Photo: Brian Ziff
Meet The First-Time GRAMMY Nominee: Noah Cyrus On Continuing Her Family Legacy & Why She's Happier Than Ever
As the youngest member of the multitalented Cyrus family, Noah Cyrus has been around music her entire life. And now, she can say she's the youngest Cyrus to earn a GRAMMY nomination.
Cyrus, who turned 21 in January, is up for Best New Artist—an honor she shares with her father, Billy Ray, who was nominated in 1993, seven years before Noah was born. Although she looked up to her dad, Cyrus wasn't sure if she wanted the same future for herself, particularly after watching her older sister, Miley, grow up in the spotlight. But six years after 15-year-old Noah decided to give it a shot, affirmations like this GRAMMY nomination tell her that she was meant to be a musician as well.
"It's so validating to know that people are listening to the music—they're listening to me," Cyrus tells GRAMMY.com. "It means the absolute world to me that they appreciate the music. There are no words to explain my gratitude."
Cyrus' humility has helped her navigate her musical journey and stay vulnerable in both her music and the public eye. She's masterfully blended candidness and transparency with exquisite acoustic-driven melodies, most famously displayed on her song, "July." Now, she’s earned the GRAMMY nomination she's been dreaming about for years.
Noah Cyrus spoke to GRAMMY.com about what it means to share the Best New Artist nomination milestone with her dad, what inspired her to pursue music herself and John Mayer's words of wisdom that stuck with her.
Congrats on being GRAMMY-nominated! According to your Instagram post from the moment you found out, it was pretty emotional.
My mom told my best friend to film me, and I was trying to hide from her because I am the world's worst crier. My boyfriend sent me a zoomed-in screenshot of my face when I was crying because it's insane. I swear if you were to put it up to the Kim Kardashian meme of her crying, it's very, very, very similar.
You manifested your mom's prediction with the nomination, right?
Yeah. At the beginning of 2020, she said, "For the new year, I got an intentions book, and I wrote that you'd get nominated for your very first GRAMMY."
It also felt like this amazing blessing from my grandma. We had recently lost her, and I would've given anything for her to see that. We were really close, so it was bittersweet. And I just had my 21st birthday [in January].
There's been a lot of things recently that feel like, because she isn't able to be here, there are these blessings from her.
Your dad also received a Best New Artist nomination in 1993. I would think that added another layer of meaningfulness to your nomination.
Absolutely. I've always been so intrigued by my dad and his musical history. I've always asked Dad about when he went to the GRAMMYs and what that was like, and I always said to Dad, "If I ever get nominated for a GRAMMY, you're gonna be my date."
Hearing about my dad's time at the GRAMMYs in '93, it felt like I was kind of reliving all the stories that I had heard. It just felt full circle for Dad to be sitting there however many years later with his daughter—that he didn't even know would exist at that time—celebrating a GRAMMY nomination.
I felt super emotional. My family always wants everyone else to win. We root for one another.
Obviously, music is very ingrained in your family, but what made you ultimately decide that music was the path you also wanted to take yourself?
When I was a kid, I was turned off from wanting to be in the public eye in any way. It's been the main source of a lot of my insecurities. I just wanted to be a normal kid.
Around 14 or 15, I started writing songs and playing the piano. One night I wrote a best friend a song. She had told me that her life at home was hard and that she was struggling with self-harm and suicidal thoughts. I wrote her this song about how she's this angel on Earth and what a terrible world it would be without her. It was a strong message for such a young, young girl to write.
I also saw Ben Howard around the same time, and that live performance changed my life. I'd never understood how another person could influence somebody so much, but that's when I got it. Same with seeing the Arctic Monkeys. Alex Turner and Ben Howard are kind of my gurus for music. Those performances inspired me to want to achieve that greatness.
I thought about how I could impact others [by sharing] what I go through and what I've been through, having body dysmorphia since I was 12, dealing with anxiety and depression. [Plus], everything that I've gone through in relationships, the ups and downs and everything we go through in life, and even writing about just life itself.
My favorite song I've ever written is "The End of Everything."
Why is that?
It's a song that is kind of bigger than all of us. I feel like writing "July," "I Got So High I Saw Jesus" and "The End of Everything," I was at a point in my life that I've stayed at, where I'm able to write these songs that are on this different level because I'm on a different level with myself.
I've mentally gotten so much healthier and comfortable with who I am. That made me able to write all of these songs that I can identify myself with.
What do you think has contributed to your progression?
Once I was able to open up to everybody that I needed to in my inner circle, I was able to talk about it publicly, which has helped a lot. I also had a major turning point within this quarantine.
I've been forced to sit and work on myself. I'm not the type to say, "New year, new me." I don't get that whole thing because I'm kind of like, "Eh, same s--t, different day." [Laughs.]
But I've just hit such a milestone, personally, that this feels like a whole new chapter.
I feel like your fans that are into your sadder songs are thinking, "Oh no, she's happy now. Are we going to get sappy stuff?"
No, no, don't get too excited. The sad lyrics aren't going away. That's always who I am.
Though I'm growing personally, I still feel so much. Whenever I love, I love so hard. Whenever I hurt, I hurt so deep. Whenever I feel, it feels so strong. I've just leveled up mentally and feel so much stronger personally. I've really learned what to be grateful for, and to be present, and to live now.
My favorite musical advice I've ever gotten is from John Mayer. We were at a mutual friend's birthday party, and he came up to me and said, "'July' is the kind of music that you want to create—music that is great now and great 20 years from now."
It's the songs that still make you feel good whenever you sing them over and over. You're going to feel brand new each time you sing that song. That inspired me to create more songs that I'm going to want to sing for the rest of my life.
2020 was a very testing year, but it's also been inspiring and helped me create some of the best music I've created.