MEET THE BAND:Andy Grammer (vocals, guitar, piano)
OUT ON THE STREETS OF SANTA MONICA: Singer-songwriter Andy Grammer started busking in the streets of Santa Monica. He says he learned a couple of key things from that time period. "Back then, I learned if you have something magic, people will stop," he says. "I learned that truly great art is valuable. [Current manager] Ben Singer was walking by and saw me playing on the street. We've been working together for nine years now, putting brick after brick into this incredible career." Grammer's 2011 self-titled debut album featured the platinum singles "Keep Your Head Up" and "Fine by Me," and his second album, 2014's Magazines or Novels, yielded the quadruple platinum worldwide hit "Honey, I'm Good." Grammer just released his fourth album, Naïve.
THE KIDS ARE ALRIGHT: Shortly before his current tour started, Grammer performed a singalong with the Public School 22 chorus in New York. A video of the performance went viral. "I had no idea it would be as crazy as it was," says Grammer. "It was just another thing to do that day that someone had set up. When I went in, I didn't know what I was getting into. When I started to sing and heard the kids singing behind me, I started crying. The fourth time was the video that we cut. I was tearing up on the first three cuts. I just couldn't get through it."
A NAÏVE APPROACH: He intended Naïve to show his depth and demonstrate that he's more than just a positive guy. "I think that being positive or optimistic or happy comes with an association of weakness," he says. "To me, it's anything but that. To me, it's a freaking war to keep bringing a positive outlook to a world that can dark. Naïve is a rebellious, revolutionary statement. I know how some people see me and I'm okay with that. It's unbelievable to see people on this tour rocking Naïve T-shirts to show that they're with me."
WHY YOU SHOULD HEAR HIM: One album highlight, the ballad "She'd Say," features the world music group Ladysmith Black Mambazo, who add rich backing vocals. Grammer explains that a peculiar set of circumstances set the song in motion. "I lost my mom 10 years ago and she loved that Graceland record with Ladysmith Black Mambazo and Paul Simon. My wife got me a present and said I should take a phone call with a medium. Right off the bat, he said my mother was there and she wanted me to write a song to my daughter about what she couldn't say to her. I wrote the song, and I was in the car and heard that Ladysmith would be in Los Angeles on that Friday. I was so wonderfully confused. It was so strange. We chased them down and brought them into the studio and they helped me make this incredible love letter to my daughter from my mom."
WHERE YOU CAN HEAR HIM: andygrammer.com
WHERE YOU CAN SEE HIM: Andy Grammer performs with NIGHTLY at 7 p.m. on Thursday, Sept. 26, at House of Blues.