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First Day at the Staples Center

Today marked the beginning of one of the moments in my life that I know I will treasure forever. By some unbelievable miracle, I won the Teens Make Music contest, which gave me the opportunity to attend the 59th GRAMMY Awards this weekend. Just that would be enough, I mean, it's "music's biggest night", but the top three winners of the contest got the opportunity to tour the behind-the-scenes of the Staples Center (that's the arena where the GRAMMY Awards are held). We entered from the loading entrance and walked by various artist platforms. Every artist performing at the GRAMMYS has their own set-up on wheels, which makes it easier for the stage-hands to quickly move them around as necessary. All around us were sound men, audio engineers, producers, light designers, etc. bustling about their jobs, making sure that everything was perfect for Sunday.

As we wrapped around the back of the stage, we passed the platforms ready-to-go for the Bee Gee's tribute and Sturgill's performance, and there was even a giant disco ball that several of us could have fit inside. Katy Perry's prop...maybe? !! Suddenly, something shiny appeared in my periphery, and I turned just in time to see two golden helmets, held in the arms of two guys who definitely had somewhere to be. Daft Punk had just finished their rehearsal for their performance with The Weeknd. Then, as I'm fan-girling with another one of the winners, the sweet, divine sound of perfect harmony reached our ears. Who could it be? From under the stage, we were able to peek out for a few seconds to see Pentatonix, in all their melodious magnificence, singing a tribute to the Jackson 5's "ABC". WHAT.

We continued our tour behind the stage to the artist's green rooms, which also double as athletes' locker rooms when a game is held in the Staples Center. Guys, these stars get room-designers to customize their dressing rooms in whatever theme they fancy. None were decorated yet, but we were told that Beyonce once asked for one hundred pairs of the same shoes in her room, and one year, Justin Timberlake wanted a jungle theme. If you could have someone decorate your own green room, what would you ask for? It's astounding that these people live like this all the time!

After a little lunch provided by the GRAMMY Foundation, the MusiCares group presented the top three winners with their awards and prizes. The groups that sponsor the contest (Vans Warped Tour being one) provided goody bags for us, and we all received a cash prize, which will not go to waste ;). But I think my favorite gift, undoubtedly, was the certificate I received with "Deep Snow" named the winner of the Teens Make Music contest. When I wrote that song, I had no idea I would ever enter it into a contest; it covered such a dark subject matter that I figured no one would want to hear it. But lo and behold, we cannot predict God's plans! This song was construed on my piano bench as I looked out the window, stressing about APUSH assignments, and seeing it's name on a formal certificate was a really special experience.

For the rest of the afternoon, we were allowed to watch the remaining open-audience rehearsals going on in the arena. I was blessed to be able to watch John Legend and his duet-ess (I didn't catch her name) and get enraptured in their raw, soulful sound, commemorating those who had passed last year. They ran the song a few times while the camera crews practiced where to set the cameras, and the sound engineers set the mixes. I couldn't get enough! A little later, Carrie Underwood and Keith Urban went through the same procedure with their duet, which I was super impressed with even though I'm not a huge country music fan. In all the acts we got to see, it was evident how much they loved and enjoyed what they did and how they had risen to the top of their game. Each was so patient while the technical people did their thing, and when it was time to perform, each performer gave it their all as if it were Sunday already. I was afraid Carrie and Keith were going to fall off their platform--they were having so much fun! It was incredibly inspiring.

I couldn't help but imagine what I'd do if I got the chance to perform in that space. Now, I guess, I know what my goal is...

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