Photo by John Parra/WireImage
Doug Emery: Music Creators Have A Unique Opportunity In Polarized Times
In a brand-new open letter series, the Recording Academy asks membership to reflect on their their career journey, the current state of the music industry, what we can do to collectively and positively move forward in the current social climate
In a brand-new editorial series, the Recording Academy has asked its membership to reflect on their their career journey, the current state of the music industry and what we can do to collectively and positively move forward in the current social climate. Below, producer and Florida chapter member Doug Emery shares his open letter with GRAMMY.com readers.
We live in a time of dissonance. A time where we are pushed into corners, which makes it harder to hear the person on the other side. A time where the color of your skin, the language you speak, the person you love or the beliefs you may hold can make others at best uncomfortable or at worst fearful. Out of that fear, people react in ways that, in an otherwise peaceful and thoughtful moment, we would have never considered. Because of the democracy of the internet, we feel justified in our lack of restraint and compassion. Some of this, of course is nothing new, but we have allowed the bully pulpit and social media to fan the flames of this false narrative of "the other"—to the point where we leave no space for different points of view or cultural perspectives. Even in our organization, The Recording Academy, where passions run deep and, in an effort to be an agent of change and progress, we sometimes act as if we are of one monolithic thought. In reality, we are a reflection of an industry that is made up of a tremendous amount of diversity as a by-product of the many genres of music that make up our membership.
We have a unique opportunity, however—because of the harmony of music. Not in the poetic sense that may invoke, but in a real way. We can take what happens in our creative sessions and bring that out into the world outside of the studio. We have the ability to peacefully listen to someone coming from a completely different perspective, and even when we stand up for what we feel is important, it’s in an effort to make the whole so much better than the individual parts. I know this is starting to sound a bit ethereal and utopian, but I mean it in a very practical way.
I recently found myself in a session with a client who is a local journalist and part-time songwriter and who happens to be Black. While working on his track, we ended up in a very enlightening conversation about his experience as a Black man where he talked about his experience with red-lining and being stopped in his own neighborhood. I was able to ask questions not only about his experience in the past, but also how he sees the Black community today. While we were talking, all I could think was that if we were having this conversation on social media, the potential amount of vitriol spewed from those feeling the need to respond would have turned this conversation into something completely different.
I left the session thinking what an opportunity we have as creators. We end up in these intimate moments with people willing to be vulnerable with not only their art but also who they are as people and the journey that brought them to this moment. This vulnerability allows for deeper connections that I think are unique to the situations we often find ourselves in. This opportunity is a unique gift: music doesn’t see the boundaries that exist in other realms. My client came to me not because of any cultural criteria but strictly due to my reputation as a music creator. When he called to work with me, he didn’t ask my political views or who I sleep with at night. Instead, he listened to my previous work.
Now, to be clear, I am not strictly talking about some liberal agenda. As I stated earlier, the music industry is a very diverse place with many points of view. What I am suggesting is that we don’t leave the skills we have learned as creators in the studio—we should take them with us out to the world. Not in an ethereal sort of way, but in a real-world, practical sense. We have interpersonal skills because of what we do. The process it requires when collaborating is a needed example to those outside of our industry more than ever. We don’t work in an echo chamber of music when creating, so why should we live in an echo chamber of ideas outside of music? Take advantage of the opportunity of music.
Photo by Gari Askew
Dr. Dre To Be Honored At The 13th Annual Producers & Engineers Wing GRAMMY Week Celebration
Known as the official kickoff to GRAMMY Week, the signature event will pay tribute to the artistic achievements and innovations of Dre—one of the music industry's most groundbreaking producers of all time
Revolutionary producer and GRAMMY-winning rapper Dr. Dre and the music industry's most revered producers, engineers and artistic professionals will gather on Wednesday, Jan. 22 at the iconic Village studios in West Los Angeles for the Recording Academy's 13th annual Producers & Engineers Wing GRAMMY Week celebration.
Known as the official kickoff to GRAMMY Week, the signature event will pay tribute to the artistic achievements and innovations of Dre—one of the music industry's most groundbreaking producers of all time.
"Dr. Dre is an influential force in music," said Deborah Dugan, President/CEO of the Recording Academy. "Dre breaks boundaries and inspires music creators across every genre. His evolution as a producer solidifies him as a leader of the pack within our industry, and we watch in amazement as he continues to shape the future of music."
In addition to celebrating Dre's legacy, the event will also salute the overall industry influence of the Producers & Engineers Wing's more than 6,400 professional members and their commitment to creativity and technical prowess in the field of recording. Year-round, the Producers & Engineers Wing continues to advocate for excellence and best practices in sound recording, audio technologies, and education in the recording arts, along with proper crediting, recognition and rights for music creators.
GRAMMY Week culminates with the 62nd Annual GRAMMY Awards on Sunday, Jan. 26, 2020, airing live on the CBS Television Network, at 8 p.m. ET/PT.
Mixing desk inside Nevo Sound Studios in London
Photo: Rob Monk/Future Music Magazine/Future via Getty Images
The Recording Academy's Producers & Engineers Wing Shares List Of Safety Measures For Studios Preparing To Reopen
The safety measures, which were compiled through interviews and conversations with recording studio owners, engineers and other professionals around the country, cover a range of concerns and precautions related to limiting the spread of the coronavirus
The Producers & Engineers Wing, a membership division of the Recording Academy that focuses on the technical and professional matters of the recording industry, has released a detailed list of potential safety measures for studio owners, engineers and other recording professionals looking to reopen their physical locations and recording studios.
The safety recommendations come as states across the country are beginning to reopen and physical business locations are starting to welcome customers through their doors once again after the coronavirus pandemic shut down many U.S. regions and severely shuttered the international live concert and events industry.
The safety measures, which were compiled through interviews and conversations with recording studio owners, engineers and other professionals around the country, cover a range of concerns and precautions related to limiting the spread of the coronavirus in a studio setting, including: social distancing in recording studios, complexes and rooms; protective gear, like face coverings and disposable gloves; limitations to studio access, control rooms and/or performance spaces for personnel and visitors; routine cleaning and disinfections of frequently touched surfaces, such as workstations, and commonly used and shared equipment, like microphones; and more.
In a letter accompanying the list of safety measures, Maureen Droney, Sr. Managing Director for the Producers & Engineers Wing, addressed the ongoing challenges and effects the recording industry faces as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.
"The Producers & Engineers Wing, like its membership, is resilient," she wrote in the intro letter. "The Wing has been a resource for the recording community for nearly 20 years, and will continue its work with you long after this crisis has passed. We hope this information is helpful, and wish you and your loved ones good health and safety as we navigate this crisis.
"Knowledge about the COVID-19 pandemic is constantly evolving, and, as always, we are open to, and grateful for, comments and suggestions from others in our recording community, so please feel free to contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org."
The letter also recommends those looking to reopen their studios and physical locations to regularly consult the guidance provided by national, state and local government agencies, including the guidance for businesses and employers from the Centers For Disease Control And Prevention (CDC).
David Messier, owner of Same Sky Productions, a recording studio in Austin, Texas, and Leslie Richter, a Nashville-based engineer, instigated this project, which also included thoughts and suggestions from Ivan Barias, Ann Mincieli, Michael Abbott and many others.
The list of potential safety measures, the names of the project's contributors and Maureen Droney's letter are available in full on the Recording Academy's website.
Photo: Josh Chapmon
Positive Vibes Only: NewSpring Worship Share A Sweeping Message Of Faith With "Desde El Principio"
Led by Venezuela-born vocalist Charlee Buitrago, NewSpring Worship shares their message of hope, faith and community in this sparkling live performance of "Desde El Principio."
Since its inception more than two decades ago, NewSpring Worship has grown into a multicultural, multigenerational, musical expression of faith. Their name is a tribute to their beloved home base, the NewSpring Church, which has 14 different locations across South Carolina.
In this episode of Positive Vibes Only, NewSpring Worship deliver a soaring performance of their song, "Desde El Principio." Helmed by vocalist Charlee Buitrago — who also co-wrote the track — the bandmates take viewers through a simple, but powerful, rendition of the song.
The clip begins with Buitrago singing in front of a simple white backdrop, and as the first verse progresses, the camera pans back to reveal two more musicians — one strumming an acoustic guitar, the other on the bench of a Rhodes electric piano.
With just those three artists in the frame, NewSpring Worship deliver a moving rendition of their song, which represents the faith collective's passion for putting out worship music that represents their own cultural diversity.
According to his website, Buitrago originally hails from Venezuela, but emigrated to the U.S. at age 17 after meeting an American missionary who helped him find his faith. Since then, Buitrago has continued to pursue both music and worship, with both himself and his native Spanish language becoming mainstays in the NewSpring Worship collective.
Press play on the video above to watch this performance of "Desde El Principio," and keep checking back to GRAMMY.com for more new episodes of Positive Vibes Only.
Photo: Evening Standard / Stringer via Getty Images
Remembering Christine McVie Of Fleetwood Mac Through Her GRAMMY Triumphs, From 'Rumours' Onward
Unflashy and undramatic, McVie's contributions to Fleetwood Mac led to some of their greatest contributions to popular song — with two GRAMMY wins to boot.
In an acclaimed career that spanned more than half a century, Christine McVie staked her claim as one of the most potent singer-songwriters of her generation. A beloved original member of the seminal rock group Fleetwood Mac, with whom she sang, wrote and played keyboard, she and her bandmates catapulted to fame in the early '70s, scoring GRAMMY gold and influencing generations of musicians.
"As a GRAMMY Award winner and 2018 Person of the Year honoree, the Recording Academy has been honored to celebrate Christine McVie and her work with Fleetwood Mac throughout her legendary career," Recording Academy CEO Harvey Mason jr. stated. In an announcement of her death, the remaining members of Fleetwood Mac mourned her passing by saying "She was truly one-of-a-kind, special, and talented beyond measure."
McVie, who passed away Nov. 30 at 79 after a brief illness, may have not been as flashy, or as dramatic, as fellow Fleetwood Mac members Lindsay Buckingham and Stevie Nicks. But McVie's contributions to the band led to some of their greatest contributions to popular song, with two GRAMMY wins among seven nominations.
The tour de force that is Rumours is one of the most acclaimed and best-selling albums of all time and an inductee into GRAMMY Hall Of Fame. The masterpiece earned McVie her first GRAMMY (for Album of the Year no less) at the 20th Annual Ceremony in 1978, also earning a nomination for Best Pop Vocal Performance By A Group.
Fleetwood Mac's 11th studio album, Rumours was actually McVie's 7th album with the band after making her name in the English blues scene, rising through the ranks as part of the band Chicken Shack, and even releasing a solo album.
In 1971, McVie joined Fleetwood Mac alongside her then-husband John McVie. The potent combination of the McVies, along with Mick Fleetwood, Buckingham and Nicks, catalyzed and detonated into the stratospheric Rumours.
"It's hard to say (what it was like) because we were looking at it from the inside," McVie said about the iconic album earlier this year. "We were having a blast and it felt incredible to us that we were writing those songs. That's all I can say about it, really."
McVie's coyness may stem from the fact that prior to its production, Christine and John divorced after eight years of marriage. Meanwhile, Buckingham and Nicks were having a tumultuous relationship themselves.
McVie is credited as sole songwriter on a handful of instant-classic Rumours tracks, all written during a perilous moment. "I thought I was drying up," explained McVie. "I was practically panicking because every time I sat down at a piano, nothing came out. Then, one day, I just sat down and wrote in the studio, and the four-and-a-half songs of mine on the album are a result of that."
That includes "Don't Stop," an ironically peppy ode considering the turmoil McVie and her bandmates were grappling with at the time. With lyrics that staunchly proclaim "Yesterday's gone!," the song was reportedly written as a plea from Christine to John to move on from their relationship.
"I dare say, if I hadn't joined Fleetwood Mac, we might still be together. I just think it's impossible to work in the band with your spouse," McVie later said. John, meanwhile, was oblivious to the song's message during its production and early acclaim. He revealed in 2015: "I've been playing it for years and it wasn't until somebody told me, 'Chris wrote that about you.' Oh really?"
John was also equally ignorant to the source inspiration of "You Make Loving Fun"; McVie told him the joyful song ("Sweet wonderful you/ You make me happy with the things you do") was about her dog. In reality, it was about an affair with the band's lighting designer.
"It was a therapeutic move," McVie later mused of her lyrical penchant for hiding brutal honesty in plain sight. "The only way we could get this stuff out was to say it, and it came out in a way that was difficult. Imagine trying to sing those songs onstage with the people you're singing them about."
When McVie was asked earlier this year what song she written she was most proud of, it was an easy answer: the Rumours track "Songbird."
"For some peculiar reason, I wrote "Songbird" in half an hour; I've never been able to figure out how I did that," she told People. "I woke up in the middle of the night and the song was there in my brain, chords, lyrics, melody, everything. I played it in my bedroom and didn't have anything to tape it on. So I had to stay awake all night so I wouldn't forget it and I came in the next morning to the studio and had (producer) Ken Callait put it on a 2-track. That was how the song ended up being. I don't know where that came from."
McVie's most recent GRAMMY nominations were for her contributions to The Dance, Fleetwood Mac's 1997 live album that featured her stand-outs from Rumours along with the McVie penned-tracks "Say You Love Me" and "Everywhere."
The album earned McVie and the band GRAMMY nominations for Best Rock Performance By A Duo Or Group With Vocal (for the Lindsay Buckingham-written "The Chain") and Best Pop Performance By A Duo Or Group With Vocal (for "Silver Springs," penned by Stevie Nicks). It also landed a nomination for Best Pop Album. It was her final album with the band before a 15-year self-imposed retirement.
In her final years, McVie was a vital member of Fleetwood Mac, including in 2018 when they became the first band honored as MusicCare's Person of the Year.
Speaking to the Recording Academy before the ceremony, Nicks expressed that her initial goal upon joining the group was a humble one: "Christine and I made a pact. We said we will never, ever be treated as a second-class citizen amongst our peers."