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Technical GRAMMY Award: Emile Berliner
Emile Berliner

Photo: Hulton Archive/Getty Images

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Technical GRAMMY Award: Emile Berliner

Paul Charosh pays tribute to the audio pioneer behind the gramophone and microphone

GRAMMYs/Dec 3, 2014 - 05:06 am

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

Emile Berliner was born in 1851 in Hanover, Germany, emigrated to the United States in 1870, and settled in Washington, D.C. During this decade a number of inventions of lasting importance were patented, including the telephone and the phonograph. Berliner's restless, inventive mind focused on these devices and he devoted his energies to improving them. 

His initial concern was with the telephone. Berliner wanted to develop a more efficient transmission and reception process and make the telephone a practical means of communication. He is known to his biographer, Frederic Wile, as "the maker of the microphone" and today an award with this title is offered annually by the Berliner family. During the 1920s modified versions of the microphone became routinely incorporated into the recording process.

Berliner's interest in sound recording prompted an attempt to improve upon Edison's phonograph and in 1887 he received the first of several patents. At this time those working with the phonograph believed it could become a voice transcription device useful in business offices and did not see its potential as a means of home entertainment.   Sound waves were cut vertically into revolving wax cylinders. These objects were fragile, difficult to store, and subject to attracting mold which rendered them unplayable. No method of reproducing copies of a specific cylinder existed. If a cylinder holding sound that was worth preserving was rendered unplayable, one had to record another one.

Berliner recorded on a disc, and sound waves were cut laterally, thus eliminating a source of sound distortion intrinsic in the vertical-cut process. Discs had a center hole and were held in place by a spindle in the center of the turntable on which the disc rested. His discs did not deteriorate with time, were easy to store, and if not abused, sound today as they did when recorded and sold during the 1890s. Berliner's device also allowed for the creation of a master disc from which many identical copies could be made. Berliner also understood the value of the gramophone as a source of entertainment and in 1895 he procured capital from a group of businessmen to found the Berliner Gramophone Company, which was instituted to manufacture Berliner's sound discs and the gramophone that played them. 

Though he passed away in 1929, Berliner's vision encouraged the development of the modern record industry, dependent through most of the 20th century on profits accrued from the sale of identically recorded discs distributed in mass quantities.

(Paul Charosh is a widely published researcher of historic sound recordings and 19th century American popular music. A retired educator, he taught for many years in the Sociology and Computer Information Science departments at Brooklyn College. In 2012 he published Berliner Gramophone Records In America: A Discography (Denver: Mainspring Press), a reference for archivists and advanced collectors.)

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2017 Special Merit Awards: Sly Stone, Velvet Underground, Nina Simone

Shirley Caesar and Charley Pride are also among The Recording Academy's 2017 Special Merit Awards recipients

GRAMMYs/May 15, 2017 - 01:36 pm

The Recording Academy announced its 2017 Special Merit Awards recipients. The Lifetime Achievement Award honorees are Shirley Caesar, Ahmad Jamal, Charley Pride, Jimmie Rodgers, Nina Simone, Sly Stone and The Velvet Underground. Thom Bell, Mo Ostin and Ralph S. Peer are Trustees Award honorees; Alan Dower Blumlein is the Technical GRAMMY Award recipient.

More information on the 2017 Special Merit Awards recipients

"This year's Special Merit Awards recipients comprise a prestigious group of diverse and influential creators who have crafted or contributed to some of the most distinctive recordings in music history," said Neil Portnow, President/CEO of The Recording Academy. "These exceptionally inspiring figures are being honored as legendary performers, creative architects, and technical visionaries. Their outstanding accomplishments and passion for their respective crafts have created a timeless legacy."

The Lifetime Achievement Award celebrates performers who have made outstanding contributions of artistic significance to the field of recording, while the Trustees Award honors contributions in areas other than performance. The recipients are determined by vote of The Recording Academy's National Board of Trustees. Technical GRAMMY Award recipients are voted on by The Academy's Producers & Engineers Wing Advisory Council and Chapter Committees, and are ratified by The Academy's Trustees. The award is presented to individuals and/or companies who have made contributions of outstanding technical significance to the recording industry.

Additionally, The Recording Academy and Hal Leonard Books will release A GRAMMY Salute To Music Legends, a hardcover book that collects two decades of artist-written tributes to The Academy's annual Special Merit Awards honorees. Among those who have written tributes included in the book are Eric Clapton, Elvis Costello, Red Hot Chili Peppers bassist Flea, Whoopi Goldberg, Ice Cube, Miranda Lambert, Queen guitarist Brian May, Dolly Parton, Carly Simon, Patti Smith and Yo-Yo Ma. The tributes were originally commissioned for the annual GRAMMY Awards program book and never published widely until now. A GRAMMY Salute To Music Legends will be available in early January.

Pre-Order A GRAMMY Salute To Music Legends

The 59th GRAMMY Awards will take place Sunday, Feb. 12, 2017, live from Staples Center in Los Angeles and broadcast on the CBS Television Network from 8–11:30 pm ET/5–8:30 pm PT. Follow Recording Academy/GRAMMYs on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram and use #GRAMMYs to join the conversation.

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Jay Z Tops 56th GRAMMY Nominations With Nine

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

GRAMMYs/Dec 3, 2014 - 05:06 am

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

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

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

Following are the nominations in the General Field categories: 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Lizzo, Billie Eilish, Aerosmith, Gwen Stefani And Blake Shelton To Perform At The 2020 GRAMMYs

Lizzo

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Lizzo, Billie Eilish, Aerosmith, Gwen Stefani And Blake Shelton To Perform At The 2020 GRAMMYs

Some of music's biggest stars will take the stage at the 62nd GRAMMY Awards, taking place Sunday, Jan. 26, 2020, and broadcasting live on CBS at 8 p.m. ET/5 p.m. PT

GRAMMYs/Jan 8, 2020 - 07:32 pm

Get ready to #UnexpectEverything as the first wave of performers for the 62nd GRAMMY Awards has been announced. Artists taking the stage on Music's Biggest Night are first-time nominee breakout stars Billie Eilish and Lizzo, who will each make their GRAMMY stage debuts; powerhouse artists Blake Shelton and Gwen Stefani, who will take the GRAMMY stage together for the first time ever; and four-time GRAMMY winners and 2020 MusiCares Person of the Year Aerosmith, who will perform a medley of some of their legendary hits. It all goes down on Sunday, Jan. 26, 2020, live from STAPLES Center in Los Angeles and broadcasted live on the CBS Television Network at 8 p.m. ET/5 p.m. PT.

Rock icons Aerosmith make their triumphant return to the GRAMMY stage this month as performers, nearly 30 years after making their GRAMMY stage debut at the 33rd GRAMMY Awards in 1991. In addition to their career-spanning performance, the legendary band is also being honored as this year's MusiCares Person Of The Year, which will recognize their considerable philanthropic efforts over five decades as well as their undeniable impact on American music history. Through the years, Aerosmith have shown support for a number of charities around the world, including frontman Steven Tyler’s Janie’s Fund.

The 2020 GRAMMYs will also feature highly anticipated debut performances from two of the biggest breakout artists of the past two years: Billie Eilish and Lizzo. 

First-time GRAMMY nominee and performer Billie Eilish is in the running for some of the night's biggest awards, including: Best New Artist; Album Of The Year and Best Pop Vocal Album for her 2019 album, When We All Fall Asleep, Where Do We Go?; and Record Of The Year, Song Of The Year and Best Pop Solo Performance for album single "Bad Guy."

Lizzo, who received the most nominations at the 2020 GRAMMYs with a total of eight nods, is making her debut as both a GRAMMY nominee and performer this month. She's up for several major awards, including Best New Artist. Her 2019 album, Cuz I Love You [Deluxe], is also up for Album Of The Year and Best Urban Contemporary Album, while album track "Truth Hurts" is nominated for Record Of The Year, Song Of The Year and Best Pop Solo Performance. Album tracks "Exactly How I Feel" and "Jerome" are also nominated for Best R&B Performance and Best Traditional R&B Performance, respectively. 

Taking the GRAMMY stage together for the first time ever, three-time GRAMMY winner Gwen Stefani will perform alongside Blake Shelton, a current GRAMMY nominee who's up for Best Country Solo Performance for his 2019 track, "God’s Country."

Tune in to the 62nd GRAMMY Awards, which are once again hosted by Alicia Keys, on Sunday, Jan. 26, 2020, and broadcasting live on CBS at 8 p.m. ET/5 p.m. PT to catch all these amazing performances and to see who will take home the night's biggest awards. 

Camila Cabello, H.E.R., Jonas Brothers, Bonnie Raitt & More To Perform At The 2020 GRAMMY Awards

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Boyz II Men Among GRAMMY Celebration Performers

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

GRAMMYs/Dec 3, 2014 - 05:06 am

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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