Tonight I turned from HBO’s “Last Week Tonight” to see Adele win her “Album of the Year” Grammy and the plethora of folks that were involved in making that happen packed on stage with her. I congratulate her, all of them, but more importantly, I congratulate all my friends and peers that have been nominated and won tonight. You all have earned the accolades, and I hope you win many more.
Most of my friends who are nominated and win are a part of the Grammy’s that are awarded earlier in the day. I call them the “Recording Arts and Sciences” part of the Grammys; before it was called “The Recording Academy,” the Grammy Awards were hosted by the “National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences.” An organization that origins come from deciding what people in the music business should be on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, a group of people representing all the major record labels in the 50’s came together to honor more recording and industry professionals. Over the years, as the event has become more televised, the elements that have built the Grammys have been pushed to “during a ceremony earlier this evening” and the “hit” Grammy Awards are the only thing on television, with performances ranging from “amazing, full-on tears” to answering 30 text messages all asking the same “for the ‘biggest night in music,’ why does it sound so terrible?” But I digress.
As the world has changed dramatically over last few months, I find myself wondering, “is this spectacle all worth it?” An awards show that doesn’t even announce most of its’ winners on its’ own show surrounded by consistent flaws in what it should be excelling at, audio. Now, one thing that I speak with pride about being a member of The Recording Academy is it’s own “Grammys in the Schools.” Music education is something I strongly believe in, and I’m so happy with what the Academy does to make sure students have what they need to learn.
Education in general seems to be up in the air right now. Our new Education Secretary is questionable at best, and one of my biggest fears is losing arts in the schools. Currently I’m seeing Oscar parties being cancelled and that money going to organizations like the ACLU, and as a member of The Recording Academy, I wonder if there’s a better use of our money. I still believe my peers should be honored, and it should be an event, but maybe we can be a little more economical in how we do this.
Maybe it’s as simple as having one big event, record and film it all, spend a week or two editing and mixing the performances, and airing it on a station like HBO. Hire the people that are winning these awards to work on their own artists’ personal performance. Get a network to air it that’s not worried about commercial air-time. Maybe calm the performances down a bit, getting back to the musicians doing what the musicians do instead of fireballs and flying. Allow the winners to make the speeches they want to make, thank the people they want to thank.
I don’t know what the answer is. I just hope a dialog will be started about it. Because honestly, I’m scared. I’m scared of what’s going to happen to the arts. But I do know that if we don’t stick-up for the musical side of education, no one else will. And if we lose music education, we will lose music as a form of expression. And trust me, at times like these, it’s the artists we look towards to empathize, because we NEED to know that we are genuinely not alone. We need anthems to rally to. We need to all be able to sing them at the top of our lungs. And together, maybe, just maybe, our voices will be heard.
And things will change.