Lizzo Addresses Bullying, Says Black Women In Music ‘Suffer From the Marginalization the Most’

Lizzo addressed the recent bullying and criticism she has dealt with during an appearance on Good Morning America on Wednesday.

The musician opened up about struggling to feel heard and accepted in an environment that is not always supportive and why these hateful comments are surfacing. Lizzo said despite Black women being innovators in the industry, “We are the ones who do suffer from the marginalization the most and the erasure the most.”

The Grammy-winning singer admitted that without the internet or social media it is possible she would have been “erased.” She added, “But I chose to be undeniable and I chose to be loud and I chose to be great. And I’m still here.”

Her sit down with GMA followed her now-deleted emotional Instagram live where she revealed she has received “fat-phobic” and “racist” comments after releasing her new single “Rumors” featuring Cardi B.

In the video, Lizzo explained that she can handle critiques about her music, but she will not accept attacks against her appearance. She reiterated this sentiment on GMA. “I don’t even mind the fat comments. I just feel like it’s unfair sometimes — the treatment that people like me receive,” she said.

She also addressed some critics who say she shouldn’t let the world see her affected by hate. She said, “My head is always up even when I’m upset and even when I’m crying. … But I know it’s my job as an artist to reflect the times, and this shit should not fly. This shouldn’t be OK.”

She does not consider being hurt over negative remarks to be a sign of weakness, adding that vulnerability is “sexy” and “extremely powerful.” She reminds herself and her fans to practice self-love during tough days. Lizzo posted a clip from the interview on her Instagram along with the caption, “I’M STILL HERE.”

Following the singer’s Instagram Live video, Instagram and Facebook removed several hateful comments on Lizzo’s accounts, with a Facebook spokesperson confirming to Billboard that the comments go against Facebook and Instagram’s rules against hate speech and harassment.

This article originally appeared in THR.com.

H.E.R. and Kodi Lee Light It up For ‘America’s Got Talent’ Duet: Watch

One of the magical moments from America’s Got Talent’s live show on Wednesday night (Aug. 18) didn’t involve any of the competitors.

The Grammy and Academy Award-winner H.E.R. stopped by to deliver a performance of her powerful new song “Hold On,” only this time she had help.

Kodi Lee, the prodigious singer and pianist who won season 14 of AGT and melted hearts everywhere, dueted with the U.S. star.

Despite being blind and autistic, the Korean-American artist was a revelation during his winning run on the TV talent quest, proving to the world that challenges are just obstacles to overcome.

“Hold On” appeared on H.E.R.’s Back of My Mind, which debuted at No. 6 on the Billboard 200 albums chart last month.

The performance took place a day after the second AGT quarterfinals round.

Watch below.

Maren Morris, Luke Combs and Dan + Shay Nominated for CMA International Awards

Brothers Osborne, Luke Combs, Dan + Shay, Maren Morris and Yola are among the artists  nominated for the Country Music Association’s 2021 International Awards. These accolades recognize creatives and industry members who have contributed to the growth of country music around the world.

The artists are all nominated for the international artist achievement award, which honors significant accomplishment by a United States-based artist, who has demonstrated the greatest creative growth, development and promotion of the country music industry outside of the U.S. during the eligibility period.

Previous winners in the category have included Reba McEntire, Kacey Musgraves, Brad Paisley, Taylor Swift, Shania Twain, Carrie Underwood and more.

Nominees were also revealed in categories including the Jo Walker-Meador international award (which honors outstanding achievement by an individual supporting country music’s marketing development outside of the U.S.); the Wesley Rose international media achievement award; the international country broadcaster award; and the Jeff Walker global country artist award.

This year, the CMA introduced a new category, the Rob Potts international live music advancement award, which recognizes an individual’s significant contributions to the live music industry through helping to build live audiences for country music outside the United States. The award is named after the late Australian manager, promoter and CMA Board member Potts, whose career spanned more than 30 years, paving the way for Australian artists including Tommy Emmanuel, Morgan Evans and Keith Urban.

Those eligible to receive the award include promoters, booking agents, talent buyers, festival and venue bookers and other live music industry professionals.

CMA CEO Sarah Trahern noted in a statement, “We are delighted to honor those in the industry who have been instrumental in carrying country music forward into territories outside of the United States as this year’s CMA International Awards nominees. And we are especially thrilled to be adding a new award to the slate this year recognizing those specifically in the live music industry cultivating and growing country music’s reach. A true pioneer in the genre, few people exemplified this more than Rob Potts. He was a driving force in our efforts to expand country music internationally, and I am excited we are able to honor those following in Rob’s footsteps.”

The awards are voted on by CMA’s international members and the awards are presented to the individual winners as the opportunity presents itself. There is no formal awards ceremony.

Here’s the full list of nominees for the 2021 CMA International Awards.

Rob Potts international live music advancement award:

Michael Chugg (Australia – Chugg Entertainment and Chugg Music)

Sina Hall (Germany – Semmel Concerts Entertainment GmbH)

Nigel Hassler (U.K. – CAA)

Sigve Prestnes (Norway – Stageway Talent)

Troy Vollhoffer (Canada – Premier Global Production, Country Thunder Music Festivals and Big Valley Jamboree)

Jo Walker-Meador international award:

Ilse DeLange (The Netherlands – Artist, founder of Spark Records, Firefly Publishing and Tuckerville Festival)

Tracy Martin (Canada – The Core Entertainment)

Natalie Waller (Australia – ABC Music and Events)

Chris York (U.K.– SJM Concerts, Country to Country Festival U.K.)

Wesley Rose international media achievement award:

Mathias Bridfelt (Sweden – SVT)

Saniel Marriner (Australia – CMT Australia)

Ricky Marshall (U.K.– BBC Radio 2)

Charlotte Thompson (Canada – Red Umbrella P.R.)

International artist achievement award:

Brothers Osborne

Luke Combs

Dan + Shay

Maren Morris

Yola

International country broadcaster award:

Dayna Bourgoin (Canada – Pure Country Radio/Bell Media)

Rita Jernquist (Sweden – Sveriges Radio P4)

Baylen Leonard (U.K. – Absolute Radio Country/Bauer Radio Limited)

Justin Thomson (Australia – KIX Country/Grant Broadcasters)

Jeff Walker global country artist award:

Jill Johnson (Sweden)

Brett Kissel (Canada)

The Shires (U.K.)

The Wolfe Brothers (Australia)

The Judds Are Just the 4th Act to Go From Winning CMA Horizon Award to Country Music Hall of Fame

The Judds were named to the Country Music Hall of Fame this week, nearly 37 years after they won the Country Music Association’s horizon award as the year’s most promising newcomer. (The name of that award was changed to new artist of the year in 2008.)

The Judds are just the fourth act to go from winning the CMA horizon award to being invited to join the Country Music Hall of Fame. Here’s a complete list of these rookie artists who really lived up to their horizon awards:

Garth Brooks: The superstar who took country to a whole new level won the horizon award in 1990 and was voted into the Hall in 2012—just 22 years later. It really can’t be done much faster than that. He beat Alan Jackson, Kentucky Headhunters, Lorrie Morgan and Travis Tritt for the horizon award. (Tritt nabbed the horizon award the following year. CMA rules allow artists two tries at the award.)

Randy Travis: The country and gospel singer won the horizon award in 1986 and was voted into the Hall in 2016—30 years later. He beat the Forester Sisters, Kathy Mattea, Dan Seals and Dwight Yoakam for the horizon award.

Ricky Skaggs: The country and bluegrass musician won the horizon award in 1982 and was voted into the Hall in 2018—36 years later. He beat John Anderson, Rosanne Cash, David Frizzell and Lee Greenwood for the horizon award. (Anderson nabbed the horizon award the following year.)

The Judds: The mother-daughter duo won the horizon award in 1984 and was voted into the Hall in 2021—37 years later. They beat Deborah Allen, Earl Thomas Conley, Vern Gosdin and Michael Martin Murphey for the horizon award.

Who will be the next horizon award winner to be inducted into the Hall? That’s anybody’s guess, but the name could come from this list of seven notable horizon award winners – Ricky Van Shelton, Clint Black, Alison Krauss, LeAnn Rimes, Dixie Chicks, Brad Paisley and Keith Urban. (All have been nationally prominent for 20 years, a Hall of Fame requirement.)

What was the most competitive year ever for the horizon award? Twice, two future Hall of Famers competed for the horizon award.

In 1983, Reba McEntire and George Strait vied for the horizon award, which wound up going to John Anderson, who had a big hit that year with “Swingin’.” Strait went into the Hall of Fame in 2006, followed by McEntire five years later.

As noted above, in 1990, Brooks bested Alan Jackson for the horizon award. Brooks went into the Hall of Fame in 2012, followed by Jackson five years later.

McEntire, Strait and Jackson aren’t the only future Hall of Famers who lost the horizon award. Brooks & Dunn lost the horizon award in 1992 to Suzy Bogguss. And Ray Charles, already a legend, lost the horizon award in 1985 to Sawyer Brown. (Charles’ nomination for a horizon award in 1985, perhaps a shade too clever, was keyed to the success of his country duets album Friendship.)

Brooks & Dunn went into the Hall in 2019. Charles was voted in this year.

Camila Cabello Says Taylor Swift ‘Goes Out of Her Way’ to Be a Great Friend

In a new interview, Camila Cabello says Taylor Swift is a role model for how to be a great friend.

While speaking with Bustle, the “Don’t Go Yet” singer described how she found a healthy friendship with the superstar after she left Fifth Harmony in 2016. Describing how she only spent time with her mom in the years after her exit from the girl group, Cabello explained how Swift became not only her friend, but also her example to follow in other friendships.

“Taylor has always been so kind and supportive and also goes out of her way to give you artist advice,” Cabello said. “[She’s] really about making friendships and relationships the most important thing.”

The two have taken the stage together multiple times, including their performance of “Shake It Off” at the 2019 American Music Awards alongside Halsey. Cabello also opened for Swift during her 2018 Reputation Stadium Tour, performing “Shake It Off” every night with fellow opening act Charli XCX stepping in to complete the trifecta. Cabello thanked the Folklore star for letting her join her at the AMAs when Swift received the Artist of the Decade honor, saying, “You have always been my biggest inspiration on my own journey in music as a writer and artist,” and telling Billboard that touring with her “was a really full-circle moment.” Three years before, Cabello was just another Swiftie in the crowd during the 1989 World Tour, referring to the pop superstar as her “musical queen.”

“She is so brave at watering those seeds of friendships and relationships,” Cabello told Bustle. “She always answers my texts and she’s so busy. I don’t even answer texts because I’m just worse at it. It takes intention to be like, ‘Let me write all my friends back.'”

In a 2018 interview, Cabello revealed how the two became friends in the first place. While the Romance singer was going through her first heartbreak, their mutual friend and fellow artist Hailee Steinfeld introduced her to Swift, who later sent Cabello a breakup playlist and said, “Come over. Let’s talk about it” and invited her to a “girls-night thing” with HAIM.

Can Holly+ Solve the Problem of Deepfake Vocals?

What would it sound like if Billie Eilish explained the GameStop short squeeze? What if Bob Dylan sang Britney Spears’ “…Baby One More Time”? Using artificial intelligence and machine learning, these bizarre queries are becoming a dystopian reality as fans, hobbyists and scammers mimic the voices of their favorite stars. 

For singers and rappers, these so-called “deepfake” vocals also present a looming threat as the technology rapidly improves, and the line becomes less discernible between re-creation and reality. Currently, most musical deepfakes are created in jest or homage by music fans, but however well-intentioned, deepfake vocals are almost always unauthorized uses of an artist’s voice. Because the human voice is not covered under copyright law and the underriding technology is so novel, this places AI vocals in a state of legal limbo, leaving artists vulnerable to identity theft and with no compensation for the use of their likeness.

Though there is evidence to suggest “publicity” or “personality” rights may provide some pathway to legal recourse for the commercial use of a public figure’s voice (like Tom Waits v. Frito Lay, a 1992 lawsuit in which the singer sued Frito Lay for the unauthorized impersonation his voice for a commercial and won), these rights vary from state-to-state and still have yet to address a case specific to the new frontier of AI-rendered vocals.

But for experimental electronic musician Holly Herndon, who has been working at the intersection of music and artificial intelligence for years, including a doctoral stint at Stanford University, she sees this space as a brave new world for musicians. Instead of fighting to destroy the inevitable behemoth of AI, Herndon is showing others how to control it and even use it to their advantage by releasing her new AI voice instrument, Holly+.

Created with start-up Never Before Heard Sounds and longtime collaborator Mat Dryhurst, Holly+ is a cloud-based instrument that allows users to upload up to five minutes of audio and map a rendering of Herndon’s voice over top. Programmed through the amalgamation of hours of Herndon’s voice recordings, the Holly+ instrument solves a few of the biggest challenges with AI voice renderings, most notably, the ownership and monetization of one’s digital likeness. “We’re really trying to figure out robust, foundational logic for how to deal with this technology through Holly+,” says Dryhurst. 

Instead of sticking a price tag to Herndon’s vocal likeness, the team decided to make the instrument available and free to all and to monetize the project in a way that wouldn’t exclude any users in the process. “We truly want people to play around with it,” Herndon explains. “Because I feel like for a lot of people, it’s kind of mysterious how this works. Of course, it still is somewhat mysterious, but people can at least get a better sense of the technology.” 

The groundbreaking monetization process of Holly+ has already begun. For the past week, users of Holly+ are able to upload creations made with the tool to be considered for the official Holly+ NFT (non fungible token) collection. This will be the first of multiple Holly+ NFT collections, and the submission process closes tonight. Like a digital gallery of AI-based musical works, Herndon and other team members will sift through submissions and choose their favorites to showcase in the collection which will be sold on the NFT marketplace Zora. This allows Herndon and the team the power to choose which songs are given official value, something that Dryhurst compares to the current practice of authorizing remixes. “A similar model already exists there. The official remixes made, authorized by the artist themselves, are more valuable because they are recognized. I think this will become the standard.” 

The NFT collection also offers a rare opportunity for users to be supported by the artist who created the tool. “It’s a marketplace provided by the artist themselves. I think that could also be an interesting future model for fan engagement,” says Herndon. Covering the costs of minting the officially selected NFTs and providing a platform for users, Holly+’s method of monetization lowers barriers of entry for users and allows Herndon control over the use of her voice. “There’s a couple ways of dealing with this. You could have crazy punitive digital rights management, or you could have a completely free tool for all. We’re trying to find the happy medium,” Herndon explains. 

Proceeds from the sale of the Holly+ NFT collection would be distributed 50% to the creator, 40% to the investment of future tools (governed by a decentralized autonomous organization or “DAO”), and 10% to Herndon directly as a royalty for the use of her likeness. “This is no get rich quick scheme,” Herndon says.

“But this model promises to solve a bunch of issues in terms of official attribution and revenue,” Dryhurst adds.

Although this model compensates Herndon for the attribution of her voice and the creator using the instrument, it still does not remunerate Never Before Heard Sounds or Dryhust directly for their contributions to the project. “We’re still trying to figure out what the business model is,” admits Chris Deaner, co-founder of Never Before Heard Sounds. “A lot of this project is proof of concept and gaging what the appetite is from users. With Holly+ we’ve found there truly is a lot of interest.”

Instead, for now, the music tech up start will remain a “lean team,” of just Deaner and co-founder Yotam Mann, continually testing new products and determining the path to monetization along the way. Mann and Deaner will also participate, along with Dryhust, as members of the DAO and will have voting power in the creation of future tools and in the curation of the NFT collection. 

The monetization of AI voice models is still in its infancy, but Holly+ offers novel solutions to the growing and inevitable use of machine learning in music. “This is a conversation starter, and this is something we are trying to figure out in public,” says Herndon. “I think there are going to be some uncomfortable moments that come up, and we’ll just have to figure it out together.” Mann adds, “eventually, we think it’s going to revolutionize music.” The auction for the first set of Holly+ NFTs will take place this September.

9 Memorable Covers of Billie Eilish Songs

Billie Eilish has been called the voice of Generation Z, counting artists such as Foo Fighters’ Dave Grohl and Green Day’s Billie Joe Armstrong among her fans. According to her touring manager, Radiohead frontman Thom Yorke once even told the young star, “You’re the only one doing anything f—ing interesting nowadays.”

But musicians of all genres have been doing more than just singing her praises — they’ve literally been singing her songs. Here are some of the most memorable covers of Eilish’s music — which she pens with brother and collaborator Finneas — since she first started making waves with 2016’s viral song “Ocean Eyes.”

Alicia Keys, “Ocean Eyes”

In August 2019, the 15-time Grammy champ offered her stripped-down take on Eilish’s debut song. In a video shared on Instagram, Keys sings emotionally while playing the piano, giving “Ocean Eyes” a soulful feel. A few months later, she covered the tune once more, this time recording it for Spotify’s Single Series.

Vitamin String Quartet, “Bad Guy”

There have been several notable covers of this Billboard Hot 100 hit, which spent 49 weeks on the chart. But one of the most memorable is VSQ’s take, which soundtracked a scene in the third episode of Bridgerton’s steamy debut season. The quartet may have made the song suitable for a ballroom scene in a period romance series, but it also added to the fun with its bouncy strings, even sans vocals.

LeAnn Rimes, “When the Party’s Over”

How do we live without this cover? Rimes delivered her knockout take of the seventh track from Eilish’s debut studio album, When We All Fall Asleep, Where Do We Go?, during The Masked Singer season 4. Performing as The Sun, eventual winner Rimes let her vocals shine during her chill-inducing performance that left judges Ken Jeong and Nicole Scherzinger mesmerized.

Chika, “My Future”

The rapper took on Eilish’s first single from her sophomore album for Spotify Singles after being nominated for the best new artist Grammy in 2020, the same award the pop star won in 2019. Like the original, Chika’s version starts softly, but the similarities end there. By the second verse, the song’s lyrics have completely changed to reflect the rapper’s own style, before ultimately transitioning back to Eilish’s original pre-chorus and chorus.

The Interrupters, “Bad Guy”

How do make a rockin’ song even more rockin’? In the case of “Bad Guy,” get LA ska-punk group The Interrupters on the case. The band added an extra touch of rebel ‘tude thanks to singer Aimee Interrupter, and the swingy trombone work by Billy Kottage.

Miley Cyrus, “My Future”

Eilish may be known for her whispery vocals, but Cyrus? Not so much. Nevertheless, the “Wrecking Ball” singer took on the subtle song during her BBC Radio 1 Live Lounge performance in September 2020, injecting a bit of the fun rock ‘n’ roll attitude she’s had as of late, with a curl of her lip here, a wag of her finger there, and wrapping the final lyrics as a powerful declaration and a joke: “I’m in love/ BUT NOT WITH ANYBODY ELSE!/ See you in a couple years … but probably not!”

Wynonna Judd, “Everything I Wanted”

As part of her “Love Notes” covers series, the country star took on the song that nabbed the record of the year Grammy at the 2021 ceremony, and added a country feel with her bluesy vocals. Judd explained to CMT that she wanted her cover to tell the young star, “Billie, I see you. I hear you.”

Chanyeol, “Bad Guy”

Chanyeol of South Korean-Chinese boy band EXO tried his hand at covering Billie’s hit for the trailer of his film The Box. Anyone expecting the smash to be transformed into K-pop would’ve been surprised by Chanyeol’s initially soft take on the pop hit before his version kicks it up several notches with a squealing guitar and bossa nova sound.

Machine Gun Kelly, “Ocean Eyes”

What would Eilish’s delicate debut song sound like with more of a rock vibe? MGK answered that question with his 2019 take, which featured sleek production and the rapper-rocker singing more softly than he’s generally known for. But try as he might, he even admits at the end of the song that he can’t match Eilish’s higher range.