Nirvana, Supremes Among Honorees At Recording Academy’s Special Merit Awards

Pat Smear, Krist Novoselic, and Dave Grohl - Photo: Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images
Pat Smear, Krist Novoselic, and Dave Grohl - Photo: Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images

The Recording Academy’s Special Merit Awards event took place at the Wilshire Ebell Theater in Los Angeles last night (4), with Krist Novoselic, Dave Grohl, and Pat Smear accepting a Lifetime Achievement Award for Nirvana. In a star-packed ceremony, the daughters of Mary Wilson and Florence Ballard accepted the award for the Supremes.

Novoselic noted the new generation who are becoming fans of Nirvana, quoting the line “Teenage angst has paid off,” and observing “Well, and so it has.” Wilson’s daughter Jurkessa thanked Diana Ross, her godmother, and noted: “The Supremes changed perceptions of how the world viewed Black people.” Lisa Sabrina Ballard, daughter of Florence, who died in 1976, said “I really don’t have many memories of my mom. I was just three years old she passed. But she was very well loved all over the world.”

‘We wanted to be The Beatles’

In other highlights, Nancy Wilson, receiving a Lifetime Achievement Award for Heart, said that when she and absent sister Ann Wilson formed the band in 1974, they wanted to be The Beatles. “Not to be married to them, or to be the girlfriend of one of them, but to be The Beatles.”

Jim Stewart, the Stax Records co-founder who died in December at the age of 92, was posthumously given a trustees' award, with his niece applauding his tireless civil rights work at the pioneeringly “colorblind” label, echoed a Stax classic by Otis Redding as she observed: “We should all try for a little more tenderness.”

Slick Rick sang parts of Dionne Warwick’s “Walk on By” and the Supremes’ “Baby Love” in his speech accepting his Lifetime Achievement Award, and there were appearances by further winners such as Bobby McFerrin, Nile Rodgers, and Henry Diltz.

The full list of Special Merit Awards is:

Lifetime Achievement Awards:
The Supremes
Ann Wilson and Nancy Wilson
Nile Rodgers
Slick Rick
Bobby McFerrin
Ma Rainey

Trustees Awards:
Jim Stewart
Ellis Marsalis
Henry Diltz

Technical Grammy Award Honorees:
Dr. Andy Hildebrand

Music Educator Award:
Pamela Dawson, director of choral activities, DeSoto High School, DeSoto, TX

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