The Recording Academy Producers & Engineers Wing‘s ninth annual GRAMMY Week celebration was held Thursday, Feb. 11, at the Village Studios in West Los Angeles.
The event is focused on the contributions made by recording, mixing and mastering engineers and record producers whose technical expertise and creative brilliance earn these professionals working behind the glass GRAMMY Awards and nominations of their own.
The annual gathering was created specifically to honor individuals who strive for audio excellence and, as described by Recording Academy president/CEO Neil Portnow, those who have “championed creative freedom” throughout their career. GRAMMY Week culminated with the 58th Annual GRAMMY Awards on Monday, Feb. 15, 2016, airing on the CBS Television Network and available to affiliates nationwide to broadcast live in all four U.S. time zones for the first time.
The signature event also featured the presentation of The Recording Academy President’s Merit Award. Previous honorees at this event have been Chris Blackwell; T Bone Burnett; Tom Dowd; Ahmet and Nesuhi Ertegun; Jimmy Iovine; Quincy Jones; Arif Mardin; Al Schmitt; Jerry Wexler; Neil Young; and Nile Rodgers.
This year’s honoree, Rick Rubin, was presented with the award by Portnow in a special ceremony held in the theater of the Village Studios. Rubin received the award to the applause of hundreds of Academy and P&E Wing members and guests. Title Sponsors included Harman Professional brands AKG, dbx, JBL Professional and Lexicon, and Iron Mountain Entertainment Services.
The event read like a Who’s Who of the recording industry, with attending guests such as Lana Del Rey, Macy Gray, Josh Groban, Rivers Cuomo (Weezer), Regina Spektor, Columbia Records Chairman/CEO Rob Stringer, and GRAMMY-winning and/or -nominated producers and engineers including Peter Asher, Ed Cherney, Geoff Emerick, Val Garay, Emily Lazar, Leslie Ann Jones, Jack Joseph Puig, Elliot Scheiner, Andrew Scheps, Jim Scott, Al Schmitt, Dan Wilson and more.
GRAMMY Award-winning producer Jimmy Jam served as a surprise special guest emcee, remarking, “He’s a legend. … The way hip-hop is now owes a lot to Def Jam. Rick Rubin has been so relevant for such a long time. He changed the course of music history.”
Academy president Neil Portnow also spoke, covering issues of particular interest to attendees, including advances in artists’ rights legislation through GRAMMYs on the Hill efforts, the formation of a Creative Affiliates membership program with performance royalty collection agency SoundExchange, and a continuing push for better quality sonics on the consumer side of the music-listening experience. He then focused the night back on Rubin, introducing a video by director Martyn Atkins that paid tribute to the honoree.
“This annual event is a highlight in the P&E Wing’s yearly itinerary and also provides our community the acknowledgment it so deserves, especially during GRAMMY Week,” said Maureen Droney, The Recording Academy managing director, P&E Wing and Recording Technology. “It is a celebration of all the creative accomplishments that members of the Wing achieve day in and day out, in the studio and everywhere that music is made.”
Rubin has received eight GRAMMY Awards, including two for Producer Of The Year for 2006 and 2008. His other wins include two for Album Of The Year (Adele, 21; Dixie Chicks, Taking The Long Way), two for Best Country Album (Taking The Long Way; Johnny Cash, Unchained), Record Of The Year (Dixie Chicks “Not Ready To Make Nice”), and Best Rock Album (Red Hot Chili Peppers, Stadium Arcadium). Producing multiplatinum albums in a wide array of genres, including country, hip-hop, metal, pop, rock, and soul, additional artists Rubin has worked with include the Beastie Boys, Black Sabbath, Neil Diamond, Eminem, Jay Z, Kid Rock, LL Cool J, Metallica, Tom Petty, Public Enemy, Damien Rice, Ed Sheeran, Slayer, Justin Timberlake, Kanye West, and ZZ Top.