If you’ve had your ears attuned to the radio recently, chances are high you’ve heard the song “Honey, I’m Good” by Andy Grammer pouring out of the airwaves. It’s a peppy track that steadily gained traction on the Billboard Hot 100 until reaching its peak of No. 9 earlier this summer.
Andy is no stranger to chart success, having literally struck gold with his single “Keep Your Head Up” back in 2011. Only now he’s virtually a household name. One minute he’s appearing on the Today Show, the next he’s performing alongside Taylor Swift before a jam-packed stadium crowd in Chicago. I can’t deny it – I am starstruck. That’s because I personally knew Andy before the record deals, TV appearances, magazine stories, and legions of fans came into the picture.
But recently, news came out which made me – the PR executive – cringe. Andy joined the cast of “Dancing with the Stars” for the show’s 21st season. A popular show, yes, but for celebrities on the B-List and below. And let’s not overlook the fact that two other contestants this upcoming season are walking PR disasters – actor Gary Busey, and beleaguered celebrity chef Paula Deen.
Where I once envisioned Andy being nominated for a “Best New Artist” Grammy award, I now see a misguided attempt to capitalize on growing fame. Andy was never B-List caliber and there’s no reason for him to nestle in or accept this plateau now.
He says he’s doing the show to pay tribute to his late mother who loved dance – a very sweet and selfless gesture. However, if I were his PR man (here’s hoping!), I’d tell him there are other ways to keep his name out there in the public sphere. Keep touring – you can achieve headliner status now! Be a role model for kids! Anything! Just don’t do this show, please, for the simple reason you haven’t peaked yet.
Rewind back to 2002. I had just started my freshman year at Binghamton University. Living in a music-themed dorm, I met a guy living in the room directly across from mine. He had a wide grin, an acoustic guitar, and a deep appreciation of John Mayer, who was just breaking big at that time.
Andy loved to play whenever and wherever he could. That year, the dorm would do open mics in the basement and you could bet he’d always play something. By sophomore year he had branched out into the school’s theatre department, appearing in mainstage productions and getting a lot of attention in the process. Alas, after sophomore year he left Binghamton to attend school in California. I haven’t seen or spoken to him since.
But we had some fun moments. I distinctly remember his affinity for John Mayer and me telling him to dig deeper and listen to singer-songwriters of yore like Jim Croce. In fact come holiday time freshman year, Andy was my dorm Secret Santa and he bought me “Jim Croce’s Greatest Hits” on CD. Since I already had it, I told him to keep it for himself. Hopefully he did.
I’m sure amiability is still one of Andy’s strongest personality traits. My best friend likes to recount how
when he was living in California, he passed by Andy in a restaurant, expecting him not to see or remember him. Instead Andy ran out, shouted his name, threw his arms around him, and enveloped him in a hug. Genuine class all the way.
But that was before the success kicked in and the growing army of managers, PR teams, and inner circles enclosed around Andy, making communication with him nowadays near impossible. I recently tried to message him through Facebook (he exceeded his friend count on his profile) inviting him to my wedding. No response, yet no surprise considering his career is taking off like a rocket.
Andy, I know it’s been more than a decade since we’ve been in touch but if this reaches you somehow, I implore you to think twice before doing shows like this in the future. Please feel free to reach out to me at any time. I care about your career as a music appreciator, but, even more importantly, I care as a friend!
-Ira Kantor, Senior Account Executive