The stage is set, the performers are confirmed and the RSVPs are rolling in. This year’s BMI R&B/Hip-Hop Awards show, honoring the songwriters, producers and publishers of the most-performed songs of the past year, is set to kick off in just a few more weeks. In grand style, the show will be held Thursday, August 22, at New York City’s famed Hammerstein Ballroom in midtown Manhattan.
The show returns to New York, appropriately so, since the city is the birthplace of hip-hop. It was on the streets of the South Bronx that this now worldwide cultural phenomenon and groundbreaking style of music was born. From the streets to the clubs, from the house parties to the radio, from the DJs and MCs to wax, from the neighborhood blocks to the nations, what started out small and referred to as rap music has grown massively to what is now known as hip-hop. It is the voice of a generation that found its expression in a unique mix of DJ’ing, MC’ing, breakdancing and graffiti art. It is the voice that could not be contained to one borough, city, state or nation because it is the musical style of choice for so many around the world. Who would have imagined that the mid-seventies would spawn the music that would transcend race, nationalities, cultures and creeds and be felt in every aspect of our lives today?
Built in 1906 and located at 311 West 34 Street, the Hammerstein Ballroom, housed within the Manhattan Center building, has been home to many notable music performances, concerts, award shows and live recordings. A place more than 100 years old has got to have some serious memories within its walls!
With this rich history in mind, we decided to ask a few of Broadcast Music Inc.’s team members about their most memorable experiences at the Hammerstein.
Ian Holder, Director, Writer/Publisher Relations in the BMI New York office, states that his favorite show was a Slick Rick concert. “Seeing Slick Rick tearing down the Hammerstein Ballroom stage is etched forever in my mind,” he says.
Malik Levy, Director, Writer/Publisher Relations in the BMI Los Angeles office, shares that his fondest memory at the Hammerstein Ballroom was during the New Music Seminar, hosted by Tom Silverman of Tommy Boy Records in 1991. “I saw Leaders of the New School led by Busta Rhymes, who gave a phenomenal performance,” he recalls. “It forever changed my perspective on hip-hop. Before, I had only been listening to the music on the West Coast. I had never seen the live element of hip-hop before and this show had such a huge impact because I realized then the importance that live shows would have.”
In anticipation of this year’s show honoring Cash Money’s Ronald “Slim” Williams and Bryan “Birdman” Williams as BMI Icons, Catherine Brewton, Vice President of Writer/Publisher Relations, Atlanta, says, “My most memorable moment will be the reunion of Cash Money!”
Buzz is building and August 22 will surely mark another memorable event for BMI, the Hammerstein and for the city of New York.