Last month the GRAMMY Awards celebrated their 60th anniversary by returning to New York City for the first time in 15 years. Held at the iconic Madison Square Garden, where music's boldest and brightest grace the stage on a weekly basis, you be forgiven for thinking the world-famous venue was 'where it all happens' for music in NYC.
Geographically, technically it might be, but the city has so much more to offer as a destination for any music lover. Here’s 7 things you HAVE to experience in the Big Apple if you're as mad about music as we are…
Take A Hip Hop Tour Of Harlem & The Bronx
MTV had the pleasure of taking the Birthplace Of Hip Hop tour and quite honestly we can say we've not had a more insightful and energetic morning!
Hush Tours offer the original and only hip hop tour in NYC and in their 16 years have shown over 1 million people sites including where the first ever hip hop party went down, where your fave hip hop icons grew up, music video and movie locations and so much more.
You'll be driven through the vibrant streets of Harlem and The Bronx, stopping regularly to disembark and absorb the vibes, take pics...and even dance!
And who better to show you around than actual real life hip hop legends? Our tour was guided by Reggie Reg of Crash Crew fame and newcomer Rayza (other guides on their roster include Kurtis Blow, Grandmaster Caz, Roxanne Shante, Raheim and more), who both oozed passion and enthusiasm with their first-hand knowledge and love for the genre.
If we were to sum this must-do tour up in two words - it’s FIYAH!
For more information on Hush Tours, head to hushtours.com or follow them on Instagram @hushtours
Visit Harlem’s Iconic Apollo Theater
Steeped in musical history, Harlem’s Apollo Theater might be the most important music venue in New York. It's also a stop on Hush's Hip Hop tour but it deserves a visit all to itself.
The Apollo has been a home and a pivotal part of the careers for the likes of Aretha Franklin, Diana Ross, The Jackson 5 and countless others, to the greats of today including Bruno Mars who had the privilege of being the first artist to perform outside on the marquee only last year.
Its weekly Amateur Night, with its harsh "be good or be gone" audience, was where stars of the future like James Brown, Michael Jackson, Lauryn Hill (who got booed would you believe) and more were discovered, is still going strong to this day but even if you can't squeeze in a show, the Apollo run historic tours of the venue, or you could simply swing by for a quick visit of it's Walk of Fame right outside the entrance.
For listings, info on the Apollo and more head to https://www.apollotheater.org/
Take In A Show On Broadway
New York's theatre land needs no introduction. The bright lights of Broadway, in NY's Midtown, are mesmerising and where the most famous stage actors the globe over have tread the boards in its history.
Your choice of shows is endless. Just a handful of shows currently playing at the moment include Hamilton, Dear Evan Hansen, Kinky Boots and, yep, even SpongeBob SquarePants, but MTV caught the incredible School Of Rock, Andrew Lloyd Webber’s stage musical based on the Jack Black comedy, featuring a cast of insanely talented youngsters, which is currently playing to packed-out audiences at the Winter Garden Theatre.
To find out what shows you can see on Broadway head here: https://www.broadwaycollection.com/
Get A Taste Of Nashville
You don't need us to tell you that country music IS America. But did you know you don't just have to travel to the southern states to immerse yourself in it?
To country musicians The Grand Ole Opry stage in Nashville is the big time. Country heavyweights like Dolly Parton, Alabama Shakes, Carrie Underwood and Taylor Swift (at the start of her career) have all graced the Opry stage but now, slap bang in the centre of Mid Town Manhattan, the newly opened Opry City Stage Restaurant & Bar brings a taste of it all right to New York's Broadway.
The Grand Ole Opry's history adorns the walls of the four-floor NYC venture, with outifts, artifacts, autographs and more, and offers the best of Southern food while you enjoy live music on its second and third floors.
For more info on the Opry City Stage check out: www.oprycitystage.com
A Room With A View
The Lincoln Center is currently in the midst of its American Songbook series, which showcases and celebrates America’s songwriters across a vast array of genres.
We caught a show in the venue’s Appel Room, which has a stunning, almost hypnotic, view overlooking Columbus Circle and Central Park. Well worth a visit if just to gaze, longingly into the horizon.
For more info on the American Songbook series head here: http://www.lincolncenter.org/american-songbook
Take A Trip Back In Time
New York City’s Metropolitan Museum Of Art is currently undergoing a renovation of its vast archive of musical instruments but we got a taste of the forthcoming brand new collection with the recently unveiled signature display Fanfare, an astounding spectacle of ancient and modern instruments spanning two millennia. It’s well worth a visit if you’re visiting the Met and, if you ask nicely, someone might show you how to play a conch – for all those stuck-on-a-desert-island scenarios you may need to be prepared for…
Then there’s the world-renowned Carnegie Hall, still hosting live music since it first opened its doors in 1891.
It’s hard to gasp stepping inside the incredible Stern Auditorium where we were lucky enough to be shown around by the Hall’s resident historian Gino, Director of Archives and the Rose Museum at the Hall.
Hosting everyone from Tchaikovsky to JAY Z, take in a tour of the venue or book yourself in to one of their many upcoming shows at https://www.carnegiehall.org.
Get A Musical Refuel
With all that sight-seeing you’ll need some munch, and in a city as dense as NYC it can be a daunting task finding somewhere to eat. Here's just a few places we found with a musical twist...
Southern Hospitality BBQ
It’s no surprise that when Tennessee native Justin Timberlake decided to venture into the restaurant business he went for a Southern flare. Teaming up with two of his pals Eytan Sugarman and Trace Ayala, JT opened the Southern Hospitality BBQ restaurant in 2007 in the Hell’s Kitchen district. We went. We had the fried avocado wedges. We’ll go back again.
More info: http://www.southernhospitalitybbq.com/
The Grand Tier
For a more refined experience, The Grand Tier Restaurant located in the Lincoln Center is situated mere feet away from the opera, where, if you’re catching a show, you can pre-order your food and drink before the performance and during the intermission! With a beautiful reception and towering architecture, it’s a feast for the eyes and your tum.
The Cecil Steakhouse/Minton's Playhouse
No city break would be complete without a brunch! The Cecil Steakhouse in Harlem is adjoined to Minton’s Playhouse, the place Bebop was born, and one of the settings for the jazz revolution, and offers mouth-watering steaks alongside bottomless mimosas set to the tunes of live jazz. Nice.
More info: http://www.thececilharlem.com/
'MTV Travelled With…'
MTV flew with Delta Airlines, official partner of the GRAMMYs. Fares start at £371 (+ taxes) from London to NYC. Flights can be booked via delta.com, the call centre on 0207 660 0767 or via travel agents.
MTV stayed at the Loews Regency New York Hotel, one of Midtown Manhattan's most iconic hotels, who’s winter rates start from $259 a night. Fun fact:originally opened in 1963, the hotel was built on the site of Loews’ Lexington theater, the same site where Oscar Hammerstein, the grandfather of the beloved composer, had erected the Lexington Opera House in 1913!
For further inspiration on things to see and do in New York City visit www.nycgo.com.