Little Jimmy Scott, a jazz great popularized by Twin Peaks, The Cosby Show, and Michael Jackson, who performed at two Presidential inaugurations during his long career, was one of many artists shockingly omitted from the In Memoriam segment at Sunday’s 57th Annual Grammy Awards.
Now the legend’s widow, Jeanie Scott, has penned a heartbroken open letter to the Grammy committee — which Yahoo Music has exclusively obtained — about this surprising snub.
Read Jeanie Scott’s full missive below:
To say I was disappointed in the Grammy board not mentioning Jimmy’s passing onto glory on June 12, 2014 in the memorials is putting it mildly.
I was crushed and heartbroken for Jimmy. Here is a man who was cheated in career omissions in life by industry slicksters omitting his name from his own recordings, from songs he wrote or co-wrote, from Savoy Record label owner blocking his masterpiece album produced on Ray Charles's Tangerine label when Ray asked him to be his first artist to record for it, having two more brilliant albums and his career blocked by the same label owner, not getting his due recognition.
Now, to be cheated in death still by certain record labels and not getting the recognition he earned. Jimmy earned it the hard way, by hard work and paying dues. As Ray Charles said, “Jimmy Scott made his mark and was singing from his soul long before the word was ever used.” Liza Minnelli said, “Every singer should get down and kiss his feet.”
Why? Because Jimmy influenced more artists in more genres and generations probably than any other singer. To name a few, ask Nancy Wilson, Frankie Valli, or Little Anthony. There was Frankie Lymon, Little Willie John, Joe Pesci, Marvin Gaye, numerous others, both men and women vocalists. Even Michael Jackson recorded Jimmy’s first hit record, “Everybody’s Somebody’s Fool,” on his first solo album. He was Billie Holiday, Dinah Washington, Big Maybelle, and Etta James’s favorite singer.
Known as a “singer’s singer,” Jimmy not only influenced other singers, but also actors with his deep, dramatic deliveries of telling stories attached to real-life experiences.
Jimmy sang the same song, “Why Was I Born,” at two Presidential inaugurations 40 years apart, in 1953 for Eisenhower and in 1993 for Clinton.
He won the highest honors from the National Endowments of the Arts as a “Jazz Master,” a “Lifetime Achievement Award” from the Jazz Foundation of America, the R&B Foundation “Pioneer Award,” the “Living Legend Award” from the Kennedy Center Jazz in our time. That’s just a few of the honors he received. He was Grammy-nominated for Best Male Jazz in 1992.
Jimmy has also acted in movies and has had numerous recordings on a wide variety of motion picture soundtracks. He’s been the subject of many documentaries, two which got acclaimed recognition on television, one winning awards over 300 other films. The Screen Actors Guild put Jimmy in their memorial page. Why couldn’t the Grammy academy do the same?
Jimmy Scott recorded and entertained audiences professionally for eight decades. He never complained about the slights. He was kind, humble, and gracious, he made everyone feel important. Jimmy Scott had a hard life, but a huge heart for everyone he ever met. People who encountered the Jimmy Scott experience never forgot his magic. How could the Grammys forget him?
The Recording Academy did post a longer In Memoriam list on its website, which includes Little Jimmy Scott and other music figures not mentioned in the broadcast segment. Yahoo Music has reached out to the Recording Academy, but as of this writing has not received a statement explaining the on-air snub.