Neil Portnow, John Legend, Ryan Seacrest Bestow First-Ever Music Educator Award

Academy President/CEO and guests honor teacher Kent Knappenberger
  • Photo: Kevin Winter/
    Recording Academy and GRAMMY Foundation President/CEO Neil Portnow
  • Photo: Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images
    Ryan Seacrest, John Legend and Neil Portnow
January 26, 2014 -- 9:33 pm PST

(The following is a transcript of Recording Academy President/CEO Neil Portnow's remarks on the 56th GRAMMY Awards telecast. Portnow was joined by GRAMMY Foundation Honorary Board Chair Ryan Seacrest and nine-time GRAMMY winner John Legend.)

Neil Portnow: Clifford Ormsby, Joe Monk and Stanley Solow, who I mentioned here last year. Probably not names you've ever heard of, but they were some of the music teachers in my life who gave me encouragement, knowledge and inspiration. And those of you who were watching last year may remember that I asked a few friends to join me to announce a special new award to be given this year. So please welcome back the Honorary Chair of the GRAMMY Foundation and an extraordinarily talented artist who you saw perform earlier tonight, Ryan Seacrest and John Legend.

Ryan Seacrest: Last year, The Recording Academy and the GRAMMY Foundation announced the first-ever Music Educator Award, a brand-new honor to recognize outstanding classroom music teachers from kindergarten through college. And here's what happened: over 32,000 nominations,10 finalists ... and one winner.

John Legend: So yesterday, as part of The Academy's prestigious Special Merit Awards Ceremony, we announced the recipient of the first-ever Music Educator Award.

Portnow: And he's here with us tonight. Ladies and gentlemen, please give a well-deserved round of applause to Kent Knappenberger. Congratulations, Kent!

Legend: Seeing and hearing some of his many music students shows why such an extraordinary and inspiring teacher deserved our first award this year. He teaches general music for Westfield Academy and Central School's sixth through 12th grades in rural New York.

Portnow: But in addition, Kent oversees a sixth grade choir, a seventh and eighth grade boys' chorus, a high school mixed chorus, a select chamber chorus, a men's choir, a woman's choir, four hand bell ensembles, four steel pan ensembles, and a Celtic/American string band. You know, it's so impressive!

Seacrest: And we're so pleased with the spotlight this award places on the thousands of great music educators working to provide the inspiration, the passion, and the skills our young musicians need that we're going to do it all over again! So to nominate your favorite music teacher for next year's award, just go to and tell us about them.

Portnow: Let's continue to say "thank you" for everything these teachers do for our young musicians, and for all of us who truly love music. 

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