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Mary J. Blige, leading the pack with 8 nominations is applauded by Justin Timberlake who has four nominations of his own!

When I was General Professional Manager and Director of Creative Services at Warner Brothers Music, I became acutely aware of the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences. The organzation was looked upon as antiquated, whose membership was old with little understanding of the contemporary music They also had a tendency to vote for their peers and the same familiar names year after year. When the American Music Awards (with no industry credibility at the time) came on the scene, it trounced the Grammys in the ratings, NARAS took a long hard look at itself!

I had recently joined the organization to rub elbows with some of the greats in the industry including bandleader Billy May, critic Leonard Feather, Lawyer Jay Cooper, Composer Jim Helms, Producer Bones Howe, Keyboardist Mike Melvoin, and Producer Nik Venet. After a month or two of going to NARAS meetings at the Brown Derby in Hollywood, I came to a simple conclusion. I realized most of the membership was hip enough to recognize and reward quality recordings that they heard…they just never had the opportunity to hear the new stuff! At that point, I organized listening parties in every city that Naras had an office. After experts in each catagory narrowed the field down, the membership was able to listen again then make final choices.

I remember Nik Venet got us Capitol Studios in Hollywood, where he was producing the Beach Boys and Linda Rondstadt, to hold our listening parties. I brought my pal Allan Rinde, then head of West Coast Contemporary A&R for Columbia and “Underground Tastemaker”, to help with publicity. And finally I spearheaded a campaign to recruit new members among songwriters, artists and producers who were currently making hits! Although I’m no longer with the organization, I’m proud to have been on the Board Of Govenors for several years, and Vice-President for a few.

I’m looking forward, not only to see who gets the awards for 2006, but to the performances of the best that music has to offer. The following is a complete list of nominations from the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences.

December 7, 2006

Nominations for the 49th Annual GRAMMY Awards were announced today by The Recording Academy, reflecting a year in which multiple genres were represented in top categories, new up-and-comers were nominated alongside established artists and a diverse array of producers and other creative professionals garnered multiple nominations. The 49th Annual GRAMMY Awards will be held on “GRAMMY Sunday,” Feb. 11, at Staples Center in Los Angeles and once again will be broadcast live in high-definition TV and 5.1 surround sound on CBS from 8 – 11:30 p.m. (ET/PT).

The press event was held at The Music Box @ Fonda in Hollywood and was attended by national and international media, as well as key music industry executives. Artists reading nominations this morning included Mary J. Blige, James Blunt, Chris Brown, Evanescence’s Amy Lee, Ludacris, Corinne Bailey Rae, Rascal Flatts, Justin Timberlake and KT Tunstall.

Mary J. Blige tops the nominations with eight, while Red Hot Chili Peppers garner six, James Blunt, the Dixie Chicks, John Mayer, Danger Mouse, Prince, Rick Rubin, will.i.am and John Williams each earn five nods. Beyoncé, Bryan-Michael Cox, Gnarls Barkley, Israel Houghton, T.I and Justin Timberlake receive four each.

“These nominations truly reflect a diverse and vibrant community of music makers and creators who represent some of the most remarkable music of the year,” said Recording Academy President Neil Portnow. “Once again, the GRAMMY Awards process has delivered a well-rounded group of excellent nominees, which promises music lovers a spectacular show filled with dynamic performances and ‘GRAMMY Moments’ that can only be seen on the GRAMMY Awards telecast.”

In the General Field, nominees for Album Of The Year are Taking The Long Way by the Dixie Chicks, St. Elsewhere by Gnarls Barkley, Continuum by John Mayer, Stadium Arcadium by the Red Hot Chili Peppers, and FutureSex/LoveSounds by Justin Timberlake. Nominees for Record Of The Year are “Be Without You” (Mary J. Blige), “You’re Beautiful” (James Blunt), “Not Ready To Make Nice” (Dixie Chicks), “Crazy” (Gnarls Barkley) and “Put Your Records On” (Corinne Bailey Rae). The Best New Artist nominees are rock troubadour James Blunt, R&B singer Chris Brown, British singer/songwriter Imogen Heap, neo-soul singer Corinne Bailey Rae and country singer Carrie Underwood.

This year’s Song Of The Year nominees represent multiple genres from pop to R&B to country. Nominated songwriters include Johnta Austin, Mary J. Blige, Bryan-Michael Cox and Jason Perry for “Be Without You” (performed by Blige); Brett James, Hillary Lindsey and Gordie Sampson for “Jesus, Take The Wheel” (performed by Carrie Underwood); Martie Maguire, Natalie Maines, Emily Robison and Dan Wilson for “Not Ready To Make Nice” (performed by the Dixie Chicks); John Beck, Steve Chrisanthou and Corinne Bailey Rae for “Put Your Records On” (performed by Rae); and James Blunt, Amanda Ghost and Sacha Skarbek for “You’re Beautiful” (performed by Blunt).

Earning five of her eight nominations in the R&B Field, Mary J. Blige dominates the Field. Among her nods, in the Best Female R&B Vocal Performance category she earned a nomination for “Be Without You,” along with Beyoncé (“Ring The Alarm”), Mariah Carey (“Don’t Forget About Us”), Natalie Cole (“Day Dreaming”) and India.Arie (“I Am Not My Hair”). In the Best R&B Album category, her Breakthrough album vies with Jamie Foxx’s Unpredictable; India.Arie’s Testimony: Vol. 1, Life & Relationship; Prince’s 3121; and Lionel Richie’s Coming Home. Best R&B Performance By A Duo Or Group With Vocals nods go to George Benson & Al Jarreau for “Breezin'”; Jamie Foxx featuring Mary J. Blige for “Love Changes”; Chaka Khan, Gerald Levert, Yolanda Adams & Carl Thomas for “Everyday (Family Reunion)”; John Legend & Joss Stone with Van Hunt for “Family Affair” (Sly & The Family Stone); and Prince & Támar for “Beautiful, Loved And Blessed.”

In the Pop Field, nominations for Best Pop Performance By A Duo Or Group With Vocal went to the Black Eyed Peas for “My Humps”; Death Cab For Cutie for “I Will Follow You Into The Dark”; the Fray for “Over My Head (Cable Car)”; Keane for “Is It Any Wonder?”; and the Pussycat Dolls for “Stickwitu.” Best Pop Collaboration With Vocals nods go to Tony Bennett & Stevie Wonder for “For Once In My Life”; Mary J. Blige & U2 for “One”; Sheryl Crow & Sting for “Always On Your Side”; Nelly Furtado & Timbaland for “Promiscuous”; and Shakira & Wyclef Jean for “Hips Don’t Lie.” And the nominees for Best Pop Vocal Album include Back To Basics by Christina Aguilera, Back To Bedlam by James Blunt, The River In Reverse by Elvis Costello & Allen Toussaint, Continuum by John Mayer, and FutureSex/LoveSounds by Justin Timberlake.

Red Hot Chili Peppers, the Raconteurs, Tom Petty, Bob Dylan and Neil Young earned nominations in the Rock Field. Vying for Best Rock Album are the John Mayer Trio’s Try!; Tom Petty’s Highway Companion; the Raconteurs’ Broken Boy Soldiers; Red Hot Chili Peppers’ Stadium Arcadium; and Neil Young’s Living With War. Best Rock Performance By A Duo Or Group With Vocal nominees are Coldplay with “Talk,” the Fray for “How To Save A Life,” the Raconteurs for “Steady, As She Goes,” Red Hot Chili Peppers for “Dani California” and U2 & Green Day for “The Saints Are Coming.” And Best Rock Solo Vocal Performance nominees are Beck (“Nausea”), Bob Dylan (“Someday Baby”), John Mayer (“Route 66”), Tom Petty (“Saving Grace”) and Neil Young (“Lookin’ For A Leader”).

In the Rap Field, Missy Elliott competes with male rappers in the Best Rap Solo Performance category with “We Run This.” Other nominations in this category are “Touch It” by Busta Rhymes, “Kick, Push” by Lupe Fiasco, “Undeniable” by Mos Def and “What You Know” by T.I. In the Best Rap/Sung Collaboration, nominations go to Akon featuring Eminem (“Smack That”), Beyoncé featuring Jay-Z (“Deja Vu”), Eminem featuring Nate Dogg (“Shake That”), Jamie Foxx featuring Ludacris (“Unpredictable”) and Justin Timberlake featuring T.I. (“My Love”).

The Dixie Chicks earn two of their five nominations in the Country Field. In the Best Country Album category, their Taking The Long Way is nominated along with Like Red On A Rose by Alan Jackson, The Road To Here by Little Big Town, You Don’t Know Me: The Songs Of Cindy Walker by Willie Nelson and Your Man by Josh Turner. For Best Country Performance By A Duo Or Group With Vocal, the Dixie Chicks’ “Not Ready To Make Nice” is up against the Duhks’ “Heaven’s My Home,” Little Big Town’s “Boondocks,” Rascal Flatts’ “What Hurts The Most” and the Wreckers’ “Leave The Pieces.” Nods for Best Country Collaboration With Vocals go to Bon Jovi & Jennifer Nettles for “Who Says You Can’t Go Home,” Solomon Burke & Dolly Parton for “Tomorrow Is Forever,” Kenny Rogers & Don Henley for “Calling Me,” Rhonda Vincent & Bobby Osborne for “Midnight Angel” and Trisha Yearwood & Garth Brooks for “Love Will Always Win.”

This year’s Producer Of The Year, Non-Classical, nominations reflect established professionals across multiple genres with nods going to Howard Benson, T Bone Burnett, Danger Mouse, Rick Rubin and will.i.am.

In the newly re-named Best Contemporary Folk/Americana Album category, the nominations are Solo Acoustic Vol. 1 by Jackson Browne; Black Cadillac by Rosanne Cash; Workbench Songs by Guy Clark; Modern Times by Bob Dylan; and All The Roadrunning by Mark Knopfler & Emmylou Harris.

Best Jazz Vocal Album nominees are Footprints by Karrin Allyson, Easy To Love by Roberta Gambarini, Live At Jazz Standard With Fred Hersch by Nancy King, From This Moment On by Diana Krall and Turned To Blue by Nancy Wilson.

The Best Gospel Performance category features nominees Yolanda Adams (“Victory”), Israel & New Breed (“Not Forgotten”), Donald Lawrence & The Tri-City Singers (“The Blessing Of Abraham”), Chris Tomlin (“Made To Worship”) and Tye Tribbett & G.A. (“Victory”). Vying for Best Traditional Gospel Album are An Invitation To Worship by Byron Cage, Paved The Way by the Caravans, Still Keeping It Real by the Dixie Hummingbirds, Alive In South Africa by Israel & New Breed and Finalé Act One by Donald Lawrence & The Tri-City Singers.

GRAMMY ballots for the final round of voting will be mailed to the voting members of The Recording Academy on Dec. 13. They are due back to the accounting firm of Deloitte by Jan. 10, when they will be tabulated and the results kept secret until the telecast.

The 49th Annual GRAMMY Awards are produced by John Cossette Productions in association with Ken Ehrlich Productions for The Recording Academy. Ken Ehrlich and John Cossette are executive producers, Walter C. Miller is producer/director, Tisha Fein is the coordinating producer, David Wild is the writer, and Tzvi Small is supervising producer.

For a full list of 49th GRAMMY Awards nominees, please click here. And for information on the official 49th GRAMMY Awards art and artist, please click here.

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The Banned Beatle Album Cover

In the early 80s I was absolutely apalled when someone took the tapes from the first Elvis Presley album, added “Disco beats, modern sounding instruments and effects”, while removing the excess echo that was my favorite sound on the original lp! I remember hearing a few cuts while I was waiting to be served at the Hard Rock cafe in Hollywood. I was starting to become physically ill from hearing some of my all time favorite cuts desecrated, so I walked out…but not before I complained loudly and vehemently to the manager! I chalked this one up to the Presley estate trying to breathe life into a dead horse! (no reflection on the Hard Rock’s hamburger, of course.)

The next time I was shlocked to my very core was when my friend, Alan O’Day, sent me the URL to the new remixes of Motown classics “remixed” by current top Hip-Hop producers. Although there were a few interesting moments…it was a futile attempt to improve upon musical history. http://motown remixed.com/

As long as I’ve been in the music industry I’ve admired, enjoyed and studied the sucess of Motown records. When I brought Nick Ashford and Valarie Simpson to Eddie Holland in 1967, I developed a strong relationship with many of the company’s writers and producers. I was also privy to many secrets of their phenomenal sucess. I used to sit (at different times) with Norman Whitfield, Hal Davis, Mel Larson, Jerry Marcellino, Freddie Perren, Bob Crewe and Michael Masser and listen to what sounded like instant smash hits, including early mixes of ” Touch me in the Morning”, ” Papa Was a Rolling Stone”, and “My Eyes Adored You”, all of which were initially turned down by quality control!

The endless remixing and meticulous mastering was the most important And the most frustrating part of the recording process. I remember sitting with Iris Gordy, who was head of quality control and listening to dozens of mixes of ten totally different tracks of Stevie Wonders production of “Let’s get Serious” by Jermaine Jackson. I was intrigued by some of the “radical” mixes and amazed by the subtlety of others. I asked Iris if this many versions were unusual? she laughed and said, “Sometimes there are hundreds!”

With so much care and respect Berry Gordy had for the music, it’s a shame that the new owners of the Motown catalog let someone come in and fuck with the music!

This past tuesday a double CD was released called “Love”, featuring remixes of the original Beatles hits along with an incredible advertising blitz. After hearing a little of about 10 songs, of this “Bloodless”, adreneline free remix, I couldn’t help wonder who put this shit together? Are the Beatles hard up for cash? Has producer George Martin gone mad? Is his son Gilles the actual producer of this CD set? What has Cirque du Soleil have to do with this? After reading the Associated Press story I understood what was going on! http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,229702,00.htm ,

I realized this was the soundtrack to the new Cirque Du Soleil Las Vegas Extravaganza that opened last July! This means I have to listen to it with entirely different ears. Unfortunately, that also means before I say anything more about the album I should hear it in context with the show! If the Cirque Folque are reading this, pleased be advised that Artie Wayne on the Web is ready to be flown to Vegas to check it and come back here to report the findings!

Merci’ and Auvoir

Copyright 2006 by Artie Wayne

To reach the Mirage where “Love” by Cirque du Soleil is playing
http://www.cirquedusoleil.com/CirqueDuSoleil/en/showstickets/love/intro/intro.htm?sa_campaign=internal_click/redirect/love

 

Nookie the Cairn TerrierI brought “Nookie” Valentine – a six month old Cairn Terrier – over from Harrods in London and he was my faithful companion for 12 years.

While living in West Hollywood, I once ran into my reclusive neighbor (whom I had never met) Bette Davis, as I was walking Nookie. She smiled, and in that voice of hers said “What a cute little fella….what’s his name?”

When I told her, she quickly backed up into her apartment building….and I never saw her again.