BOBBY KARL WORKS THE ROOM
This year marks the 50th anniversary of the Nashville chapter of the Recording Academy (NARAS), and the celebration began on Sunday evening (Jan. 12) at its annual Grammy Nominees Party.
“We’re here to celebrate our nominees,” said chapter board president Jeff Balding. “And the Nashville chapter was founded in 1964. This is our 50th anniversary, and we’re going to be celebrating all year long.”
So even before most of the nominees walked the red carpet, 10 of the 20 living former chapter presidents gathered for a celebratory group photo. In addition to Balding (2013-15), they included Harold Bradley (1964-66), Jim Black (1983-85), Ralph Murphy (1985-86), Jimmy Gilmer (1989-91), Katie Gillon (1994-96), Garth Fundis (1998-2000), Tony Brown (2000-02), Doug Howard (2004-06) and Dan Hill (2010-12).
Bradley, the first president, recalled that the chapter formed in response to the facts that the 1958 “Country” Grammy Award went to The Kingston Trio and the 1962 “Country” Grammy went to Burl Ives. Black noted that he was proud to be the board president the year that the chapter became financially viable. Gillon remains the only female board president to date. Fundis went from chapter prez to the national board presidency and spearheaded the organization’s transition into its current mode.
Expect to see more evidence of the “50 Years of Grammy Gold” anniversary commemoration at chapter events throughout the year.
The nominee party was held, once again, at The Loews Vanderbilt Plaza Hotel. By the way, the public/lobby/bar/restaurant areas of this venue have been totally transformed. Go see.
Walking the red carpet were such new Grammy nominees as Lee Brice, Little Big Town, Tim O’Brien, Buddy Miller, Beth Nielsen Chapman and Guy Clark. B.J. Thomas, whose “Raindrops Keep Fallin’ on My Head” is being inducted to the Grammy Hall of Fame, was also there. Other RSVPs to the party invitation (please note: the word is “invitation;” the word “invite” is a verb, not a noun), included Matt Maher, TobyMac, Connie Harrington, Jason Roy of the CCM band Building 429, Ryan Stevenson, Jamie Moore, Chad Carlson and Justin Niebank.
In addition to being the first major Nashville music biz party of the year, it is also one of the very best. Loews really does a top job with its catering. Guests sampled beef sliders with pimento cheese, pickled fried chicken biscuits with cider apple preserves, white bean hummus on corn bread, duck tater tots with peach ketchup, shrimp and grit cakes, pulled pork in red potato skins and veggies with sundried tomato ranch dip, plus spicy meats and cheeses.
Mingling among the party’s giant gold Grammy statuettes were Mark Collie, Eddie DeGarmo and Sandy Knox. I congratulated Nashville TV star Jonathan Jackson (“Avery”) on landing a Country recording contract. He said he hasn’t chosen a producer yet. His TV co-star Charles “Chip” Esten (“Deacon”) was also amiably socializing. Both of them are super-nice, by the way. And they love our fair city. Attendee Carolyn Corlew is about to tour as Ms. Senior America. The Charlie Daniels backup singer says she sang the Etta James hit “Tell Mama” as her talent to win her title.
Music-biz fabulons working the room included Tim Fink, Earle Simmons, Pat Higdon, Charlie Monk, Karen Clark, Jeff Walker, Jed Hilly, Andrew Kintz and Erika Wollam-Nichols. The current Nashville NARAS board was well represented by CCM star Brandon Heath and singer-songwriter-producer Victoria Shaw, plus Scott Hendricks, Scott Robinson, Leslie Roberts, Leslie Fram, Fletcher Foster, Allen Brown, Lori Badgett, Ben Fowler, Steve Gibson, Pat McMakin, David Corlew, Rod Essig and Woody Bomar.
“Isn’t this a fun party?” asked NARAS regional director Susan Stewart. “We have so many genres [in this year’s Grammy nominations]. We are in 18 genres this year. It’s incredible. It’s always great to see the respect that the Grammy voters have for Nashville.”
She and Balding recognized national vice president Nancy Shapiro and MusiCares exec Debbie Carroll. The party was extra special because national board chair Christine Albert attended.
“I travel to chapters around the country,” she said. “Nashville is really near and dear to my heart. I love this city.” It turns out that this Texan is former Maypop staff songwriter. Who knew?
The event was well covered by media mavens. Hacks and flacks on the scene included Storme Warren, Jimmy Carter, Ronna Rubin, Tom Roland, Janet Bozeman, Hunter Kelly, Susan Niles, Doak Turner, George Walker IV, Ed Morris and MusicRow‘s fearless leader Sherod Robertson.
- Bobby Karl Works The Room: MusicRow Magazine’s CountryBreakout Awards - February 19, 2020
- Bobby Karl Works The Room: Celebrating Nashville’s Grammy Nominees - January 8, 2020
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