Photo: Maury Phillips/Getty Images for The Recording Academy
"Teachers & Artists Together Can Inspire The Next Generation": GRAMMY In The Schools Salute To Music Education Honorees & Organizers Share Why Music Education Is More Important Than Ever
The GRAMMY Week event honored Jeffrey Murdock from University of Arkansas and Stephen Cox from Texas' Eastland High School, the respective 2021 and 2022 recipients. Nathaniel Rateliff & The Night Sweats also took the stage for a special performance.
During this year's GRAMMY Week, executives, teachers, and students came together for the GRAMMY In The Schools Salute To Music Education. The evening — a collaborative effort from the Recording Academy and the GRAMMY Museum, presented by MGM Resorts International — celebrated the power of music education.
"Music education is now more important than ever. The GRAMMY Museum's preservation of music is so important — we recognize and honor our history, embrace our present and think toward the future," Valeisha Butterfield Jones, co-president of the Recording Academy, told GRAMMY.com on the red carpet. "When we think about tonight's mission, focus on education, focus on young people, it's all about the future — making sure that young people have a creative outlet, have artistic freedom and ways to express themselves. What better way to heal and unify."
Before Nathaniel Rateliff & The Night Sweats took the House of Blues Las Vegas stage for a special one-hour set, president and CEO of the GRAMMY Museum, Michael Sticka, presented the Music Educator Award to Jeffrey Murdock from University of Arkansas, and Stephen Cox from Eastland High School in Eastland, Texas, the respective 2021 and 2022 recipients.
As Sticka explained, the award recognizes educators who have made a significant and lasting contribution to the music education field, and demonstrated a commitment to the broader cause of maintaining music education in the schools. He added that they receive about 3,000 nominations each year.
Murdock and Cox both received a $10,000 honorarium and matching grant for their school's music program. Every year, nine additional finalists receive a $1,000 honorarium and matching grants. The remaining 15 semifinalists receive a $500 honorarium with matching school grants.
Prior to the ceremony, Murdock and Cox gave GRAMMY.com perspective on how the honor highlights the work they do in their classrooms, and what it signifies to their students.
"Having done this for the last year — going in and out of schools, watching educators — I am keenly aware that there are so many in the trenches everyday leveling the playing field in music education," said Murdock. "I feel like I'm a representative of all of those people who are doing this important work."
For Cox, it's about giving his students purpose. "I come from a little bitty town and a little bitty community — with 4,000 people — and the kids at my school sometimes think, 'We're in a little town, it doesn't matter.' What I hope this means to them, is that they matter," he said. "What I do in my classroom, I do because I think it's right. And I don't think that changes just because of the recognition. What I hope it does for my community, my kids, is that they know that they matter. They don't have to question it. They know that people in small places, small towns, matter."
Murdock said he told his students the award would not change him or what he does. "Students always say, 'You are going to be big time, and you're going to be doing this and that. No, we do the same work every day," he added. "After the award was announced last year, I went right back to my classroom that same day. 'Let's start over, let's continue to do this work.' I want them to know that they, too, can reach the masses and do so in meaningful ways — while not changing who they are," Murdock says.
Those who helped put on the GRAMMY In The Schools Salute To Music Education also spoke on the formative music experiences that impacted their lives and careers.
"In high school, my first concert was the BeeGees. Right before COVID, we had the awards for lifetime achievement and I got to hand the award to the last remaining Gibb," said Tim Bucher, chair of the GRAMMY Museum Board of Directors. "I told him about that story, and he hugged me. It was really cool. I think a lot of kids, when they experience live music, it really inspires them, as well as teachers — so teachers and artists together can inspire the next generation."
Sticka shared how he found comfort in music growing up. He hopes to bolster the same kind of support for kids through the many programs the Museum offers.
"Everything from Dolly Parton to Neil Young, I've listened to it all. It's something I've always had a passion for. I've always found a lot of solace in music; working in music is a dream," Sticka said. "We foster the next generation of music creators and leaders through GRAMMY Camp." Through GRAMMY in the Schools programming, workshops and tours, more than 25,000 students come through the museum yearly, Sticka noted. "Hopefully, they all find inspiration throughout that," he added. "They love the workshops and music production."
Butterfield Jones — who can relate to Cox's small-town woes — found solace in Salt-N-Pepa. "I remember at seven years old, listening to one of my favorite songs by Salt-N-Pepa, and feeling like it was an outlet, and a way to escape from a very small country town in Wilson, North Carolina," she recalled. "I remember having big dreams through music and the power of radio — listening to women in hip-hop, with so much freedom, liberated and using their voices so boldly."
Early teaching at home played a pivotal role for Rateliff. "I didn't really have much of a formal education," he said. "My parents were musicians, so I got most of my education and music through them. At a pretty early age, their influence is what made me want to pursue music."
GRAMMY In The Schools Salute To Music Education is just one of the countless ways the GRAMMY Museum shines light on the impact of music, both in and out of the classroom. Looking ahead to the organization's mission for the next five years, Rita George, chief program officer of the GRAMMY Museum, says there will be a continued amplification of the education work being done through the museum.
"We are proud that Billie Eilish and Finneas went through our education programs, as well as Jon Batiste, Maren Morris. They've all been so good to us as we try to work with the next generation of creators and give them a platform and a place to find a community," she said. "The other part is [students] finding a passion, understanding or link to an exhibit — or a music form, production, or a career that isn't just about being the person on the stage. We want to be a resource for students and educators on every level."
Photo: Kelly Samson, Gallery Photography
Photo: Sarah Morris/Getty Images for The Recording Academy
Watch: "A History Of L.A. Ska" Panel At The GRAMMY Museum With Reel Big Fish, NOFX & More
Featuring musicians, DJs, curators and more, the multi-part series "A History Of L.A. Ska" explores the genre's deep history in Southern California. The latest installment included members of Hepcat, Ocean 11 and others.
Ska — as any lover of the genre will tell you — is far from dead.
In fact, the genre that burst forth in Jamaica at the time of the nation's independence in the early 1960s (and, crucially, is the musical seed from which reggae grew) is alive and well around the globe. Call it a fourth wave, a revival or a scene of stalwarts, but the horn-heavy, grooving and uptempo music continues to march forward — and the GRAMMY Museum is all-in on the celebration.
For several years, the GRAMMY Museum has hosted "A History Of L.A. Ska" — a discussion and performance series featuring local musicians, DJs, journalists, and others. Panelists reminisce about their early years in ska, working with legends, and the important role Southern California has played in the development of the culture. The most recent panel was held on Nov. 7 (but more on that later).
Although born in Jamaica, ska migrated to the UK in the latter half of the '60s and, the following decade, mixed with burgeoning punk sounds to create the genre's second wave: Two Tone. Bands such as the Specials, Madness and the Selecter struck a chord with local audiences as well as those in Southern California — which saw its first ska band, the Boxboys, debut in 1979. Then by the late ‘80s, California-based bands such as the Untouchables, Fishbone, Hepcat and Let’s Go Bowling were building a distinct scene.
As the ‘90s began, Southern California was the focal point of ska's third wave. Helmed by bands like Reel Big Fish, the Aquabats and, early on, No Doubt, a new generation further enmeshed punk and ska to become faster, catchier and more memeable. While third wave groups of the era came from all corners (see New Jersey's Catch-22, Florida's Less Than Jake and Boston's Mighty Mighty Bosstones), Southern California remained a stronghold for ska music and was buoyed by a strong subculture of mods and non-racist skinheads.
Today, Los Angeles remains a hotbed for a new generation of ska acts — many of which harken back to the sounds of the '60s. Southern California has also played host to ska legends, including Derrick Morgan (whose song "Forward March" became an independence anthem), Pat Kelly, the Pioneers and more.
"When I was first introduced to ska in Southern California, I was blown away by the level of musicianship and the love that these young talents had for the music that I grew up listening to in Jamaica,” shares Junor Francis, a moderator and veteran radio DJ/emcee who co-curates the "A History Of L.A. Ska" series with Eric Kohler. The two also host a video interview series of the same name. [Editor's note: Author Jessica Lipsky has appeared on this series.]
"While many fans of American third wave ska were introduced to the sound in the 1990s, more casual listeners may not be aware that ska in Southern California dates back four decades," notes Kohler. "To that end, Junor and I have made it our mission to celebrate and highlight the scene’s rich history, vibrancy and uniqueness."
Part four of the series — and the most recent — featured seven panelists representing a broad swath of L.A. ska history: Hepcat drummer Greg Narvas (Hepcat), singer Karina Denike (Dance Hall Crashers, NOFX), keyboardists Matt Parker (the Donkey Show) and Paul Hampton (the Skeletones), DJ and drummer Nina Cole (the Cover Ups), drummer Oliver Charles (Ocean 11, Ben Harper & The Innocent Criminals, Gogol Bordello), and multi-instrumentalist Scott Klopfenstein (Reel Big Fish, the Littlest Man Band). The panel was moderated by Junor Francis.
The four-part series is available to view on the GRAMMY Museum's website, or you can immerse yourself in the "History Of L.A. Ska" panel by panel below:
Featuring: Greg Lee, Persephone “Queen P” Laird, Joey Altruda, Brian Dixon and Luis Correa
Featuring: Angelo Moore, Chris Murray, Darrin Pfeiffer, Kip Wirtzfeld, Tazy Phyllipz
Featuring: Jerry Miller, Chuck Askerneese, Ivan Wong, Greg Sowders, Norwood Fishe, Greg Lee, Bill Bentley, Howard Paar, Marc Wasserman, Karena Sundaram Marcum, Laurence Fishburn
If the excitement on display during the "History Of L.A. Ska" panel sessions isn't enough to convince you of the genre's staying power, consummate emcee Junor Francis shares words of affirmation:
“After being baptized into this scene and welcomed with open arms, I realized this was absolutely the right place for me!”
Photo: Jeff Kravitz/FilmMagic
GRAMMY Rewind: Kendrick Lamar Honors Hip-Hop's Greats While Accepting Best Rap Album GRAMMY For 'To Pimp a Butterfly' In 2016
Upon winning the GRAMMY for Best Rap Album for 'To Pimp a Butterfly,' Kendrick Lamar thanked those that helped him get to the stage, and the artists that blazed the trail for him.
Updated Friday Oct. 13, 2023 to include info about Kendrick Lamar's most recent GRAMMY wins, as of the 2023 GRAMMYs.
A GRAMMY veteran these days, Kendrick Lamar has won 17 GRAMMYs and has received 47 GRAMMY nominations overall. A sizable chunk of his trophies came from the 58th annual GRAMMY Awards in 2016, when he walked away with five — including his first-ever win in the Best Rap Album category.
This installment of GRAMMY Rewind turns back the clock to 2016, revisiting Lamar's acceptance speech upon winning Best Rap Album for To Pimp A Butterfly. Though Lamar was alone on stage, he made it clear that he wouldn't be at the top of his game without the help of a broad support system.
"First off, all glory to God, that's for sure," he said, kicking off a speech that went on to thank his parents, who he described as his "those who gave me the responsibility of knowing, of accepting the good with the bad."
He also extended his love and gratitude to his fiancée, Whitney Alford, and shouted out his Top Dawg Entertainment labelmates. Lamar specifically praised Top Dawg's CEO, Anthony Tiffith, for finding and developing raw talent that might not otherwise get the chance to pursue their musical dreams.
"We'd never forget that: Taking these kids out of the projects, out of Compton, and putting them right here on this stage, to be the best that they can be," Lamar — a Compton native himself — continued, leading into an impassioned conclusion spotlighting some of the cornerstone rap albums that came before To Pimp a Butterfly.
To Pimp a Butterfly singles "Alright" and "These Walls" earned Lamar three more GRAMMYs that night, the former winning Best Rap Performance and Best Rap Song and the latter taking Best Rap/Sung Collaboration (the song features Bilal, Anna Wise and Thundercat). He also won Best Music Video for the remix of Taylor Swift's "Bad Blood."
Watch Lamar's full acceptance speech above, and check back at GRAMMY.com every Friday for more GRAMMY Rewind episodes.
Photo Courtesy of the Recording Academy and GRAMMY Museum
25 Semifinalists Announced For The 2024 Music Educator Award
Twenty-five music teachers, from 25 cities across 17 states, have been announced as semifinalists for the 2024 Music Educator Award, presented by the Recording Academy and GRAMMY Museum. One ultimate recipient will be honored during GRAMMY Week 2024.
Twenty-five music teachers have today been announced as semifinalists for the Music Educator Award, an annual award, presented by the Recording Academy and GRAMMY Museum, that supports and celebrates music education and music educators across the U.S. The 25 semifinalists, who hail from 25 cities across 17 states, were selected from a pool of more than 2,000 initial nominations from across all 50 U.S. states. Finalists will be announced in December, and the ultimate recipient of the 2024 Music Educator Award will be recognized during GRAMMY Week 2024, days ahead of the 2024 GRAMMYs.
Nominations for the 2025 Music Educator Award are now open.
Presented by the Recording Academy and GRAMMY Museum, the Music Educator Award recognizes current educators who have made a significant and lasting contribution to the music education field and demonstrate a commitment to the broader cause of maintaining music education in the schools. The Award is open to current U.S. music teachers. Anyone can nominate a teacher — students, parents, friends, colleagues, community members, school deans, and administrators — while teachers are also able to nominate themselves; nominated teachers are notified and invited to fill out an application.
Each year, the recipient of the Music Educator Award, selected from 10 finalists, receives a $10,000 honorarium and matching grant for their school's music program. The nine additional finalists receive a $1,000 honorarium and matching grants. The remaining 15 semifinalists, among the group announced today, will receive a $500 honorarium with matching school grants.
The Music Educator Award program, including honorariums, is made possible by the generosity and support of the Chuck Lorre Family Foundation. In addition, the American Choral Directors Association, National Association for Music Education, NAMM Foundation, and National Education Association support this program through outreach to their constituencies.
The full list of the 2024 Music Educator Award semifinalists is as follows:
|Dawn Amthor||Wallkill Senior High School||Wallkill||New York|
|Jeremy Bartunek||Greenbriar School||Northbrook||Illinois|
|William Bennett||Cane Bay High School||Summerville||South Carolina|
|Meg Byrne||Pleasant Valley High School||Bettendorf||Iowa|
|Ernesta Chicklowski||Roosevelt Elementary||Tampa||Florida|
|Michael Coelho||Ipswich Middle and High School||Ipswich||Massachusetts|
|Drew Cowell||Belleville East High School||Belleville||Illinois|
|Marci DeAmbrose||Lincoln Southwest High School||Lincoln||Nebraska|
|Antoine Dolberry||P.S. 103x Hector Fontanez||Bronx||New York|
|Jasmine Fripp||KIPP Nashville Collegiate High School||Nashville||Tennessee|
|J.D. Frizzell||Briarcrest Christian School||Eads||Tennessee|
|Amanda Hanzlik||E.O. Smith High School||Storrs||Connecticut|
|Michael Lapomardo||Shrewsbury High School||Shrewsbury||Massachusetts|
|Ashleigh McDaniel Spatz||Rising Starr Middle School||Fayetteville||Georgia|
|Kevin McDonald||Wellesley High School||Wellesley||Massachusetts|
|Coty Raven Morris||Portland State University||Portland||Oregon|
|Trevor Nicholas||Senn Arts at Nicholas Senn High School||Chicago||Illinois|
|Vicki Nichols||Grandview Elementary||Grandview||Texas|
|Annie Ray||Annandale High School||Annandale||Virginia|
|Bethany Robinson||Noblesville High School||Noblesville||Indiana|
|Danni Schmitt||Roland Park Elementary/Middle School||Baltimore||Maryland|
|Kevin Schoenbach||Oswego High School||Oswego||Illinois|
|Matthew Shephard||Meridian Early College High School||Sanford||Michigan|
|Alice Tsui||New Bridges Elementary||Brooklyn||New York|
|Tammy Yi||Chapman University||Orange||California|
Learn more about the Music Educator Award and apply to the 2025 Music Educator Award program now.