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Black Sounds Beautiful: How Quincy Jones' Stratospheric Career Has Shaped And Celebrated Black Music
Quincy Jones

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Black Sounds Beautiful: How Quincy Jones' Stratospheric Career Has Shaped And Celebrated Black Music

Explore Quincy Jones' impactful, seven-decade career in this episode of Black Sounds Beautiful, which details how the industry mogul helped define and promote Black music worldwide.

GRAMMYs/Jun 20, 2022 - 05:34 pm

Ever since his earliest career moves as a teenage trumpet player working with a then-rising performer named Ray Charles, Quincy Jones has gone on to impact nearly every aspect of the music industry. 

In this episode of Black Sounds Beautiful, revisit the storied, seven-decade-long career of the Chicago native who rose to prominence as a musician, songwriter, arranger and producer of records, film and TV. Jones began his work in the jazz format but soon expanded his reach into a wide array of genres, producing 1960s pop hits like "It's My Party" for Lesley Gore and, the following decade, working on three cornerstone records -- Off the Wall, Thriller and Bad -- for Michael Jackson. 

Even in his early decades, Jones' reach was dynamic. He used his talents to mount one of the most well-known philanthropic efforts in musical history, conducting the global charity single "We Are the World," which raised funds for famine victims in Ethiopia. (The star-studded track went on to win three GRAMMYs — including the coveted Record Of The Year — at the 1986 GRAMMYs.)

Meanwhile, he was also making his imprint in the business side of music. In 1964, Jones was named a vice president at Mercury Records, becoming one of the first Black label executives at a major American label. In 1968, he was the first Black artist to ever be nominated for an Academy Award for Best Original Song, for "The Eyes of Love" from the soundtrack of Banning. Three years later, in 1971, he became the first Black musical director and conductor of the Academy Awards.

At the GRAMMY Awards, Jones is one of the winningest creators of all time. Quincy Jones has won 28 GRAMMY wins and has received 80 nominations overall, plus he also received a Recording Academy Trustees Awards in 1989 and a GRAMMY Legend Award in 1992. Additionally, he is an Honorary Chair of the Recording Academy's Black Music Collective, and, at age 89, continues to be an active proponent for Black music across the world today. 

"Black music is always gonna have a very special, strong, powerful place in the culture," Jones once said. "It's amazing what its history is all about. So powerful, man."

Watch the video above to revisit Jones' diverse impact throughout the years, and keep checking GRAMMY.com for more episodes of Black Sounds Beautiful. 

Listen: GRAMMY.com's Black Joy Playlist, Featuring Stevie Wonder, Beyoncé, Anderson .Paak & Many More

Everyone's A VIP At Clive Davis' Pre-GRAMMY Gala: From Travis Scott To Jimmy Jam To Brandi Carlile

Travis Scott

Photo: Scott Dudelson/Getty Images

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Everyone's A VIP At Clive Davis' Pre-GRAMMY Gala: From Travis Scott To Jimmy Jam To Brandi Carlile

Pass through the velvet rope at the Beverly Hilton in Los Angeles for an exclusive look at the star-studded 2019 Pre-GRAMMY Salute To Industry Icons

GRAMMYs/Feb 11, 2019 - 12:27 am

On Feb. 9, on the eve of Music's Biggest Night, the 61st GRAMMY Awards, artists from across genres and decades gathered at the glitzy Beverly Hilton in Beverly Hills, Calif. for the 2019 Pre-GRAMMY Salute To Industry Icons.

Less than 24 hours before the big red carpet walk today, the likes of current GRAMMY nominees Ella Mai, Dua Lipa, Diplo, Shaggy, Alice Cooper and Weird Al Yankovich, and GRAMMY winners Melissa Etheridge and Quincy Jones, brought their vibrant energy and killer looks at the annual celebration hosted by the Recording Academy and Clive Davis. Onlookers tried to spy the glam looks on the red carpet as they peered into the hotel's glass—we'll let you past the velvet rope and walk it with us as at this exclusive music industry event.

Dua Lipa & Ellie Goulding | Photo: Steve Granitz/WireImage/Getty Images

This year's who's-who of music gala celebrated iconic industry veteran Clarence Avant, known as the Godfather Of Black Music, as the honoree of the evening. Like event host and fellow legend Davis, he helped launch the careers of many great artists, working with the likes of GRAMMY-winning greats Bill Withers, Kenneth "Babyface" Edmonds and Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis of The Time.

The video celebrating Avant had countless heroes such as Former President Barack Obama, Jones, Diddy and JAY-Z sharing how much they love Avant, the powerful impact he's made on their lives and music, and how he always knows the right thing to say. Recording Academy President/CEO Neil Portnow introduced him with a fitting complement, and a huge one given the company they were in: "You're the ultimate music person." The Time properly brought the funk on stage to celebrate Avant with a performance of their '80s hits "The Bird" and "Jungle Love," dancing as if no time had passed.

Current GRAMMY nominee Travis Scott set the mood opening the evening's performances with "Goosebumps" and "Sicko Mode," while sisters and fellow nominees Chloe x Halle brought home a rousing cover of the late GRAMMY-winning Queen Of Soul Aretha Franklin's "Sisters Are Doing It For Themselves." Brandi Carlile, another current GRAMMY nominee, returned to the stage to join the duo, along with past nominee Valerie Simpson and Broadway star Keala Settle, ending the evening on quite the high note.

Chloe x Halle | Photo: Scott Dudelson/Getty Images

Other musical guests for the evening included current nominees Bebe Rexha, Florida Georgia Line and H.E.R., along with past nominees Jazmine Sullivan and Ledisi, plus GRAMMY winner Rob Thomas. Sullivan and Thomas offered a powerful duet, belting out Aretha and George Michael's "I Knew You Were Waiting (For Me)."

As the evening rolled on, Davis made sure to highlight all the countless legends in the room, as the crowd continuously burst into applause and often up on their feet to celebrate the likes of music greats Barbara Streisand, George Clinton and Dionne Warwick, along with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Apple's Tim Cook and even former-L.A. Lakers star Kareem Abdul-Jabbar.

Don't forget to tune in to the 2019 GRAMMYs live from Staples Center today. Start with the GRAMMY Awards Premiere Ceremony at 12:30 p.m. PST/3:30 ET, then follow us to the red carpet at 2:00 p.m. PST/5:00 p.m. ET—both will be live streamed right here on right here on GRAMMY.com.

Then the moment you've all been waiting for, the 61st GRAMMY Awards, hosted by 15-time GRAMMY winner Alicia Keys, will air live at 5:00 p.m. PST/8:00 p.m. ET / 7:00 p.m. CT on CBS.

GRAMMY Nominees In Their Own Words: Brandi Carlile, H.E.R., Shawn Mendes, Janelle Monaé & More

GRAMMY Rewind: Watch Quincy Jones Win Record Of The Year For "We Are The World" In 1986
(L-R) Quincy Jones, Stevie Wonder, Dionne Warwick

Photo by Ron Galella, Ltd./Ron Galella Collection via Getty Images

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GRAMMY Rewind: Watch Quincy Jones Win Record Of The Year For "We Are The World" In 1986

In the newest episode of GRAMMY Rewind, 28-time GRAMMY-winning producer Quincy Jones wins Record Of The Year for his star-studded charity single "We Are The World"

GRAMMYs/Feb 4, 2022 - 09:28 pm

"The children that changed this generation from 'I, me, mine' to 'we, you and us': I thank you on behalf of all of USA For Africa," Quincy Jones said to end his acceptance speech for Record Of The Year at the 28th GRAMMY Awards.

The latest episode of GRAMMY Rewind travels back in time to 1986 to relive one of Jones' three wins for his record-breaking charity single, "We Are The World." Watch the super producer's gracious acceptance speech below.

With contributions from megastars like Michael Jackson, Lionel Richie and Stevie Wonder — all three of whom joined Jones on stage in the above video — "We Are The World" helped raise more than $60 million for famine relief efforts in Africa. The star-studded single has sold over 20 million copies and was reportedly the first single to be certified multi-platinum by the RIAA.

Read: GRAMMY Rewind: Watch Lionel Richie & Michael Jackson Win Song Of The Year For "We Are The World"

Along with Record Of The Year, the single took home three other awards that night: Song Of The Year, Best Pop Performance By A Duo Or Group With Vocal and Best Music Video, Short Form. (Jones was not awarded Song Of The Year, as he was not a co-writer.) It was featured on an album of the same name, which was nominated for Album of the Year. 

Jones has won 28 GRAMMYs in his lifetime, tying Beyoncé for the most-awarded living person. The 88-year-old legend is also one of the most nominated acts, with 80 nominations to date.

Check back every Friday for new episodes of GRAMMY Rewind.

Mogul Moment: How Quincy Jones Became An Architect Of Black Music

Black Sounds Beautiful: Five Years After His Death, Prince’s Genius Remains Uncontainable
Black Sounds Beautiful: Prince

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Black Sounds Beautiful: Five Years After His Death, Prince’s Genius Remains Uncontainable

In the latest episode of Black Sounds Beautiful, explore Prince Rogers Nelson’s GRAMMYs legacy and consider how—five years after his passing—we’ve only scratched the surface of his bottomless talent.

GRAMMYs/Jun 19, 2021 - 02:05 am

Some artists celebrate Black genius pointedly through their lyrics and public statements. Others like Prince, simply live it by being exceptional.

Not that the Purple One, who passed away in 2016, didn’t acknowledge race. In the midst of acrimony with a major record label, he scrawled “SLAVE” on his face. He called his name change to the infamous “Love Symbol” “the first step I have taken towards the ultimate goal of emancipation.”

In the end, though, he knew his inimitable writing, production work and guitar playing would be his true statement to the world. attacking others for their immutable characteristics wasn’t the answer. 

“Nothing more ugly in the whole wide world than INTOLERANCE (between) Black, white, red, yellow, boy or girl,” he wrote in his personal archives. (He punctuated it with an extra “INTOLERANCE” at the end.)

In the latest episode of Black Sounds Beautiful, take a brief tour through Prince’s astonishing history as a GRAMMY winner and nominee. Without cheating, try to guess how many wins and nominations he earned before pressing play.

Then, when you’re done, chase it with one of those recent boxed sets of 1999 or Sign o’ the Times. Or, if you’re pressed for time, peep his outrageous, spotlight-stealing guitar solo on “While My Guitar Gently Weeps.” (Seriously, you’ll be glad you did.)

Black Sounds Beautiful: How Beyoncé Has Empowered The Black Community Across Her Music And Art

Black Sounds Beautiful: How Whitney Houston’s Groundbreaking Legacy Has Endured
Whitney Houston

Photo: Steve Granitz

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Black Sounds Beautiful: How Whitney Houston’s Groundbreaking Legacy Has Endured

For the 10th anniversary of Whitney Houston’s passing, GRAMMY.com honors the late superstar by exploring the many ways her voice and her music continue to impact artists across genres and generations

GRAMMYs/Feb 11, 2022 - 01:06 pm

With more than 200 million records sold worldwide, 11 No. 1 singles and six GRAMMYs, Whitney Houston was undoubtedly one of music's biggest superstars — and even in the years without her, her influence continues to sparkle.

Feb. 11 marks 10 years since Houston's untimely death at the age of 48. Though her time was cut short, the music she made and the boundaries she broke during her 27-year career keep her legacy alive. 

One of the best-selling solo artists of all time, Houston earned the moniker of "The Voice" during her heyday thanks to her powerful, gospel-rooted singing chops. Her mentor, former Arista Records President and CEO Clive Davis, said that her distinctive talent was "stunning," while Tony Bennett called her "the greatest singer I've ever heard."

She was able to cross the confines of genre during her career, releasing pop, R&B and dance-tinged tunes, and worked with various acts like Stevie Wonder, George Michael, Mariah Carey, Missy Elliott, and Luciano Pavarotti. Without her contributions to the reshaping and hybridization of modern popular music, contemporary Black pop singers — from Janet Jackson to Lizzo to Normani — may have continued to be placed in boxes based on their race and not their music.

"So many of my life's memories are attached to a Whitney Houston song," Beyoncé said in a statement in 2012 after Houston's passing. "She is our queen and she opened doors and provided a blueprint for all of us." 

Ten years after Whitney Houston's death, GRAMMY.com is exploring how the superstar's legacy continues to endure with posthumous singles and awards, tributes from powerhouse vocalists and more.

Her Accolades

With two posthumously released greatest hits compilation albums and a wave of honors after Whitney's death, the star's achievements have been a major part of her enduring legacy.

I Will Always Love You: The Best of Whitney Houston won "Best Outstanding Album" at the NAACP Image Awards in 2013, and 2014's Her Greatest Performances debuted at No. 1 on Billboard’s Top R&B Albums chart. That year also saw Houston’s legacy further cemented with induction into three echelons of excellence: her eponymous debut album was inducted into the GRAMMY Hall of Fame, and she was posthumously added to both the New Jersey Hall of Fame and the Rhythm and Blues Hall of Fame.

In 2020, Whitney was inducted into the prestigious Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, which her family accepted in her honor. "I'm proud of who she was," her mother, gospel legend Cissy Houston, said. "She always wanted to be something — she worked hard at it, too."

Houston's "I Will Always Love You" has continued serving up milestones as well: In 2020, it surpassed 1 billion views on YouTube, making Whitney the first solo artist from the 1990s to have a music video achieve that feat. Her spine-tingling cover of Dolly Parton's country hit was inducted into the GRAMMYs Hall of Fame that same year. 

The timeless ballad was also certified diamond by the RIAA in 2022, helping Houston become the third female artist in history to have a diamond single and a diamond album. (She actually has three of the latter: The Bodyguard soundtrack, 1985's Whitney Houston and 1987's Whitney.) 

Her Gift, Regifted

Whitney Houston's inimitable voice has been sampled across various genres long before her passing in songs from Salt-N-Pepa, Beyoncé, and French Montana. In the past decade, countless artists have paid tribute to her through samples, proving that her contributions will always be integral.

Drake features a sample of "I Have Nothing" for his song "Tuscan Leather," found on his 2013 album Nothing Was The Same. The following year, Natalie La Rose teamed up with Jeremih for her breakthrough hit "Somebody," a catchy electro-R&B take on Houston's classic "I Wanna Dance With Somebody" that landed at No. 10 on the Billboard Hot 100 in 2015. Bebe Rexha also utilized that song for "The Way I Are (Dance With Somebody)," the lead single from her 2017 EP All Your Fault: Pt. 2.

The dance world has shown Whitney lots of love over the last 10 years. English DJ Duke Dumont interpolated "My Love Is Your Love" for his Jax Jones-accompanied song, "I Got U" in 2014. In 2021, British EDM group Clean Bandit created a dance remix of Houston's "How Will I Know," which peaked at No. 23 on Billboard's Hot Dance/Electronic Chart.

Tropical house producer Kygo provided arguably the most popular Whitney Houston sample in the past decade, 2019's "Higher Love." The song — which features Whitney's 1990 cover of Steve Winwood's GRAMMY-winning hit of the same name — became a smash, hitting No. 1 on Billboard's Dance Clubs Songs chart and becoming Whitney's highest-charting posthumous single. 

Her Televised Tributes

As to expect with televised singing competitions, many undiscovered talents try their hand at songs that show their range. What better way to do that than by tackling a tune made popular by one of the most incomparable voices of all time?

X Factor contestant Keira Weathers literally and figuratively put her competitors to shame with her spirited performance of "I Will Always Love You" in 2015. On America's Got Talent, 2017 semi-finalist Johnny Manuel beautifully sang "I Have Nothing" early on in his season. In 2021, The Voice Season 21 runner-up Wendy Moten delivered pitch-perfect versions of "How Will I Know" and "I Will Always Love You."

Whitney has served as a posthumous voice for the LGBTQ+ community as well. The Season 9 finale of RuPaul's Drag Race in 2017 showcased drag queens "lip-syncing for their lives" to "So Emotional" and "It's Not Right (But It's Okay)." The Emmy-winning series Pose included several Houston hits throughout its three-season run, even reminding fans of her awe-inspiring rendition of "The Star-Spangled Banner" in its Season 2 finale.

Her Influence

Contemporary singers who have publicly acknowledged the impact Whitney Houston had on their artistry include Adele, Lady Gaga, Alicia Keys and Leona Lewis — but they're certainly not alone in sharing that influence.

Several musicians have created memorable moments while paying tribute to Houston. Jennifer Hudson — who said the late star is "the ultimate artist that influenced [her] the most" — led the commemorative tribute at the 2012 GRAMMY Awards, which took place just one day after Whitney's passing. 

In 2016, Ariana Grande nailed a snippet of "I Will Always Love You" in a sketch during her Saturday Night Live hosting stint. A year later, Christina Aguilera performed a medley of hits from "The Bodyguard" during the 2017 American Music Awards. One year after that, Jessie J went viral with a cover of "I Have Nothing," which she sang on the Chinese competition show, "Singer." 

The Houston homages have continued in 2022: Kelly Clarkson performed "Saving All My Love For You" during a "Kellyoke" segment on her daytime talk show, and Katy Perry added a cover of "Greatest Love Of All" to the set list for her newly minted Las Vegas residency, PLAY.

Brandy — whose Whitney influence may be the most personal of anyone in the business — delivered the "The Star-Spangled Banner" during the AFC Championship in January, channeling the white jumpsuit Houston wore at the 1991 Super Bowl, where she performed her now-iconic rendition of the National Anthem.  

The R&B singer has been open about Houston's influence on her life and career for decades. 

Whitney and Brandy's relationship dates back to the 1990s, when they served as co-stars in ABC's made-for-TV version of Rodgers & Hammerstein's "Cinderella" in 1997. 

"If it wasn't for Whitney Houston, there would be no me, because she was the possibility for me," Brandy told The Columbus Dispatch in 2012. "She was the vision of my dreams actually coming true, and she meant everything to me."

After Whitney's passing, Brandy performed "I'm Your Baby" and "I Wanna Dance With Somebody" at the 2012 BET Awards. Later that year, the singer released her sixth studio-album, Two Eleven — partially named in honor of Houston, as she passed on Feb. 11, which happens to be Brandy's birthday.

"It's the day I was born, and each year, I evolve and change with time," she said in an interview with Features Magazine in 2012. "It also has a whole new meaning to it because I gained my angel. My icon is my angel now. It's all tied in there and I just think it best represents who I am and the responsibilities I have moving on."

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