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Lifetime Achievement Award: Kraftwerk
Kraftwerk

Photo: Parlophone/Warner Bros. Records

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Lifetime Achievement Award: Kraftwerk

A tribute to Germany's groundbreaking electronic/pop band

GRAMMYs/Dec 3, 2014 - 05:06 am

(In addition to the GRAMMY Awards, The Recording Academy presents Special Merit Awards recognizing contributions of significance to the recording field, including the Lifetime Achievement Award, Trustees Award and Technical GRAMMY Award. In the days leading up to the 56th GRAMMY Awards, GRAMMY.com will present the tributes to the 2014 Special Merit Awards recipients.)

For those listening to radio in the United States in 1975, it must have come as quite a shock. The country was still emerging from the era of granola and natural fibers, and music was still measured by its soul and authenticity. And along came this music that sounded as mechanized as a Ford assembly plant. It was vaguely rhythmic like a busy signal. It had a melody that never stepped out of order. For mainstream audiences, Teutonic pop was born that year in the form of Kraftwerk's "Autobahn," and music would never be the same.

Kraftwerk began devising their "robot pop" in Düsseldorf, Germany, in 1970. Kraftwerk founders Ralf Hütter and Florian Schneider met as classical music students at the Düsseldorf Conservatory, originally forming the group Organisation and releasing the album Tone Float in the UK in 1969. They disbanded the group and reformed as Kraftwerk (German for "power station"), inspired to craft music more influenced by psychedelic art rock than machinery. By 1973's Ralf And Florian, Kraftwerk were truly staring down the ghost in the machine. With their follow-up, 1974's Autobahn, Kraftwerk hit on a trancelike, pulsing electronic rhythm that would set the stage for the nearly countless acts that followed, from rock (the Cars, Eurythmics) to new wave (Devo, Thomas Dolby, Joy Division), pop (Giorgio Moroder), electronic/dance (Moby), and even industrial (Throbbing Gristle).

Though he was being influenced by a number of outside forces at the time, David Bowie's late '70s period in Berlin found him adopting Kraftwerk's electronic overtones and droning rhythms for his albums Low and Heroes, highly influential works in their own right, and reportedly making a direct nod to Schneider with the song "V-2 Schneider," featured on Heroes.

In a January 2013 article in The Telegraph, music critic Neil McCormick posed the question: "Kraftwerk: the most influential group in pop music history?" McCormick referenced the literally hundreds of Kraftwerk samples used by artists ranging from Afrika Bambaataa to Madonna, Jay Z and Coldplay. But in an interview for the piece, Orchestral Manoeuvres In The Dark's Andy McCluskey pointed out that Kraftwerk endured the peril of true genius: a lack of appreciation in their own time.

"When [Kraftwerk] started there was a lot of fear of technology," said McCluskey. "People said, 'Look at these robot guys making music on computers; this is wrong.' Well, it turned out that they were absolutely right, not just about music, but in their whole vision of the future man/machine synthesis. And it's not been scary, we have all embraced it and got on with our lives."

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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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Jay Z Tops 56th GRAMMY Nominations With Nine

Kendrick Lamar, Macklemore & Ryan Lewis, Justin Timberlake, and Pharrell Williams earn seven nods each; other top nominees include Daft Punk, Drake, Lorde, Bruno Mars, and Taylor Swift

GRAMMYs/Dec 3, 2014 - 05:06 am

Nominations for the 56th GRAMMY Awards were announced tonight by The Recording Academy and reflected one of the most diverse years with the Album Of The Year category alone representing the rap, pop, country and dance/electronica genres, as determined by the voting members of The Academy. Once again, nominations in select categories for the annual GRAMMY Awards were announced on primetime television as part of "The GRAMMY Nominations Concert Live!! — Countdown To Music's Biggest Night," a one-hour CBS entertainment special broadcast live from Nokia Theatre L.A. Live.

Jay Z tops the nominations with nine; Kendrick Lamar, Macklemore & Ryan Lewis, Justin Timberlake, and Pharrell Williams each garner seven nods; Drake and mastering engineer Bob Ludwig are up for five awards.

"This year's nominations reflect the talented community of music makers who represent some of the highest levels of excellence and artistry of the year in their respective fields," said Neil Portnow, President/CEO of The Recording Academy. "Once again, The Academy's awards process and its voting membership have produced an impressive list of nominations across various genres promising music fans a spectacular show filled with stellar performances and unique 'GRAMMY Moments.' We are off to a great start and look forward to GRAMMY Sunday as Music's Biggest Night takes the stage."

Following are the nominations in the General Field categories: 

Album Of The Year:
The Blessed Unrest — Sara Bareilles
Random Access Memories — Daft Punk
Good Kid, M.A.A.D City — Kendrick Lamar
The Heist — Macklemore & Ryan Lewis
Red — Taylor Swift

Record Of The Year:
"Get Lucky" — Daft Punk & Pharrell Williams
"Radioactive" — Imagine Dragons
"Royals" — Lorde
"Locked Out Of Heaven" — Bruno Mars
"Blurred Lines" — Robin Thicke Featuring T.I. & Pharrell Williams

Song Of The Year:
"Just Give Me A Reason" — Jeff Bhasker, Pink & Nate Ruess, songwriters (Pink Featuring Nate Ruess)
"Locked Out Of Heaven" — Philip Lawrence, Ari Levine & Bruno Mars, songwriters (Bruno Mars)
"Roar" — Lukasz Gottwald, Max Martin, Bonnie McKee, Katy Perry & Henry Walter, songwriters (Katy Perry)
"Royals" — Joel Little & Ella Yelich O'Connor, songwriters (Lorde)
"Same Love" — Ben Haggerty, Mary Lambert & Ryan Lewis, songwriters (Macklemore & Ryan Lewis Featuring Mary Lambert)

Best New Artist:
James Blake
Kendrick Lamar
Macklemore & Ryan Lewis
Kacey Musgraves
Ed Sheeran

Following is a sampling of nominations in the GRAMMY Awards' other 29 Fields:

For Best Pop Solo Performance, the nominees are "Brave" by Sara Bareilles; "Royals" by Lorde; "When I Was Your Man" by Bruno Mars; "Roar" by Katy Perry; and "Mirrors" by Justin Timberlake.

The nominees for Best Pop Duo/Group Performance are "Get Lucky" by Daft Punk & Pharrell Williams; "Just Give Me A Reason" by Pink Featuring Nate Ruess; "Stay" by Rihanna Featuring Mikky Ekko; "Blurred Lines" by Robin Thicke Featuring T.I. & Pharrell Williams; and "Suit & Tie" by Justin Timberlake & Jay Z.

For Best Dance/Electronica Album, the nominees are Random Access Memories by Daft Punk; Settle by Disclosure; 18 Months by Calvin Harris; Atmosphere by Kaskade; and A Color Map Of The Sun by Pretty Lights.

The Best Rock Performance nominees are "Always Alright" by Alabama Shakes; "The Stars (Are Out Tonight)" by David Bowie; "Radioactive" by Imagine Dragons; "Kashmir (Live)" by Led Zeppelin; "My God Is The Sun" by Queens Of The Stone Age; and "I'm Shakin'" by Jack White.

For Best Alternative Music Album, the nominees are The Worse Things Get, The Harder I Fight, The Harder I Fight, The More I Love You by Neko Case; Trouble Will Find Me by The National; Hesitation Marks by Nine Inch Nails; Lonerism by Tame Impala; Modern Vampires Of The City by Vampire Weekend.

The nominees for Best Rap/Sung Collaboration are "Power Trip" by J.Cole Featuring Miguel; "Part II (On The Run)" by Jay Z Featuring Beyoncé; "Holy Grail" by Jay Z Featuring Justin Timberlake; "Now Or Never" by Kendrick Lamar Featuring Mary J. Blige; and "Remember You" by Wiz Khalifa Featuring The Weeknd.

For Best Rap Album, the nominees are Nothing Was The Same by Drake; Magna Carta…Holy Grail by Jay Z; Good Kid, M.A.A.D City by Kendrick Lamar; The Heist by Macklemore  & Ryan Lewis; and Yeezus by Kanye West.

The Best Country Album nominees are Night Train by Jason Aldean; Two Lanes Of Freedom by Tim McGraw; Same Trailer Different Park by Kacey Musgraves; Based On A True Story by Blake Shelton; and Red by Taylor Swift.

The nominees for Best Americana Album are Old Yellow Moon by Emmylou Harris & Rodney Crowell; Love Has Come For You by Steve Martin & Edie Brickell; Buddy And Jim by Buddy Miller And Jim Lauderdale; One True Vine by Mavis Staples; and Songbook by Allen Toussaint.

This year's Producer Of The Year, Non-Classical nominations go to Rob Cavallo, Dr. Luke, Ariel Rechtshaid, Jeff Tweedy, and Pharrell Williams.

This year's GRAMMY Awards process registered more than 22,000 submissions over a 12-month eligibility period (Oct. 1, 2012 – Sept. 30, 2013). GRAMMY ballots for the final round of voting will be mailed on Dec. 11 to the voting members of The Recording Academy. They are due back to the accounting firm of Deloitte by Jan. 8, 2014, when they will be tabulated and the results kept secret until the 56th GRAMMY telecast.

The 56th Annual GRAMMY Awards will be held Jan. 26, 2014, at Staples Center in Los Angeles and once again will be broadcast live in high-definition TV and 5.1 surround sound on CBS from 8–11:30 p.m. (ET/PT). The 56th Annual GRAMMY Awards are produced by AEG Ehrlich Ventures for The Recording Academy. Ken Ehrlich is executive producer, and Louis J. Horvitz is director.

For updates and breaking news, visit The Recording Academy's social networks on Twitter and Facebook

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Boyz II Men Among GRAMMY Celebration Performers

The Recording Academy's official GRAMMY after-party to also feature performances by Ciara, DJ Michelle Pesce and Big Bad Voodoo Daddy

GRAMMYs/Dec 3, 2014 - 05:06 am

Four-time GRAMMY-winning R&B group Boyz II Men, GRAMMY winner Ciara and DJ Michelle Pesce are scheduled to perform at the exclusive 2014 GRAMMY Celebration — The Recording Academy's official after-party. Additionally, the Celebration's MasterCard Jazz Lounge will feature performances by contemporary swing revival band Big Bad Voodoo Daddy and members of the GRAMMY Camp — Jazz Session.

One of the year's most anticipated events attracting GRAMMY winners, nominees and celebrities, the 2014 GRAMMY Celebration will take place at the Los Angeles Convention Center on Jan. 26 immediately following the 56th Annual GRAMMY Awards telecast. The Roaring '20s, the boisterous and exuberant decade proclaiming social liberation, will serve as this year's theme for the all-star GRAMMY Celebration where guests will dance, party and continue to celebrate Music's Biggest Night.

"What better way to celebrate Music's Biggest Night than with an amazing GRAMMY after-party where our guests can continue to enjoy their evening surrounded by music, incredible food and a stunningly visual party atmosphere culminating in not-to-be missed performances," said Neil Portnow, President/CEO of The Recording Academy. "This year's glamorous Roaring '20s theme is sure to provide a uniquely memorable experience for all."

"With more than 600 catering and service staff, 400 production team members, 200 security agents, 60 dancers and acrobats, five featured performances, and hundreds of hours of planning, it is a daunting yet rewarding task to mount the largest and most complex awards show after-party annually," said Branden Chapman, Executive in Charge of Production & Chief Business Development Officer of The Recording Academy. "Each year, we are honored to bring our Recording Academy members and annual GRAMMY nominees together to celebrate the year in music amid amazing performances, delectable cuisine and spectacular thematic design."

The Recording Academy will produce the post-telecast GRAMMY Celebration, overseeing all of the event entertainment, décor and other logistics needed to fill the vast convention space, which equals the size of three football fields. The Roaring '20s theme will come to life with entertainers, dancers, acrobats, elaborate projections, and floor-to-ceiling design reminiscent of the lavish and opulent decade. Renowned celebrity caterer Along Came Mary returns to cater the event with an exquisite menu that includes five buffet-themed stations (New York Italian, Chicago Steakhouse, Atlantic City Boardwalk, Los Angeles Brown Derby, and San Francisco Chinatown) and numerous event-themed desserts such as signature hot fudge sundaes, Boston cream whoopie pies and Coney Island devil dogs, among others. The evening will also feature fine spirits by Patrón Tequila, Ultimat Vodka and Pyrat Rum, and beer by Anheuser-Busch. Beverages at the event will be provided by Pepsi.

The menu was designed using locally grown meat, produce and cheese, when possible, and all seafood is sustainably produced. Leftover edible food from the GRAMMY Celebration is donated to local food banks and all cooking oil used for the event will be recycled.

The 56th Annual GRAMMY Awards will take place live on Sunday, Jan. 26, 2014, at Staples Center in Los Angeles and will be broadcast in high-definition TV and 5.1 surround sound on the CBS Television Network from 8–11:30 p.m. (ET/PT). The telecast also will be supported on radio worldwide via WestwoodOne, and covered online at GRAMMY.com and CBS.com.

For GRAMMY coverage, updates and breaking news, visit The Recording Academy's social networks on TwitterFacebook and Instagram.