Something even more stunning than the grand piano bedazzled in rhinestones on Sunday night’s Grammys stage was the pianist herself. Meet Chloe Flower: the classically trained pianist who stole the show with her introduction to Cardi B‘s performance of “Money.”
The first shot of the performance opened with Flower serving all kinds of looks. Dressed in an elegant black-and-white gown, her hair pulled back in a slick ponytail, Flower had viewers in awe over her talent. Some viewers even confused her for Cardi B, who had a similar red-carpet look that night with a slick hairstyle and ruffly gown.
But the 33-year-old composer, writer and musician’s fierce performance instantly became a social media sensation and had everyone wondering who she was.
During a Q&A with Billboard, Flower speaks about her debut Grammy performance, working with Cardi B, and what to expect from her in the future.
What was it like preparing for this performance?
It was a really fun week of rehearsals. Cardi was so nice and so sweet and really almost made me cry because she was so nice. Like she wanted me to shine. She wanted me to have my own moment. She wanted me to stand out on my own, and that’s just surprising to see an artist be so gracious and generous with the stage.
When you first got the news that you would be performing with Cardi B, what was your reaction?
I was like, “Wait, what? Really?” It was shocking. I couldn’t tell anybody about it though because they were like, “You can’t tell anybody.” So it was like, “Is it really going to happen?” So basically, when my Instagram got introduced to Cardi and her team, they were like, “Oh yeah, we want her.” And when they made that decision I was so excited. I mean it’s the kind of audience I’ve always wanted to play for, and I know that sounds crazy because I’m a classical musician, but I’ve always wanted to play for an audience like that last night. People who just love music, people who are there to enjoy music and to have fun.
You’ve worked with some of the biggest names in the music industry, including Babyface, Celine Dion, Nas and now Cardi B on the Grammy stage. With your background, how does a classical pianist transition into the pop and hip-hop world?
Some of my biggest inspirations growing up in music weren’t necessarily just classical musicians. I loved classical musicians, but they weren’t just pianists. I was also so inspired by painters and violinists. I was a huge Beyoncé fan very early on. I loved watching her live videos and got so much performance inspiration from her, the way that she just connects with the audience. I think I was naturally able to have a pop sensibility when it comes to writing music. I understand pop music. So I think that’s the difference for me as I’m able to combine classical with pop because I understand both genres. I listened to so much pop music growing up.
When the show opened up, we saw you, and a lot of people thought it was Cardi B playing the piano, because your outfit kind of echoed what Cardi wore on the carpet. Was that an intentional decision?
No [laughs], that was not intentional. That was just the way that they shot it, I guess. They wanted to start with the fingers and then move up to the face. It was totally not planned. I really had the most amazing stylists. … We picked out the most epic dress, and then it ended up not working out. And so they put me in something else and then Cardi came into rehearsal and was like, “I want Chloe to stand out more and be more extravagant and be more couture.” So then my stylist showed her [the black-and-white] dress, and Cardi’s like, “Yes, that one.”
What was it like performing while Cardi was twerking on top of the piano? Does it make the job any harder or distracting at all?
Well, it made it even better! It made me get into it more. It gave me more energy and made things more fun. And there was a protective layer placed over the piano. It was re-engineered to be able to support the weight of a human body.
How did you get to use Liberace’s famous rhinestone piano?
I’ve been working with the Liberace Foundation for a few years now. And so when when I found out I was doing this performance, I suggested to them, I was like, “Hey, you know that the crystal Liberace piano is much smaller. And it’s in Vegas, so it’s very easy to move. Why don’t we use that?” Cardi and her team loved the idea, so they trucked it over a couple of days before the performance. And that’s how it happened.
You just signed to Sony Masterworks — congratulations on that. What can we expect from you going forward musically?
I’m going to definitely be doing more instrumental covers. I think I want to stick to what I’ve been covering. I’ve been doing instrumental covers of Drake, Adele, of course Cardi and a lot of hip-hop artists and kind of turning their melodies into classical. So I’ll definitely be doing that. And then also I really want to do a lot more producing because you know there aren’t that many female producers out there, so I hope to do a lot more of that this year.
With your performance last night, you instantly became a viral sensation on the internet and probably gained a lot of new fans. What is one thing you want those new fans to know about you?
I want them to know the reason that I do these instrumental covers and the reason that I work with artists is because I really want my fans, especially my younger fans, to want to learn an instrument. I want there to be music education in every public school and available to every student, because I think that music education is as important as sports education and as important as math and science. And so really my ultimate goal in doing this work is that I want to show there’s a visual aesthetic in learning an instrument that can be attractive to someone young. I want younger kids to demand it from their teachers and demand it from their school administrators.
Watch a snippet of Chloe’s introduction to Cardi B’s “Money” performance at the Grammy Awards below.