Grammy awards come to Austin for SXSW
No one throws a SXSW party like the Texas Chapter of the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences — more commonly known as The Grammys.
The Lone Star state produces more than its fair share of gifted musicians including recent Grammy nominees Marcia Ball, Esperanza Spaulding (did you catch her memorable performance during the recently televised awards show? ), Kelly Rowland, Lucinda Williams, Beyonce, Kim Burrell, Kelly Clarkson and the list goes on and on.
So it’s fitting that the Texas Chapter, based here in Austin, throws a Texas-size party featuring The Josh Abbott Band just before they headline RodeoAustin on March 17.
Gary Clark, Jr. also took the Grammy stage. He's fresh from his gig at The White House — yes, the White House, where Clark joined B.B. King, Mick Jagger and other notable musicians who gathered with President Obama to pay tribute to the Blues during a special Black History Month concert that aired on PBS.
Gary Clark, Jr. and other musicians from Texas, as well as those from Oklahoma and New Mexico who are Grammy members have the opportunity to directly impact the music industry by being Grammy members.
Senior Executive Director Theresa Jenkins says, “This gives Texas based artists and industry members opportunities to participate in special awards nominating committees, to serve on the local board to work on not only local programming, but national initiatives and polices as well, and to create a sense of community here in Texas to network and collaborate."
Simply put, more voting members equlas more chaptert strength and that means more Texas musicians likely taking home Grammy awards!
Jenkins describes the Texas Chapter as very “Austin centric” but adds, "this is not a bad thing, but we have to ensure that we reach out to the other music communities in Texas. We grew our presence, programming and membership all over the state to include Houston, Dallas, Corpus Christi, the Valley, Lubbock and even Tulsa and Oklahoma City. This makes for a more diverse and robust membership.”
In addition to performers, chapter membership is extended to all types of recording industry professionals such as producers, engineers, songwriters, agents and managers, attorneys, label executives, publicists and even design packaging artists.
The broad range of key roles in the recording industry is reflective in the party attendance on the South lawn of the Four Seasons Hotel. Here Grammy members gather from around the nation, although it seems most are industry folks from Los Angeles and Nashville.
Besides hosting great parties, the Texas Chapter is also known for promoting young artists through its GRAMMY University Network program. “Our young music makers of today will be our members that participate and vote on the GRAMMY Awards in the future. Recognizing this, GRAMMY University Network was launched about five years ago, allowing university students the opportunity to become members of the organization. They cannot participate in the awards process, but they have the opportunity to attend events, panels and network with music professionals” says Jenkins. (Disclaimer: My daughter, Allegra Benz, is earning a degree in Music Business at Belmont University in Nashville and is enrolled in GRAMMY U.)
The Texas Chapter of the Grammys also occupies key leadership positions on the national level. “We have a Rap artist, Paul Wall who is serving as our Chapter President and is moving on as our National Trustee; Christine Albert, an indie singer/songwriter is now the National Vice Chair; Austin City Limits producer Terry Lickona served as the National Chairman of the Board, music publisher Richard Perna served as National Treasurer and Gospel star Yolanda Adams served as our Trustee," Theresa Jenkins says.
She adds with pride, “Texas is definitely recognized as a powerhouse within the GRAMMY organization.” And they also know how to throw a dang good party!