Yesterday afternoon was the occasion for the Grammy Awards to give out their Lifetime Achievement and Trustees awards. Among those honored were singer-songwriter Carole King, Motown vocal group the Temptations, Academy Award winning songwriters Alan and Marilyn Bergman, and Indian music legend Ravi Shankar.
Unburdened by hoopla and TV schedules, recipients of Lifetime Achievement awards are given the opportunity to talk to those in the audience and the result is an often thoughtful, amusing, and thoroughly engaging experience. Recording Academy president Neal Portnow informed the audience that Carole King could not be there due to a current sold out tour in Australia and New Zealand. When notified, she asked if perhaps they could wait a year and give her the award next year, and she promised to be in attendance. When it was explained the logistical problems with those changes, she sent a gracious video acceptance instead.
Songwriters Alan and Marilyn Bergman are in their 80s and celebrated their 55th wedding anniversary by picking up the Recording Academy's Trustees award. The pair are responsible for helping write such classics as "The Way We Were," "You Don't Bring Me Flowers," and "What Are You Doing the Rest Of Your Life?" In addition they wrote the theme songs to TV shows such as Maude and Good Times. While speaking on the red carpet, they indicated they are still working every day on creating new music.
Among those appearing who truly changed the course of music were Phil Chess who, along with his brother Leonard, founded Chicago's Chess Records which released seminal recordings by Chuck Berry, Etta James, and Muddy Waters among many others. Jazz bass player Charlie Haden who, in landmark recordings with Ornette Coleman, changed the course of jazz music, was on hand to accept his Lifetime Achievement accolade. Other winners of Lifetime Achievement awards included classical piano innovator Glenn Gould, pop singer Patti Page, and blues legend Lightnin' Hopkins.
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