After becoming an instant viral sensation while performing "Money" on the piano alongside Cardi B at the 2019 Grammys, Chloe Flower's life changed in the blink of an eye.
"It's been crazy and great. I think what Cardi did for instrumentalists — what she may not realize is she kind of changed the game for all instrumentalists. After Cardi and I performed together, there were more instrumentalists on stage with artists, whether it was a cellist or a violinist or a harpist or a pianist. I got so many calls about doing collaborations, even with Lil Baby on Saturday Night Live. It's been so amazing for classical musicians because when you see a pianist or cellist or trumpet player on stage, these kids who follow rappers or pop singers are going to see those instrumentals," the 38-year-old exclusively tells Morning Honey while discussing her latest project: her debut holiday album called Chloe Hearts Christmas.
After releasing Chloe Flower in 2021, the composer had an itch to put out an album dedicated to the holiday season. "Christmas has always been my favorite holiday, and I don't celebrate my birthday or Valentine's Day with my boyfriend. I love the music, and I've been waiting my whole life to put out this album because it's the perfect way for me to create and expand on this 'popsical' (pop-meets-classical) idea. But with Christmas music, everybody knows the melody and everybody knows the classical songs they play," she shares.
"But everybody pretty much recognizes Christmas melodies, and so I'm able to use that to my advantage by putting my own spin on something. For example, 'Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy,' everybody knows it already, so I can do my popsical/Chloe version of that and stretch the limit as far as they go because people recognize the melody. It's the perfect thing for me," she adds.
Flower calls herself "an inexperienced composer," which made the process of putting together her latest album a bit more challenging — but she didn't run in the other direction. In fact, it was quite the opposite. "I was creating all these new neural pathways. I'm writing for 'Sleigh Ride,' and I did the entire arrangement. I was like, 'How am I doing this?'" she notes.
Fortunately, Flower was in her element while in the studio. "I feel like I don't have any limits and I can really be myself," she adds. "Hopefully people listen to more of my music! This is so fun and something so different."
It also wasn't easy for the brunette beauty to pick out all the tunes she wanted to cover, as only 16 tracks made it to the album. "I spent the first two to three months picking songs — that took longer for me than it did to write the arrangements," she dishes. "It had to be a song that I really liked, which wasn't hard. I pretty much liked all of them, but it also had to be a song that translates on the piano because the piano is actually a percussive instrument. As much as I wanted to do 'All I Want for Christmas Is You,' it didn't translate on the piano, so that was the first process of elimination."
Flower then asked herself, "What does this song mean to me and does it flow?"
"I wanted people to listen to the album in order from beginning to end. I wanted them to hear the album as a full body of work," she explains. "That played a factor, and I also wanted to include female writers as much as possible because being in the studio with Babyface for 10 years, I was always the only female in the studio 99 percent of the time. I really wanted to highlight women in music and women writers."
One of the musician's missions is to be an advocate for others — specifically women — as she gains more and more of a following. "When I first entered conservatory level training, the only reason I was able to study at Manhattan School of Music Pre-College with very little experience is because a female pianist I met helped me. She was better than me. She was younger than me, but she was better than me because she had been studying in the conservatory since she was four. She introduced me to her teacher, who was truly one of the best teachers at the school, and so early on, female empowerment was my vibe," she says. "She helped me as a female pianist. Classical music is very competitive, so it's rare to see that."
"Then, cut to Cardi B — it being her first Grammys and she shared the stage with me. She paid for the Liberace piano to be moved from Vegas, and it had to be restored before we played it. She really elevated me as well. It only makes me want to empower other women even more," she adds.
Now, Flower even gets to see other female musicians reap the benefits. "I did this endowment for the Manhattan School of Music because I would never be here today without the kind of training and open-mindedness they had, so I wanted to give back to the school. This girl who is a female composer wrote a Christmas song for me, and I cried. It was amazing. I never had this representation growing up. I never learned a piece of music not written by a man, and I never learned the history of any female composers," she says. "I never learned about women producers. I had all these limitations on my self, so I think for me to see these young kids who don't have limitations is so cool to me. There's nothing more rewarding than that."
These days, Flower is still coming to terms with being a "role model" for others. "I guess I am! I am who I am. I've accepted the fact that I am probably going to make mistakes and I am not always going to be perfect, but I think as long as you're authentic and yourself, people can be really forgiving," she says. "It's such an honor. I didn't have that growing up, so if I can be that to somebody, it makes me want to cry."
"I'm still not used to people coming up and wanting to take a picture with me. It's so weird to me, but it's amazing. The whole point of music is to touch people and bring them joy and make them happy — but also make yourself happy," she adds.
Flower hopes to "flip the narrative" when it comes to kids picking up an instrument when they are younger. "Everyone signs up for sports because it's cool and no one wants to get into orchestra. Seeing all these top artists performing with me, it's amazing to see. I meet people who come up to me and say, 'My daughter wants to play piano like you.' I do think things are changing," she points out.
As for what's next, Flower confirms she's already working on her third album, in addition to a book. "It's about music education and why it's so important. My third album is going to be a dance album," she reveals.
"I've known I wanted to be a pianist since I can remember. When I grew up, I didn't see anybody that was doing classical the way I was doing it, and that's why I fell in love with Liberace. It's lasted centuries because it's truly a great art form, and I want to share that with people. It's a really a dream come true!" she concludes.
For more information on Flower's Christmas album, click here.