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Earth, Wind & Fire's Shining Star
Earth, Wind & Fire

Photo: Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images

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Earth, Wind & Fire's Shining Star

GRAMMY-winning rapper Big Boi pays tribute to 2016 Lifetime Achievement Award recipients Earth, Wind & Fire

GRAMMYs/Feb 14, 2016 - 12:48 am

(GRAMMY winners Earth, Wind & Fire were honored with The Recording Academy's 2016 Lifetime Achievement Award. The following tribute is featured in the 58th GRAMMY Awards program book. Earth, Wind & Fire founder Maurice White died Feb. 4 at age 74).

Earth, Wind & Fire were established by Maurice White in Chicago in 1969 with the vision of spirituality and universal love. From their 1971 sellf-titled debut album and classics such as 1975's That's The Way Of The World and 1976's Spirit to 2013's Now, Then & Forever, they have helped bridge the gap between the music tastes of all ethnicities.

With songs like "Shining Star," "September," "Reasons," and "Let's Groove," Earth, Wind & Fire moved the music world one song at a time. This funky talented group are not only considered one of the best in the R&B genre, but they incorporated elements of jazz, pop, disco, soul, and even rock into their timeless music, selling more than 90 million albums worldwide. Along the way, the gifted group became the first African-American act to sell out Madison Square Garden in New York.

Maurice White, Verdine White, Philip Bailey, Ralph Johnson, Larry Dunn, Johnny Graham, Al McKay, Fred White, and Andrew Woolfolk collaborated to create this rich, eclectic sound, with a plethora of instruments and the goal of uniting all in peace and harmony.

As we all know, this universally appreciated group has received numerous accolades for their relentless leadership in music, and I am honored to celebrate their Lifetime Achievement Award.

(As one-half of the six-time GRAMMY-winning duo OutKast, Big Boi performed the group's chart-topping hit "The Way You Move" with Earth, Wind & Fire at the 46th GRAMMY Awards in 2004. The following year he was featured on "This Is How I Feel," a track included on Earth, Wind & Fire's album Illumination. Big Boi's solo work includes 2012's Vicious Lies And Dangerous Rumors. In 2015 he released Big Grams, a collaborative album with electronic rock duo Phantogram.)

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Why A World Without Herbie Hancock Is Unimaginable

Chick Corea describes how the legendary GRAMMY winner has created a musical touchstone for every future culture to aspire to

GRAMMYs/Oct 7, 2016 - 09:05 pm

("GRAMMY Salute To Music Legends" — a special all-star concert honoring The Recording Academy's 2016 Special Merit Awards recipients — will air Oct. 14 from 9–11:30 p.m. on PBS. Herbie Hancock, who received a 2016 Lifetime Achievement Award from The Recording Academy, will be among the artists saluted.)

Herbie Hancock was on the New York City jazz scene making some young musical noise a few years before I arrived in 1959, fresh out of high school in Chelsea, Mass.

I remember seeing him live for the first time when I went to the old Birdland at 52nd St. and Broadway. It was a Monday night. Mondays were the jam session nights at this venerable old club, and there was Herbie onstage with Joe Chambers and some horn players sitting in. I distinctly remember being amazed by the free and creative approach he and the band were taking with the standards they were playing. They were changing the rules and not asking for a license to do it. Right away, I connected with Herbie's sense of adventure and musical exploration, which I myself had just begun realizing.

The amazing thing about this adventure of his is that for a whole lifetime the adventure hasn't stopped. Miles set a powerful example for all of us — and Herbie was an integral part of that groundbreaking quintet that changed the face of jazz and music in general. But he has taken it several steps further by making full use of every new keyboard and sonic possibility, bridging new musical forms to combine the richness of our music’s past with the unknown of the new creative ideas from his seemingly infinite imagination. With his ongoing creativeness and successes in movie scores and both pop and classical music, he's certainly never been afraid to explore and to change — and does so frequently and unabashedly.

From his first solo albums Takin' Off, Empyrean Isles and Maiden Voyage, to his reach-out-to-the-world collaborations such as Possibilities, River: The Joni Letters and The Imagine Project, his ever-evolving musical creativeness continues to inspire and soothe souls the world over.

Ever since I've known Herbie, he has always inspired me and the music world to be free and reach for greater heights of accomplishment. His validation of the artist's imagination and his demonstration of its ultimate purpose through the amazing music he has created — and continues to create are a touchstone for every future culture to aspire to.

The world without Herbie Hancock is unimaginable. His contributions to music and to humanity on this planet are immeasurable. Congratulations, Herbie. You are simply the best!

(A 22-time GRAMMY winner, Chick Corea's extensive discography includes 1978’s An Evening With Herbie Hancock & Chick Corea: In Concert, a live album featuring both artists playing acoustic piano. In 2015 Corea released Two, a collaboration with GRAMMY winner Béla Fleck.)

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2017 Special Merit Awards: Sly Stone, Velvet Underground, Nina Simone

Shirley Caesar and Charley Pride are also among The Recording Academy's 2017 Special Merit Awards recipients

GRAMMYs/May 15, 2017 - 01:36 pm

The Recording Academy announced its 2017 Special Merit Awards recipients. The Lifetime Achievement Award honorees are Shirley Caesar, Ahmad Jamal, Charley Pride, Jimmie Rodgers, Nina Simone, Sly Stone and The Velvet Underground. Thom Bell, Mo Ostin and Ralph S. Peer are Trustees Award honorees; Alan Dower Blumlein is the Technical GRAMMY Award recipient.

More information on the 2017 Special Merit Awards recipients

"This year's Special Merit Awards recipients comprise a prestigious group of diverse and influential creators who have crafted or contributed to some of the most distinctive recordings in music history," said Neil Portnow, President/CEO of The Recording Academy. "These exceptionally inspiring figures are being honored as legendary performers, creative architects, and technical visionaries. Their outstanding accomplishments and passion for their respective crafts have created a timeless legacy."

The Lifetime Achievement Award celebrates performers who have made outstanding contributions of artistic significance to the field of recording, while the Trustees Award honors contributions in areas other than performance. The recipients are determined by vote of The Recording Academy's National Board of Trustees. Technical GRAMMY Award recipients are voted on by The Academy's Producers & Engineers Wing Advisory Council and Chapter Committees, and are ratified by The Academy's Trustees. The award is presented to individuals and/or companies who have made contributions of outstanding technical significance to the recording industry.

Additionally, The Recording Academy and Hal Leonard Books will release A GRAMMY Salute To Music Legends, a hardcover book that collects two decades of artist-written tributes to The Academy's annual Special Merit Awards honorees. Among those who have written tributes included in the book are Eric Clapton, Elvis Costello, Red Hot Chili Peppers bassist Flea, Whoopi Goldberg, Ice Cube, Miranda Lambert, Queen guitarist Brian May, Dolly Parton, Carly Simon, Patti Smith and Yo-Yo Ma. The tributes were originally commissioned for the annual GRAMMY Awards program book and never published widely until now. A GRAMMY Salute To Music Legends will be available in early January.

Pre-Order A GRAMMY Salute To Music Legends

The 59th GRAMMY Awards will take place Sunday, Feb. 12, 2017, live from Staples Center in Los Angeles and broadcast on the CBS Television Network from 8–11:30 pm ET/5–8:30 pm PT. Follow Recording Academy/GRAMMYs on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram and use #GRAMMYs to join the conversation.

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Marc Anthony Salutes Celia Cruz

GRAMMY winner says the legacy of the Queen of Salsa will continue to impact generations to come

GRAMMYs/Oct 7, 2016 - 09:05 pm

("GRAMMY Salute To Music Legends" — a special all-star concert honoring The Recording Academy's 2016 Special Merit Awards recipients — will air Oct. 14 from 9–11:30 p.m. on PBS. Celia Cruz, who received a 2016 Lifetime Achievement Award from The Recording Academy, will be among the artists saluted.)

I remember listening to Celia Cruz's music blasting out of the windows in my neighborhood in East Harlem, New York, long before I started doing music professionally. By that time she was one of the greatest living legends of our time.  

My first interaction with Celia as a salsa singer was when I recorded my first album, Otra Nota. We were part of the same record label. From the moment we met, she welcomed me with open arms and became my professional godmother, always supportive and so protective of me.

I'll never forget the first time I was able to share the stage with her. I was so nervous! At that time I did not have a lot of experience performing on the big stages of the world, and yet there I was next to her and in the company of all of these great musicians. That night she embraced me in a very special way — the way only those who had the good fortune of being close to her presence could experience.

Her mastery of voice and song and her powerful transformation onstage was one of her many qualities. She possessed a voice like no other and an undeniable way of conducting herself in front of her audience and her fellow musicians. A lady in a male-dominated world who handled her career with consistency, discipline and admirable class.  

She was so into details. Not even her intense work schedule and touring demands around the world would let her forget her friends and family's birthdays, and her Christmas cards with her personal touch were a yearly event. We all wondered how in the world this woman, with so many responsibilities as a worldwide performer and wife, found the time to pause and devote personal attention to so many of us. And indeed she did. She also had a great sense of humor.  

Celia took her responsibility on the stage very seriously. It was amazing to see her sitting backstage quietly and serenely before it was her time to go on. From the instant that orchestra played the first chord she became this gigantic presence. She never, ever disappointed her audience.

Her legacy is so vast there is not enough space on this page, but the fact remains that her contribution to music will continue to have an impact worldwide for generations to come.

(A two-time GRAMMY winner and five-time Latin GRAMMY winner, Marc Anthony will be honored as the 2016 Latin Recording Academy Person of the Year on Nov. 16. In 2003 Anthony co-hosted “¡Celia Cruz: Azúcar!,” an all-star tribute to Cruz featuring performances by Anthony, Gloria Estefan, José Feliciano, Paulina Rubio, and Arturo Sandoval, among others.)


Jazz Trumpeter Clark Terry Dies
Clark Terry (center) at the Special Merit Awards Ceremony & Nominees Reception in 2010

Photo: Charley Galley/WireImage.com

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Jazz Trumpeter Clark Terry Dies

Recording Academy Lifetime Achievement Award recipient dies at 94

GRAMMYs/Feb 24, 2015 - 01:18 am

Influential jazz trumpeter Clark Terry died Feb. 21 in Pine Bluff, Ark., following complications from diabetes. He was 94. Over a career spanning more than seven decades, Terry was known as a first-rate session musician, accomplished sideman and bandleader. He collaborated with a variety of jazz luminaries, including Count Basie, Duke Ellington, Charles Mingus, and Thelonious Monk. He also served as a mentor to generations of jazz musicians, including fellow trumpeter Miles Davis and Quincy Jones. Terry received a 1964 GRAMMY nomination for Best Instrumental Jazz Performance — Small Group Or Soloist With Small Group for what became the signature recording of his career, "Mumbles," the first of four career GRAMMY nominations. As a member of the house band for "The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson" in the '60s, Terry became one of the first African-American musicians to hold a staff position at a television network. An advocate for music education, he served in advisory capacities for the International Association of Jazz Educators and Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz. In 1991 Terry earned an NEA Jazz Masters fellowship. He was honored with a Recording Academy Lifetime Achievement Award in 2010.