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MTV's "Unplugged" Turns 25

For a quarter century, "Unplugged" has built an acoustic institution ripe with intimate surprises, iconic performances and GRAMMY-winning recordings

GRAMMYs/Dec 3, 2014 - 05:06 am

In the 25 years since the Nov. 26, 1989, debut of MTV's "Unplugged," the television program has become a pop culture institution.

The very term "unplugged" has entered the language as standard parlance for any performance involving acoustic guitars and other unamplified musical instruments. It is also shorthand for virtually any intimate, heartfelt form of musical presentation. A quarter century down the road, "Unplugged" remains a prestigious platform for today's top stars, with shows in recent years featuring Lil Wayne, Thirty Seconds To Mars, Rita Ora, Paramore, Vampire Weekend, and Katy Perry. The series has also amassed an impressive history of performances by GRAMMY-winning artists such as Paul McCartney, Eric Clapton, Tony Bennett, Bob Dylan, Jay Z, Elton John, Pearl Jam, and Mariah Carey, among others.

Considering its success, it's hard to believe that "Unplugged" was once a left-field concept. But it did come along at the tail end of the high tech '80s, when synthesizers and amped-up rock ruled the charts. In fact, the series got started because singer/songwriter Jules Shear needed a way to promote his acoustic album, The Third Party.

"We were trying to think of what we could do to promote the record, and I came up with a loose idea," recalls Shear. "What if we put these people together and create a show which consists of everybody playing songs together, but only with acoustic instruments, and we'll try to get it on HBO or something?"

HBO passed on the concept but MTV snapped it up, placing the show in the capable hands of longtime producer Alex Coletti. The debut installment of "Unplugged" featured Chris Difford and Glenn Tilbrook from Squeeze, singer Syd Straw and Cars guitarist Elliot Easton, along with Shear as host. The artists sang and played their own material, but also performed songs together, hootenanny-style, including a joint performance of the Neil Diamond-penned Monkees hit "I'm A Believer."

It wasn't long before some of the biggest names in music wanted to join the party.

"The show took on its own life after a while," says Coletti. "When it outgrew that folkie, 'just sitting around with friends' kind of thing is when Jules and us parted ways. The format changed to featuring one or two acts at the most, as opposed to five."

One landmark early "Unplugged" episode materialized with McCartney's 1991 appearance. McCartney took a purist approach, insisting on using all acoustic instruments, as opposed to acoustic guitars fitted with electronic pickups, and became the first of many artists to release a successful album drawn from his performance on the show, Unplugged (The Official Bootleg). 

"I liked the idea that there was a show that reduced music to its bare essentials," McCartney said in 1992. "I liked the idea that to be on that show you had to be able to play your instrument and sing live. Having just been on a tour, we liked the idea of stripping back the whole big production just to acoustic guitars."        

As "Unplugged" grew in popularity and prestige, it also came to embrace a wider diversity of musical genres. The series' first-ever episode devoted to rap took place in 1991, featuring LL Cool J, MC Lyte, De La Soul, and A Tribe Called Quest, with instrumental backing from Pop's Cool Love.

"The rap show proved that there were a couple of alleys we hadn't turned down yet," says Coletti. "We rehearsed the night before and LL Cool J had never worked with a live band. Before long, he was calling the shots like he'd been doing it his whole life."

"Unplugged" would reach greater heights as a result of Clapton's 1992 performance. The guitarist's resultant Unplugged album garnered a total of six GRAMMYs, including the first-ever Album Of The Year award to be given to an album drawn from the program. (Two years later, Bennett took the same award for his MTV Unplugged album.) Interestingly, Clapton hesitated before releasing the performance on disc, concerned that it wasn't good enough.

"There's no way to know in advance that a thing you recorded and that took three hours, tops, one afternoon out in England is going to sell 26 million records and win half a dozen GRAMMYs," says longtime Clapton bassist Nathan East.

Perhaps the biggest success to come from Clapton's "Unplugged" set was the ballad "Tears In Heaven," which was written following the loss of his son Conor, who died at age 4 in 1991. Clapton had earlier recorded a studio version of the song, but it was the "Unplugged" performance that became a huge hit and won three GRAMMYs, including Song and Record Of The Year.

Spotify Playlist: MTV "Unplugged" 25th Anniversary

 

Arguably, the series' most iconic performance featured '90s alt-rock icons Nirvana, who were at the height of their fame when they were booked to tape "Unplugged" on Nov. 18, 1993.    

"We practiced for 'Unplugged' before we went on tour, because we knew we were gonna do it," recalls former Nirvana auxiliary guitarist Pat Smear. "So we used some of those songs in our live show as well, just a small [acoustic] set that included maybe 'Polly,' [David Bowie's] 'The Man Who Sold The World' and 'Dumb.'"      

Segments from the program were played in heavy rotation following the shocking news of Cobain's death in April 1994. The vulnerability of the performance, combined with the funereal look of the stage set, gave these segments an eerie air of poignancy at the time. Nirvana's MTV Unplugged In New York album ultimately won a GRAMMY for Best Alternative Music Performance for 1995.

Latin music came to have a significant presence on "Unplugged" in the '90s and beyond, starting with a performance by Los Fabulosos Cadillacs in 1994. Shakira's 1999 appearance marked the channel's first Spanish-language broadcast and yielded the singer's own Shakira — MTV Unplugged album, which won the Best Latin Pop Album GRAMMY for 2000. Columbian star Juanes would win the same award for 2012 for his MTV Unplugged Deluxe Edition album.

In 2005 Alicia Keys helped relaunch the program after a three-year hiatus. Her performance, which featured collaborations with Common, Maroon 5, Mos Def, and Damian Marley, resulted in a chart-topping album.

"'Unplugged' [was] such an amazing and eclectic musical experience which enabled me to arrange the songs with a new perspective, express myself musically, and connect with my fans on a different level than ever before," said Keys in 2005.

More recently, the series has continued to thrive in the digital age with a renewed emphasis on mainstream artists, including installments with Perry (2009), Florence & The Machine (2012) and Miley Cyrus (2014), among others. The latter show featured Cyrus covering Dolly Parton's classic "Jolene" as well as a sexed-up duet with Madonna that seemingly symbolized a torch being passed from one generation to the next.

"I wanted to do 'Unplugged' because at the end of the day I'm a musician, that's what I love to do," Cyrus told MTV. "I like shock value … but that is all second to music for me."

Like "Saturday Night Live" or, in days gone by, "The Ed Sullivan Show," MTV's "Unplugged" has proved a venerable showcase for musical talent both classic and contemporary. By constantly reinventing itself — while also staying true to its core value of intimate acoustic-based performances — the series has remained a class act.

(Veteran music journalist Alan di Perna is a contributing editor for Guitar World and Guitar Aficionado. His liner notes credits include Santana Live At The Fillmore East, the deluxe reissue of AC/DC's The Razor's Edge and Rhino Records' Heavy Metal Hits Of The '80s [Vols. 1 and 3].)

The GRAMMY Museum Announces 'Shakira, Shakira: The GRAMMY Museum Experience,' Honoring Her Creative Legacy; Opening March 2023
Shakira performs at Super Bowl LIV in 2020

Photo: Focus On Sport / Contributor / Getty Images

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The GRAMMY Museum Announces 'Shakira, Shakira: The GRAMMY Museum Experience,' Honoring Her Creative Legacy; Opening March 2023

To showcase Shakira's enduring career, the GRAMMY Museum presents 'Shakira, Shakira: The GRAMMY Museum Experience,' opening on Saturday, March 4, as part of the Museum's permanent Latin Music Gallery

GRAMMYs/Jan 26, 2023 - 03:20 pm

On Saturday, March 4, The GRAMMY Museum will open Shakira, Shakira: The GRAMMY Museum Experience, showcasing Shakira's enduring creative legacy spanning more than three decades as a singer, songwriter, producer, dancer, visual artist, philanthropist, and global icon.

Visitors can see the exhibit on display in downtown Los Angeles at the Museum's permanent Latin Music Gallery.

A multi-GRAMMY-winning and Latin GRAMMY Award-winning artist, Shakira has sold more than 85 million records worldwide and has won numerous awards in addition to those from the Recording Academy. Her albums and releases consistently break records, and she is the most-viewed and -streamed Latin female artist of all time on YouTube and Spotify. She was also honored as the Latin Recording Academy’s Person of the Year in 2011 for her artistic achievements in the Latin music industry as well as their humanitarian efforts.

"It's an honor to have the journey of my career displayed at the GRAMMY Museum," Shakira said in a statement. "These pieces are a testament to so many indelible moments that I cherish, and I'm so happy to be able to relive these memories with those who have and continue to support me as an artist."

Shakira, Shakira explores the artist's musical evolution, from her origins as a Latin rock-loving singer/songwriter in Barranquilla, Colombia, to a global superstar whose catalog spans multiple genres, from bhangra and bachata to rock and reggaetón.

Read More: 2023 GRAMMYs Performers Announced: Bad Bunny, Lizzo, Sam Smith, Steve Lacy, Mary J. Blige & More Confirmed

Early in her career, Shakira began fusing elements of her ethnicities and multicultural roots to construct a richly layered sonic universe that allowed her to grow as a creator while appealing to a worldwide audience. Partly by incorporating her Lebanese heritage on her father's side — along with Arabic dancing and the mainstream pop rock that she grew up with — she achieved international crossover success and broke boundaries for Latin artists.

To deepen visitors' appreciation and understanding of how these cultural elements have shaped every aspect of her songs, music videos, performances, and world tours, the first museum exhibit about Shakira features interactive features that provide fresh insights into her creative process.

It also includes a songwriting notebook with handwritten lyrics from her personal archive along with 40 other artifacts, acoustic and Swarovski-studded electric guitars, iconic outfits from her performances and album covers, three original films, and an immersive space that draws inspiration from her El Dorado tour.

Highlights from the Shakira, Shakira: The GRAMMY Museum Experience include:

  • Forty artifacts from Shakira’s personal archive

  • Shakira’s two 2020 Super Bowl LIV outfits (one red, one gold) and her Gibson Firebird electric guitar, covered with 70,000 black Swarovski crystals

  • Taylor acoustic guitar that Shakira uses for songwriting

  • Fender Stratocaster, covered with pink Swarovski crystals, that Shakira played on her Oral Fixation tour (2006-2007)

  • Gold Yamaha Revstar electric guitar Shakira played on her 2018 El Dorado tour

  • Iconic outfits from Shakira’s 2018 El Dorado tour

  • Leaf-covered bikini Shakira wore on the cover of her 2005 album, Oral Fixation, Vol. 2

  • Songwriting notebook with handwritten lyrics

  • And more!

This announcement comes on the heels of Shakira's latest release with Argentinian producer and DJ Bizarrap, "SHAKIRA || BZRP Music Sessions #53," which has made history in its own way. With the most streams in a single day for a Spanish-language song, it raked in more than 14 million streams in the first 24 hours and became the fastest Latin song to reach 100 million streams. Another historic moment for Shakira, the song debuted at #9 on the Billboard Hot 100, making her the first solo woman to reach the Top 10 on the chart with a song recorded in Spanish. She has also broken the all-time record for most monthly listeners for a Latin artist in Spotify history. The video amassed 160 million views on YouTube in the first week. 

"Shakira is the rare superstar who has discovered a way to keep evolving as an artist while growing her expansive audience along with her," said Jasen Emmons, Chief Curator & Vice President of Curatorial Affairs at the GRAMMY Museum. "She's a serious student of music, and the GRAMMY Museum is excited to offer a dynamic exhibit that reflects her intelligence and artistry."

The GRAMMY Museum Announces Official GRAMMY Week 2023 Programming Schedule

20 Albums Turning 50 In 2023: 'Innervisions,' 'Dark Side Of The Moon' 'Catch A Fire' & More
Clockwise: Stevie Wonder 'Inversions', Pink Floyd 'Dark Side of the Moon', the Allman Brothers Band 'Brothers and Sisters', Al Green 'Call me', David Bowie 'Alladin Sane,' Roberta Flack 'Killing Me Softly'

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20 Albums Turning 50 In 2023: 'Innervisions,' 'Dark Side Of The Moon' 'Catch A Fire' & More

1973 saw a slew of influential records released across genres — many of which broke barriers and set standards for music to come. GRAMMY.com reflects on 20 albums that, despite being released 50 years ago, continue to resonate with listeners today.

GRAMMYs/Jan 24, 2023 - 04:08 pm

Fifty years ago, a record-breaking 600,000 people gathered to see the Grateful Dead, the Allman Brothers Band and the Band play Summer Jam at Watkins Glen. This is just one of many significant historical events that happened in 1973 — a year that changed the way music was seen, heard and experienced.

Ongoing advancements in music-making tech expanded the sound of popular and underground music. New multi-track technology was now standard in recording studios from Los Angeles to London. Artists from a variety of genres experimented with new synthesizers, gadgets like the Mu-Tron III pedal and the Heil Talk Box, and techniques like the use of found sounds.  

1973 was also a year of new notables, where now-household names made their debuts. Among these auspicious entries: a blue-collar songwriter from the Jersey Shore, hard-working southern rockers from Jacksonville, Fla. and a sister group from California oozing soul. 

Along a well-established format, '73 saw the release of several revolutionary concept records. The EaglesDesperado, Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon, Lou Reed’s Berlin and the Who’s Quadrophenia are just a few examples that illustrate how artists used narrative techniques to explore broader themes and make bigger statements on social, political and economic issues — of which there were many.

On the domestic front, 1973 began with the Supreme Court’s landmark decision in Roe v. Wade. Internationally, the Paris Peace Accords were signed — starting the long process to end the Vietnam War. An Oil crisis caused fuel prices to skyrocket in North America. Richard Nixon started his short-lived second term as president, which was marked by the Watergate scandal. 

Politics aside, the third year of the '70s had it all: from classic- and southern-rock to reggae; punk to jazz; soul and R&B to country. Read on for 20 masterful albums with something to say that celebrate their 50th anniversary in 2023. 

Band On The Run - Paul McCartney & Wings

Laid down at EMI’s studio in Lagos, Nigeria and released in December 1973, the third studio record by Paul Mcartney & Wings is McCartney’s most successful post-Beatles album. Its hit singles "Jet" and the title cut "Band on the Run" helped make the record the biggest-selling in 1974 in both Australia and Canada.

Band on the Run won a pair of GRAMMYS the following year: Best Vocal Performance by a Duo, Group or Chorus and Best Engineered Recording, Non-Classical. McCartney added a third golden gramophone for this record at the 54th awards celebration when it won Best Historical Album for the 2010 reissue. In 2013, Band on the Run was inducted into the GRAMMY Hall of Fame. 

Head Hunters - Herbie Hancock

Released Oct. 13, Herbie Hancock’s Head Hunters was recorded in just one week; its

four songs clock in at just over 40 minutes. That the album was not nominated in the jazz category, but instead Best Pop Instrumental Performance, demonstrates how Hancock was shifting gears.

Head Hunters showed Hancock moving away from traditional instrumentation and playing around with new synthesizer technology — especially the clavinet — and putting together a new band: the Headhunters. Improvisation marks this as a jazz record, but the phrasing, rhythms and dynamics of Hancock’s new quintet makes it equal parts soul and R&B with sprinkles of rock 'n' roll. 

The album represented a commercial and artistic breakthrough for Hancock, going gold within months of its release. "Watermelon Man" and "Chameleon," which was nominated for a Best Instrumental GRAMMY Award in 1974, were later both frequently sampled by hip-hop artists in the 1990s.

Greetings From Asbury Park, N.J. - Bruce Springsteen

Bruce Springsteen, 22, was the new kid in town in 1973. This debut was met with tepid reviews. Still, Greetings introduced Springsteen’s talent to craft stories in song and includes many characters The Boss would return to repeatedly in his career. The album kicks off with the singalong "Blinded by the Light," which reached No. 1 on the Billboard 100 four years later via a cover done by Manfred Mann’s Earth Band. This was the first of two records Springsteen released in 1973; The Wild, The Innocent & The E Street Shuffle arrived before the end of the year — officially introducing the E Street Band.

Innervisions - Stevie Wonder 

This Stevie Wonder masterpiece shows an artist, in his early 20s, experimenting with new instrumentation such as TONTO (The Original New Timbral Orchestra) — the world’s largest synth — and playing all instruments on the now-anthemic "Higher Ground."

The song reached No.1 on the U.S. Hot R&B Singles Chart, and Innervisions peaked at No. 4. The album won three GRAMMYS the following year, including Album Of The Year. Wonder was the first Black artist to win this coveted golden gramophone. In 1989, Red Hot Chili Peppers kept the original funk, but injected the song with a lot of rock on their cover — the lead single from Mother’s Milk.

The Dark Side Of The Moon - Pink Floyd

Critics perennially place this Pink Floyd album, the band's eighth studio record, as one of the greatest of all-time. The Dark Side of the Moon hit No.1 and stayed on the Billboard charts for 63 weeks.

A sonic masterpiece marked by loops, synths, found sounds, and David Gilmour’s guitar bends, Dark Side of the Moon is also a concept record that explores themes of excessive greed on tracks like "Money." Ironically, an album lambasting consumerism was the top-selling record of the year and has eclipsed 45 million sales worldwide since its release. The album’s cover has also become one of the most recognized in the history of popular music.

Pronounced 'lĕh-'nérd 'skin-'nérd - Lynyrd Skynyrd

This debut release features several of the northern Florida rockers' most beloved songs: "Gimme Three Steps," "Tuesday’s Gone" and "Simple Man." The record, which has since reached two-times platinum status with sales of more than two million, also includes the anthemic "Free Bird," which catapulted them to stardom. The song with its slow-build and definitive guitar solo and jam in the middle became Lynyrd Skynyrd's signature song that ended all their shows; it also became a piece of pop culture with people screaming for this song during concerts by other artists.

Houses Of The Holy - Led Zeppelin

The first Led Zeppelin record of all originals — and the first without a Roman numeral for a title — Houses of the Holy shows a new side of these British hardrockers. Straying from the blues and hard rock of previous records, Houses of the Holy features funk (“The Ocean” and “The Crunge”) and even hints of reggae (“D’Yer Mak’er”). This fifth studio offering from Page, Plant, Jones and Bonham also includes one of this writer’s personal Zeppelin favorites — "Over the Hills and Far Away.” The song was released as the album’s first U.S. single and reached No. 51 on the Billboard charts. Despite mixed reviews from critics, Houses of the Holy eventually achieved Diamond status for sales of more than 10 million. Interesting fact: the song “Houses of the Holy” actually appears on the band’s next record (Physical Graffiti).

Quadrophenia - The Who

The double-album rock opera followed the critical success of Tommy and Who’s Next. Pete Townshend composed all songs on this opus, which was later adapted into a movie. And, in 2015, classically-scored by Townshend’s partner Rachel Fuller for a new generation via a symphonic version (“Classic Quadrophenia”). The story chronicles the life of a young mod named Jimmy who lives in the seaside town of Brighton, England. Jimmy searches for meaning in a life devoid of significance — taking uppers, downers and guzzling gin only to discover nothing fixes his malaise. With sharp-witted songs, Townshend also tackles classicism. His band of musical brothers: Roger Daltrey, John Entwistle and Keith Moon provide some of their finest recorded performances. The album reached second spot on the U.S. Billboard chart.

Berlin - Lou Reed

Produced by Bob Ezrin, Berlin is a metaphor. The divided walled city represents the divisive relationships and the two sides of Reed — on stage and off. The 10 track concept record chronicles a couple’s struggles with drug addiction, meditating on themes of domestic abuse and neglect. As a parent, try to listen to "The Kids" without shedding a tear. While the couple on the record are named Caroline and Jim, those who knew Reed’s volatile nature and drug dependency saw the parallels between this fictionalized narrative and the songwriter’s life.

Catch A Fire - Bob Marley & the Wailers

The original cover was enclosed in a sleeve resembling a Zippo lighter. Only 20,000 of this version were pressed. Even though it was creative and cool, cost-effective it was not — each individual cover had to be hand-riveted. The replacement, which most people know today, introduces reggae poet and prophet Robert Nesta Marley to the world. With a pensive stare and a large spliff in hand, Marley tells you to mellow out and listen to the tough sounds of his island home.

While Bob and his Wailers had been making music for nearly a decade and released several records in Jamaica, Catch a Fire was their coming out party outside the Caribbean. Released in April on Island Records, the feel-good reggae rhythms and Marley’s messages of emancipation resonated with a global audience. A mix of songs of protest ("Slave Driver," "400 years") and love ("Kinky Reggae"), Catch A Fire is also notable for "Stir it Up," a song American singer-songwriter Johnny Nash had made a Top 15 hit the previous year. 

The New York Dolls - The New York Dolls

The New York Dolls burst on the club scene in the Big Apple, building a cult following with their frenetic and unpredictable live shows. The Dolls' hard rock sound and f-you attitude waved the punk banner before the genre was coined, and influenced the sound of punk rock for generations. (Bands like the Sex Pistols, the Ramones and KISS, cite the New York Dolls as mentors.) Singer-songwriter Todd Rundgren — who found time to release A Wizard, A True Star this same year — produced this tour de force. From the opening "Personality Crisis," this five-piece beckons you to join this out-of-control train.

Aladdin Sane - David Bowie

This David Bowie record followed the commercial success of The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust & The Spiders from Mars. Many critics unfairly compare the two. A career chameleon, with Aladdin Sane, Bowie shed the Ziggy persona and adopted another alter-ego. The title is a pun that means: "A Lad Insane." For the songwriter, this record represented an attempt to break free from the crazed fandom Ziggy Stardust had created.

A majority of the songs were written the previous year while Bowie toured the United States in support of Ziggy. Journal in hand, the artist traveled from city to city in America and the songs materialized. Most paid homage to what this “insane lad” observed and heard: from debauchery and societal decay ("Cracked Actor") to politics ("Panic in Detroit") to punk music ("Watch That Man"). Top singles on Aladdin Sane were: "The Jean Genie" and "Drive-In Saturday." Both topped the U.K. charts.

Faust IV -Faust

This fourth studio album — and the final release in this incarnation by this experimental avant-garde German ambient band — remains a cult classic. Recorded at the Manor House in Oxfordshire, England (Richard Branson’s new Virgin Records studio and the locale where Mike Oldfield crafted his famous debut Tubular Bells, also released in 1973), Faust IV opens with the epic 11-minute instrumental "Krautrock" — a song that features drones, clusters of tones and sustained notes to create a trance-like vibe. Drums do not appear in the song until after the seven minute mark.

The song is a tongue-in-cheek nod to the genre British journalists coined to describe bands like Faust, which musicians largely did not embrace. The rest of Faust IV is a sonic exploration worthy of repeated listens and a great place to start if you’ve ever wondered what the heck Krautrock is.

Brothers & Sisters - the Allman Brothers Band

Great art is often born from grief, and Brothers & Sisters is exemplary in this way. Founding member Duanne Allman died in 1971 and bassist Berry Oakley followed his bandmate to the grave a year later; he was killed in a motorcycle accident in November 1972. Following this pair of tragedies, the band carried on the only way they knew how: by making music.

With new members hired, Brothers & Sisters was recorded with guitarist Dicky Betts as the new de facto band leader. The Allman Brothers Band’s most commercially successful record leans into country territory from the southern rock of previous releases and features two of the band’s most popular songs: "Ramblin’ Man" and "Jessica." The album went gold within 48 hours of shipping and since has sold more than seven million copies worldwide.  

Call Me -  Al Green

Call Me is considered one of the greatest soul records of the 20th century and Green’s pièce de résistance. The fact this Al Green album features three Top 10 Billboard singles "You Ought to Be With Me," "Here I Am" and the title track helps explain why it remains a masterpiece. Beyond the trio of hits, the soul king shows his versatility by reworking a pair of country songs: Hank Williams’ "I’m so Lonesome I Could Cry," and Willie Nelson’s "Funny How Time Slips Away."

Killing Me Softly - Roberta Flack

This Roberta Flack album was nominated for three GRAMMY Awards and won two: Record Of The Year and Best Female Vocal Pop Performance at the 1974 GRAMMYs (it lost in the Album of the Year category to Innervisions). With equal parts soul and passion, Flack interprets beloved ballads that showcase her talent of taking others’ songs and reinventing them. Producer Joel Dorn assembled the right mix of players to back up Flack adding to the album’s polished sound. Killing Me Softly has sold more than two million copies and, in 2020, Roberta Flack received the GRAMMY Lifetime Achievement Award.

The album's title cut became a No.1 hit in three countries and, in 1996, the Fugees prominently featured Lauryn Hill on a version that surpassed the original: landing the No.1 spot in 21 countries. The album also includes a pair of well-loved covers: Leonard Cohen’s "Suzanne" and Janis Ian’s wistful "Jesse," which reached No. 30.

Bette Midler - Bette Middler

Co-produced by Arif Mardin and Barry Manilow, the self-titled second studio album by Bette Midler was an easy- listening experience featuring interpretations of both standards and popular songs. Whispers of gospel are mixed with R&B and some boogie-woogie piano, though Midler’s voice is always the star. The record opens with a nod to the Great American Songbook with a reworking of Johnny Mercer and Hoagy Carmichael’s "Skylark." The 10-song collection also features a take on Glenn Miller’s "In the Mood," and a divine cover of Bob Dylan’s "I Shall be Released." The record peaked at No. 6 on the U.S. charts.

Imagination - Gladys Knight & the Pips

Released in October, Imagination was Gladys Knight & the Pips' first album with Buddha Records after leaving Motown, and features the group’s only No. 1 Billboard hit:  "Midnight Train to Georgia." The oft-covered tune, which won a GRAMMY the following year, and became the band’s signature, helped the record eclipse a million in sales, but it was not the only single to resonate. Other timeless, chart-topping songs from Imagination include "Best Thing That Ever Happened to Me," and "I’ve Got to Use My Imagination."

The Pointer Sisters - The Pointer Sisters

The three-time GRAMMY-winning Pointer Sisters arrived on the scene in 1973 with this critically-acclaimed self-titled debut. Then a quartet, the group of sisters from Oakland, California made listeners want to shake a tail feather with 10 songs that ranged from boogie-woogie to bebop. Their sisterly harmonies are backed up by the San Francisco blues-funk band the Hoodoo Rhythm Devils. The record opens with "Yes We Can," a hypnotic groove of a song written by Allen Toussaint which was a Top 15 hit alongside another cover, Willie Dixon’s "Wang Dang Doodle."

Behind Closed Doors - Charlie Rich

This pop-leaning country record of orchestral ballads, produced by Billy Sherrill, made Rich rich. The album has surpassed four million in sales and remains one of the genre’s best-loved classics. The album won Charlie Rich a GRAMMY the following year for Best Country Vocal Performance Male and added four Country Music Awards. Behind Closed Doors had several hits, but the title track made the most impact. The song written by Kenny O’Dell, and whose title was inspired by the Watergate scandal, was the first No.1 hit for Rich. It topped the country charts where it spent 20 weeks in 1973. It was also a Billboard crossover hit — reaching No. 15 on the Top 100 and No. 8 on the Adult Contemporary charts.

1972 Was The Most Badass Year In Latin Music: 11 Essential Albums From Willie Colón, Celia Cruz, Juan Gabriel & Others

Dr. Dre, Missy Elliott, Lil Wayne, And Sylvia Rhone To Be Honored At The Recording Academy Honors Presented By The Black Music Collective Event During GRAMMY Week 2023

Graphic: The Recording Academy

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Dr. Dre, Missy Elliott, Lil Wayne, And Sylvia Rhone To Be Honored At The Recording Academy Honors Presented By The Black Music Collective Event During GRAMMY Week 2023

Recording Academy Honors will celebrate honorees during the GRAMMY Week event presented by the Black Music Collective at the Hollywood Palladium on Feb. 2, 2023.

GRAMMYs/Jan 11, 2023 - 02:00 pm

Just days before the 2023 GRAMMYs, revered GRAMMY Award-winning artists Dr. Dre, Missy Elliott, and Lil Wayne and music executive Sylvia Rhone will be honored at the Recording Academy Honors Presented By The Black Music Collective event during GRAMMY Week 2023. All four honorees will receive the Recording Academy Global Impact Award for their personal and professional achievements in the music industry.

The second annual Black Music Collective event and official GRAMMY Week event, which takes place Thursday, Feb. 2, at the Hollywood Palladium in Los Angeles and is sponsored by Amazon Music and Google Pixel Phone, will once again feature first-time GRAMMY nominee Adam Blackstone as the musical director of the evening; Recording Academy Board of Trustees Vice Chair Rico Love will also return to Chair the event.

"I am so thrilled to honor and celebrate these four giants in the music industry," Recording Academy CEO Harvey Mason jr. said. "Last year’s inaugural event was such a highlight during GRAMMY Week and now with Dre, Missy, Wayne and Sylvia there to pay tribute to this year, it's definitely going to be another night to remember. I continue to be proud of the work of our Black Music Collective as it's a vital part of what we do here at the Academy."

Read More: "Black Music Saved The World": How The Recording Academy Honors Presented By The Black Music Collective Celebrated Positive Change For The Culture & Community

Dr. Dre is a seven-time GRAMMY Award-winning artist, producer, founder, entrepreneur, philanthropist, and CEO of Aftermath Entertainment and Beats Electronics. Dr. Dre began his career as a member of the World Class Wreckin’ Cru. Shortly after, he co-founded the revolutionary group N.W.A. The Compton, California, native embarked on his solo career in 1992 when he released his solo debut album The Chronic, which has been certified triple platinum by the RIAA, reached the top 10 on the Billboard 200 and won a GRAMMY for Best Rap Solo Performance ("Let Me Ride"). Dre launched Aftermath Entertainment in 1996, where over the years, he discovered hip-hop superstars such as 50 Cent, The Game, Kendrick Lamar, Anderson Paak, and Eminem. Jimmy Iovine and Dre established Beats Electronics in 2008 and later launched Beats Music, which were both acquired by Apple in 2014. Among many other accolades, Dre won a GRAMMY and an Emmy for the HBO docuseries The Defiant Ones, and the Pepsi Super Bowl LVI Halftime Show Starring Dr. Dre, Snoop Dogg, Mary J. Blige, Eminem, Kendrick Lamar and 50 Cent took home three Emmys. In 2013, the USC Jimmy Iovine and Andre Young Academy for Arts, Technology and the Business of Innovation was funded and established. In 2022, they expanded their efforts to the Los Angeles Unified School District by opening the Iovine and Young Center (IYC) Integrated Design, Technology, and Entrepreneurship (IDTE) Magnet, a new high school that will offer students grounding in the same cutting-edge curriculum.

Read More: Dr. Dre's The Chronic: 25 Years Later

Missy 'Misdemeanor' Elliott has remained relevant as a true visionary and pioneer for women in hip-hop for over 25 years. Her experimental sound and groundbreaking music videos changed the music landscape and challenged artists not to conform to the norm. The multi-GRAMMY-Award-winning rapper, singer, songwriter, and producer made an immediate impact on the music industry with her critically acclaimed debut album Supa Dupa Fly – produced by her longtime production partner Timbaland – which debuted at No. 3 on the Billboard 200 and went on to achieve platinum certification by the RIAA. The Virginia native has produced for and collaborated with artists such as Aaliyah, Beyoncé, Janet Jackson, Mariah Carey, Ciara, Lil' Kim, J. Cole, Busta Rhymes, Ludacris, Chris Brown, and Lil Wayne. Among other awards and accolades, Elliott became the first woman rapper inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame and has received honorary doctorates from Berklee College of Music and, most recently, Norfolk State University. In 2022, Elliott was honored in her hometown of Portsmouth with her own street name “Missy Elliott Blvd,” furthermore declaring October 17 to be Missy Elliott Day by the Commonwealth of Virginia. Missy is now the latest addition to the Madame Tussauds Wax Museum, where her figure is a recreation of her 2019 MTV Video Music Awards appearance. In 2021, Elliott received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

Read More: Revisiting Supa Dupa Fly At 25: Missy Elliott Is Still Inspired By Her Debut Record

Lil Wayne has left a lasting impact on the culture as a five-time GRAMMY Award-winning, multiplatinum rap icon, Young Money Entertainment founder and CEO, Young Money APAA Sports founder, acclaimed author, pro skater, and philanthropist. By 2020, he cemented his legacy forever as "one of the best-selling artists of all time," tallying sales in excess of 100 million records worldwide with 25 million albums and 90 million digital tracks sold in the United States alone. In 2022, Wayne earned his first diamond certification from the RIAA with his generational smash hit “Lollipop” featuring Static Major. Among many milestones, he emerged as "the first male artist to surpass Elvis Presley with the most entries on the Billboard Hot 100," logging a staggering 183 entries – the third most of all time. Simultaneously, Wayne owns and operates Young Money Entertainment, the company that ignited the careers of Drake, Nicki Minaj, Tyga, and many more. The committed philanthropist founded the One Family Foundation, with the mission of giving power to the youth by providing them with opportunities to practice their talents and skills and inspiring them to dream beyond their circumstances.

Sylvia Rhone has set the pace for the music industry as one of the most impactful, influential, and important executives in history. She has devoted her professional life to music, she broke a glass ceiling for the first time, and changed the landscape forever as the “only African American and first woman ever” to be named Chairwoman and CEO of Elektra Entertainment Group in 1994. She made history once more in 2019 when Sony Music Entertainment selected her as Chairwoman and C.E.O of Epic Records, enshrining her as "the first woman CEO of a major record label owned by a Fortune 500 company and the first Black woman to attain such a title." Along the way, Rhone has impressively left an indelible imprint on pop, hip-hop, rock, heavy metal, R&B, soul, and electronic music with an impeccable track record. She has shepherded the success of everyone from Missy Elliott, Anita Baker, the late Ol’ Dirty Bastard, Jason Mraz, Busta Rhymes, Pantera, and Metallica to Lil Wayne, Kelly Rowland, Akon, Kid Cudi, Nicki Minaj, Tribe Called Quest, Fabolous, Tamia, and Gerald Levert, just to name a few. Currently, she is at the helm of Epic Records where she has overseen historic releases from Future, Travis Scott, 21 Savage, DJ Khaled, Camila Cabello, and many more. A music industry trailblazer for four decades, Rhone has catalyzed the careers of artists who have changed music and the world at large — and she will continue to do so.

2023 GRAMMY Nominations: See The Complete Nominees List

Press Play On GRAMMY U Mixtape: New Year, It’s Poppin'! Monthly Member Playlist

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Press Play On GRAMMY U Mixtape: New Year, It’s Poppin'! Monthly Member Playlist

The GRAMMY U Mixtape is a monthly, genre-spanning playlist to quench your thirst for new tunes, all from student members. GRAMMY U celebrates new beginnings with fresh pop tunes that will kickstart 2023.

GRAMMYs/Jan 6, 2023 - 12:17 am

Did you know that among all of the students in GRAMMY U, songwriting and performance is one of the most sought after fields of study? We want to create a space to hear what these students are creating today!

The GRAMMY U Mixtape, now available for your listening pleasure, highlights the creations and fresh ideas that students are bringing to this industry directly on the Recording Academy's Spotify and Apple Music pages. Our goal is to celebrate GRAMMY U members, as well as the time and effort they put into making original music — from the songwriting process to the final production of the track.

Each month, we accept submissions and feature 20 to 25 songs that match that month’s theme. This month we're ringing in 2023 with our New Year, It's Poppin'! playlist, which features fresh pop songs that bring new year, new you vibes. Showcasing talented members from our various chapters, we felt these songs represented the positivity and hopefulness that GRAMMY U members embody as they tackle this upcoming year of exciting possibilities.

So, what’s stopping you? Press play on GRAMMY U’s Mixtape and listen now on Spotify below and Apple Music.

Want to be featured on the next playlist? Submit your songs today! We are currently accepting submissions for songs of all genres for consideration for our February playlist. Whether you write pop, rock, hip hop, jazz, or classical, we want to hear from you. Music must be written and/or produced by the student member (an original song) and you must be able to submit a Spotify and/or Apple Music link to the song. Students must be a GRAMMY U member to submit.

About GRAMMY U:

GRAMMY U is a program that connects college students with the industry's brightest and most talented minds and provides those aspiring professionals with the tools and opportunities necessary to start a career in music.     

Throughout each semester, events and special programs touch on all facets of the industry, including the business, technology, and the creative process.

As part of the Recording Academy's mission to ensure the recorded arts remain a thriving part of our shared cultural heritage, GRAMMY U establishes the necessary foundation for music’s next generation to flourish.

Not a member, but want to submit to our playlist? Apply for GRAMMY U Membership here.