Rickey Minor on music directing the Oscars: ‘It’s a big celebration’

Minor talked to us about his role of music director for the 96th Annual Academy Awards.

Credit: Photo byLeon Bennett / Getty Images for The Recording Academy

Rickey Minor is getting ready to give us a show. The esteemed music director is once again taking on the biggest night in cinema, The Academy Awards, and he opened up to theGrio about his approach to Oscars night this year.

This Sunday, millions will gather in front of their TV screens to watch the Oscars. Celebrating all that film had to offer audiences this year, the show will bring together the brightest stars in Hollywood for a three-hour ceremony. Minor returns for his fourth time in six years to music direct the Oscars, fresh off taking the reins as music director for this year’s Primetime Emmys and December’s Kennedy Center Honors.

The Lion King x BMC / Honoring Black Excellence in the Arts
Rickey Minor attends The Lion King x BMC / Honoring Black Excellence in the Arts at The Novo on Feb. 19, 2024, in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Leon Bennett/Getty Images for The Recording Academy ) Credit: Photo byLeon Bennett / Getty Images for The Recording Academy

“I come in with a clean slate,” Minor explained to us, one day before his team headed into the Dolby Theatre to begin rehearsals. “I don’t come in with any preconceived idea of how it should be or could be. It’s teamwork all the way.” The collaborative nature of the various departments, Minor details, is vital to the success of a live ceremony such as the Oscars.

“I think each department head, has to have a plan, an idea and a presentation of some things that are possible. I never go in saying, ‘This is what it needs to be.” No, it’s not what it needs to be, it needs to be what the collective agrees and namely the producers and me and then my team.”

Minor broke down the rehearsal schedule for the show: two six-hour days to rehearse all of the music, an extremely fast-paced process for one of the biggest nights in entertainment. “So, if you don’t have all the music done, printed, ready to go on the stand … we have somewhere close to, over close to 160 pieces of music generally. That’s a lot of music to rehearse and even do some prerecords.”

Minor also spoke to the story he hopes to tell through music in the show. “For us, we have to set the tone because music informs you. It informs you how to feel, how to think, how to react.”

“This show in general is a celebration, so how do you celebrate and also at the same time, strike the right chord? And give people what they need? In general, the music has such high vibrations, you know, it makes you want to dance. It makes you want to cry. It makes you want to jump up and down. You know, it just makes you happy.”

“Music can do that, it can change the molecular structure,” he added. “And I think we have a responsibility to make sure that this is a celebration.”

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Minor went on to call the job an “honor” for him, recognizing the importance of music in storytelling. “I mean, you know, it’s just like silent films, without the music, you don’t know how to really feel. You’re just kind of making your way through it. So at least this gives them some energy going in and out a commercial show or playing people on or, you know, we have all sorts of things up our sleeves for this year.”

“I love it because it’s never necessarily better or worse, it’s just different,” he concluded. “Every year we try to give something a little different, a little twist. The show’s going to start and it’s going to end, like they all do, and there’s going to be speeches and there’s going to be crying and tears and it’s, you know, it’s a big celebration. I’m happy to be a part of it.”

The 96th Academy Awards, hosted by Jimmy Kimmel, will air Sunday, March 10, at 7 p.m. EST, live on ABC.

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