The 1993 Michael Greene Grammy Speech

1993 Michael Greene Grammy Speech

In 1993 the 35th annual Grammy Awards were held in L.A. at the Shrine auditorium. Eric Clapton‘s 6 Grammy wins followed the death of his son Conor, who fell out the window in his New York City apartment and Eric’s song “Tears in Heaven” was about the incident. The song won Record of the Year, Song of the Year and Best Pop Vocal Performance, Male and Eric won Best Album as well.

Michael Jackson received the Grammy Legend Award from his sister Janet. A really nice clip called “How to Become a Legend” narrated by Janet  was shown telling us all how her brother became a legend. Natalie Cole was our Musicares Person of the Year and my speech once again featured elements about censorship, tolerance, governmental arts funding and music’s power to create cross cultural understanding and heal. Tipper Gore’s PMRC had been railing all year against metal, rap and alternative music forms, and I had been in several debates with Tipper and her legions who had been trying to label and censor certain music forms, so inevitably freedom from outside entities telling the artistic community what it could and couldn’t say was a common theme of mine.

The Shrine Auditorium is literally right around the block from the primary scenes of the previous year’s LA riots and we provided tickets and transportation to 300 kids South Central to come to the show… you will see me recognize them from the stage. I talk about the importance of arts education, especially in the inner city school systems and highlight Congress’ ongoing war on arts and culture. I reference the government of Japan, which at the time spent $5.00 per person on the arts against the United States who was spending $15 cents… a chilling wake-up call! I also called for the Clinton administration to make the arts mandatory core curriculum subjects!

Transcript

Ladies and gentleman, the President of the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences, Mr. Mike Greene.

Following Michael Jackson, this is exactly what I had in mind tonight.  I think Michael’s right. Creativity is the one thing that is going to heal this world and lets give him another big round of applause for that. On behalf of the Recording Academy, I want to welcome you all to the 35th Annual Grammy Awards. You know music is often said to reflect the diversity and articulate the condition of society, and we could hardly ask for a more diverse and dynamic world than that which is reflected on our stage here tonight. Music also speaks to our hopes and our dreams and it can uncover the inequities and injustices in our world. I believe when given an unencumbered uncensored opportunity to do so, music can serve as that important pressure release for urban and racial tension and a marvelous healing force for our society. We gather here tonight just a few blocks from last year’s riots, through the Academy’s work with the children of South Central Los Angeles, some of these marvelous kids are our guests here tonight. It’s quite clear (welcome, welcome) it is quite clear that what is dangerously, it is quite clear that what is dangerously missing from their lives is a sense of hope and a source of pride. Music is their primary means of communication. When kids are given the opportunity to study the arts, they stay in school. Children who are exposed to music do considerably better in both science and mathematics and when America’s minority children are shown the beautiful tapestry of the roots of American music, they’re handed the keys to their very cultural heritage. They take pride in the amazing contributions of their forefathers and mothers and that pride instills hope and that, ladies and gentleman, is what we are all about here tonight. For the last 15 years, our government has been about the dirty business of gutting music, art, dance, and creative writing from the curriculum of America’s schools. One look at our art spending policy reveals just how quickly America is becoming a cultural wasteland. The Japanese government, the Japanese government, the Japanese government spends almost $5 per person on arts. Germany spends about half of that, and Canada and Great Britain about $1.20 cents each. And where’s the United States in this survey?  What are the arts worth to all of us? One dime and one nickel, 15 cents. We’re confident that when the Clinton administration reveals its art policy, it will become the seminal call to redeploy resources and ensure that the arts are mandatory core curriculum for graduation.

1987 Mike Greene Grammys Speech

1987 Mike Greene Grammys Speech

1987 was my first year as President of the Academy and the Grammys were held at L.A.’s Shrine Auditorium. Paul Simon’s Graceland won Album of the Year and there were no categories for Alternative, Hard Rock, Metal, Rap… well yawn, you get the picture. The Academy had always used music personalities to host the show (in the previous year it was Kenny Rogers) but this year I proposed that we use a young man who was on a late night network episodic called “Soap”. His character was named Jodie Dallas, and the little known actor-comedian’s name was Billy Crystal. It was Billy’s first hosting gig! Needless to say that many of the Academy’s trustees were apprehensive about the decision, but in hindsight, not a bad choice! I was petrified at the thought of giving this speech and was the most relieved person in the world when it was over! This speech was probably my most institutional and is a good one if you need to be lulled into taking a nap!

Transcript

Ladies and gentlemen, it is my pleasure to present to you the President of the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences, who’s already getting a standing ovation. Ladies and gentlemen, Mr. Michael Greene.

Thank you. Before I start this speech, I would like for all of us to give a hand to something very special tonight and I think the embodiment of it is on this stage; to the diversity of talent in our music family. Music is one of the indelible watermarks of a time and a civilization, a powerful, powerful symbol of society’s triumphs and its failings. But music is also the life’s work of professionals and has become the lifeblood of a great international industry. That industry requires support and leadership, effective collective action to ensure that the legal environment keeps pace with technology, that artistic freedoms remain secure and that intellectual property, that’s our songs and their performances, are protected. Our industry also requires the understanding of consumers, those of you who are out there who purchase and enjoy recorded music. As we work to ensure that creative people are fairly compensated and remain free to pursue every excursion of their imaginations in these matters, the Recording Academy stands beside other industry organizations and reaches out to the larger society through our National Student Awards, Grammy in the Schools and other educational programs.

Michael Greene Grammy Speech 1990

Michael Greene Grammy Speech 1990

The 1990 Grammy Awards were held at the Shrine Auditorium in L.A. and were witness to Bette Midler’s “Wind Beneath my Wings” winning Record and Song of the year. Bonnie Raitt won Album of the Year for “Nick of Time” and the train wreck of Milli Vanilli briefly took home Best New Artist and created a firestorm of public conversation regarding lip synching (wonder where that same debate is today regarding auto tuning)? As everyone will remember, the word spread throughout the industry that Milli Vanilli (Fab Morvan and Rob Pilatus) had been caught lip synching at a concert a few weeks after the Grammys and then everyone who worked with the group came forward to spill the beans that the boys didn’t actually sing on their recordings at all. You talk about a circus… we held a press conference where I rescinded their Best New Artist Grammy and I must have done 200 interviews thereafter. Truth be told, I felt bad for the boys… when all was said and done they were also victimized by music industry pros who worked with them and certainly knew better.

My speech was the formal announcement that the Academy was embarking on a very new course of public advocacy. Advancing music, art, archiving, first amendment protection and arts education were just a few of the issues we were standing up for. This was a very new and controversial agenda item for the old girl, Ms. NARAS. I also announced to the world that Musicares was serving and educating the community on the issues relating to substance abuse intervention and prevention and sent a strong message to legislators that censoring and labeling recordings would be fought vigorously! 1990 was the year when the Academy shed her skin and assumed the role of industry and community advocate!

Transcript

The recognition of excellence is just part of the Grammy story. Working with our seven chapter cities, our officers and trustees and our national chairman, Mr. Bill Ivy, the Academy is entering a new era of advocacy and involvement in issues facing our industry. We’re working to improve the quality of music education through Grammy in the Schools and the National Student Music Awards programs, and working to ensure that the historical legacy of music on record is preserved for future generations. Through MusiCares, our academy has brought our music community together to issue an effective public statement on substance abuse and most importantly, we are working on behalf of artists and our industry, against the legislative efforts to label and censor our music. Such governmental (interrupted by clapping) such governmental intervention undermines the basic artistic freedoms, which we must passionately fight to protect.