Jazz and soul recognised in Grammy’s Special Merit Awards

A number of prominent performers and producers are to be honoured at the 2017 ceremony

The Recording Academy has unveiled its list of honourees for the 2017 Grammy Awards, to be held in Los Angeles on February 12th.

Jazz singer and pianist Nina Simone is posthumously recognised for her outstanding contribution to the fields of recording and performance. Her career and personal life was recently put under the spotlight in the award-winning documentary ‘What Happened, Miss Simone’, produced by her daughter, Lisa.

Sly Stone’s artistic significance is also acknowledged; the 73 year-old is most famous for fronting The Family Stone band who played a critical role in the development of soul and funk music in the 1960’s and 70’s. Sly sings but can also play organ, guitar, bass, keyboards and harmonica.

Pianist, composer, bandleader and educator Ahmad Jamal is also given the nod. Born Frederick Russell Jones in 1930, he changed his name when he converted to Islam in 1950. Jamal is one of the most revered players on the American jazz scene and cited to be a huge influence on Miles Davis.

Other Lifetime Achievement Award winners include The Velvet Underground, gospel singer Shirley Caesar and country music stars Charley Pride and Jimmie Rodgers.

Meanwhile, the Trustees Awards are given to people who have contributed to American music outside performance. Thom Bell is a songwriter, producer and arranger who is credited as a creator of the ‘Philadelphia Soul’ style of music, working with The Stylistics, O’Jays, MFSB, The Spinners and many more. Mo Ostin is a record label executive hired by Frank Sinatra and responsible for signing Prince, while the late Ralph Peer was a record engineer who pioneered remote recording, he was one of the first to capture jazz and roots music in Atlanta and New Orleans.

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