David Wild has written for the GRAMMY Awards since 2001. He is a contributing editor to Rolling Stone, a blogger for Huffington Post and an Emmy-nominated TV writer. Wild's most recent book, He Is…I Say: How I Learned To Stop Worrying And Love Neil Diamond, is now in paperback. Follow him on Twitter.
If you build it at the GRAMMYs, they will come. That's a fantastic funky life lesson that I've learned time and time again as I've had the pleasure of working on the GRAMMY show. One of the biggest musical productions I've ever seen built was an extraordinary salute to funk Executive Producer Ken Ehrlich somehow put together that featured the likes of Earth, Wind & Fire, OutKast, steel guitar god Robert Randolph, and George Clinton's current incarnation of P-Funk in February 2004 for the 46th Annual GRAMMY Awards. The result was a spectacular and soulful overview of our wide world of funky music, and it deserved an introduction every bit as big and bad, in the best way.
Fortunately for me as a writer, we had the perfect man booked for this gig — Samuel L. Jackson, a brilliant actor and a fantastic speaker at any public event. Calling upon this man's considerable powers, I wrote the multi-part introduction in the style of a charismatic preacher testifying to the power of his faith in the Church of the Eternal Funk, or something like that. Then, somehow, John Cossette and members of the GRAMMY production team went to work and built some fantastic scenery to subtly suggest a physical reality for our holy church of the eternal funk, complete with some very convincing looking stained glass.
Seeing the number the first time during rehearsals, I was overwhelmed. Now I'm not saying I was born again that day, but what a thrill for a Jewish guy to type a few words on a computer, then look up and see a church. Whatever I wrote that year, Jackson made it infinitely better, and in the end that will always be one of the greatest and most funky GRAMMY moments of all time.
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