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'Come Dance With Me' Host Philip Lawrence Says the Series Takes You on an 'Emotional Rollercoaster'

Award-winning songwriter and producer Philip Lawrence is an industry veteran known for his collaborations with Bruno Mars, which include hit songs such as 24k Magic, That's What I Like, and Uptown Funk. Lawrence's credits also include songs performed by some of today's top artists like Adele, CeeLo Green and more. In an interview with QG, he discusses being the host of the new CBS dance competition show Come Dance With Me, his rise to fame and plans for the future.

How did you first get into the music industry?

I have been singing and performing since I was about five years old. I was on stage with my older sister and younger brother. We used to be a little singing group growing up like The Jacksons. But there were only three of us. But we were all from Indiana. And we were The Lawrences, and we were on stage for the first time in front of 2,000 people. We won first prize for singing this gospel song called I Am a Promise and I was hooked. I was hooked by the applause. Coming from such a musical family, I think it was pretty inevitable what I was going to do with my life.

What artists did you enjoy collaborating with the most?

I've been fortunate to collaborate with some pretty incredible artists over the years. And at the top of the list, my longtime partner, Bruno Mars. He and I met when we were two struggling artists trying to find our way. And little did I know, I would discover what I think is one of this generation's most talented artists. From singing to dancing to now songwriting and performing, he's got a work ethic unlike anything I've ever seen.

I always count myself lucky to have met him and have created some really historical moments with him. So we'll start with Bruno. And then, of course, we'll move to Adele, who was a once-in-a-lifetime talent and brilliant. She had such great ideas. To this day, I think we created one of my favorite songs. There are so many stories like working with CeeLo Green, who was one of our musical heroes.

What led to you becoming the host of Come Dance With Me? Can you share some details about the show?

It follows the lives of these professional kid dancers from the age of about eight to 15, who get to ask a parent who doesn't dance to be their partner in a dance competition series. It's unlike anything you've ever seen before. It's an emotional roller coaster watching these parents step out of their comfort zone. We watch their relationship dynamic change in that now they kind of have to take directions from their kids. So it's just this beautiful, sometimes funny, sometimes emotional, experience unfolding. In the end, one of those teams gets to win a grand prize, a life-changing grand prize of $100,000.

For me, it's an opportunity to wear a different hat being the host of the show and trying to be sort of the emotional compass and keep the party going, as it were. It was an exciting new challenge. I was serendipitously reconnected with folks that I knew, the judge, Jenna Dhawan. Our kids go to school together. Trisha Miranda, we've known each other probably more than 15 years. And through Trisha, I met Dexter. So there's this family atmosphere. And so knowing that from the top down with LL Cool J and Chris O'Donnell, we're attached and getting to know them and getting to know their excitement and passion for the show. It was an easy for me.

What are some of the highlights of your career?

I have such gratitude for being able to experience so many special moments. I think performance-wise, the highlights would have been to perform in two Super Bowls. One Super Bowl is once in a lifetime, but we were fortunate enough to perform twice. And so the experience of knowing over 100 million people have their eyes on you is both nerve-racking and soul-stirring.

I remember there was a moment in our first performance back in 2014 and Bruno was off on one of the smallest stages by himself performing Just the Way You Are. And so all of the lights were on him, and I just had an opportunity to kind of take a breath and look around at the 75,000 or 80,000 people in attendance, and just thinking to myself, "Man, I made it." All of the hard work and sacrifice and blood, sweat, and tears had paid off. It was just a beautiful, humbling moment.

Can you share a few of your plans for a new music studio?

It's the community culture campus that was born out of the idea of trying to find new and creative ways for artists and the public to intermingle and have spontaneous moments of creativity. We had put together this idea where this site is part public and part private so that whether you're an artist or you're an audience member, you can attend and find something for yourself. So we're building a massive creative office space, production facilities and state-of-the-art recording facilities.

We're going to have what would be the first sky studios in Hollywood that will have these floor-to-ceiling walls of windows in recording facilities where you can overlook the entire city of Los Angeles while you're recording. At the same time, it would serve as sort of a hospitality suite. So if you want to pack your bags and stay there, it'll treat itself like a hotel as well.

We just are trying to find new ways to give back to the community of Hollywood that served me for so long. So it's kind of a full-circle moment for me to be able to build something like this that will prayerfully outlive my kids and me as well.

Tell us about the Grammys you attended this year?

The Grammys are always a special moment and opportunity to watch. Some of your favorite artists perform new numbers and perform the songs you've been listening to on the radio. I thought they did an incredible job for the Grammys being in Vegas for the first time. I think the mission of finding ways to be more culturally balanced is to see more artists of color receive awards. I think they're moving in the right direction.

There were some great performances. The John Legend piece was very moving. I loved seeing Jazmine Sullivan win her first Grammy, which was long overdue and well-deserved. The movement of female artistry today is inspiring and exciting to watch. So it was nice. It was cool for me too, because I was there as a guest of CBS to promote our show.

So it was cool to be there, and you know, not be nominated and not be performing, but to be there in a different capacity. So I could just be a fan and watch. Of course, my boys Silk Sonic perform and open up the show in a dramatic fashion. And you know, I just thought the show was well done.

What are some of your future plans or projects?

We've got the community culture campus, of course, to have my artists' room. Obviously, the CBS show that's airing. I'm looking forward to folks seeing that. We've got some other television documentaries that we're developing. It's just a lot. It's an exciting time for content creators. And so I'm looking forward to getting in my hands in a lot of different things. And also, I'm back in the studio, doing some songwriting as well. So yeah, the future is bright.

Photo Credit: Viacom CBS Press Express


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