On Saturday, February 7 the American Society of Composers, Authors, and Publishers (ASCAP) hosted their annual GRAMMY Nominees Brunch at the exclusive SLS Hotel located in Beverly Hills.

The brunch celebrated this year’s ASCAP Grammy nominees including hip-hop producer STREETRUNNER, Meghan Trainor producer Kevin Kadish, R&B singer Antonique Smith and actor/musician Malcolm-Jamal Warner to name a few. Elizabeth Matthews, ASCAP’s newly appointed CEO, was there with Paul Williams, ASCAP President and Chairman of the Board, greeting guests including Ne-Yo, Demetria McKinney, hip hop group Migos, Jaheim, Bridget Kelly, Melanie Fiona, Goapele, model Jessica White and Malik Yusef. We caught up with some of the nominees. Read what some of the nominees had to say below:

Antonique Smith


You’re making history this year!

Antonique Smith: I can’t believe it

Your debut single is nominated for a Grammy, how does it feel?

AS: So amazing, you know honestly I feel like Cinderella, I feel like I’m in a Disney movie I’m just floating through the world right now, I’ve been dreaming about this since I heard Whitney Houston’s voice as a little girl.

And now you’re here.

AS: I’m just a girl from East Orange, New Jersey, it’s incredible.

What a lot of people may not know is that you are the only artist to go from raising 50,000 dollars in 30 days on an kick-starter campaign to the Grammys.

AS: It’s awesome, it’s a power to the people, it’s a yes we can and you know when you get a Grammy nomination, it’s a yes we did. It awesome because it’s our way to take our power back and keep the creative control and be authentic and pure and not have to try to follow somebody else’s mold because somebody’s invested in you so they want you to do this because it’s a no brainer quote on quote. You’re able to take a risk and be who you are and put out what is really you to the people and I feel like people are connecting to it because it’s me, it’s me being real you know what I’m saying? The journey has been long but we’re just getting started.

What else can we expect from the upcoming album?

AS: My second single which we just announced last night at the BET music matters showcase that I did, “Higher” is going to be my second single.

Melanie Fiona

Why is ASCAP is important?

Meanie Fiona: It keeps us as a family, throughout the year. Grammys is a specific week for everyone to take notice however I feel like being an ASCAP member you’re always constantly doing events throughout the year and going to different cities and they’re always encouraging people to get together so no matter what’s going on you always have to make sure to be here.

It’s the 57th annual Grammy Awards, what are you looking forward to the most?

MF: I heard that Annie Lennox is performing and I really want to see Annie Lennox because she’s legendary and she could be hitting the stage In a big way so yeah

Tell us what you’re working on, what’s new and what can we expect?

MF: I have a new album it’s pretty much finished I’m really excited to share with everybody I’m looking at a Spring release, and I’m really just in the creative space of getting everything ready because once it goes it goes and I want to have every visual ready and prepared and I have so many great ideas I’ve been working with so many great producers and I just want to make it the best that I can for my fans and also to be good to myself which means taking the time to get every idea and notion that I want to say on this album because I think this is going to be the most important album of my career thus far.

Talk a little bit about why its important that artists take time and not just rush a project.

MF: This entire album is entirely about the experience of self revelation. And self awareness and the lessons that are learned in that process and I’ve taken that time since the “MF Life” came out in 2012. I’ve traveled, I’ve  fallen in love, I’ve fallen out of love, I’ve eaten great food and made new friends and gotten new inspiration and I’ve grown spiritually and emotionally and that is what I wanted people to see that growth I’ve never wanted to give people this same ol same ol and making music I don’t view it as some manufactured ensemble line and too often people’s attention spans are so short these days we feel like we need to just give, give, give and that’s depleting to yourself so you have to preserve and give what you can when you can and that’s the greatest lesson I’ve learned.

Since we’re talking about falling in and out of love, it’s Valentine’s Day next week, do you have any special plans?

MF: I don’t know. I’m going to see if anyone has any special plans for me.

So what’s the best gift you ever received?

MF: I don’t know. I’ve never really placed emphasis on Valentine’s Day gifts but I’ll tell you the worst gift. I had this boyfriend who was totally not romantic and I wanted him to be romantic but he blew off Valentine’s day and I was hanging out waiting around for him to be done with work one year and he missed the whole Valentine’s Day thing and showed up with a plastic rose that was paper thin … worst gift ever.

Kevin Kadish (2015 nominee for “All about that Bass.”

It’s a big year for you, your team is nominated for best song and best record, what does it feel like?

Kevin Kadish: It’s incredible. It’s validation from many many years of work for me I’ve been doing music between 15-20 years.

Wow, that’s true longevity.

KK: Yes, it’s a marathon not a sprint and you have to get in the trenches every day and write records and sometimes you win and sometimes you lose and this time we’re winning and the bottom line is we’ve already won to be here on this carpet.

Tell us what the chemistry is like working with Meghan Trainor, you co-wrote and co-produced the hit record together. What was that creative process like?

KK: Meghan is like my little sister, we spent 6 months making this record. We wrote it, and started from the bottom. She didn’t have a record deal when she wrote “All About That Bass” she got signed off of that song and it’s the first song that we ever wrote together.

And it’s nominated for a Grammy, that’s awesome!

KK: Yes, she’s an incredible talent, she really is and she wasn’t even trying to get a record deal before and I’m like you need to be a singer you need to do this. And that’s normally when it happens most, when you aren’t looking for that big break or that big accolade it comes when you’re doing what you love.

Meagan is a curvy beautiful woman who’s encouraging woman all over the world and inspiring young girls through positive body image, tell us what it’s like to be apart of something that’s truly life altering for thousands of young girls and women out there?

KK: It’s a huge responsibility to be honest with you and I just said recently, she had all this success and she’s not selling sex, she connected with millions and millions of people not selling sex. It’s music and it’s a message. There are critics of the message  and hey I didn’t even know that skinny shaming was a thing but it wasn’t intended that way. I think it’s people just reading into it wrong, it’s just a fun song that’s trying to help people feel good about themselves and feel good in general.

Plain White T’s

What are you guys looking forward to the most this Grammy season?

PWT: The performances are the best part, we actually heard Hozier threw a wall sound checking the other day and it sounded amazing, so we’re stocked to see him.

Awesome and you guys have a new album coming out March 31st.

PWT: Damned good songs. It’s a mix of what we’ve been doing lately, but also stuff that we did like 10 years ago. It’s a lot of upbeat songs of course there’s those token plain white T’s acoustic love songs that people have come to expect from us so just a little bit of everything.

This is one of the most amazing weekends for music and ASCAP definitely supports artists a lot.

PWT: They’re like our protectors, they make sure if someone plays our song somewhere that we get the credit for it and that we get paid for it especially in this day and age with all of the piracy and stuff like that and in a time like this it’s more important than ever to have someone to have your back. And by the way even starting up when we were just a local band from Chicago ASCAP partnered with guitar center and because we were members of ASCAP early on we got discounts for strings and sticks and stuff so you know from the bottom to the top they’re protecting everybody.

6th Annual Essence Black Women in Music - Arrivals
6th Annual Essence Black Women in Music - Arrivals
Elizabeth Matthews, ASCAP's CEO and Paul Wiliams, President and Chairman of the Board at ASCAP
Ne-Yo
6th Annual Essence Black Women in Music - Arrivals

Everyone enjoyed specialty cocktails served by Ciroc and Jack Daniels Tennessee Honey and danced to beats by DJ D-Nice. The brunch was sponsored by City National Bank.

The event also featured a KINGSMAN Photo Parlor, which gave guests the chance to snap some fun photos with special props that were both gentlemen-worthy and necessities for every top spy like Colin Firth and Michael Caine who try and save the world from Samuel L. Jackson in the film.