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Recording Academy Lifetime Achievement Award 2021 Honorees To Be Celebrated With The Return Of The Special Merit Awards Ceremony And 64th GRAMMY Nominees Reception
The 2021 Lifetime Achievement Award honorees, which include Grandmaster Flash & The Furious Five, Salt-N-Pepa, Selena, Talking Heads, and more, will be celebrated with the return of the Special Merit Awards Ceremony and 64th GRAMMY Nominees Reception
Editor's Note: The 64th Annual GRAMMY Awards Show has been postponed. Read a Joint Statement from the Recording Academy and CBS here.
The Recording Academy announced today that the 2021 Lifetime Achievement Award honorees will be celebrated with the return of the Special Merit Awards Ceremony and 64th GRAMMY Nominees Reception event, which will be held at the Wilshire Ebell Theatre in Los Angeles on Sunday, Jan. 30, 2022. The recipient of the 2022 Music Educator Award, presented by the Recording Academy and GRAMMY Museum, will also be honored at this event.
The previously announced Lifetime Achievement Award recipients include Grandmaster Flash & The Furious Five, Lionel Hampton, Marilyn Horne, Salt-N-Pepa, Selena, and Talking Heads. Ed Cherney, Benny Golson and Kenny "Babyface" Edmonds were named Trustees Award honorees; and Daniel Weiss is the Technical GRAMMY Award recipient. Given the challenges imposed by the COVID-19 pandemic, honorees were unable to attend the 63rd GRAMMY Awards, nor receive in-person recognition during the show, but were acknowledged in the telecast. Bonnie Raitt, who was unable to accept the Lifetime Achievement Award last year due to COVID restrictions, joins the list of previously announced 2021 honorees.
"We are so excited to celebrate the 2021 honorees at the 64th GRAMMYs to ensure they get the celebration they deserve," Recording Academy CEO Harvey Mason jr. said. "With the strict COVID protocols in place for the 63rd show, we were not able to properly and fairly honor our Special Merit Award honorees as we have done in past years. Before we induct a new class, we must come together to recognize this group of iconic creators who have paved the way not only in music, but also within our culture."
Formed in the South Bronx of New York City in 1978, Grandmaster Flash & The Furious Five are among the pioneers of hip-hop. The group's use of turntablism, break-beat DJing, choreographed stage routines, and lyricism was a significant force in the early development of the genre.
Lionel Hampton* started his career as a drummer in Chicago in the 1920s before he played the vibraphone with Louis Armstrong. In the 1930s, he broke barriers with the Benny Goodman Quartet, one of the first integrated jazz bands in America. In the 1940s, he formed his own Lionel Hampton Orchestra, which became one of the longest-running orchestras in jazz history.
Marilyn Horne is one of the most prolific opera singers of our time. Over her six-decade career, she has garnered numerous honors, including four GRAMMY Awards, a Kennedy Center Honors, the National Medal of Arts, a Commander of the Order of Arts and Letters from France's ministry of culture, and a National Endowment for the Arts Opera Honors.
Bonnie Raitt is a singer, songwriter and guitarist whose unique style blends blues, R&B, rock, and pop. After 20 years as a cult favorite, she broke through to the mainstream in the early '90s with her GRAMMY Award-winning albums Nick of Time and Luck of the Draw. Raitt's widely acclaimed 2012 independent release Slipstream was one of the top-selling independent albums and earned Raitt her 10th GRAMMY Award (Best Americana Album). In 2016, Raitt released her GRAMMY-nominated album Dig In Deep, and in 2022, she will release her 21st studio album, Just Like That…, the third release on her Redwing Records label.
As one of the first all-women rap groups, Salt-N-Pepa broke down a number of doors for women in hip-hop. Formed in Queens, New York, in 1985, the group crafted hits such as "Push It," "Shoop," "Whatta Man," and the GRAMMY-winning "None Of Your Business." They were also one of the first rap artists to cross over, laying the groundwork for hip-hop's widespread popularity in the early '90s.
The Queen of Tejano, Selena* became a household name not long after her career took off in the 1980s. Her 1993 album Live won Best Mexican-American Album at the 36th GRAMMY Awards, marking the first time a female Tejano artist won the category. Though her life was tragically cut short in 1995, Selena's crossover album, the posthumously released Dreaming Of You, sold 175,000 units on the day of its release, a then-record for a female vocalist.
Talking Heads, formed in 1975 in New York City, helped pioneer new wave music by blending elements of punk, rock, art pop, funk, and world music with an avant-garde aesthetic. In 2002, 11 years after the group disbanded, they were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
Ed Cherney* was one of the most sought-after engineers in the industry. His four-decade career began as an assistant engineer working with Bruce Swedien and Quincy Jones on Michael Jackson's Off The Wall. Cherney went on to record, mix and engineer albums for artists such as the Rolling Stones, Bob Dylan, Iggy Pop, and Fleetwood Mac, among others. A four-time GRAMMY winner, he also co-founded the Recording Academy's Producers & Engineers Wing.
Benny Golson is an international jazz legend who has composed more than 300 works over his 70-year career. He has composed and arranged music for artists such as John Coltrane, Miles Davis, Ella Fitzgerald, Dizzy Gillespie, Benny Goodman, and Lionel Hampton, and is the only living artist to write eight jazz standards. His prolific writing also includes scores for many hit TV series and films.
Kenny "Babyface" Edmonds is a poignant tunesmith, prolific producer, superstar recording artist, and revolutionary label owner. An 11-time GRAMMY winner, including a record four Producer Of The Year, Non-Classical awards, Babyface has been instrumental in the careers of artists such as Toni Braxton, Usher and TLC and has crafted hundreds of pop and R&B hits with artists including Whitney Houston, the Whispers, Brandy, Boyz II Men, Madonna, and Eric Clapton.
Daniel Weiss is one of the true pioneers of digital technology. In 1985, he founded Weiss Engineering Ltd. in Zurich, Switzerland. The company has designed and manufactured groundbreaking digital audio equipment for mastering studios, including the IBIS digital mixing console and the ultra-high quality Gambit Series digital products.
The Lifetime Achievement Award celebrates performers who have made outstanding contributions of artistic significance to the field of recording, while the Trustees Award honors such contributions in areas other than performance. The Recording Academy's National Board of Trustees determines the honorees of both awards. Technical GRAMMY Award recipients are voted on by the Recording Academy's Producers & Engineers Wing Advisory Council and Chapter Committees and are ratified by the Recording Academy's Trustees. The award is presented to individuals and companies who have made contributions of outstanding technical significance to the recording industry.
*Denotes posthumous honoree.
Here Are The Nominees For Best R&B Album At The 2024 GRAMMYs
The five nominees for Best R&B Album highlight how women are driving the category. With entries from Coco Jones, Victoria Monét, Summer Walker, Emily King and Babyface — whose album features all female singers — R&B is putting ladies first.
The roster of the Best R&B Album nominees at the 2024 GRAMMYs makes it abundantly clear that women are driving the category for the 66th GRAMMY Awards.
Coco Jones and Victoria Monét took back control over their careers and scored their biggest hits yet, while Summer Walker and Emily King turned their pain into art that resonates. Babyface — who helped define the '90s as one of the most in-demand songwriters — released his first full-length record in seven years, Girls Night Out.
Since 1995, only 12 female artists have won Best R&B Album with Alicia Keys receiving the honor three times. This year, female artists are taking center stage in the category. From Babyface championing some of today's most promising female R&B vocalists, to Monét and Jones finding their unique voices and King and Walker's beautiful solace in heartbreak, it's anyone's game.
Ahead of the 2024 GRAMMYs on Feb. 4, 2024, get to know the five nominees for Best R&B Album.
Babyface - Girls Night Out
R&B legend and 11-time GRAMMY winner Babyface didn't set out to make a sequel to 1996's beloved Waiting to Exhale's soundtrack — which boasts vocal contributions from Whitney Houston, Brandy, Toni Braxton, Mary J. Blige, TLC, and Aretha Franklin, to name a few.
Still, his 2022 album Girls Night Out drew plenty of comparisons to the now-iconic OST due to its all-female lineup. The record features some of the leading ladies from R&B's new class, including Ari Lennox, Muni Long, Kehlani, Queen Naija, and fellow nominee Coco Jones (more on her later). His "Keeps on Fallin'" collab with Ella Mai received a nod for Best Traditional R&B Performance at the 2023 GRAMMYs.
As the Girls Night Out title suggests, Babyface takes a backseat and lets the women shine. While each lends their own signature style, the result is a cohesive body of work under Babyface's mentorship.
Despite having 125 Top 10 writer/producer credits to his name, the 64-year-old music veteran admitted to studying the current R&B landscape before joining forces with some of the genre's brightest and best. His homework is perhaps most reflected in "Game Over," "Don't Even Think About It," "G Wagon," and the title track.
"I needed to learn how people spoke and how melodies are different," Babyface told GRAMMY.com in early 2023. "I have a much clearer understanding of today's R&B because there is a difference, and it's not necessarily a difference that's any better or any worse. It's just a difference in terms of time, and that's what made the process enjoyable to me."
Coco Jones - What I Didn't Tell You (Deluxe)
Coco Jones is living proof that staying the course pays off. With co-signs from Janet Jackson and Beyoncé, Jones started recording demos at just 9 years old and released music independently for nearly a decade after parting ways with Disney in 2014.
Fast forward to 2023, a jam-packed year of exciting firsts for the former Disney Channel prodigy. The platinum-selling single "ICU" off Jones' debut EP, What I Didn't Tell You, became her first Billboard Hot 100 chart entry and first No. 1 on the Mainstream R&B/Hip Hop Airplay chart. Plus, the 25-year-old embarked on her first headlining tour, which kicked off on Aug. 5. And now, her first GRAMMY nomination.
Released in the second half of 2022, What I Didn't Tell You sees the Bel-Air star returning to music roots in a big way and leaning into her starpower with "Crazy for Me," "Spend It," "Headline," and the SWV-sampling "Double Back" emerging as standouts in addition to breakout hit "ICU."
In typical R&B fashion, What I Didn't Tell You takes listeners through the mixed bag of emotions brought on by love. But longtime fans may notice something's different this time around. For instance, lyrics like "This here is top shelf, I know you're thirsty / Run up a tab so you can get every drop of me" from "No Chaser" are delivered with a level of confidence that's only attained through real-life experiences.
The deluxe version of What I Didn't Tell You features four extra tracks, including her "Simple" duet with Babyface. With the 2024 GRAMMYs inching closer, Jones is clearly manifesting what could end up being her first-ever win. "That photo of Beyoncé, where she's holding several GRAMMYs — I put my face on there," she recently told the Los Angeles Times. "And then I zoomed in on a GRAMMY, and wrote Coco Jones."
Emily King - Special Occasion
"This year's gonna be about me / Never will I have another reason to doubt me," Emily King declares on "This Year," the opening track off her fifth studio album, Special Occasion.
The song itself sees King picking up the pieces of a broken heart, but on a larger scale, it's a sincere manifestation of good things to come.
All 11 tracks on Special Occasion embody the end of King's nearly 15-year relationship with Jeremy Most, who doubled as her longtime musical collaborator. As King told NPR, the record is more than a breakup album; it's a collection of "songs that project out into the future of who I want to be."
Born to jazz singers in New York City, King's talent caught the attention of Clive Davis at just 18 years old, landing a deal with the legendary executive's J Records. In 2008, her debut album, East Side Story, garnered a GRAMMY nomination for Best Contemporary R&B Album. Around the same time, King toured with John Legend, Alicia Keys, and Erykah Badu. However, the then-newcomer grew dissatisfied with the music that was supposed to represent her and J Records dropped her soon after. "I had made compromises creatively," King, now 38, told "CBS Mornings."
So, receiving another GRAMMY nod (her fourth in total) in a similar category for music that she's creating on her terms must feel full-circle and validating as an artist.
While cuts like "Bad Memory" and "Easy" evoke regret and sadness, there's also great moments of joy sprinkled across Special Occasion. "Brand-new kicks and my old Jeep / Windows down, catch the summer breeze / Music loud on the stereo / Cuties passing, wave hello," she croons.
In all the complexities and nuances heard throughout the sonic journey that is Special Occasion lies King's most honest work to date.
Victoria Monét - JAGUAR II
Victoria Monét is finally getting the spotlight she deserves. After years spent penning hit songs for artists like Ariana Grande, Chloe x Halle, and BLACKPINK, Monét's debut studio album, JAGUAR II, was met with much acclaim when it arrived on Aug. 25.
Earlier in August, the 34-year-old set social media ablaze when she dropped the Y2K nostalgia-laced visuals for "On My Mama," the third single off JAGUAR II and her highest-charting single on the Billboard Hot 100 so far.
Ironically, the feel-good anthem was conceived while Monét experienced postpartum depression a couple months after welcoming her first child in 2021. "It came while I was in a place of disbelief in what I was actually saying. So it's almost like I had to speak it into existence," she told Apple Music 1.
For much of the sonic cohesion heard throughout JAGUAR II, Monét entrusted two-time GRAMMY winner D'Mile, who counts Beyoncé and JAY-Z, along with Bruno Mars and Anderson .Paak's Silk Sonic as collaborators. In its entirety, Monét’s record makes the perfect soundtrack for family reunions and cookouts. Songs like "Good Bye," "How Does It Make You Feel," and "Hollywood," which features Earth, Wind & Fire and Monét's two-year-old daughter Hazel's first laugh, are such ethereal nods to '70s music that it's easy to mistake the album for a time machine.
Monét's future looks brighter than ever, as evidenced by her sold-out debut headlining tour and celebratory deal with RCA Records.
"I feel really excited to just be able to share these parts of myself with the world, while not trying to put too much pressure on expectations, but of course I do want the accolades," she told GRAMMY.com in 2020. "I have GRAMMY dreams, I have award show performance dreams, I have world tour dreams. But really just being able to make music a career, and doing what I love — it’s a privilege."
Summer Walker - CLEAR 2: SOFT LIFE EP
Summer Walker's rise has been both fascinating and inspiring; she's come a long way since teaching herself to play guitar through YouTube tutorials and running her own cleaning business in her early 20s.
Her debut album, 2019's Over It, narrowly missed the top spot on the Billboard 200 chart but birthed her breakthrough hit, "Playing Games," whereas her 2021 sophomore effort, Still Over It, debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard 200. It also holds the record for the most streamed R&B album by a female artist since Beyoncé's Lemonade.
Fast forward a couple years later, and Walker is celebrating her first solo GRAMMY nomination thanks to her latest EP, CLEAR 2: SOFT LIFE — featuring production from Solange, Steve Lacy, Jay Versace, and John Carroll Kirby.
On the diaristic, neo soul-coded project, Walker is as raw, vulnerable, and introspective as ever. "Tired of seein' all these, all these / Spanish and these white bitches / Livin' they soft life with they feet kicked up," she sings in "Hardlife." Elsewhere, the spoken-word piece "Agayu’s Revelation" sees Walker taking accountability and prioritizing inner work over toxic relationships ("Stop workin' with people who are made of glass if you are made of steel").
One of the nine-track EP's highlights belongs to opener "To Summer, From Cole (Audio Hug)." On the track, which brought Walker to tears, J. Cole pens a heartfelt verse uplifting and affirming the mother of three. "I find it amazing the way that you juggle your kids, the biz, the fame / The bitches that's hatin', they sit around / Waitin' for you to fall off, like the album I'm makin,'" J. Cole raps over a minimalistic beat. "Between the hectic sounds of your precious baby crying / Do you clear your mind? Must be a lot goin' on."
"To Summer, From Cole" particularly stands out considering the singer's openness surrounding her social anxiety disorder and failed relationships, along with the fact that more Black women are breaking up with the strong Black woman archetype and embracing their "soft era" instead. As Walker noted to Apple Music, "I'm really loving life right now, enjoying this new outlook on life, loving the new me, loving my kids, and not letting life pass me by anymore." The "soft life" suits her well.
The 2024 GRAMMYs, officially known as the 66th GRAMMY Awards, returns to Los Angeles' Crypto.com Arena on Sunday, Feb. 4, 2024, and will broadcast live on the CBS Television Network and stream live and on-demand on Paramount+ at 8-11:30 p.m. ET/5-8:30 p.m. PT.
The Recording Academy and GRAMMY.com do not endorse any particular artist, submission or nominee over another. The results of the GRAMMY Awards, including winners and nominees, are solely dependent on the Recording Academy’s Voting Membership.
Photo: Slaven Vlasic/Getty Images for BAM
11 Iconic Concert Films To Watch After 'Taylor Swift: The Eras Tour'
The concert film seems to be having a moment. From the Talking Heads to Queen, read on for 11 concert film experiences that will help keep the party going.
A lavender haze has descended upon movie theaters across America.
Taylor Swift’s filmed version of her historic Eras tour is the movie-music event of the year, dominating the box office becoming highest grossing dometic concert film in Hollywood history after a single weekend. Byt the time the Eras credits roll, you know all too well that you’re going to want to keep the party going.
Luckily, there are a breadth of artists whose musical singularity is reflected on the silver screen. Swift's major influence notwithstanding, the concert film seems to be having a moment in recent years: Pop stars such as Lizzo (Live in Concert), Selena Gomez (My Mind and Me) and Lewis Capaldi have released popular concert films.
Homecoming: A Film by Beyonce (2019)
When Beyoncé headlined the Coachella Music and Arts Festival — the first Black woman to do so — in 2018, she didn’t just perform; she delivered a tour de force extravaganza that spurred a whole new moniker: Beychella.
Shot over two nights, the Netflix film Homecoming includes a discography-spanning retrospective and memorable performances of "Run the World," "Single Ladies" and "Formation." Layered in ware nods to the Historically Black College and University experience, legends like Nina Simone and dazzling array of choreography, wardrobe and vocal chops.
The New Yorker later hailed it a "triumphant self portrait" and "a spectacle of soul." Directed by Queen Bey herself, Homecoming took home the golden gramophone for Best Music Film at hte 62nd GRAMMYs.
Stop Making Sense (1984)
The filmmaker Jonathan Demme is known for classics like Silence of the Lambs and Philadelphia, but he was also a major force in concert films. Among his achievements in this field is Stop Making Sense, his 1984 portrait of David Byrne and his Talking Heads.
Filmed at the peak of the band's popularity and following the release of Speaking in Tongues (which featured "This Must Be The Place" and "Burning Down the House,"), Stop Making Sense is a cult classic, from its array of hits to the band’s massive suits which became their calling card.
The film was re-released in theaters last month. "I'm kind of looking at it and thinking, who is that guy?," said David Byrne in a recent interview with NPR about watching his younger self. "I'm impressed with the film and impressed with our performance. But I'm also having this really jarring experience of thinking, ‘He's so serious.’"
BTS: Yet to Come in Cinemas (2023)
While the GRAMMY-nominated South Korean superstars BTS may be on a break — Jung Kook recently announced that he will release his debut solo full-length- bask in the glow of the K-pop and their rollicking concert film earlier this year. In the film, Jung Kook alongside Jin, RM, Jimin, V, J-Hope as they smoothly perform their calvadace of hits, including "Butter" and"Dynamite" in a 2022 performance for Busan, South Korea’s rally to host the 2030 World Expo.
The boys are actually no stranger to the genre, with Yet To Come marking their fifth concert film in addition to BTS Permission to Dance on Stage — Seoul: Live Viewing and 2020’s Break the Silence: The Movie among others.
Madonna: Truth or Dare (1991)
With off-stage footage shot in black and white and performances in vivid color, this early '90s classic depicts Queen Madge at the height of her power. Taken from an actual game Madonna and friends play towards the end of the film (to scandalous results), Truth or Dare showcases the breadth of Madonna’s superstardom up until that point with performances of classics like "Holiday" and "Like a Virgin" with its artfully-shot juxtaposition of performance and documentary footage a trailblazer in the concert film genre.
"The surprise of Truth or Dare is just what a blast Madonna is," wrote the Guardian on the occasion of the film’s 30th anniversary. "Nastily funny, openly horny, undisguised in her contempt for anyone she deems less fabulous than herself and her blessed collaborators."
Justin Bieber: Never Say Never (2011)
Way before Swiftmania, there was Bieber Fever. In the wake of Justin Bieber’s explosive rise, Never Say Never interspersed performances with snapshots of his journey from humble Canadian roots to global pop force to be reckoned with.
Helmed by Jon M. Chu (who’d go onto direct blockbusters like Crazy Rich Asians and In the Heights), Never Say Never is a time capsule of a younger, more innocent Bieber and his early earworm bubblegum hits. Until Swift's Eras is tallied it’s the top-grossing concert movie ever released in the USA.
Prince: Sign o’ the Times (1987)
This iconic concert film was once hard to come by; after its theatrical run, Sign o’ the Times was only issued on VHS and eventually went out of print. But thanks to the magic of streaming, one can now easily transport oneself back to the '80s and enjoy the magic that is Prince.
Directed by the artist and using his acclaimed 1987 album Sign o’ the Times as a jumping off point (the album itself was a 2017 inductee into the GRAMMY Hall of Fame), the film reminds viewers of the Purple One's magnetism. Under an array of colorful lights and performing to a raucous crowd, the icon may have died in 2016, but Sign o’ the Times serves as a deft time capsule of his royal talent.
Katy Perry: Part of Me (2012)
As Katy Perry was in the midst of releasing her acclaimed album Teenage Dream, the pop singer had the foresight to chronicle the ensuing pandemonium.
"I feel like it was, like, a big wave coming," she told ABC upon the release of Katy Perry: Part of Me, the 2012 concert film that documented her blockbuster California Dreams tour. "I thought to myself, 'Well, I think this is going to be a moment. Maybe I should catch it on tape. I'm either going to go completely mental, completely bankrupt, or have the best success of my life."
Fortunately the later wound up occurring, with the subsequent film a celebrity-packed (featuring everyone from Lady Gaga to Adele) hit-filled ("Teenage Dream" and "California Girls") look into the life, times and music of the star.
Queen: Live at Wembley ‘86 (1986)
Songs like "We Will Rock You" and "We Are the Champions" fit right in on Wembley's massive stage, with the concert film depicting the thundering live versions of those classics. Relive those heady days with this film which showcases just what made Mercury and his band rock icons, and huge ones at that.
"Mercury was indeed a born ringmaster," wrote CNN in a piece about their status as stadium savants. "There was no alienating affectation, no wallowing in sentiment... Queen consciously wrote their songs as vehicles for theatrics."
Summer of Soul (2021)
Back in 1969, Stevie Wonder, Gladys Knight, Nina Simone and B.B. King joined forces for the Harlem Cultural Festival, a mostly forgotten multi-week legendary summit. That all changed when Roots frontman Ahmir "Questlove" Thompson obtained a treasure trove worth of footage and directed this stunning film, aptly dubbed Summer of Soul, which brought the event back to vivid life and subsequent acclaim including a GRAMMY Award for Best Music Film.
"It was gold," Thompson told Pitchfork of his process of sifting through the footage to create what would become a passion project. "If anything, it was an embarrassment of riches. It was too much. I kept this on a 24-hour loop for about six months straight. Slept to it. Traveled to it. It was the only thing I consumed."
Justin Timberlake + The Tennessee Kids (2016)
Also directed by Jonathan Demme and released before his 2017 death, Justin Timberlake + The Tennessee Kids showcases Timberlake's popular 20/20 Experience World Tour and litany of solo hits including "Sexyback" and "Suit & Tie."
"I don’t think anything can compete with live performance," admitted Demme to Rolling Stone before his death in 2017. "You can’t beat it. But we strive to provide the most exciting interpretation of that feeling, as filmmakers. We can provide a roving best seat in the house. We can linger on closeups. We can follow the dynamics of the music. I love shooting music."
The Last Waltz (1978)
One of the earliest projects of director Martin Scorsese’s career was helping edit the monumental film version of Woodstock in 1970. But as that decade progressed and the auteur became known for narrative features including Mean Streets, he revisited his roots by directing The Last Waltz. A trailblazer in the genre, the film captures the last performance of The Band featuring frontman Robbie Robertson alongside a range of guests including Bob Dylan, Ringo Starr and Eric Clapton. Filmed on Thanksgiving Day in 1976, it’s a time capsule of the day’s biggest acts at the height of their artistry.
"It's a picture that kind of saved my life at the time," Scorsese told an audience at the Toronto International Film Festival during a 2019 screening. "It's very special to me. Forty years on, it's very special to a great number of us."
Photo: Jeff Kravitz/FilmMagic
GRAMMY Rewind: Kendrick Lamar Honors Hip-Hop's Greats While Accepting Best Rap Album GRAMMY For 'To Pimp a Butterfly' In 2016
Upon winning the GRAMMY for Best Rap Album for 'To Pimp a Butterfly,' Kendrick Lamar thanked those that helped him get to the stage, and the artists that blazed the trail for him.
Updated Friday Oct. 13, 2023 to include info about Kendrick Lamar's most recent GRAMMY wins, as of the 2023 GRAMMYs.
A GRAMMY veteran these days, Kendrick Lamar has won 17 GRAMMYs and has received 47 GRAMMY nominations overall. A sizable chunk of his trophies came from the 58th annual GRAMMY Awards in 2016, when he walked away with five — including his first-ever win in the Best Rap Album category.
This installment of GRAMMY Rewind turns back the clock to 2016, revisiting Lamar's acceptance speech upon winning Best Rap Album for To Pimp A Butterfly. Though Lamar was alone on stage, he made it clear that he wouldn't be at the top of his game without the help of a broad support system.
"First off, all glory to God, that's for sure," he said, kicking off a speech that went on to thank his parents, who he described as his "those who gave me the responsibility of knowing, of accepting the good with the bad."
He also extended his love and gratitude to his fiancée, Whitney Alford, and shouted out his Top Dawg Entertainment labelmates. Lamar specifically praised Top Dawg's CEO, Anthony Tiffith, for finding and developing raw talent that might not otherwise get the chance to pursue their musical dreams.
"We'd never forget that: Taking these kids out of the projects, out of Compton, and putting them right here on this stage, to be the best that they can be," Lamar — a Compton native himself — continued, leading into an impassioned conclusion spotlighting some of the cornerstone rap albums that came before To Pimp a Butterfly.
To Pimp a Butterfly singles "Alright" and "These Walls" earned Lamar three more GRAMMYs that night, the former winning Best Rap Performance and Best Rap Song and the latter taking Best Rap/Sung Collaboration (the song features Bilal, Anna Wise and Thundercat). He also won Best Music Video for the remix of Taylor Swift's "Bad Blood."
Watch Lamar's full acceptance speech above, and check back at GRAMMY.com every Friday for more GRAMMY Rewind episodes.
Photo: Roy Cox
Exclusive: Joey Alexander Shares Rendition Of Bonnie Raitt's "I Can't Make You Love Me"
On his forthcoming album 'Continuance,' three-time GRAMMY-nominated pianist Joey Alexander is laser-focused on sharing his original music. But he knows when an outside tune is too good to pass up — in this case, Bonnie Raitt's "I Can't Make You Love Me."
Joey Alexander is into primacies and raw materials. Speaking to GRAMMY.com in 2021, the pianist and composer rhapsodized about the Biblical symbolism of salt — and compared it to the role of the blues across musical idioms.
"The blues is that thing that preserves just like salt — that has inspired us in our ups and downs," he said, while promoting his 2021 single "Under the Sun." Two years later, the blues is still on his mind: "The blues is really a center of power."
On his new album, Continuance, out Nov. 3, Alexander forges ahead with original music, like "Why Don't We," "Zealousy" and "Great is Thy Faithfulness." But such is the power of "I Can't Make You Love Me" that it compelled him to take a detour.
"Bonnie Raitt is such an amazing soul; the way she delivers, the way she sang the song is just amazing," Alexander tells GRAMMY.com. "I'm really glad that I found a song that I can build in my repertoire, as this has become something that is part of me."
Below, Alexander shares an exclusive premiere of "I Can't Make You Love Me"; he spoke with GRAMMY.com about Continuance — which features Theo Croker on trumpet on four tracks, and his touring bassist, Kris Funn, and drummer, John Davis, throughout.
This interview has been edited for clarity.
What attracted you to Bonnie Raitt's "I Can't Make You Love Me"?
I always find myself in a song from a specific period that connects with people. I didn't know a lot about Bonnie Raitt, but when I first heard the song years back, I wanted to have my stamp on it.
Years later, we discovered it again in the process of making the album. Once it was done, I decided to [include] "I Can Make You Love Me" on the album, with my new material — my original works. I'm really glad that I found a song that I can build in my repertoire, as this has become something that is part of me.
I always played popular songs before. I've played "My Favorite Things," "Over the Rainbow," the Beatles. Definitely, this is one of the best songs ever written.
I'm really thankful that this song is included on the album. Even though it is instrumental, as people hear the song, they can hear the lyrics and [apply them to] the times that they lived. I understand it's a love song — in the song, there's some struggles.
As we mature, I think we can learn a lot just by hearing a song. I think It's a special song.
What was the genesis of Continuance? This is a big leap for you, recording with your touring band for the first time.
We've been touring in this group for two to three years, and we played different music. In the process of making the new album, we just started performing the music, really.
I didn't have a lot of time to prepare the music. I got to do a gig in Seattle before there was a time period for me to prepare the music. [Over] four nights, that was the time period that prepared John and Kris to tune into the music and have their personalities, and I wanted to see if this could work.
I'm glad that we could perform the music, and once we got into the studio, we just kind of let it fly, and it was amazing. And of course, one of the songs we performed was Bonnie Raitt. So, it was really nice that we could get ourselves ready. The whole process was really organic.
To you, what binds the compositions on Continuance?
The theme is centered around the places where I lived before I was inspired by New York City. Now, because I'm living in Baltimore, Maryland, I'm inspired by living in Baltimore. I live in this neighborhood called Fells Point. It's a nice area right by the water.
So, the song "Blue" is pretty much inspired by just day to day, seeing the water. The water is kind of a reflection of the sky, just how I see it. But it's more than that. It's also talking about music now.
I like to connect "Blue" as something that has to do with the blues. I won't [call it a] style, but a form of expression, because a lot of people express blues in different genres, of course. We all hear a lot in country, rock 'n' roll, and of course, it's one of the important ingredients in jazz.
It binds, this music. The blues is really a center of power.
Theo Croker is a great match for you. Can you talk about meshing with him, and what he brings to Continuance?
I always had forming a new sound in mind, meaning always finding and bringing new instrumentation. So I've always been a fan of Theo. I love his sound. I always thought about having a trumpet player, and Theo was one of the guys that I had in mind.
Even though I performed the music with a trio, I always envisioned that I wanted to do this as a quartet. I reached out to Theo; I guess we already knew each other through social media, but we actually never met, nor played together.
So, the first time we played together was in the studio; we did have a rehearsal before the recording. For some of my music, I didn't really have sheet music. I think I did for just a few songs. Because my approach is, when I hire a musician, I kind of [encourage him] to just use his imagination and internalize the music.
In this case, with Theo, it was kind of by ear. I tried to help him to really get into the music, because there was only one day to really get the music right, so we didn't have a lot of time or preparation.
But Theo is such a creative person, and definitely one of my favorite trumpet players. Stylistically, he brings the vibe to the table, so it was great to see that in person. It was amazing to see that come to life, because I didn't know exactly how the music would play out. I'm glad it worked out.
How does Continuance reflect your evolution as a composer and interpreter?
This is not something new. because my last album, Origin, consists of all my original works. I would say this is the evolution that continues. This is kind of the album that I felt that I wanted to share. I just wanted to see what I can bring, and how I challenge myself to be a better composer and better leader.
Of course, once in a while I will bring in one song like Bonnie Raitt, or one gospel song, just to put it out there. I always have a little bit of both. But now, I'm focusing on introducing my new music to people. I'm very happy with what I have with this album.
In the past few years, I feel I'm more comfortable in performing my own music and sharing my story in my music. As instrumentalists, we let people imagine what they see in the music and have their stories in my music. So, I won't tell them what the story is about.
As instrumentalists, we can take people to a different place. And so that's kind of my innovation for my music: every time I make an album or perform the music, [I try to conjure] the experience that I want people to get as they listen to the music.
What built your confidence to share your original works, and tell your story?
I think by performing and finding my ground, finding my standing. Because I find that in jazz, we always have to have something new.
And I know people out there, we all are [striving] to bring our own stories in the music, but for me, it's how I connect with the people to music. And it's a funny thing, the Bonnie Raitt song — people just connect to songs like that.
As an instrumentalist, what comes first to me is always great melodies, and great harmonies that come with it. What I need in my music is all those elements together. And so when I find a song like Bonnie Raitt's, I always want to include that piece of music into the table.
I'm thankful for the artists that I have been inspired by. And so I hope that people will be inspired by the music. I hope the people will feel the energy that we have and the love that we have to share with people. That's kind of my hope for people as they check out the album.