The Recording Academy hosted a Special Merit Awards ceremony at Los Angeles’ Wilshire Ebell Theatre on the eve of the 55th Annual Grammy Awards which will be held at the Staples Center today, Sunday, February 10.
Lifetime Achievement Awards were presented to world renowned artists Glenn Gould, Charlie Haden (‘Boy Man’), Lightnin’ Hopkins, Carole King, Patti Page, Ravi Shankar, and The Temptations.
Trustees Awards – for individuals who have made significant contributions other than performance to the recording field – were presented to Alan & Marilyn Bergman, Leonard & Phil Chess, and Alan Livingston.
Technical Grammy Awards – for individuals and companies who have made contributions of outstanding technical significance to the recording field – were presented to Ikutaro Kakehashi & Dave Smith, and Royer Labs.
Neil Portnow, president of the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences (NARAS a.k.a the Recording Academy), said this is the ceremony he looks forward to the most because of the stories and emotions behind the creativity and talent that are allowed to be expressed. He said, ‘there shouldn’t be a dry eye in the house at the end of the program’ and he was right.
Via video and acceptance speeches came some very revealing and moving testimonies about each of the nominees: Lightnin’ Hopkins family recalling laughingly how he called himself ‘Po Lightnin’, Carole King’s acceptance speech on video because she was on tour in Australia (it was also her birthday and one of her daughters captured on her cell phone the entire audience sending a happy birthday wish to send to Carole), Alan & Marilyn Bergman celebrating 55 years of marriage, Ravi Shankar’s daughters Nora Jones and Anoushka Shankar’s comedic musings about their father who passed away this past December, and Leonard Chess’ son and Uncle Phil (of the famous Chess Brothers) spinning a very animated and spirited account of the early days as the Blues found a home on their historical record label.
It all came to a resounding conclusion as the last surviving member of The Temptations, Otis Williams, along with Dennis Edwards, and a host of family members of Temptations Paul Williams, Eddie Kendricks, Melvin Franklin, and David Ruffin took to the stage. Ruffin’s eldest daughter Cheryl summed it up best for all the representation on stage: ‘Thank God for all of you [the fans] and what you enabled The Temptations to do, and the legacy they have left us.’
I will do a follow up to this story as I receive more photos.