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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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Remembering Coolio: 5 Standout Tracks From The Late Rapper’s Discography
Coolio in 2000

Photo: Rob Verhorst / Contributor

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Remembering Coolio: 5 Standout Tracks From The Late Rapper’s Discography

With a career spanning three decades, Coolio will be remembered for his upbeat ‘90s jams, sense of humor, and lyricism. While the road to the top was rocky, and Coolio developed a unique sensibility and canon of hits.

GRAMMYs/Sep 29, 2022 - 10:18 pm

GRAMMY-winning rapper Coolio passed away on Tuesday, Sept. 28, at the age of 59. The rapper is best known for his 1995 smash hit "Gangsta’s Paradise," which became the top-selling single of the year thanks to its melodic sample, energetic flow and catchy hook. He is survived by his six children.

Born Leon Ivey Jr., Coolio spent his early years in Monessen, Pennsylvania before relocating with his family to Compton, California — the birthplace of West Coast rap. Coolio's parents introduced him to classic R&B hits from their youth, and those songs became inspiration for his future sound. "My mom and stepfather was listening to Miles Davis, Stevie Wonder, the Supremes, the Dramatics, Marvin Gaye, Curtis Mayfield," Coolio told Rolling Stone in 1995. "Back in those days, people didn’t have big album collections, at least not in the ghetto, but we did."

Before making a full-time commitment to music, the "Fantastic Voyage" rapper worked a range of jobs, including airport security; he credited his work as a volunteer firefighter with helping him kick an addiction to crack cocaine. "I wasn’t looking for a career; I was looking for a way to clean up   a way to escape the drug thing," he told the LA Times in 1994. "It was going to kill me and I knew I had to stop. In firefighting, training was [the] discipline I needed. We ran every day. I wasn’t drinking or smoking or doing the stuff I usually did."

With his life back on track, the rapper was free to focus on his music and never looked back. After the release of his debut album, It Takes A Thief, in 1994, Coolio enjoyed immense success on global music charts, and wins at the GRAMMYs, American Music Awards and MTV Music Awards before his career began to simmer down in the 2000s. 

But Coolio did not stop. In 2008, he created a cooking reality show called "Cookin’ With Coolio" and became a spokesperson for Environmental Justice and Climate Change, helping to start a dialogue with students at historically Black colleges and universities (HBCUs) about global warming. 

As news of his passing made the rounds on social media, fans and peers alike paid tribute to the late rapper, including fellow West Coast rap legend Ice Cube. "This is sad news," he tweeted. "I witness first hand this man’s grind to the top of the industry. Rest In Peace, @Coolio." 

​​Dangerous Minds actor Michelle Pfeiffer took to Instagram to pay her respects. "I remember him being nothing but gracious. 30 years later I still get chills when I hear ["Gangsta’s Paradise"] Sending love and light to his family. Rest in Power, Artis Leon Ivey Jr. ❤️."

In celebration of his life and career, listen to and learn about five standout tracks from the late GRAMMY-winning rapper, who has become a part of pop culture history.

"Gangsta’s Paradise"

Coolio co-wrote this classic hip-hop track for the soundtrack of the 1995 high school drama, Dangerous Minds, starring Michelle Pfeiffer. Featuring a Stevie Wonder sample ("Pastime Paradise") and a haunting yet catchy chorus sung to perfection by Larry "LV" Sanders, the cinematic theme song erupted on the charts, making Coolio a household name across the globe. (According to the New York Times, Wonder approved the use of the sample with a major stipulation: The song had to be profanity-free. This simple caveat may have inadvertently set the song up for more widespread success.)

"Gangsta's Paradise" set Coolio up for his first nomination at the 38th GRAMMY Awards. The track was only the second rap song to get nominated for Record Of The Year, and won Coolio his first golden gramophone. The rapper was nominated a total of six times.

Sanders played a pivotal role in the song’s success, according to Rolling Stonesoral history of the classic track. The singer received the song before Coolio was involved and changed the name from "Pastime Paradise" to "Gangsta’s Paradise." Sanders recorded the singing portion of the track and chose to bring Coolio in to write and perform the rap verses. In March of 1996, Weird Al Yankovic released a parody of the song called "Amish Paradise," without Coolio’s permission (artist approval is not legally required for a parody song ). Coolio dissed Yankovic and spoke out against the song, though the pair eventually reconciled and Coolio admitted that his ego led to his outburst. 

Yesterday, music writer Dan Ozzi posted an excerpt from an interview with the rapper, in which he addressed the beef and his growth since the incident. "Let me say this: I apologized to Weird Al a long time ago and I was wrong," Coolio said. "Y'all remember that, everybody out there who reads this s—. Real men and real people should be able to admit when they're wrong and I was wrong."

"Fantastic Voyage"

Released on his debut studio album, It Takes a Thief, the song features a pulsating beat and an ever-catchy chorus "Come along and ride on a fantastic voyage" pulled from the heavily sampled 1980 R&B-funk song of the same name by the group Lakeside.

The song was a hit and the album was well-received by hip-hop fans and a sign of good things to come for Coolio’s career. 

"Ooh La La"

Like many ‘90s rappers, Coolio utilized samples from artists of the ‘70s and ‘80s but he infused these memorable sounds with his own flavor. "Ooh La La" — the second single from the rapper’s third album, 1997's My Soul — features a sample of "Pull Up to The Bumper" by Grace Jones. The result is a sonic delight designed for cruising or a throwback party jam. 

While the single did not achieve the same success as his other smash hits, the lesser-known summertime bop holds its own and showcases the rapper's breezier side.

"Aw, Here It Goes"

In the ‘90s, at the height of his fame, Coolio brought his signature swagger and flow to the theme for "Kenan and Kel," a beloved Nickelodeon sitcom starring "SNL’s" Kenan Thompson and Good Burger’s Kel Mitchell. The duo paid tribute to the late rapper on their Instagram pages: Thompson offered his condolences with a few slides on his Instagram story, while Mitchell shared a heartfelt message and memory.

​​"Rest in Heaven @coolio ! We recently spoke a few months ago laughing and having such a good time. So many great memories with you, bro!," Mitchell wrote. "That time first meeting you on 'All That' cracking up in a Good Burger Sketch then you bringing me on stage after your performance to freestyle. Then later creating the legendary 'Kenan and Kel' theme song for @kenanthompson and I. You did an interview the day of filming the intro on Big Boys Neighborhood and all of Los Angeles was at Universal Studios city walk it was a party!!"

"1, 2, 3, 4 (Sumpin' New)"

Coolio had major skills on the mic and beyond, but he also had a great ear for danceable tracks that could jumpstart any dancefloor. The upbeat 1996 single, "Sumpin’ New" featured three different samples — "Thighs High (Grip Your Hips and Move)" by jazz trumpeter Tom Browne; a vocal sample from "Wikka Wrap" by the Evasions, and its main riff comes from "Good Times" by Chic.

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Press Play At Home: Trinidad Cardona Shares A Relaxed Bedroom Performance Of His Viral TikTok Hit, "Dinero"
Trinidad Cardona

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Press Play At Home: Trinidad Cardona Shares A Relaxed Bedroom Performance Of His Viral TikTok Hit, "Dinero"

In this stripped-down, brooding performance of "Dinero," bilingual R&B singer-songwriter Trinidad Cardona revisits the song that went viral in TikTok in 2021, three years after he released it.

GRAMMYs/Sep 29, 2022 - 05:30 pm

Smooth vocal runs and a gentle acoustic guitar line are at the center of Trinidad Cardona's performance of "Dinero," a mid-tempo ballad about the intoxicating powers of an ill-fated romantic relationship that, despite its drawbacks, keeps drawing both people back for more.

In this episode of Press Play at Home, the rising R&B singer-songwriter homes in on the intimacy of his hit song, performing a rendition of the track in a bedroom, accompanied only by a guitar line.

Sitting on the edge of a bed and wearing lounge clothes, Cardona sings into a mic, surrounded by objects you'd expect to find in a bedroom: Clothes on the hangers, a record player on the drawer chest, flowers in a vase and a couple of bottles on the nightstand.

It's a fitting backdrop to represent Cardona's success story: The 23-year-old breakout performer found stardom by doing things his own way, without the support of a manager, press agent or label.

According to Billboard, he was supporting himself by picking up odd jobs on Craigslist and delivering food out of his banged-up 1993 Nissan Sentra when "Dinero" went viral on TikTok in 2021.

The song — which had actually already been out for three years, as Cardona released it in 2018 — became the No. 1 song on TikTok's viral chart, inspired more than two million creations by other users and earned more than 65 million streams across all platforms.

Meanwhile, Cardona's success continued to snowball; the up-and-comer has already racked up over 6 billion streams across all platforms.

Press play on the video above to enjoy the singer's easygoing bedroom rendition of "Dinero," and keep checking back to GRAMMY.com for more episodes of Press Play at Home.

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