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 You talk about a circus… we held a press conference where I rescinded their Best New Artist Grammy and I must have done 200 interviews thereafter.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!
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.