END of last month many musicians and critics took to the social media to either express happiness or excitement at the successful hosting of the 56 Grammy Awards, which are arguably the biggest musical awards in the land.
Very soon Zambian musicians that ‘worked hard’ in 2013 will be awarded in different categories at the Zambian Music Awards sponsored by Mosi Lager and, as such, I thought of sharing with the beloved readers the History of the Grammy Awards which we must all draw some lessons from if our own ZAMA are to stand a test of time.
A Grammy Award (originally called Gramophone Award) – or Grammy – is an accolade by the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences(NARAS) of the United States to recognise outstanding achievement in the music industry.
The first Grammy Awards ceremony was held on May 4, 1959, and was set up to honor musical accomplishments by performers for the year 1958.
In 2011, NARAS overhauled many Grammy Award categories for 2012 ceremony.
This year the Grammys were celebrating 56 years of the awards history and held on January 26 at the Staples Centre in Los Angeles, California.
The Grammy Awards had their origin in the Hollywood Walk of Fame project in the 1950s.
As the recording executives chosen for the Walk of Fame committee worked at compiling a list of important recording industry people who might qualify for a Walk of Fame star, they realised there were many more people who were leaders in their business who would never earn a star on Hollywood Boulevard.
The music executives decided to rectify this by creating an award given by their industry similar to the Oscars and the Emmys.
This was the beginning of the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences (NARAS).
After it was decided to create such an award, there was still a question of what to call it; one working title was the Eddie, to honour the inventor of the phonograph, Thomas Edison.
They finally settled on using the name of the invention of Emile Berliner, the gramophone, for the awards, which were first given for the year 1958.
The gold-plated trophies, each depicting a gilded gramophone, are made and assembled by hand by Billings Artworks in Ridgway, Colorado.
In 1990 the original Grammy design was revamped, changing the traditional soft lead for a stronger alloy less prone to damage, making the trophy bigger and grander.
The trophies with the recipient’s name engraved on them are not available until after the award announcements, so “stunt” trophies are re-used each year for the broadcast.
As of February 2009, 7,578 Grammy trophies had been awarded. On April 6, 2011, The Recording Academy announced a drastic overhaul of many Grammy Award categories for 2012.
The number of categories was cut from 109 to 78. The most important change was the elimination of the distinction between male and female soloists and between collaborations and duo/groups in various genre fields (pop, rock, R&B, country, and rap).
Also, several categories for instrumental soloists were discontinued.
Recordings in these categories now fall under the general categories for best solo performances.
In the rock field, the separate categories for hard rock and metal albums were combined and the Best Rock Instrumental Performance category was eliminated due to a waning number of entries.
In R&B, the distinction between best contemporary R&B album and other R&B albums has been eliminated.
They now feature in one, general Best R&B Album category.
In rap, the categories for best rap soloist and best rap duo or group have been merged into the new Best Rap Performance category.
There were also a few minor name changes to better reflect the nature of the separate categories. It was determined by the Recording Academy that the word “gospel” in the gospel genre field tends to conjure up the images and sounds of traditional soul gospel and leaves out the current contemporary Christian music (CCM).
Therefore the genre field and some categories were renamed as Gospel/Contemporary Christian Music.
Since 2012, there have been a small number of adjustments made to the list of categories and genre fields.
The number of categories has gone up from 78 in 2012 to 82 in 2014.
Record companies and individuals may submit recordings to be nominated. Nominations are made online and a physical copy of the work is sent to the (NARAS).
Once a work is entered, reviewing sessions are held, by more than 150 experts from the recording industry, to determine whether the work is eligible and entered in the correct category for official nomination.
The resulting list is circulated to all NARAS members, each of whom may vote to nominate in the general field (Record of the Year, Album of the Year, Song of the Year, and Best New Artist) and in no more than nine out of 30 other fields on their ballots.
The five recordings that earn the most votes in each category become the nominees, while in some categories (craft and specialised categories) there are review committees in place that determine the final 5 nominees.
There may be more than five nominees if there is a tie in the nomination process.
Whereas members of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences are generally invited to screenings or are sent DVDs of movies nominated for Oscars, NARAS members do not receive nominated recordings.
After nominees have been determined, final voting ballots are sent to Recording Academy members, who may then vote in the general fields and in no more than eight of the 30 fields.
NARAS members are encouraged, but not required, to vote only in their fields of expertise. Ballots are tabulated secretly by the major independent accounting firm Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu.
Following the tabulation of votes the winners are announced at the Grammy Awards.
The recording with the most votes in a category wins and it is possible to have a tie.
Winners are presented with the Grammy Award and those who do not win are given a medal for their nomination.
In both voting rounds, Academy members are required to vote based upon quality alone, and not to be influenced by sales, chart performance, personal friendships, regional preferences or company loyalty.
The acceptance of gifts is prohibited. Members are urged to vote in a manner that preserves the integrity of the academy.
Prior to 1971, the Grammy Award ceremonies were held in different locations on the same day. Originally New York City and Los Angeles were the host cities.
Chicago joined being a host city in 1962, and then Nashville became the fourth location in 1965.
The 1971 ceremony, held at the Hollywood Palladium in Los Angeles, was the first to take place in one location.
The ceremony was then moved to Madison Square Garden’s Felt Forum in New York City, and then Nashville’s Tennessee Theatre in the following two years.
Then from 1974 to 2003, the Grammys were held in various venues in New York City and Los Angeles.
Notable locations included New York City’s Madison Square Garden and Radio City Music Hall; and Los Angeles’ Shrine Auditorium, the Staples Center and the Hollywood Palladium.
In 2004, the Staples Center became the permanent home of the award ceremonies.
The Grammy Museum was built across the street from Staples Center in LA Live to preserve the history of the Grammy Awards.
Embedded on the sidewalks at the museum streets are bronze disks, similar to the Hollywood Walk of Fame, honoring each year’s top winners, Record of the Year, Best New Artist, Album of the Year, and Song of the Year.
The awards ceremony forces the Los Angeles Kings, Los Angeles Lakers & Los Angeles Clippers to play an extended length of road games.
Prior to the first live Grammys telecast in 1971 on American Broadcasting Company (ABC), a series of taped annual specials in the 1960s called The Best on Record were broadcast on National Broadcasting Company (NBC).
The first Grammy Award telecast took place on the night of November 29, 1959, as an episode of the NBC anthology series Sunday Showcase, which was normally devoted to plays, original TV dramas, and variety shows.
Until 1971, awards ceremonies were held in both New York and Los Angeles, with winners accepting at one of the two.
Pierre Cossette bought the rights to broadcast the ceremony from the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences and organised the first live telecast.
CBS Broadcasting bought the rights in 1973 after moving the ceremony to Nashville, Tennessee; the American Music Awards were created for ABC (by Dick Clark) as a result.
The Recording Academy announced on June 21, 2011 that it had reached a new deal with CBS to keep the awards show on the network for another 10 years.
As part of the new contract the network also airs a “nominations concert” special in the last week of November where the nominees are released during the special that is exclusive to CBS, rather than the traditional early-morning press conference with a release of the nominations seen with most major awards ceremonies which any network takes as part of a press pool.(Wikipedia/Grammy.com)
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