Recording Academy Honors Etta James, Simon & Garfunkel, Alan Lomax

Posted in News on December 8, 2002
BMI songwriter/artists Etta James and Simon & Garfunkel will be among those receiving the Recording Academy's 2003 Lifetime Achievement Award, while folk music archivist Alan Lomax, also a BMI affiliate, will receive a Trustees Award. A formal acknowledgment of the awards will be made in conjunction with the 45th Annual Grammy Awards ceremony, which will be held at New York's Madison Square Garden on Feb. 23, 2003 and aired on the CBS television network.

The Lifetime Achievement Award honors lifelong artistic contributions to the recording medium while the Trustees Award recognizes outstanding contributions to the industry in a non-performing capacity.

One of popular music's great divas, Etta James, born Jamesetta Hawkins, was a performer virtually as soon as she was able to speak. Like many r&b singers, she began in the church choir, then had her first hit as a teenager. Her career has spanned more than five decades and her fearless experimentation is evident in her recordings, from chart-topping r&b ballads including "At Last," "Trust In Me," and "All I Could Do Was Cry," to the gospel-infused "Something's Got A Hold On Me," the bluesy "In The Basement," and the Southern soul of "Tell Mama." James took home a Best Jazz Vocal Performance Grammy at the 37th Annual Awards for her album Mystery Lady (Songs Of Billie Holiday), and in 1999, "At Last" was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame. She published an autobiography, "Rage To Survive," which won a Ralph J. Gleason book award from BMI-Rolling Stone-New York University. She was also inducted into the Blues Hall of Fame.

Arguably the most successful folk-rock duo of the 1960s, Simon & Garfunkel grew up together in the Forest Hills district of New York City. They had an appeal that spanned both the pop and rock audience, and spoke to all age groups. Their songs - written primarily by Simon and enhanced by Garfunkel's soaring tenor - authentically reflected the zeitgeist of their time. Together they have won six Grammy Awards, including Album of the Year for Bridge Over Troubled Water and Record of the Year for its title single, and Record of the Year for "Mrs. Robinson." "Bridge Over Troubled Water" was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame in 1998. "Mrs. Robinson" was inducted in 1999, as was their album Parsley, Sage, Rosemary & Thyme.

Alan Lomax is one of those individuals who may not be a household name, yet whose influence on American music is every bit as substantive as those who create hit records or land on the covers of popular magazines. Lomax began to research American music with his father, John, in the early 1930s. Between 1933 and 1942, either together or apart, father and son traveled the country and amassed some of the most important recordings of vernacular musicians, including Leadbelly, whom they discovered in a Texas prison. Lomax also masterminded the 1938 recordings of the jazz pioneer Jelly Roll Morton, and, in the 1940s, moved on to radio and helped lay the groundwork for the folk revival of the 1950s and 60s by popularizing vernacular material over the airwaves. He also was instrumental in the career of Woody Guthrie. Lomax went on in the 1990s to document the nation in song on the PBS series "American Patchwork." Lomax brought a retrospective arc to his career with the 1993 volume "The Land Where Blues Began," which won a Ralph J. Gleason Award.


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