With four Grammy nominations this year — more than any other country artist — Maren Morris has a lot to celebrate this weekend, and Saturday night’s stop on her pre-party train was the Nielsen Pre-Grammys Bash at West Hollywood’s Nightingale Plaza.
The best new artist nominee took the stage at the intimate venue for a three-song set that kicked off with sassy current single “80s Mercedes.” But the true show-stopper was when she was joined onstage by the Preservation Hall Jazz Band — which kicked off and ended the party with their own rollicking sets — to re-create last year’s CMA Awards performance of Morris’ debut hit “My Church.” It truly was a holy musical moment, bringing together modern country and New Orleans big band like they’d always belonged together.
“See y’all at the Grammys!” Morris drawled as she signed off, joining Pres Hall for a quick group photo before exiting the stage.
This is the fourth year Nielsen has held its Pre-Grammys Bash, and the party — produced and booked by MAC Presents — brought execs from the music industry and beyond to the Nightingale, which has only been open since October in the former home of Greystone Manor. In addition to Spotify’s Bruno Crolot, Live Nation’s Brandon Martinez, Red Light Management’s Matt Ringel, BMI’s Alison Smith, Target’s William White, American Airlines’ Amy Kestel Bays and more industry insiders, singer/songwriter Joshua Radin also joined the crowd taking in Preservation Hall’s time-honored showmanship.
Billboard caught up with Nielsen Entertainment President Howard Appelbaum during the party to talk about landing Morris as a performer and why Grammys weekend makes the most sense for their biggest event of the year.
“There are other places we could do it, but Grammy week is this awesome time where everybody’s in town who we want to speak to,” Appelbaum said. “So in this room is Apple and Facebook and Twitter and Snap, but also retailers who are all here because they promote with music, and of course the endemic music companies are all here. It’s a place where everybody kind of comes together. There’s a lot of competition, as you know, but this is our fourth year and it was actually a record year for requests to come, which is always a good thing.”