Returning to California after last year’s sojourn in New York City for the 60th anniversary of the GRAMMY Awards®, the Recording Academy Producers & Engineers Wing once again presented its highly anticipated GRAMMY® Week celebration on Wednesday, Feb. 6 Held at The Village Studios in West Los Angeles, the event, now in its 12th year, marked the official start of GRAMMY Week, which culminated with the 61st Annual GRAMMY Awards® on Sunday, Feb. 10, airing live on the CBS Television Network.
This year's gathering featured the presentation of the President's Merit Award to Willie Nelson, recognizing both his commitment to creative and sonic excellence and his ongoing support for the art and craft of recorded music. The nine-time GRAMMY® winning artist Willie Nelson is now added to the decade-plus list of honorees chosen for their singular contributions to music production: Chris Blackwell, T Bone Burnett, Tom Dowd, Ahmet and Nesuhi Ertegun, Jimmy Iovine, Quincy Jones, Arif Mardin, Nile Rodgers, Rick Rubin, Al Schmitt, Jerry Wexler, Neil Young, Jack White, Alicia Keys, and Kaseem Dean (aka Swizz Beatz). The event also acknowledges the overall industry contributions of the Producers & Engineers Wing’s more than 6,400 professional members.
Music industry luminaries and GRAMMY nominees and winners including Kacey Musgraves (this year's Album of The Year recipient) packed this star-studded evening, which featured a surprise performance by Dave Matthews, who opened the musical portion of the ceremony. Guests included such notable figures as Diane Warren, Daniel Lanois, Emily Lazar, Ryan Bingham, Larry Klein, Jimmy Jam, Mindi Abair, Lisa Loeb, Linda Perry, Sylvia Massy, Citizen Cope, Ziggy and Orly Marley, Dennis Quaid, Lili Haydn, "Weird Al" Yankovic, Protoje and a host of others.
Village Studios CEO Jeff Greenberg began the program by welcoming attendees, after which P&E Wing co-chairs Ivan Barias and Ann Mincieli highlighted the accomplishments of the P&E Wing and its members. After heartfelt introductions by P&E Wing Managing Director Maureen Droney, Musgraves and producer Buddy Cannon, Nelson was presented with the award by Recording Academy President/CEO Neil Portnow.
"Willie has this unique ability to unite and really bring people together," said Musgraves during remarks. "Underdogs, outliers, Republicans, rappers, presidents—everyone loves Willie."
Nelson accepted the award, saying, “I want to thank the producers and engineers over the years for making me sound as good as I could. I’m glad they liked me, because they really could have screwed me up!”
After the presentation, Nelson's two sons Lukas and Micah Nelson joined Matthews on stage to make the performance a family affair. Backed by a minimal yet soulful band, they launched into "Crazy," easily one of Nelson's most ubiquitous compositions, which was made ultra-famous by Patsy Cline's 1961 version, followed by a medley compiled by Lukas and Micah featuring some of their father's favorite songs: "I Thought About You, Lord," "Time Of The Preacher Theme" and "Hands On The Wheel." After performing these classics, Lukas invited his father on stage saying, "Dad, do you want to come out here for 'Promiseland'?" Nelson Sr. obliged, adding some lead guitar work behind the voices of Matthews and his two sons. For a closer, the Nelson supergroup fired up "On The Road Again" for the delighted audience.
This year, Dolby Laboratories joined Iron Mountain Entertainment Services as a Premier Sponsor for the event. Iron Mountain's involvement is an extension of its ongoing year-round partnership with the Wing. Event sponsor partners included Shure, Music Marketing (representing the brands Celemony, NUGEN Audio and FabFilter), Jaxsta, Audio-Technica, BMI, iZotope, Lurssen Mastering, Arthur J. Gallagher Risk Management, Louisiana Entertainment, AFM & SAG-AFTRA Intellectual Property Rights Distribution Fund, and Joe D’Ambrosio Management.
For more information about the Academy and its Producers & Engineers Wing, please visit grammy.com.