Pols Party Down at GRAMMYs on the Hill
Performers from across the musical spectrum helped star-stuck lawmakers get loose Wednesday night, as the annual GRAMMYs on the Hill awards once again blew the socks off of straight-laced Washington.
The invite-only affair gave politicos the opportunity to mingle with chart-topping artists from every decade dating back to the 1960s, a who’s who of vocal talent that included singer Dionne Warwick, Tejano band Los Lonely Boys, the Hanson Brothers and Grammy winners Lady Antebellum. The musicians, in turn, tipped their hats to those on Capitol Hill who’ve proved to be real good listeners, handing out awards to House Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif.
“There’s very few places in this country that they would actually honor members of Congress,” the California Republican quipped while on stage with songwriter Booker T. Jones and Lumineers frontman Wesley Schultz. McCarthy assured those packed into the cavernous Hamilton Live space that he would continue to fight for songwriter’s rights — even if it means reaching across the aisle.
“Because there is a responsibility that we have. And when we get to that point, I will guarantee that Steny and I will work together,” McCarthy pledged, name-checking House Minority Whip Steny H. Hoyer, D-Md., who was also in attendance.
Pelosi did a little name-dropping of her own, letting the crowd know that she’s no stranger the rock and roll lifestyle, To wit, the California Democrat mentioned spending one amazing night mingling with celebs — including wild child Miley Cyrus — at the home of legendary producer Clive Davis.
“You name it, every person was there,” she said of her pre-GRAMMY Awards brush with fame.
Then, in true Washington fashion, Pelosi brought everything full circle, singling out Rep. John Conyers Jr., D-Mich., for staying tuned into intellectual property concerns from his perch as ranking member on the House Judiciary Committee, and touting Rep, Joseph Crowley, D-N.Y., as “someone … who’d like to jump on stage and play the guitar himself.”
At the end of the night, all the assembled lawmakers were invited by Lady Antebellum to do just that, accompanying the country trio for a rousing rendition of “Compass.”
The group members, however, seemed far less comfortable discussing their personal political leanings.
“We feel like our fans are from all kinds of different backgrounds and ethnicities and political affiliations. And we want you to come, when you listen to Lady Antebellum, come enjoy a show and forget about all that stuff,” lead singer Charles Kelley suggested. “Obviously we have our opinions … but we don’t ever want that to cloud the music.”
Band mate Dave Haywood totally agreed. “Music should be fun,” he counseled.
Singer Hillary Scott openly admitted that she did not feel confident weighing in on specific policy positions or legislative issues she doesn’t fully understand. “That’s part of the reason that we are here … to continue to learn,” she said of the advocacy work the group continues to do with the Recording Academy.
Several of the featured performers fanned out across the Capitol on Thursday to drum up support for musician’s rights, an outreach effort that, at least in a few cases , has spawned mini-concerts for super lucky members and staff: