Andy Grammer, 37, and his wife, Aijia, are parents to two daughters, Louisiana K, 3, and Israel "Izzy" Blue, 1. The singer and songwriter ("Honey, I'm Good," "Keep Your Head Up") teamed up this summer with Quaker Chewy and raised $200,000 for the American Camp Association to send children to summer camp by writing a new song, "C.A.M.P.," with the help of daughter Louie and social media followers.
Grammer, known for his upbeat tracks and his inspirational social media presence, told TODAY Parents how having his daughters has changed him, his life, and his work.
On being a girl dad:
"Being a girl dad is really sweet, because you get to be a representative to, like, half the world through your little girl. You get to be the benchmark of how she will see men, and I take that very seriously. I think that's a really great responsibility to be able to have.
"The word 'responsibility' just wasn't that cool before I became a dad — it didn't have enough depth to it, or enough surrounding it; it just felt like work. In this context, the work of representing all men feels like, 'Oh, that's a really powerful, cool responsibility that I like.' I'm excited to try and do well.
"Growing up a boy, there are certain things that just don't hit you. We were watching the NBA finals the other day, and I was like, 'Do you want basketball?' and [Louie] goes, 'Well, no. No girls play basketball. I've never seen girls play basketball on the TV.' We are watching it now! Let's go!
"We've got to switch the way that culture still leans towards boys. You start to really see it when you have these little girls. There's a lot of work to be done in this area."
On parenting after losing his own mother:
"I do think she's around and watching over us a lot. We play music that she loved, and we tell our daughters about things that were her favorite. She loved jasmine, and jasmine just kind of pops up everywhere we are, so she's around in a really sweet way.
"I do think that people who have passed have some effect here, and I love that. I love it, and we talk about that a lot. She was just always concerned with soul, and I think I passed that down to my little girl. I ask her on a daily basis, 'How is this affecting your heart? Are you affecting someone else's heart in that way?'"
On how being a dad affects his creative process:
"It comes back to responsibility because, obviously, the creative process changes in that you just can't stay up until 4 a.m. to chase an idea, so you have to be a little bit more controlled about it. There's not a lot of waiting for the thing to, like, spark — you gotta, like, make that happen."
On the silver linings of having Izzy's birth at home and parenting during the pandemic:
"There was something so sweet about having such a spiritual experience occur in your home as opposed to the hospital. It felt a little more profound, because it was like the lighting was the way you wanted it, there's music, there's your close family members there. Very interesting and beautiful.
"The pandemic changed the experience of parenting for me, especially, because I normally travel a lot. I don't usually leave for three months at a time, but it's hard to know exactly where everything is and be the super reliable one when you're coming in and out, in and out, in and out.
"Now, I know where all the dishes go. I know what it means to be super present in a way that it's been hard for me to do before."
On how his daughters feel about his music:
"They both really like my new song, 'Lease on Life,' and I'm not just saying that. They call it 'Got a Brand New' — that's their favorite part. They both really sing it pretty loud. They like that one a lot. They like my dad's music a lot, to be honest. His name is Red Grammer, and he's fantastic. They ask for him a lot, and they used to only want to listen to him, but right now it's a tie. They're starting to get into some of my music, and it's so sweet.
"You know, it sounds like a cliché, but I'm someone who can be a little bit achievement oriented — I like goal setting and then crushing the goal — that can be a little bit too much of my tunnel vision, and the girls, they will not allow me to do that. If I have something difficult going on, or if I'm pushing through something creatively or business-wise, when I come home, they just don't care. It forces me to be in the moment, to be in the exact present moment, in a way that is really special. Sometimes it's difficult, but overall, it's really great."
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On being positive on social media and modeling service for his girls:
"I have a theory that what makes you happy is being of service to other people, and then, the more that others need your service, that actually gives you more happiness, so it's a little bit of a selfish pursuit. When you're genuinely of service to someone, it always gives you more than you were thinking it is going to give you. And to me it's been a muscle that I have learned to work.
"Especially when it comes to random acts of service to people, there's always a worry you'll feel stupid or that it won't be needed or wanted. But more times than not, really, really beautiful sweet things come from it, so I've kind of trained myself to push through those feelings.
"This morning, I paid for somebody's coffee behind me in the drive-through line. It was kind of a big, burly man. I asked Louie what she wanted the server to tell him from us because she was in the car with me, and she said, 'Tell him that we'd like to play with him.' That's a big compliment coming from her.
"I thought, I hope that guy doesn't think I'm weird, but I'm just gonna do it. If you say, 'I'm just going to do it' enough times, it turns into a little bit of how you live in the world and how you operate. That seems to be one of the main things that brings me, like, tons of joy."
On parenthood, in a nutshell:
"It's the best thing in the world. Everything is the best."