Women in Music 2016

Robin Thicke, Natalie La Rose to Headline Renaissance Downtown Chicago's Happiest Hour: Exclusive

Courtesy Photo
Robin Thicke

Business travelers are used to taking their daily 9 to 5 work cycle on the road -- but what about the rest of the day? Renaissance Hotels is tapping Robin Thicke, Natalie La Rose and DJ HXLT will help bring the “#5to9” experience to life for the grand re-opening of the Renaissance Chicago Downtown’s The Happiest Hour block party on June 11. The live, outdoor performances along the Chicago River will be part of Renaissance’s fourth annual Global Day of Discovery, which will be recognized at all 160 of Renaissance’s global hotels in 40 countries.

Robin Thicke Talks New Jams, Teaming With Flo Rida

“We recognize that many of our business travelers may want to explore the city, but they may not always have the time or wherewithal to figure it out,” says Dan Vinh, VP of marketing at Marriott International’s Renaissance Hotels. “We want to make it easy for them to stumble into unexpected, surprising experiences by bringing music and mixology demonstrations as well as art exhibits and film screenings into the hotel so that our guests are able to experience the local flavor right at the hotel.”

Robin Thicke, who is readying a follow-up to 2014's Paula, tells Billboard his "new jams won't be ready" in time for his Block Party performance. But as a frequent traveler himself, he says, "I love a hotel that enables me to have a little bit of the local experience. What's happening in that city, what is the style and architecture of the surroundings."

Watch Natalie La Rose Teach Her Moves on 'So You Know You Can't Dance'

Natalie La Rose, who recently hit the Hot 100’s top 10 with her debut hit “Somebody” with Chicago native Jeremih, will preview songs from her forthcoming EP on IMG/Republic Records. That song’s producers Cook Classics and The Futuristics will return for the five-song project, which is being overseen by IMG label boss Flo Rida. “They have great rhythm, good beats to dance to, some are more uptempo and others are more vibey – and there’s a little mix of old-school like ‘Somebody’ has,” La Rose teases.

And though “Somebody” memorably samples Whitney Houston, and La Rose is the featured vocalist on Caroline D’Amore’s just-released cover of Crystal Waters’ “Gypsy Woman,” La Rose promises the EP will be less-reliant on late '80s/early '90s references. “My next songs are definitely original, so do not worry,” she says.  “I’m more than just a '90s girl.”

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The Happiest Hour block party is the latest extension of Renaissance’s global music strategy, which has recently expanded to include partners AEG Live and media properties AXS TV and AXS.com, as well as Billboard, which will team up with the brand for multiple music festival experiences throughout the summer.

Renaissance’s Vinh says the company will host intimate performances from AWOLNATION, Tove Lo, The Lone Bellow and other artists at its hotels later this summer -- but it aims to provide more than just a hotel concert. “For us, it’s about being committed to helping these emerging artists as they tour around -- that gets expensive, so we want to promote them and support their career where we can,” he says. “They’re essentially a modern business traveler, too. We want to let guests know how they discover the city, make time to go out, where they go to shop -- those behind-the-scenes stories no one else can provide.”