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An Important Message From Harvey Mason, Jr., Chair Of The Board And Interim President/CEO

Harvey Mason jr.

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An Important Message From Harvey Mason, Jr., Chair Of The Board And Interim President/CEO

An important message from the Recording Academy Chair Of The Board And Interim President/CEO

GRAMMYs/Jan 21, 2020 - 04:27 am

Academy Family,

As a proud member of our music community and the Recording Academy's interim President and CEO, I thought it important that I reach out to you all directly about Deborah Dugan. In her brief time with the Academy, Ms. Dugan and I were in sync about taking a fresh look at everything and making any and all changes necessary to improve the Academy as well as making it more current and relevant to the creative community we serve. I remain committed to that goal. 

In November of 2019, the Executive Committee became aware of abusive work environment complaints alleged against Ms. Dugan and in December 2019, a letter was sent from an attorney representing a staff member that included additional detailed and serious allegations of a “toxic and intolerable” and "abusive and bullying" environment created by Ms. Dugan towards the staff. Given these concerning reports, the Executive Committee launched an immediate and independent investigation into the alleged misconduct of Ms. Dugan. 

After we received the employee complaints against Ms. Dugan, she then (for the first time) made allegations against the Academy. In response, we started a separate investigation into Ms. Dugan’s allegations. Ms. Dugan’s attorney then informed the Executive Committee that if Ms. Dugan was paid millions of dollars, she would “withdraw” her allegations and resign from her role as CEO. Following that communication from Ms. Dugan’s attorney, Ms. Dugan was placed on administrative leave as we complete both of these ongoing investigations.  

I’m deeply disturbed and saddened by the "leaks" and misinformation, which are fueling a press campaign designed to create leverage against the Academy for personal gain. As GRAMMY week is upon us, I truly hope we can focus our attention on the artists who’ve received nominations and deserve to be celebrated at this time of the year, and not give credence to unsubstantiated attacks on the Academy. To do otherwise is just not right. 

As you know the Recording Academy's Board of Trustees is composed of creative and technical artists and music makers from all genres, who’ve devoted their lives to making music and volunteering their time dedicated to the mission of the Recording Academy. These Trustees, as well as the Governors in our 12 chapters, give their time freely and passionately. Many are entrepreneurs who run small businesses devoted to their art, and generously donate their time not only to recognize their peers, but to fight for the rights of music makers, foster music education, and provide support to those in need all year long. Furthermore, our hardworking and knowledgeable staff could not be more dedicated to supporting and furthering our mission. The current attacks on the Academy are attacks on these people, which are unwarranted, uninformed and unconscionable. 

I encourage anyone who is truly interested to go beyond the sensational sound bites and teaser headlines and look at what the Academy actually does and how it functions. Don't buy into headlines generated for personal gain but seek the truth as I am doing. As I mentioned we have initiated two independent investigations to explore all claims and present objective findings. My pledge to you is that I will address the findings of these investigations fairly and honestly and work to make needed repairs and changes while ensuring we have an Academy that honors diversity, inclusion and a safe work environment for all concerned. 

Thank you for your attention to this matter and your support of our Recording Academy. 

Harvey Mason, Jr.     

Behind The Board: Harvey Mason Jr. On The Role, Meaning Of Being A Producer

Harvey Mason Jr. 

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Behind The Board: Harvey Mason Jr. On The Role, Meaning Of Being A Producer

The GRAMMY-nominated producer has worked with Aretha Franklin, Mary J. Blige, Justin Timberlake, Michael Jackson, Britney Spears and more

GRAMMYs/Feb 16, 2019 - 12:04 am

GRAMMY-nominated producer Harvey Mason Jr.'s first professional production gig involved a Motown artist named Impromptu and $2,500. 

"I thought that was the greatest thing ever," Mason Jr. recalls about getting paid for his first professional experience in the latest episode of Behind The Board. 

Mason Jr. comes from a line of music makers. "I grew up going to the studio with my dad and sleeping right under the console that looked just like this," he says sitting in the producer's chair in a studio. "It's definitely influenced and impacted my career 'to this day."

Mason Jr. has worked with Aretha Franklin, Mary J. Blige, Justin Timberlake, Michael Jackson, Britney Spears and more. 

"As a producer your job is to ensure that the artist gives the best performance," he says. "So the mindset is 'What can I bring to the session?', not what are they going to bring, what can I bring to the session that heightens the quality of what we make. That makes that artist or that singer, that performer do something they've never done or at least better than what they have done before."

Watch the rest of the interview above for more insight on Mason Jr.'s thought process when making music, what he believes producers should bring to the table and more. 

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Remembering Longtime GRAMMY Awards Director Walter C. Miller

Walter C. Miller at the 2010 Special Merit Awards

 

Photo: Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images

 

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Remembering Longtime GRAMMY Awards Director Walter C. Miller

"Our thoughts are with the friends and family of Walter Miller during this difficult time. He was a powerhouse in the television business and helped to shape the GRAMMY Awards as we know it," Interim Recording Academy President/CEO Harvey Mason Jr. said

GRAMMYs/Nov 17, 2020 - 04:06 am

Today, we honor the life of Emmy-winning TV director/producer Walter C. Miller, who directed 15 GRAMMY Awards from 1984 to 2009. He also directed and/or produced many other awards shows—dating back to the '70s—including the CMA Awards, the Tonys, People's Choice Awards and the Latin GRAMMYs, as well as televised music and comedy specials for Johnny Cash, Frank Sinatra, Stevie Wonder, Bob Hope and others. The beloved behind-the-scenes force died at 94 years old on Fri., Nov. 13, surrounded by his family.

"Our thoughts are with the friends and family of Walter Miller during this difficult time. He was a powerhouse in the television business and helped to shape the GRAMMY Awards as we know it. In 2010, we had the privilege of honoring Walter with the Trustees Award. He will be greatly missed," Chair and Interim Recording Academy President/CEO Harvey Mason Jr. said in a statement.

In addition to the Recording Academy's Trustees Award, Miller earned many accolades for his visionary work behind the scenes at televised awards shows, including the CMA President's Award in 2007 and the CMA Irving Waugh Award in 2009. He earned 19 Primetime Emmy nominations and won five of them, including four wins for his work with the Tony Awards. Additionally, he won three Directors Guild of America awards and, in 1993, won a CableACE Award for his work on the "Comic Relief" specials.

"Walter was clearly the most unforgettable character I've ever met in a working capacity, and one of my closest friends outside the business," Ken Ehrlich, the longtime GRAMMYs executive producer who received his own Trustees Award this year after his final show, told Variety. "He left an indelible mark on pretty much everyone he worked with, and as they say, they just don't make 'em like Walter anymore."

"In the award show/live event genre, there really aren't superstar director names like [Steven] Spielberg, [Quentin] Tarantino, [Francis Ford] Coppola or others. It just doesn't work like that, with the exception of my friend, Walter C. Miller," Ehrlich added in a heartfelt tribute to his friend and collaborator.

"He was not only one of a handful of directors—Dwight Hemion and Marty Pasetta also come to mind—who wrote the book about multi-camera coverage of live events, an art form and mathematical logistics nightmare all its own. He also became the first man in the chair to have spread those talents across both country and pop music, directing and ultimately producing both the CMA Awards and the GRAMMYs as well as the Tonys, the Emmys, Comic Relief and dozens of other live events whose degree of difficulty left numerous other directors sitting in puddles beneath their chairs."

"Walter was an absolute television legend," CMA Chief Executive Officer Sarah Trahern said in a statement. "When you worked with him, you instantly knew you were in the presence of greatness. He brought so much innovation and brilliance to the CMA Awards over the 40 years he worked with the organization."

"Walter Miller was my friend and mentor. Everything I know about producing great television I learned from Walter Miller. Walter had a long list of accomplishments and credits and working with the biggest names in entertainment," CMA Awards Executive Producer Robert Deaton added. "He loved our artists, and in return we counted Walter as one of our own. Today we say thank you. You will be missed and rest in peace dear friend."

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Honoring The Legacy Of Loretta Lynn: Jeannie Seely, Amanda Shires, Ingrid Andress, Connie Smith & The Oak Ridge Boys Pay Tribute
Loretta Lynn

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Honoring The Legacy Of Loretta Lynn: Jeannie Seely, Amanda Shires, Ingrid Andress, Connie Smith & The Oak Ridge Boys Pay Tribute

Country icon Loretta Lynn died on Oct. 4, months after her 90th birthday. The multiple GRAMMY winner and Lifetime Achievement Award recipient's influence ricochets through the decades. In a roundtable tribute, Lynn's peers and fans reflect on her legacy.

GRAMMYs/Oct 5, 2022 - 08:38 pm

Country music lost one of its singular icons with the passing of Loretta Lynn, who died on Oct. 4 just months after her 90th birthday.

A creative beacon for singers and songwriters who was also beloved by fans, Lynn’s deep influence ricochets through the decades. Her work and life is an example of a true artist who sang from her heart, preached empowerment and gave voice to the voiceless.

A self-taught artist who was born into poverty, Lynn later became known as the Coal Miner’s Daughter — the title of her signature hit and her first song inducted into the GRAMMY Hall of Fame in 1998. The artist received  a slew of GRAMMY honors during her lifetime, with three wins and eighteen nominations in addition to a Lifetime Achievement Award bestowed on her in 2010. 

"It has been a privilege for the Recording Academy to honor Loretta throughout her illustrious career and celebrate her contributions to the music community," said Recording Academy CEO Harvey Mason Jr. "Loretta has had an indelible impact on country music and her voice will continue to resonate with generations of music lovers for years to come."

Lynn's first GRAMMY honor came during the ninth-ever GRAMMY Awards in 1967, with a nomination for "Don’t Come Home A Drinkin'," an upbeat track where she tells her husband to sober up, famously crooning, "liquor and love just don’t mix." Her first GRAMMY win arrived in 1972 for "After the Fire Has Gone," a duet with fellow country legend Conway Twitty.

"The main thing about country music is that I love to sing it and there’s a lot of people who love to hear it," she said during her acceptance speech after her most recent GRAMMY win, this one for Best Country Album in 2005 for Van Lear Rose, a collaboration with Jack White.  It was a succinct way to encapsulate a seismic career.

In tribute to Lynn, GRAMMY.com gathered a disparate group of Loretta’s peers and fans to reflect on her legacy.

The Trailblazin’ Queen Of Country

Jeannie Seely (GRAMMY-winning singer, Grand Ole Opry legend): As an artist/songwriter, her impact will be felt and studied by historians for years to come. Aside from being such a legendary artist, Loretta was my Opry sister, a connection that has always meant the world to me. That is a special bond to us as we’ve all shared the same dreams, same disappointments, the same personal challenges, and, most of all, the same love of the Grand Ole Opry.

Joe Bosnall (GRAMMY-winning member of The Oak Ridge Boys): She was truly the Queen of country music. One of the greatest American success stories of all time. Humble beginnings to iconic legend, with a meaningful career and body of work that may never be equaled.

Sunny Sweeney (Country singer-songwriter): Loretta Lynn was a trailblazer for all of us following in her footsteps, making it ok to write and sing about real-life situations, even if they weren't always pretty.  

Ingrid Andress (GRAMMY-nominated singer/songwriter): There are not enough words to thank Loretta Lynn as one of the first to make a path for women in country to ride on. She paved the way for so many by sharing her talent and voice at a time when women’s voices weren’t being heard. May we be so lucky as to have artists and songwriters continue this country music tradition of sharing the stories that unite us in the most important ways.

Connie Smith (GRAMMY-nominated singer-songwriter):  Loretta was always my favorite singer and a great friend.

Rita Wilson (Actress, singer): She was smart, she was strong and she was kind.  As she said, "I ain’t got much education but I got some sense."

"Grace, With Vocals That Sounded Like A Million Bucks"

Amanda Shires (GRAMMY-winning singer-songwriter, member of The Highwoman): My grandad listened to a lot of music. When we’d go selling flowers (he was a wholesale nursery man), one of the artists he loved to play was Loretta Lynn. I admire the way he loved fearless women. Loretta was fearless. Both Garland Shires and Loretta Lynn helped me learn how to lean into my gut feelings and strength inside my own self.  And I’m grateful that he introduced me to her music."

Connie Smith: The first time I came to Nashville I went to the Ernest Tubb Record shop and a guy said my wife wants to meet you and it was Loretta. She said "I heard you up there and you’re going to make it. I’m going to do for you what Patsy Cline did for me." She even brought me out on stage for the Grand Ole Opry during her show for the first time.

Sunny Sweeney: She was such an inspiration to me personally. I carry the words of advice she gave me many years ago to every writing appointment: "Just write what you know, baby, just write what you know."

Joe Bosnall: I joined the Oak Ridge Boys 49 years ago and right away we found ourselves on a Loretta Lynn CBS special. We wore these checkered coats that exist today in Loretta’s museum. I thought she was beautiful, gracious and kind. That never changed over the years.

Sierra Hull (Bluegrass singer, guitarist and mandolinist): I first saw Loretta perform six or seven years ago from backstage at the Grand Ole Opry in Nashville. I was so struck by how gorgeous she was in her long, flowing, red sequined dress. I couldn’t stop watching her as she took the stage with such grace and her vocals still sounded like a million bucks. I’ll never forget it. I went home and started obsessing over her albums with a fresh excitement.

Michael Trotter (Singer-songwriter, The War And Treaty): Growing up, in my bedroom was my grandmother's old school ACME radio. FM was happening back then....playing all the latest in Hip Hop and R&B. AM played all the religious stuff like Moody Bible. But at night the classic country western music played all night long. Mama rigged my radio to only play that AM station and I went to sleep to Loretta Lynn nightly.

Rita Wilson: You didn’t have to be from the south to love Loretta Lynn. Her force of talent reached me as a young woman in another kind of south, Southern California.  To hear a woman singing "You Ain't Woman Enough To Take My Man" was shocking. It was the ultimate diss track and ahead of its time. She enabled women to have a voice literally and metaphorically. It was so empowering to hear this in a song. 

A Discography Of Country Classics

Jeannie Seely: My favorite song is "Blue Kentucky Girl." It’s so sincere you have to believe every word she’s singing because she makes you feel it.  And anyone can relate it to wherever they are from, like I did.

Connie Smith: I love all of her songs, but my favorite is "Here I Am Again."

Michael Trotter: The first song I ever heard from Loretta was back in the '80s.... "Don’t Come Home A Drinkin'." In fact when Daddy would come home drunk and he and Mama were fighting I’d go in their room and start singing that song to Daddy and they’d actually stop fighting. That’s when I knew she had super angelic powers. I will never forget the first time I ever heard her.

Joe Bosnall: [My favorite Loretta song is] "Don’t Come Home A Drinkin'." Every man alive knew what that meant.

Amanda Shires: "The songs I love the most are the ones I can relate to the most: "Don’t Come Home a Drinkin'," "The Pill." She was pro-choice. And when I read that in her memoir, I thought, amen…glad there’s more of us than I thought."

Sunny Sweeney: "She was already my queen with her music from her first single on, but when she released Van Lear Rose she was placed on the highest of high pedestals. "Miss Being Mrs" is quite possibly one of the greatest songs of all time."

Rita Wilson: [My favorite song is]  "Coal Miner’s Daughter." My dad was an immigrant and came to America on a freighter ship where he shoveled the coal powering the boat’s engines. Loretta seemed to be singing about my family.

Loretta’s family didn’t have a lot of money but they were happy and they had love. She sang about her life with pride, not embarrassment. In this song she embraced the values that are important in life: family, love, hard work and a spiritual life.

Tanya Trotter (Singer-songwriter, The War And Treaty): "You Ain’t Woman Enough To Take My Man" was my first song [of Loretta Lynn's that I loved].  It was the most classy way I had ever heard a woman tell another woman off, ha! 

Hard Hitting And Meaningful

Joe Bosnall: She wrote songs that were hard hitting and meaningful. Great Britain lost their long reigning Queen and now we have lost OUR Queen as well.

Tanya Trotter: She leaves this world with no regret, no recourse or no shame and we’ll  work hard on earth's playground with her in memory.

Amanda Shires: I’m grateful for the times I got to be in her presence or sing for her. We’re all in a better world because of her. Loretta will always remain a hero and a light.

Sunny Sweeney: I'm so brokenhearted that we have lost another of my heroes. My deepest sympathy is with Miss Loretta's family.

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Behind The Board: Nashville Producer Jordan Brooke Hamlin Explains Why She Leads With "Curiosity" And Take Risks In The Studio

Photo: courtesy of artist

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Behind The Board: Nashville Producer Jordan Brooke Hamlin Explains Why She Leads With "Curiosity" And Take Risks In The Studio

Hamlin reflects on the complex relationship between artist and producer, and shares an experience that taught her to leave extra room for creativity in her recording sessions.

GRAMMYs/Oct 5, 2022 - 05:03 pm

Nashville fixture Jordan Brooke Hamlin has produced records for artists including Danni Nicholls, Missy Higgins, Rachel Yamagata, and GRAMMY-winning duo Indigo Girls — and she's been a multi-instrumentalist and a touring and studio musician for more than a decade and a half.

Indeed, music is in Hamlin's blood, as she explains in this episode of Behind the Board.

"My parents loved music so much, and that I think is such a gift," she says, speaking from the residential, women-owned Nashville studio Møxe. "I honestly don't remember a time that it wasn't a given that I would do music. Or musician and botanist. Those were the two options in my mind."

Inspired by her parents' musical tastes, Hamlin grew up loving the immersive albums of the late 1960s and early '70s — and today, she applies that holistic approach to her studio work.

"I really love working with artists over the course of their career and exploring different spaces and different depths they can go to every time," she explains. "I probably come into the room starting with curiosity. I'm wanting to get their GPS coordinates. I want to know where they are, what they love right now, what they loved growing up, what their sauce is."

She's also always learning, thanks largely to the creative minds she surrounds herself with when she steps into a recording session. For example, she points to one session with a group of artists, when the team started improvising an arrangement in real time.

"We're coming up with this incredible arrangement on the fly," Hamlin recounts, "and we were talking about how that's a risk, to not go in with an arrangement, and only in a certain space would it be like, 'Yeah, let's take an hour' — which was probably what it would have taken anyway to record it — and everybody had so much fun."

"I thought it was a good reminder to me to leave space not just for engineering, but we're here to capture people playing their instruments to a high degree, and their creativity manifest," she concludes.

Press play on the video above for more reflections and insights from Hamlin, and keep checking GRAMMY.com for more new episodes of Behind the Board.

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