A New York State of Mind – Part 4

Stop, Grammy-time… (Forgive me for the long pauses, I’ve been so stupid busy.)

Day 3 – The Call

On day 3, I woke up earlier than I expected after a long night out galavanting all over the town, and I’m so glad I did because this is the morning I received that fateful call. “Hello, is this DeAndre Wright?” “Yessssssssss, who’s calling?” “This is Blankitty-Blank with the Recording Academy and we saw your request for a ticket since you emailed that you were in the New York area. Still interested?” “OH MY GOSH! Uh yesssssssss.” Blur blur blur. Yada yada yada. “Alrighty, well your ticket for both the ceremony and show have been confirmed and processed. Can you come in today to pick up your ticket at bippity-boppity-boo?” “Yes! I’ll be there within the hour!”

And just like that, I was set to go to my first awards show, the 60th Grammy Awards in Madison Square Gardens. I don’t even think I believed it. I was in shock. It’s been weeks since that call and I’m still in shock. At the time, I didn’t even think it was real life. Like how could my random waitlist inquiry turn into a whole ticket? I don’t know, but it did. I made a few calls, squealed a bit, threw on my best fabulously-casual ensemble and headed out to pick up my tickets.

It was crazy. During my walk, I was stopped by a random lady who asked me if I knew a rapper named Montana who just left some nearby nice-store on a shopping spree. Took me a few minutes to realize she meant French Montana and that I was absolutely headed in the right direction.

So I made it to the ticket pick up location and I’ll spare you the details but as I walked out, I almost scored red carpet credentials (by accident). Drunk off excitement, I practically powerwalked back to my hotel room as I talked to my mom and stepdad about my adventure. I laid my tickets on the bed and sat in disbelief. It was all too good to be true.

After hiding my tickets in in the room (yes, I sure did), I got ready for my next hoorah. It was time to meet New York extraordinaire, the Ms. Sara Katherine Runnels.  I’ve known Sara since the 6th grade and in my adult life, she’s become a kindred spirit full of ambition (mixed with a healthy dose of shenanigans). Sara wanted to take me somewhere “Instagram-worthy” and we ended up here –at Magic Hour Rooftop Bar & Lounge.

We talked, ate and drank champagne for hours while looking at the Empire State Building as our backdrop. It was fabulous. I felt just like Mariah Carey on MTV Cribs. All I needed was a bathtub…but real life, it was amazing. Then she took me to Little Italy where we bar hopped our way over to Chinatown and later met with my college friend Darrel. I felt like I fit right in. I was a New Yorker. Thanks Sara and Darrel.

Day 4 – The Dress

Sunday, I woke up early again. How? I don’t know. My body hated me but I made it up and got a call from my friend who wasn’t able to make the trip. In all of her PR-marketing wizardry, the chick scored me a dress with a new designer from New York and demanded me to be at my fitting in less than an hour. This was on Grammy Day y’all. I was like are you kidding me?! I barely had pulled my life together but I trekked my way to 5th Avenue and went upstairs to this beautiful studio full of glamour goodies. I was in heaven. Thank you Gracy Accad!

After dropping the dress off at my hotel, I had to grab food and hit a couple shops to finish my look. My friend Darrel (from the night before) was nice enough to meet with me for lunch and show me around the city a little more before my big night. We even got to walk through Central Park, it was beautiful and I can’t wait to go back when it’s green.

So I get back to the room again, with everything I needed and there I am with this fabulous dress panicking over my new look. It took me about an hour or so to do my makeup and then my buddy from Houston (Christopher Allen) did an impromptu photo shoot with me in my room and in the lobby of the hotel. As you might imagine, people were utterly confused. I didn’t care though, I felt like a Grammy nominee and I was low-key kicking myself for letting those Red Carpet credentials slip through my fingers.

After the drama of getting to the show in my Uber (there were shut down streets and traffic on the sidewalks leading into the venue), I finally made it. It was glorious. There was a sea of gowns and tuxes, faces I recognized from past associations and a slew of beautiful people. Mama I made it! I’m not rich but I sure did feel it.

I hiked to my seats in 5-inch heel, took in the view and started making new friends out of my neighbors before hearing from behind me “DeAndre?” I’m like, who at the Grammys knows me? It was my buddy Huy, a former A&R I met during my music label interning days. Then I ran into another friend of mine who was actually working the show so, naturally, we caught up and snapped pictures between the breaks.

The 60th Grammy Awards in Madison Square Garden

Now here’s the good stuff. I saw e’rrbody. I mean e’rrybody! I saw them scramble to their seats and get yelled at by a real-life Siri demanding everyone to sit back down before going live. I saw the stages get loaded with talent before they performed. I saw it all. I saw folks like Kendrick Lamar, Bono, Elton John, Lady Gaga, Cardi B, Bruno Mars, Rihanna, Sting perform. I just couldn’t believe my eyes or ears. People I would never have seen anywhere else were now in the same room with me being honored for their musical greatness. It was absolutely inspiring, then it was all over and time to party.

I headed over to the official afterparty and like everywhere else, fought traffic to even get in the room. And yes, it was as grand as you might imagine. There were floors of entertainment. There were endless drinks and so much food. There were ice sculptures, bars, lifesized floral arrangements and so many people everywhere. My brain was on overload. It didn’t stop me from eating, socializing, twirling, or dancing all over the place though. After doing the absolute most with a couple folks I happened to know, I saw some more celebrity-types and went back to my room. Cinderella’s lil carriage turned back into a pumpkin and the night was done. It was 4 am.

Nile Rodgers at the Official Grammy Afterparty

Day 5 – Pinch Me

My early flight couldn’t bring me off of my high. I made my flight without a hitch and returned home completely dumbfounded by the week I had just experienced. I went from being fearful to letting go and adventuring all over a place I thought I’d never come to love. I met so many people and had such a wonderful time. I felt it couldn’t have possibly been my life. I could barely sleep though I clearly didn’t while on my vacation.

Just Believe

I asked God how a girl like me, who came from the “hoods” of the north side of Houston, Texas could be so blessed to experience the things I have. How could someone like me be plopped into the most unbelievable situations? I don’t get what He’s doing up there but I figure it’s just a preview of the main event.

I haven’t stopped reflecting since then and what I realized was faith only works when you actually have it. I took a leap of faith and found it to be one of the most rewarding things I’ve ever done in my life. Just remember friends – if you don’t have faith, you will never believe the impossible can absolutely become possible for yourself. And I’ll tell you what, I’m gonna keep living in this New York state of mind. <3