Neil Portnow, Mayor Bill de Blasio and John Poppo cut the ribbon on the Recording Academy's new headquarters in New York
Photo Cindy Ord/Getty Images
2018 GRAMMY Week: The Recording Academy Hits The Ground In New York
The Recording Academy jolted the electricity in New York City up a few notches today. With Monday, Jan. 22 ushering in GRAMMY Week, the reality of the return of Music's Biggest Night to Madison Square Garden for the first time in 15 years beckons. And if the two official events that bookended the day are any indication, the excitement in the city is palpable.
To start the proceedings, this morning Academy President/CEO Neil Portnow and Chair John Poppo participated in a special ribbon-cutting ceremony with New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio to christen the organization's new local headquarters: an impressive townhouse situated across East 37th Street from the J.P. Morgan Museum.
"This marks the first time the Academy will own our own offices and a real piece of the Big Apple," said Portnow.
During his remarks, de Blasio commented on how New York City will benefit by the powerful force that is GRAMMY Week.
"We're so happy to have the [60th GRAMMY Awards] back where, in our humble opinion, they belong," said de Blasio. "There will be real economic opportunity created by this wonderful week: It's projected to have an impact of [$200 million] on the city's economy, and we know that impact will go well beyond the seven exciting days ahead."
Speaking of impact, in the evening the Recording Academy hosted an official GRAMMY Week welcome reception convening local officials, dignitaries, and the organization's executive staff and elected leadership. The reception was nestled within Hudson Yards, an impressive real estate development that will ultimately become a massive nexus of culture, commerce and cuisine.
Spanning seven full city blocks and more than 18 million square feet, the sprawling project is touted as the largest private real estate development in the history of the United States, and the largest development in New York City since Rockefeller Center.
"[Hudson Yards] is really the new heart of New York," said Jay Cross, president of Related Hudson Yards. "It's where the city is going in the next five or 10 years."
But the focus for this week in New York is the 60th GRAMMY Awards, a milestone telecast for not only the organization but also for Portnow.
"[This year] is actually interesting for me," said Portnow, a native New Yorker. "It's full circle because my first year as President of the Academy was the year that we were here last [in 2003] and we were in Madison Square Garden. It's not only a homecoming but it's quite emotional. We're thrilled to be here."
"The GRAMMYs coming here, given New York being the cultural capital of the United States, is so important for the city," said Corey Johnson, speaker of the New York City Council.
The GRAMMYs' storied history includes previous telecasts hosted at Radio City Music Hall, Madison Square Garden and the Uris Theatre. As a melting pot of so many popular genres, New York is an appropriate home for Music's Biggest Night, which will honor music excellence in 84 categories.
"This is the music and cultural center of the world," said Poppo. "You can't think about music without thinking about the iconic [New York] venues and how many different kinds of music started here. Salsa started here. Hip-hop — no matter what anybody tells you — started here. You had the punk revolution. You had folk blowing up in Greenwich Village. The days of Studio 54 and disco and Broadway. It just goes on and on."
Fittingly, GRAMMY Week will feature a slate of events that are arguably as diverse as New York's cultural footprint.
The festivities will include the Producers & Engineers Wing's annual celebration honoring Alicia Keys and Swizz Beatz, the GRAMMY Salute to Classical Music celebrating the music of Leonard Bernstein, multiple performances by the GRAMMY Museum's GRAMMY Camp — Jazz Session students, and Clive Davis and the Recording Academy's Pre-GRAMMY Gala, which will honor one of this year's top GRAMMY nominee, Jay-Z.
"The key thing about [GRAMMY Week] this year, because it's in New York and we have a free pass, [is] we've had an opportunity to reinvent [our] events," said Poppo. "And that's what is exciting."