The Recording Academy recently announced its full list of nominees, recognizing the amazing artists and their music that brought joy to our lives during another challenging year. The 64th annual GRAMMY® Awards are just around the corner, and 18 Levitt artists rock the nominations from among the 86 different music categories. We’re thrilled to congratulate these nominees who’ve brought their artistry and rhythms to Levitt stages around the country. Ranging from Latin, pop, bluegrass, jazz and R&B, these talented performers have captured the attention of critics and audiences around the globe, from country star Maren Morris who performed at Levitt Pavilion Arlington to American legends The Blind Boys of Alabama who headlined the Levitt National Tour in 2018. Check out the list of nominated Levitt artists below and be sure to tune into the 2022 GRAMMY Awards show on Monday, January 31, 2022, at 8–11:30 p.m. ET / 5–8:30 p.m. PT. on the CBS Television Network (check local listings).

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Pamyua and Kelly Caballero

In celebration of Native American Heritage Month, today we’re highlighting the work of two compelling Native artists who have performed on Levitt stages either in person or virtually. There are myriad ways to be Native and express Native culture, each with intricate cultural traditions and modern interpretations, and these artists — Pamyua and Kelly Caballero — both draw on their heritage in their songwriting and musical expressions to showcase these complexities.

Pamyua — Inuit music for the soul
“Pamyua” (pronounced bum-yo-ah) is an Inuit, specifically Yup’ik, word which means “tail end of (something)” and is traditionally used to say “Encore! Do it again!” Pamyua calls their music “Inuit soul,” because they play with traditional melodies from the Inuit cultures of Alaska and Greenland mixed with contemporary vocalization and instrumentation. The result is a joyful and sincere representation of the enduring Inuit heritage that the group believes can help bring unity between different cultures.

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Pamyua performing at Levitt AMP Soldotna in 2021

The marks of Indigenous culture in Pamuya’s music are plentiful — inspired by their Inuit community, they incorporate traditional Yup’ik dance and face masks, and have also used “seal call” vocalizations to express their relationship to animals and the natural world, creating what Native People’s Magazine described as “a blizzard of interlocking harmonies.”

The group was formed in 1995 by brothers Philip Kilirnquc Blanchett and Stephen Qacungatarli Blanchett from Anchorage, Alaska. The Blanchett brothers grew up going to a Black church in Anchorage, and describes this community as their “second village” in addition to their Inuit community. From the beginning, they have incorporated both their African American and Inuit heritages into their music: “When we started Pamyua it was really clear; we’re Black. We’re Yup’ik. This is what we do,” Philip Kilirnquc Blanchett said. In addition to the Blanchett brothers, the group is complete with Ossie (Aassanaaq) Kairaiuak of Chefornak, Alaska and Karina Moeller of Greenland, and they also play with additional musicians from around the world.

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Pamyua and additional collaborators (pamyua.com)

Pamyua performed at the 2019 and 2021 Levitt AMP Soldotna Music Series, with each show  featuring a number of Native artists as part of a larger effort to amplify Native stories in Soldotna to make reparations for past violence against Native communities and increase representation of Native Alaskans. “We’re a testament that there’s still room for change in the culture, the awareness of people,” Blanchett said in an interview with Indie Alaska.

Kelly Caballero — reclaiming Tovaangar through music and poetry
Kelly Caballero is a Tongva, Yaqui and Xicana singer and songwriter, performer, poet, and jeweler who uses her art to educate about the history of Tongva people on the land that is now known as Los Angeles, but historically was part of the tribal territory Tovaangar (originally meaning “the world”). Caballero’s work largely focuses on the lived experiences of Indigenous people living in urban settings: “Being in the city and being a Native American is a whole different ball game,” Caballero said, “it feels like the grass that pokes up through the cement, it’s finding the beauty in the rubble.”

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Kelly Caballero performing at Levitt Los Angeles’ Barrio Fino

Caballero performed virtually at Levitt Los Angeles’ Barrio Fino, Episode 1: “Natives in the Now.” Performing on her ancestral land, she gave an emotional performance in which she dedicated her song “Mountains” to people who’ve been struggling during the pandemic, and “Anywhere” to Angelenos who have to “drive over two hours just to be in some kind of nature, to be alone with the trees, to find some clean running water.”

Caballero’s songwriting often emphasizes her and her people’s strong connection to nature and their physical land. Her first song, “Siren,” is about a girl calling people to her like a siren to make them hear and see her as a Tongva woman, and in her poem “California,” she says “maybe if I could speak my mother tongue the rivers would rise to meet me.”

Activism is also a strong focus in Caballero’s work, and part of what inspired her to become an artist was the protests against the Dakota Access Pipeline. “Standing Rock was definitely the catalyst for me to be more open and proud of my culture and heritage,” Caballero said. The protests inspired her to “do good work in my community and bring awareness to the original people of Los Angeles.” Caballero also performed at the Yo-Yo Ma Day of Action, in which the world-renowned cellist brought cross-sector groups together to explore how culture can help build a better future.

Both Kelly Caballero and Pamyua, while different in their expressions, circumstances and culture, use their music and artistry to celebrate and educate others about their Native cultures. Through the unique power of music to bridge past and present, they show that Native artists and culture are here now, as alive and vibrant as ever.

Historic places

Historic sites that have re-emerged as centers for public life in Carson City, NV; Ocala, FL; and Springfield, IL.

Historic places and buildings are not just monuments to the past, preserving moments and memories in physical form. Actively including historical spaces as current centerpieces in community life can forge a powerful connection between people and place, creating common ground for future generations. Such is the case with three Levitt AMP communities — Carson City (NV), Springfield (IL) and Ocala (FL) — where the dedicated individuals and nonprofits behind the free Levitt AMP Music Series have brought new life and meaning to previously underused historical spaces, creating vibrant gathering places for the entire community. Read on to learn more! Continue reading

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Shine Music Festival concertgoer sending love to the band onstage (photo by Nikolai Puc’ Photography via Shine Music Festival)

In August, the Shine Music Festival—billed as a “booty shaking, progress making, radically accessible music event”—brought hundreds of concertgoers of all ages, backgrounds and abilities to Levitt Pavilion Denver’s expansive lawn to experience the healing power of music. Today we’re taking a closer look at this historic daylong celebration three years in the making and exploring some of the ways permanent Levitt venues across the country are working to improve the live music experience for people of all abilities.

A ‘radically-accessible’ music festival
Little did six-year-old Lacie and guitar-playing street performer Cliff Woodage know that their spontaneous jam session on the streets of Grimsby, England, would one day inspire a day of music, community and access across the Atlantic Ocean. When Shine Music Founder and ‘Inclusion Architect’ Shawn Satterfield stumbled across a 2018 YouTube video of Lacie, who is blind and autistic, hearing Woodage’s music on the street, Satterfield was struck by the young girl’s elated smile. “I know that smile” said Satterfield, “that’s the feeling I get when I’m at live music.” Time and again Satterfield had experienced live music’s ability to bring people together and create a palpable joy amongst artists and concertgoers alike. Reflecting on the barriers that often prevent people living with disabilities from experiencing that collective joy, Evergreen, Colo.-based Satterfield set to work bringing the Shine Music Festival to life—where people of all abilities could feel the shared joy of free, live music. Continue reading

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Pop-up Covid vaccination site at Levitt Pavilion Denver (photo by Helen Grover via Levitt Pavilion Denver’s Facebook page).

Amid the ongoing pandemic, free Levitt concerts this past season offered hundreds of thousands of people nationwide a safe outdoor space to experience the unifying power of free, live music; connect with old and new friends; and at some venues, even acquire protection against Covid. More than a thousand concertgoers chose to receive a Covid vaccine at pop-up clinics held at permanent Levitt venues and Levitt AMP concert sites in cities including Denver; Los Angeles; Carson City, Nevada; Soldotna, Alaska; and Woonsocket, Rhode Island, reflecting Levitt’s role as a trusted gathering place that not only enhances cultural life but also promotes the health and well-being of its communities. Learn how several Levitt venues, large and small, made getting a Covid vaccine more accessible. Continue reading

Pictured from left to right: Ruby Ibarra, H.E.R, Dominic Fike, P-Lo, and Jasmine Villegas

Pictured from left to right: Ruby Ibarra, H.E.R, Dominic Fike, P-Lo, and Jasmine Villegas

October is Filipino-American History Month and today we are highlighting talented and inspiring FilAm artists you should know!

Established in 2009 by the Filipino American National Historical Society (FANHS), this month celebrates and brings awareness to the significant role Filipinos have played in American history, both past and present. The month of October commemorates the first recorded presence of Filipinos in what is now the state of California on October 18, 1587.

Read on to learn about both well-known and up-and-coming Filipino-American musical artists who are bringing their talents into the spotlight.

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Pictured from left to right: Flor De Toloache guitarrón player Yesi Reyes, Making Movies frontman Enrique Chi, and Quetzal lead singer Martha Gonzalez, performing on Levitt stages.

This week wraps up Hispanic Heritage Month, a monthlong celebration from September 15 to October 15, celebrating of the rich and complex histories, cultures and contributions of the 62.1 million Hispanics, Latinos and Latinx individuals who call this country ‘home.’ Today we’re highlighting three ways that past Levitt performers are harnessing the power of music to protect, uplift and empower some of the most vulnerable members of the group Hispanic Heritage Month celebrates. Continue reading

Musical group Suenatron, the audience at the ¡Sabor! Latin Festival, and Sadie Marquardt with Empress Dance

(Top left) Musical group Suenatron at Levitt Pavilion Arlington (Top right) The ¡Sabor! Latin Festival at Levitt Pavilion SteelStacks (Bottom) Sadie Marquardt with Empress Dance at the Taste of the Middle East Festival in Levitt Pavilion Denver

This past summer, Levitt venues across the country were a platform for cross-cultural celebrations and understanding, bringing different pockets of their communities together through cultural festivals and concerts. From Los Angeles to Bethlehem, Pa., Denver to Arlington, Texas, read how permanent Levitt venues created space to honor the diverse music and traditions of Latin, Middle Eastern, Tejano and Indigenous Mayan cultures.

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The Levitt AMP program is all about building community—through music, through partnerships and through engagement across sectors to help create more thriving and inclusive communities. Among the sectors touched by the Levitt AMP program are local businesses. Today, we’re shining the light on how organizers behind three Levitt AMP Music Series—Fort Smith, Ark., Stevens Point, Wis., and St Johnsbury, Vt.—have leveraged their respective music series to support local businesses and stimulate their creative economies while strengthening connections within their communities.

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GRAMMY Award-winning blues sensation Ruthie Foster performs at Levitt Pavilion SteelStacks on a recent August evening at the base of the iconic blast furnaces that once powered Bethlehem Steel.

GRAMMY Award-winning blues sensation Ruthie Foster performs at Levitt Pavilion SteelStacks on a recent August evening at the base of the iconic blast furnaces that once powered Bethlehem Steel.

Two Sundays ago, echoes of Ruthie Foster’s smooth blues vocals invited me onto the Levitt Pavilion SteelStacks lawn during on an otherwise quiet evening. Following my 90-minute drive to Bethlehem, Pa., from my hometown of Freehold in New Jersey, my anticipation grew as towering blast furnaces—rusted remnants of Bethlehem Steel, known as “the ruins”—came into view, welcoming me to the historic manufacturing hub-turned-arts campus. As I arrived at Levitt Pavilion SteelStacks, I noticed a lush green lawn filled with the energy of a music-loving audience who showed up for the performance despite dark gray clouds and scattered showers earlier in the day. From couples snuggled into folding chairs to families lined up at food and beverage stations, to volunteers galore, the excitement for Foster’s free, live show was palpable.

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