By Emilee Lindner
It only took a few minutes for Cardi B’s performance at the Grammys to go viral on Sunday. Or, more specifically, her pianist went viral. Chloe Flower, with some divine ferociousness, flew her fingers all over a crystal-encrusted piano and then plunked out the monstrous bass line of “Money,” maintaining intense eye contact with the camera the whole time. Inches away, Cardi twerked and her dancers spread-eagled in unison. It wasn’t until she met up with Cardi at an afterparty that she realized she was now internet famous.
“Are you on Twitter?” Cardi asked. “Because you’re all over it.” Chloe checked her phone.
“There were all these memes,” Flower told MTV News. “Like ‘Walking into my meeting like…’ Then they would show my face looking at the camera. It made me laugh so hard.”
Overnight, Chloe gained 50,000 followers across social media. The next day, she signed an exclusive deal with Sony Music.
But this moment has been long in the making. She began tinkling the ivories at 2 years old, eventually training at Manhattan School of Music and Juilliard. In 2010, she signed with Babyface’s Soda Pop Records, laying down piano instrumentals. In sessions with the legendary R&B producer, she picked up production skills — “I don’t like to take breaks, and some of the producers there were taking breaks, so I ended up learning the programming myself.” Since then, she’s produced tracks for Celine Dion, Nas, and 2 Chainz.
On Instagram, you can find Chloe delicately remixing pop songs like Ariana Grande’s “Thank U, Next” or Drake’s “Don’t Matter to Me.” She wears designer gowns and five-inch heels. She plays on Liberace’s own glass piano, on loan to her by the Liberace Foundation. When Cardi saw her account, she got the Grammy gig.
Rehearsals had Chloe practicing her fierceness — something that she honed in on by channeling Beyoncé. Cardi inspired Chloe as well, along with the all-female team who made the whole thing happen: creative director Tanisha Scott, stylist Brookelyn Styles, and many others.
“Being with [Cardi] in the studio, knowing her work ethic, her work ethic is intense,” she said. “She doesn’t just show up and do it, she’s involved.” As for the Best Rap Album trophy Cardi took home on Sunday? “She deserves that.”
On the day of the performance, Chloe was similarly disciplined: She woke up early, hopped into an infrared sauna to sweat for 30 minutes and then started to practice. Because eating makes her sleepy and nervous, she eats very little on performance days, only fruits and vegetables. And in the week leading up to the ceremony, she secluded herself, avoiding pre-Grammy shindigs and dinners with friends — no matter how tempting. In her dressing room she requested a keyboard, where she could practice some more. “I try to mentally prepare,” Chloe said. “It’s a very regimental form. I can play perfectly from home any time, but when you’re in front of a huge audience and the pressure’s there, it becomes real.”
That sort of mental state is indicative of her everyday regimen as well. She practices at least 10 hours a day, sometimes up to 14 hours, but not always in the gowns you see on Instagram. “I’m either in my couture or in sweatpants,” she said. “I don’t, like, own a pair of jeans and a T-shirt. I’m always really dressed up or I’m in sweats. Like sweats sweats. Like those huge ones.”
Onstage, Chloe wore a Fouad Sarkis gown that was decided on so late that it was held together with tape. Originally, she was supposed to wear a leggy rockstar-esque dress, but that simply wouldn’t do. “When Cardi saw it, she was like, ‘I want her to look more extravagant. And I want her to look more couture. She’s not going to stand out enough in a short dress.’”
“Because the dress was picked so last minute, my stylist was on the floor underneath me, making adjustments like right before the gate was lifted,” Chloe said. “It was close.”
And because Flower works closely with the Liberace Foundation, they loaned her another piano for the performance — the one Cardi danced on. “If Cardi’s going to be twerking on a piano, it should be that one,” Chloe said. “I know Liberace was up there smiling.”
She wrote a colorful intro to “Money” — one that was completely different from the thunderous track, something to trick the viewer into thinking they were watching a classical recital. Perhaps her elegant-to-baddie mood change was why we were all drawn to her in the first place. Making the piano look badass only helps her overall goal: to promote music education. “I want the world to know that part of the reason I did this is I really want kids to be excited about learning instruments,” she said.
With her newfound fame and Sony deal, Chloe has plans for a covers album with original orchestration — “an iconic female album,” she calls it. She dreams of working with Beyoncé and Ariana Grande, and becoming a go-to producer. “There are not that many female producers out there,” she said. “Which is why I wanna be one of the female producers that people work with.”
And you definitely will be seeing her on stage again. “My ideal concert would be dancers everywhere, pretty sets, piano,” she said. “I loved being on stage with all those girls.”