So, last year my fiancé came to me and said that he needed a clip of me singing. I told him to just use one of the clips of me performing live. He told me that he was entering me into a contest. I didn’t pay that much attention. I never expect to win a competition and if I do, I consider myself lucky. I completely forgot that he entered my video into the competition until one day I received a text message saying that I won a trip. When I received the message I was at work and crabby because someone, I don’t remember who, had just gotten on my last nerve. When I saw the message, I kind of dismissed it. Slowly, the message dawned on me. So when I got home, I asked about the trip. He showed me the email. The first thought that crossed my mind was, “Is this a hoax?” If so, it’s mean. My fiancé, my cousin, and my friend began to research the details of the trip. It all made sense. The sponsors of the competition, which was the Beverly Hilton, began sending me more information, which let me know that the trip was definitely real. I began to prepare myself. I went and got my hair done and toes painted, and then found myself something to rock on the red carpet. There were a few dresses that I considered, but the one that I selected was right on time. It was red, hot, and perfect for a curvy girl like myself. Thank you Calvin Klein for that dress. Thank you Burlington coat factory for selling fashionable, yet affordable, clothes.
Finally, the day arrived for us to leave. I asked my friend Denise if she would like to join me on the trip. She said yes, of course. Denise is a very talented makeup artist. Her work is amazing. Hollywood is the perfect place for her to show off her talents. My future brother in law, Torrance, dropped us off at the airport and we were on our way. It was a smooth flight. When we arrived in Los Angeles, there was a driver waiting for us. He loaded our bags into a black Suburban and we were on our way to the Beverly Hilton. He told us that before he picked us up, he picked up Lil' Bow Wow. That was pretty cool. He gave us a mini tour of the area. That was cool too. There were palm trees everywhere. That was my first time seeing a palm tree. They were definitely weird looking, but still beautiful. Finally, we arrived at the hotel - The Beverly Hilton.
The bellman greeted us and we made our way to the front counter. The gentle man that was helping us was a flirty fellow—do not tell my fiancé, lol. We told him who we were and he took it from there. He gave us our room key and we were off. We went up to our rooms to settle in. Moments after we entered the room, there was a knock at the door. It was room service. They sent us a bottle of champagne and a plate of chocolates.
We were shocked. It was so awesome! Next, we made our way to the mall. It was a nice day so we decided to walk to the Westfield Mall. We found some great deals and enjoyed a great meal. We returned around 7:30 Cali time—we were still two hours ahead. So yea, we were sleepy. In our minds it was about 9:30 p.m.
The next day we both woke up around 5am. We had some great girl talk. I felt like we really bonded on this trip. We got up and got ready to see the city. We decided to check out the Hollywood strip. We drove through some beautiful neighborhoods. We even passed the mansion that belongs to the Prince of Dubai. There were stores and restaurants everywhere. There were large build boards everywhere. Once we arrived on the strip, we realized just how weird some of the people on the strip were. There was a tour guide that harassed us for about 15 minutes. Finally, we broke free and made our way to Hooters for lunch. Our waiter, Sunshine, was very friendly and very helpful. After we left Hooters, a man by the name “Muscle Man” imposed and insisted that we take a photo with him. He then picked me up in the air and I was shocked. Then he had the nerve to ask that we pay him for the photo that he took with us. At that time I was like, "no he didn’t". But looking back at that situation, it was entertaining. There were people out on the strip in superhero costumes. The strip reminded me of a much bigger Delmar Loop. After doing a little shopping, we returned back to our hotel.
Once we arrived, we noticed that the hotel staff was setting up for something major. So I asked them what was going on. The gentleman smiled and said the Clive Davis pre-Grammy party was taking place at our hotel-The Beverly Hilton. I was like “oh my gosh”. I turned to my friend and gave her the “girl, let’s get ready” face. We shot up the steps and got ready. I was so excited!
You could only get into the party if you had an invitation, so we decided to stand outside and watch who rolled up. We saw celebs Beverly Johnson, Iggy, and Jordan Sparks to name a few. We already had plans to go to dinner, so we called our driver and had them pick us up right in the midst of the celebrities being dropped off. We strutted across to our car and the driver opened the door for us and off we went. We hit up this delicious Italian restaurant inside the Westfield Mall. I can’t remember the name of the restaurant. I had the steak and potatoes.
One thing that I noticed while in L.A is that there is a melting pot of different races. There was some of everyone there. I like that. So, after dinner we made our way back to the hotel. We were both full and sleepy when we returned. People were still in the lobby parting but it was time for us to head to bed. I would have loved to stay down there and network but a playa was sleepy. Plus, I had to be well rested for the Grammys the following day.
So finally the big day! We both woke up and got breakfast because we knew that we had a long, yet beautiful, day ahead of us. After breakfast, we started getting ready. My friend Denise did my makeup for the red carpet.
My makeup was flawless.
I stepped into my dress and my friend was like, “Yes, that dress is gorgeous.” I knew at that point that I was looking good. Napps in St. Louis styled my hair. I put on my accessories and rested while my friend got ready. She stepped out in a lace dress with a beautiful cream blazer. She looked great.
We looked amazing. We went downstairs and got our tickets and made our way to the limo.
We met the other finalist on our way to the limos. We all decided to ride together. A few times on the ride I almost started crying because I couldn’t believe this was actually happening to me. But the other passengers wouldn’t let me. One passenger in particular, named Parker, who by the way was dressed to kill in his all white ensemble, was like, “No- you don’t want to mess up your makeup.” I was like, “You are right.”
It was beautiful day and it seemed like the sun shined a little more when we arrived at the Staple Center.
There were cars and people everywhere. I felt like Cinderella pulling up in my horse and carriage looking fierce. We crawled out of the limo and it was on. We were posing and taking pictures everywhere.
We saw Sam Smith and I instantly turned into a fan girl. I was like, “Oh my God that is Sam Smith.” He heard me and smiled and waved at my friend and I. That was pretty cool. We walked by as they were interviewing Ariana Grande and we walked by an interview with Kelly Osborne. As we made our way down the red carpet, my friend spotted singer-songwriter Luke James.
I took a picture with him and handed him my business card. Yes, I was prepared to network. We finally made our way to our seats which, by the way, were awesome. We sat in seats that faced the stage. We weren’t on the ground, maybe like the second level up. All I know is that there were a lot of people sitting a lot higher than we were. And our tickets were free. So yes, great seats. Finally, the show begins. The show starts with AC/DC. They rocked the crowd. They sounded amazing. On the second song, they instructed the audience to wear these glowing devil horns that were given to us. The second song was “Highway to Hell.” My friend was not feeling the devil horns. She refused to participate. I could go on and on about the show but I’ll just share my favorite parts. I was pleasantly surprised by how great Ariana Grande sounded. She has a beautiful voice. She reminded me of Syleena. I enjoyed Madonna’s performance. She is pushing sixty and she is still “working it.” Her performance was amazing. Hozier and Annie Lennox were genius. I expected a little more from Hozier, but he still sounded amazing. Annie Lennox rocked “I Put a Spell on You.” She sounded so amazing. I felt her in my soul. Lady Gaga was definitely entertaining. I think the 1940’s singer look works for her and she actually has a great voice. Sam Smith’s and Mary J Blige’s performance was absolutely beautiful. I was so blown away by these two. Sam Smith can sing, darling. And the last performance was by Common and John Legend. It was absolutely beautiful. The song was a part of the soundtrack for Selma. Congrats to them on the Oscar as well. I saw so many artists. I got to see Beyoncé, Rihanna, Kanye West, Prince, Usher, Stevie Wonder, Katie Perry, Taylor Swift, Paul McCartney and the list could go on and on. It was like being in a dream. After the show, we went next door to the Los Angeles Convention Center for the after party.
It was an experience. People were dressed in exotic gear, kind of like what you would see at a carnival. Food and drinks were flowing and the place was packed. After my friend and I found seats, we got some food. The ribs were awesome. Everyone looked great.
I got to take a picture with Peter Thomas.
I totally fan girl'd. I love the RHOA. After nibbling on my grub, I was ready to hit the dance floor. I purposely bumped into Parker and off to the dance floor we went. My buddy Denise had to take a pause for a second. The first performance was by the artist Jessie J. She did an amazing job. Her performance was a pleasant surprise. She definitely rocked the crowd. The performance that I lived for was Gloria Gainer. She still has it. She came out with a full band and background singers. The band was amazing. The horn section came out rocking. The background vocalist sang solos and killed them. The best part of the night for me was when I began to sing along and dance during Gloria Gainer’s performance.
A few people turned around and told me that I sound good. That made my night. So after I danced my behind off, I found my friend and we made our way to the limo with Parker. We made our way outside and the limo wasn’t there. We had to call the hotel and have them send us another. It was a long process, but we survived it. We laughed and reflected back on our day. Parker told us that his friend saw us on E! and that was pretty awesome! I think I’ll stop the story here. The next day was the day that we left. Traveling back wasn’t that great for a few reasons. So let’s end it on a high note. Oh, I did get a picture with Magic Johnson’s son E.J. Johnson at the airport. He looked fabulous, darling.
I was so shocked and surprised when I found out I would be going to the Grammys. I didn’t know if I was going to make it. My aunt was still in the hospital, and I was feeling a tad bit sick myself. I prayed that I would be in good health because this may have been a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. Hopefully, I will get to return and maybe next time it will be because I received a nomination. One can dream. This was a beautiful experience and I am so thankful that they selected me. They could have selected anyone, but I was one of the lucky ones! This year has really been awesome so far. I released my first ever music video, “Scandal” http://www.reverbnation.com/rayecole/song/22815317-scandal. Some of my music will be in the independent film, “The Cronies,” which Spike Lee is one of the executive producers for. And now my song God$Gun http://www.reverbnation.com/rayecole/song/19286481-godgun-live has won me a trip to the Grammy’s. Also, I want to thank my Uncle Larry for making me a really cool t-shirt to rock in L.A. Check out his website http://creativefabricsllc.espwebsite.com/. He can customize or personalize anything that you need. From business cards to blimps.
Welp, that is all I have. I’m not sure if I should say the end because I definitely feel like it was a fairytale. A little girl from East St Louis bringing her dreams to life. Thank you for reading. Again, my name is Raye Cole and this is the life of an indie artist in St Louis. Check out my music and performances Rayecole.com or my Reverbnation Page http://www.reverbnation.com/rayecole?profile_view_source=header_icon_nav. I am also on Soundcloud: https://soundcloud.com/rayecole. Also like Raye Cole Music on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/RayeColeMusic?ref=hl.