice Cooper...
GARCIA-NAVARRO: ...You know, who basically said that rock 'n' roll has now become sort of outside of the mainstream. And I wonder what you see it as considering, you know, this album.
POTTER: I - yeah, I mean, I see it as sort of the jazz of our time. You know, what happens for a lot of people who are in the rock 'n' roll community - there's a bit of a head scratching, you know, where do we belong thing. And I think with the Grammys as well, there's some head scratching. For a long time, the rock category was just sort of a catch-all for when things weren't quite alternative or weren't quite pop and nobody else knew what to do with them. And I think there has been a bit of a turn of events for me creatively, because I really wanted to stake my claim as a rock 'n' roll musician. It is the most natural medium with which I am able to process things. I like the muscular, powerful, intense, peculiar energy of rock 'n' roll. And the fact that it is sort of the ugly duckling or strange outsider now, as Alice Cooper said, I love that.
GARCIA-NAVARRO: How do you think that fits in with more women taking up sort of the accolades in this category?
POTTER: When I look through the nominees - and they're so incredible and all of their music is - it's just wildly varied. The talent is undeniable. And yet if you listen to all of us in a row or in any particular scrambled order, it's hard for me to sort of understand how we all ended up in the same place. But that much good music happened and was being created by women in a time when it is so overdue that it just boiled over.
GARCIA-NAVARRO: I'm going to ask you, if you win...
POTTER: Mmm hmm.
GARCIA-NAVARRO: ...What you might say. What do these nominations mean to you and your musical journey?
POTTER: Oh, God. It is a musical journey, and I do feel ready. It's like, when I opened for the Rolling Stones, they asked me to come up on stage and sing "Gimme Shelter." And I'm standing there backstage, and I'm getting ready to go on. We're in a stadium full of people, and there's Mick - you know, doing his Mick Jagger thing. And I had this really real gulp moment of like, oh, my God. I do belong here. I'm absolutely 100% supposed to be doing this. I've worked my ass off. So instead of, you know, letting that pressure overwhelm me, I took it, and I just, like, put it smack into the middle of my stomach. And all the butterflies went away, and all the strength just came, like, burbling up from under me.
And I certainly hope that that kind of thing would happen if I win. But for me, this is the album that needs to be recognized. If I'm never recognized ever again for anything, this is that moment. This is that record. This is the most terrifying journey I've ever been on, and so wouldn't it be nice to see it through and just, you know, wrap it up with a little ribbon?
GARCIA-NAVARRO: Grace Potter's album "Daylight" is nominated for best rock album and best rock performance at tonight's Grammy Awards show. Good luck, and thank you so much.
POTTER: Thank you so much. It was good talking to you.
(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "LOVE IS LOVE")
POTTER: (Singing) Love is love. It takes a hold.
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