On April 14 The Recording Academy resumed its GRAMMYs on the Hill event in Washington, D.C. — its 10th installment — after a hiatus during which The Academy sponsored 2008 events at the Democratic National Convention in Denver and the Republican National Convention in Minneapolis.
This year's GRAMMYs on the Hill Awards honored Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) and country music star and GRAMMY winner Garth Brooks, all of whom received the GRAMMYs on the Hill Award for their commitment to improving the lives of working music professionals — the two legislators in particular through their support of the Performance Right Act, which would provide for a royalty payment to performers when terrestrial radio plays their music. Additionally, GRAMMY Foundation 2009 Signature Schools recipient Neuqua Valley High School was celebrated for its outstanding music program.
Performers included new country act Jypsi, songwriters Gordon Kennedy, Wayne Kirkpatrick and Tommy Sims — who have written several Garth Brooks hits — and O.A.R. lead singer Marc Roberge, who is also a Recording Academy Washington, D.C. Chapter Governor.
Speaking of the Performance Rights Act, Durbin spoke of justice for performers who have been seeking a performance royalty for many years. "Pay 'em when you play 'em," he said to applause from the packed room of Academy members and fellow legislators.
Recording Academy President/CEO Neil Portnow talked of the generosity of musicians such as Bob Geldof, who helped found Live Aid in 1985, and Bono, who has spearheaded African debt-relief efforts, saying the cliché of artists' reputations as divas is unfair and that their intellectual property rights should be respected just like any other rights holder.
Alluding to the hope for successful passage of the legislation, Issa said, "I hope we can say you gave us this award in the year we made [the Performance Rights Act] law."
The next day, nearly 200 Academy member advocates took to Capitol Hill for GRAMMYs on the Hill Advocacy Day to lobby on behalf of the Performance Rights Act, as well as Academy efforts to address the protection of the white space spectrum used by wireless microphones in concerts and other live settings. Fanning out to the offices of more than 100 senators and representatives, the advocates made their case to the legislators and their staffs in a continuing effort to make Capitol Hill aware of the concerns of the music community.