Okayplayer: Grammy Week 2023

I took Okayplayer inside my Grammy week. This story includes many cameos, including from the two living Beatles: Ringo Starr and Paul McCartney.

Enjoy an excerpt below and read the full story here. Polaroid photo by yours truly, Sama’an Ashrawi.

An Inside Look at Grammys Weekend 2023 (Featuring Appearances From Paul McCartney, Scarface & More)

Thursday 2/2/2023

“Oh my god, I just touched a Beatle!” singer Madison McFerrin whisper-shouts as she runs back to a circle of friends in a food truck-lined courtyard of Jim Henson Studios in Los Angeles, California.

Only moments ago, Ringo Starr, the 82-year-old founder and drummer for The Beatles, walked into the release party for Stella McCartney’s spring / summer collaboration with adidas flanked by security in the form of a tight entourage and an outer circle of hangers-on.

When it happened, Madison was talking with Bam Marley about how her dad, Bobby McFerrin, and his grandfather, Bob Marley, often get mistaken for each other by folks who don’t know no better.

When Ringo walked in, our circle of friends and acquaintances – Madison’s manager, the poet Aja Monet; reggae singer Blvk H3ro; Bam and his sister Justice – bounce “oh shit!” looks to each other with our eyeballs. Madison was the boldest of us, levitating off the ground and zipping over to Ringo in an attempt to strike up conversation; she manages only to touch his arm.

“I literally have Beatles lyrics tatted on me,” says Madison upon her return, trying to contain her emotions. She’s wearing a warm yellow and orange outfit with a floral head wrap.

“From Julia,” she says. “‘When I cannot sing my heart, I can only speak my mind.’”

Her lyric of choice for body ink isn’t one you’ll find printed on a shirt or framed in a gift shop; instead it’s John Lennon’s ode to his late mother, a lyric inspired by the aforementioned Khalil Gibran line, the only song in the Beatles’ catalog that Lennon wrote and performed completely by himself.

“I know it’s Stella’s thing, but what are the odds Paul McCartney shows up?” I ask. “Is it like an Air Force One situation? You know, like how the President and Vice President aren’t allowed to fly together? No way we get Ringo and Paul on the same night.”

A brief pause to scan the party and we’ve already spotted Pete Wentz, John Mayer, Beck, and Dave Grohl. Elsewhere in our orbit are comedian and James Corden bandleader Reggie Watts, Muslim Girl founder Amani al-Khatahtbeh, and burgeoning Palestinian pop star Elyanna.

Blvk H3ro casually lights up a spliff and, as the smoke dissipates, a face we all know emerges: Paul Mc-muthafuckin-Cartney. Without saying a word he reaches for H3ro’s spliff and puffs it. I just want to stop right here and emphasize that one-half of arguably the greatest songwriting duo of all-time is just casually smoking a stranger’s spliff right in front of us. Before I can process what’s happening, I see Madison standing in Paul’s sweet embrace, telling him about her tattoo.

“Right on, baby,” he says.

Read the full story here.