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Adele Wins Big at 59th Grammy Awards!

Adele Wins Big at 59th Grammy Awards

Adele Wins Big!  Record of the Year, Album of the Year, Song of the Year and Best Pop Vocal Album at the 59th Grammy Awards (Photo Courtesy of Billboard)

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About The Grammy Awards—No Phonys Please


Grammy Award

The Grammy Awards have been an American music institution for over half a century. But what is a “Grammy” anyway?

“Grammy” is short for “Gramophone” and the actual Grammy Awards given out each year are modeled after this prototypical record player.

Notice we didn’t call it a prototypical “phonograph.” The phonograph and the gramophone, while similar, were different designs. Adding to the confusion, in between the two was a device called the “graphophone.”

Thomas A. Edison, the famous American inventor, invented the phonograph (which from the Greek literally means “sound writer”) in 1877. But his invention didn’t play “records” as most of us think of them. Edison’s device played cylinders.

“Thomas Alva Edison announced his invention of the first phonograph, a device for recording and replaying sound, on November 21, 1877 and he demonstrated the device for the first time on November 29 (it was patented on February 19, 1878 as US Patent 200,521). Edison’s early phonographs recorded onto a tinfoil sheet phonograph cylinder using an up-down (‘hill-and-dale’) motion of the stylus. The tinfoil sheet was wrapped around a grooved cylinder, and the sound was recorded as indentations into the foil. Edison’s early patents show that he also considered the idea that sound could be recorded as a spiral onto a disc, but Edison concentrated his efforts on cylinders, since the groove on the outside of a rotating cylinder provides a constant velocity to the stylus in the groove, which Edison considered more ‘scientifically correct.’ Edison’s patent specified that the audio recording was embossed, and it was not until 1886 that vertically modulated engraved recordings using wax coated cylinders were patented by Chichester Bell and Charles Sumner Tainter. They named their version the Graphophone. Emile Berliner patented his Gramophone in 1887. The Gramophone involved a system of recording using a lateral (back and forth) movement of the stylus as it traced a spiral onto a zinc disc coated with a compound of beeswax…” —Wikipedia

Early Gramaphone

It was Emile Berliner’s Gramophone that played discs, or “records” as they came to be known, and still are to this day, spawning the modern music recording industry.

Perhaps it is for this reason that the founders of the most prestigious American music award chose to name their ultimate prize, the “Grammy.”

(We are speculating that the “Phony” would not have been a good choice, except in the case of Milli Vanilli*, and that the “Graphy” may be reserved for National Geographic nature recordings!)

The Grammy Awards are given by the National Academy of Recording Arts & Sciences, Inc. which was formed in 1957.

“In the beginning The Recording Academy owed its survival to members who donated long hours to the emerging professional association. A labor of love, the young Academy may not have prevailed had it not been for the dedication of its charter members…The GRAMMYs are the only peer-presented award to honor artistic achievement, technical proficiency and overall excellence in the recording industry, without regard to album sales or chart position.” —

The first Grammy Awards were held in 1959 in Los Angeles at the Beverly Hilton. The big winners that year were Domenico Modugno for “Nel Blue Dipinto di Blu (Volare)” which took home Record of the Year and Song of the Year and Henry Mancini for The Music from Peter Gunn which won Album of the Year.

Ella Fitzgerald won for Best Jazz Performance, Individual and The Kingston Trio won for “Tom Dooley” in the Best Country & Western Performance category. (Hmmmm…we thought they were Folk. Oh well, guess they added a category here and there…uh yuh, about a hundred.

*”Milli Vanilli was a pop and dance music ensemble formed by Frank Farian in Germany in 1988 and fronted by Fab Morvan (b. May 14, 1966) and Rob Pilatus (June 8, 1965 – April 2, 1998). The group’s debut album achieved high sales internationally and garnered them a Grammy award for Best New Artist in 1990. However, their success turned to infamy when the award was revoked after it was revealed that the purported singers did not actually sing on the record.” —Wikipedia

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