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“The Recording Academy Honors”

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The Recording Academy’s twelve Chapters will each host a program of events called “The Recording Academy Honors,” acknowledging those whose achievements have significantly enriched both the greater music community and their specific home communities.

The event launched with the Pacific Northwest Chapter on Sept. 24 honoring the Kingsmen, Katie Becker, Julian Priester, and Sub Pop Records, which included performances by Herbie Hancock, the Kingsmen, Julian Priester, Smoosh, and Kinski.

Scheduled events include the Memphis Chapter on Oct. 22 honoring Craig Brewer, Issac Hayes, David Porter, Justin Timberlake, and radio station WDIA with a special presentation by Lisa Marie Presley; and the Nashville Chapter on Nov. 7 honoring Alison Krauss, Tim McGraw, Earl Scruggs, and BeBe and CeCe Winans with special presentations and performances by T-Bone Burnett, Jimmy Jam, Gladys Knight, Ruben Studdard and many more. Other chapters will announce dates and honorees at a later time.

Recipients of “The Recording Academy Honors” award are selected in recognition of the excellence and integrity embodied in their work, as well as their willingness to support and participate in programs benefiting the music community. Proceeds from the events will go toward music education and professional development programs in each respective Chapter city.

Pacific Northwest Honorees:

The Kingsmen started out as a garage band in Portland, Ore., and grew to be one of the most popular rock bands in the country. Their “unintelligible at any speed” ’63 rendition of Richard Berry’s “Louie Louie” is perhaps the quintessential garage-rock recording. It reached the top of the charts and was almost adopted as the Washington state song – it’s impact on the culture is almost unfathonable.

Kate Becker has been an instrumental force in the all-ages music community. She was a part of the Music and Youth Task Force, which mobilized the community and helped eliminate the highly restrictive Teen Dance Ordinance. Before joining the Task Force, she was the executive director at the Old Firehouse in Redmond, a successful teen center and all-ages music venue. She also co-founded and served as the program director for the Vera Project, another all-ages music venue and community resource center in Seattle. Currently, she commutes from her home in Los Angeles to serve as Vera’s interim executive director.

Julian Priester, nationally renowned trombonist and educator, developed his craft and a love for jazz in his hometown of Chicago. He eventually left Chicago and toured with a wide range of jazz legends including Lionel Hampton, Sun Ra, Max Roach, Duke Ellington, and Herbie Hancock. He is currently a faculty member of Cornish College for the Arts where he teaches jazz composition, improvisation, performance, and history. He continues to compose and perform music.

Sub Pop Records is one of the country’s most enduring and renowned indie record labels. Sub Pop became a household name in the music world during the grunge movement of the ’90s. By releasing the records of Nirvana and Soundgarden, Sub Pop helped inspire a musical renaissance and put Seattle on the music map. Sub Pop has continued its tradition of putting out very fine music, and has released records from a myriad of talented bands that include the Shins, Sleater Kinney, the Postal Service, and recently Wolf Parade.

Memphis Honorees:

Memphis filmmaker Craig Brewer is a self-made man. Like Clarence Saunders, Sam Phillips, Elvis Presley, Fred Smith, and dozens more entrepreneurs and freethinkers who have helped put Memphis on the map, Brewer has succeeded where others might fear to tread. In 2000 this unknown screenwriter/director walked away with the Hollywood Film Festival’s Best Digital Feature Award on the basis of his self-financed project The Poor And Hungry. Four years later, Brewer struck gold with his hometown rap epic Hustle & Flow, which won the Audience Award at the 2005 Sundance Film Festival and was subsequently purchased by MTV Films. Now Brewer is applying his midas touch to the fictional story of a rural bluesman, played by actor Samuel L. Jackson. The Paramount Classics film, Black Snake Moan, is currently in production in Memphis with Christina Ricci, Justin Timberlake, and David Banner.

They started out as a couple of talented Memphis kids trying to make it in the local music scene. Fate brought them to Stax Records. David Porter got there first and became Stax’s first staff songwriter. Grammy-winner Isaac Hayes followed, playing keyboards in Stax’s house band. But when Hayes and Porter got together to write songs, that’s when the sparks flew. They fueled the success of Stax and Atlantic Records with such classics as “Soul Man,” “Hold On, I’m Coming,” and “When Something is Wrong With My Baby.”

They also were/are producers and artists. Hayes went on to become the first African-American composer to win the Oscar (for the classic “Theme From Shaft” from Shaft), while Porter became one of Memphis’ most prominent African-American entrepreneurs. Together they bear the distinction of having had national chart hits in five consecutive decades. Their recent induction into the International Songwriters Hall of Fame cements their rarefied position: as Rodgers and Hammerstein were to Broadway, the Gershwins to classic pop and Leiber and Stoller to ’50s rock ‘n’ roll, Hayes and Porter are to Memphis soul.

Grammy-winning artist Justin Timberlake is among the hottest pop music artists to come from the mid-South since Elvis Presley. Born and raised in the Shelby Forest area north of Memphis, the platinum-selling artist, all of 24, has gone from one mega-success to another. A Mouseketeer with Britney Speers and Christina Aguilera in the early-’90s, at 14, Justin joined Orlando-based five-member vocal group NSYNC. That group would go on to become one of the biggest acts of the past decade, inciting a Beatles-like hysteria in its legion of fans. In 2002, Timberlake went solo; proving that life after the group craze could be even better. His solo debut, Justified, racked up numerous awards including two Grammys, and went on to sell nearly 7 million records worldwide.

Not only is he a singer, dancer, composer, producer and actor, Timberlake is also a philanthropist who believes in fostering music education. In 2001, The Justin Timberlake Foundation began providing grants to schools in need of instruments, sheet music, or staffing, as well as to nonprofit organizations which provide much needed after-school music programs.

WDIA was the first radio station in America that was programmed entirely by African-Americans for the African-American community. It empowered a huge segment of the population that was, until the late 1940s, largely unserved. The “Goodwill Station,” as it came to be known, was a pioneer in community involvement, setting new standards of civic responsibility for the electronic media. Its annual Goodwill and Starlight Revues played to capacity crowds, and all the money raised was used for charitable activities. Drawing from talent throughout the mid-South, WDIA was the opportunity unknown performers were praying for. Local talents such as Rufus Thomas, Dwight “Gatemouth” Moore, and Maurice “Hot Rod” Hulbert worked there as DJs; and future legends such as B.B. King and Bobby Blue Bland played live on the air and and plugged their local gigs on WDIA.

Nashville Honorees:

At 34, singer, musician and producer Alison Krauss has achieved more career milestones than most people do in a lifetime. With 17 to date, she has won more Grammy Awards than any other female musician. Along with Union Station, her band of highly acclaimed musicians, Krauss has sold more than 7 million albums and in the process won over countless new fans to bluegrass music. Krauss also is recognized as an accomplished record producer, having worked with Nickel Creek, Reba McEntire and the Cox Family; and as a guest vocalist or instrumentalist she’s contributed her talents to albums in a bewildering array of genres, including classical, jazz, pop, country, bluegrass and polka. The Champaign, Ill., native also has been a part of several blockbuster movie soundtracks including O Brother, Where Art Thou?, Cold Mountain, and Mona Lisa Smile.

Grammy-winner Tim McGraw’s career achievements are as remarkable as they are numerous: nine albums spawning 25 No. 1 singles and selling 33 million copies, and tours that consistently rank among the top box office draws. He uses his touring band, the Dancehall Doctors, on his records noting that it brings a “new kind of honesty to the sound and makes what we do on stage that much purer to the vision we had originally.” Last year McGraw made his major motion picture acting debut opposite Billy Bob Thornton in Friday Night Lights, and will appear in his first starring role next year in an updated take on the 1941 classic My Friend Flicka. He and wife Faith Hill make up Nashville’s current power couple.

Little did a 10-year-old from Shelby, N.C., know that his self-taught style of banjo playing would one day become known throughout the world as Scruggs-style picking. Because of Earl Scruggs’ talents, the banjo was reborn as an important musical force. His amazing career includes a stint with Bill Monroe’s band before teaming up with Lester Flatt to form Flatt & Scruggs. The duo eventually recorded 23 albums, appeared on live network television shows and created “The Ballad Of Jed Clampett,” the theme song to The Beverly Hillbillies, which became a hit country and pop single earning a GRAMMY nomination. Their “Foggy Mountain Breakdown” from the movie Bonnie And Clyde went to the top of the charts and earned them a Grammy.

It could be argued that the Winans family is gospel music’s royalty as they’ve dominated gospel and urban music for decades. Grammy-winners BeBe and CeCe Winans established new standards for contemporary gospel music in the late ’80s as part of the groundbreaking sibling duo, BeBe & CeCe. Their well-crafted albums successfully straddled a fine line between secular and gospel music. Songs such as “Lost Without You,” “Count On Me,” and “I’ll Take You There” brought the duo success in both arenas. Both siblings keep busy with successful solo careers and outside interests: CeCe’s social activism led her to create Always Sisters, Always Friends, a conference to discuss today’s women’s issues, while BeBe currently hosts The BeBe Winans Radio Show, a syndicated gospel program, and continues to add to his acting resume, which includes a role in the 2003 thriller, The Manchurian Candidate.

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About Eric Olsen

  • http://w6daily.winn.com/ Phillip Winn

    What a roundup! I feel ashamed to admit I have occasionally enjoyed listening to Justin Timberlake. Hey, it’s my wife’s CD!

  • Eric Olsen

    thanks Phillip – I think Justin has long since proved he is more than just a boy band graduate

  • Marcia L. Neil

    Honoring the workers who produced many zillions of perfectly-recorded disks and magnetic tapes seems to be a respectable under-taking.