The Grammy Awards are presented by the Recording Academy of the United States and recognize outstanding achievements in the music industry.
Originally called the Gramophone Awards as the trophy honorees take home depicts a gilded gramophone, the Grammy’s were first held in May of 1959 to honor the accomplishments of performers from the previous year. In 2023, the prestigious awards program celebrated its 65th year, in which several NAMM Oral History alums joined the ranks of those honored.
To see all of NAMM’s Oral History interviews with past Grammy Award winners, please visit https://www.namm.org/library/oral-history/category/grammy-awards.
Henry Diltz was the official photographer at Woodstock and has photographed over 200 record album covers, including the iconic Morrison Hotel. His images have defined an era of music and inspired generations of artists. Henry sat down for his NAMM Oral History interview at The 2018 NAMM Show. Right after his interview was captured, fellow rock photographer, Neal Preston, walked into the room. The two hugged and exchanged stories to the delight of the NAMM staff on hand. Henry is part of the 2023 class recognized by the Recording Academy with its Special Merit Award.
Jeff Fair is a multi-instrumentalist, sound designer, and music producer specializing in creating soundtracks for movies, television, and movie trailers. Forbes magazine credited Jeff and his wife, Starr Parodi, for “reinventing the modern action movie trailer” with their arrangement, production, and recording of the James Bond Theme in 2010. They earned an RIAA Gold Record for that project, a distinction that propelled their work with other movie trailers. Unique among the special events Starr and Jeff compose for is The Festival of Arts — Pageant of the Masters. Jeff and his wife Starr took home a Grammy for the Best Classic Compendium for their work on “An Adoption Story.”
Andy Hildebrand was recognized at the 2023 Grammy Awards, taking home a win for a Technical Grammy Award as the creator of Auto-Tune, which has had a significant impact on music makers since it was first released in 1997. After a successful career as a scientist, Dr. Hildebrand had an opportunity to form his own company and began working on computer plug-ins related to music, his first love. Along the way, he formed Jupiter Systems and developed Multiband Dynamics Tool (MDT), one of the first Pro Tool plug-ins. The company name changed to Antares Audio Technologies in 1990 and released the innovative Auto-Tune several years later. Since then, Andy has continued to program, create, compose, and play music.
Taj Mahal earned a Grammy Award for Best Traditional Blues Album this year for his record, Get On Board. He helped expand the scope of the blues by incorporating elements of world music and a style of guitar playing rooted firmly in the African traditions that helped form the musical genre. His goal was to play the music that he felt inside him. If others appreciated it, then he saw that as a bonus. As a result, he didn't try to conform to his style, which led him to incorporate sounds and styles rarely fused with the blues up until that point, including sounds of the South Pacific and the Caribbean.
Ellis Marsalis had a firm idea of how to bring out the best music in people, even before his famous sons were born. His understanding of music theory and notation became the cornerstone of his career as a musician and an unofficial music teacher. A few years after Hurricane Katrina flooded the 9th Ward neighborhood that Ellis once called his home, he opened a music center to encourage music-making! With the support of his family, Harry Connick Jr., and the local government, the Ellis Marsalis Center for Music began providing lesson programs, computer classes, recording engineering training, and live events in its large music hall. When visiting the center, one thing is evident each and every day the passion for music Ellis Marsalis had is inspiring someone. The Recording Academy recognized Ellis in 2023 with its Special Merit Award.
Starr Parodi has actively made beautiful music for the masses in various venues. As a pianist, synthesist, composer, producer, arranger, and conductor Starr has worked on many projects with headliners, including Carole King, Stevie Wonder, Seal, Mariah Carey, Ray Charles, Whitney Houston, and Carlos Santana. Starr was a prominent house band member for The Arsenio Hall Show from 1989 to ’94 and, with a few members of her ensemble, the only female performer in Keyboard magazine’s 20th-anniversary concert in January ’95. She took home the 2023 Grammy for Best Classical Compendium for her work on An Adoption Story, a project she completed alongside her husband and fellow NAMM Oral History alum, Jeff Fair.
Edgar Winter grew up in a musical family, his older brother being the blues legend, Johnny Winter. Edgar played in several of his brother’s bands before forming his own bands, always with a focus on rock and roll. He pioneered the synthesizer in many settings and is the inventor of the keyboard strap because he wanted to jump around the stage as the guitarists did. His energetic approach to music gave special attention to the synths in the pre-MTV world in which many of Edgar’s new sounds were very creative and mysterious, just like he liked it. Edgar took home the 2023 Grammy Award for Best Contemporary Blues Album for his album Brother Johnny.
Congratulations to all of this year's winners.