Genre-leaping singer Linda Ronstadt and New York hip-hop legends Run-D.M.C. head the list of artists who have been chosen to receive Lifetime Achievement Awards next month at the Grammy Awards’ annual Special Merit Awards ceremony.
Run-D.M.C. will become the first hip-hop act to receive the Lifetime Achievement Award, which was introduced in 1962 to honor “performers who have made contributions of outstanding artistic significance to the field of recording.” The hip-hop trio was launched in 1982 in Queens, N.Y., by rappers Joseph Simmons and Darryl McDaniels, and DJ Jason “Jam Master” Jay, who died in 2002.
Other 2016 honorees include jazz great Herbie Hancock, pioneering San Francisco rock band Jefferson Airplane, Latin vocal legend Celia Cruz, R&B dynamo Ruth Brown and Earth, Wind & Fire. All of the will be feted at an invitation-only ceremony, along with this year’s Trustees and Technical Grammy award recipients.
The invitation-only Special Awards ceremony is typically held the day before the Grammy Awards telecast, the latter of which this year takes place on Feb. 15 at the Staples Center in Los Angeles. The Recording Academy, under whose auspices the Grammys and the Special Merit Awards ceremonies are held, announced the Special Merit recipients Wednesday morning, but did not give a date or location. Those details are pending.
In a statement hailing this year’s honorees, Recording Academy President and CEO Neil Portnow said: “Each year, The Academy has the distinct privilege of honoring those who have greatly contributed to our industry and cultural heritage, and this year we have a gifted and brilliant group of honorees. Their exceptional accomplishments, contributions, and artistry will continue to influence and inspire generations to come.”
Past Lifetime Achievement honorees literally range from A (Roy Acuff and the Allman Brothers Band) to Z (former Grossmont and Mission Bay High School student Frank Zappa). Among the past recipients are several past San Diego County residents, including Ravi Shankar, Patti Page and members of the Kingston Trio.
Honorees at last year’s Special Merit awards included George Harrison, Buddy Guy, the Bee Gees and visionary composer and conductor Pierre Boulez, who died last week. Boulez handpicked his longtime friend, San Diego Symphony CEO Martha Gilmer, to accept his award on his behalf
The 2016 Grammy Special Merit ceremony will also honor iconic composer John Cage, roots-music champion Chris Strachwitz and music producer Fred Foster. All three will receive Grammy Trustees Awards. Technical Grammy Awards will be presented to the Berlin audio company EMT (Elektro-Mess-Technik) and to Dr. Harvey Fletcher, long hailed as the “father of stereophonic sound.”