Heart’s Ann Wilson and Nancy Wilson Receive Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award

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Sisters Ann Wilson and Nancy Wilson, in an undated photo, via Heart’s Facebook page

The Recording Academy® held its Special Merit Awards on Feb. 4 celebrating the 2023 Lifetime Achievement Award and Trustees Award. Among those honored for Lifetime Achievement honors were Ann Wilson and Nancy Wilson of Heart, The Supremes, Nirvana, and Nile Rodgers. Legendary photographer Henry Diltz was among those receiving the Trustees Award. The ceremony took place during GRAMMY® Week at the Wilshire Ebell Theatre.

When the news was announced on Jan. 5, Nancy Wilson said in a statement, “I can hardly fathom the Lifetime Achievement Award is coming to me and my sister Ann. It’s a deep acknowledgment for the nearly 50 years of our lives we put into this music.

“It is more than meaningful for both of us. It speaks to the relevance of the songs themselves and what those songs continue to mean to our loyal and our new fans.

“And I hope it speaks to the new breed of amazing women who are now emerging in the world of rock – keeping it alive and kicking. And I plan to keep on kicking too. Thank you to my supportive blended family, our FANS, our incredible players who’ve joined and continued on their own journey, the Recording Academy / GRAMMYs❤️! I love you.”

Related: We asked Nancy Wilson about the moment she knew Heart had “made it”

Ann Wilson wrote, “It’s such an honor to be recognized in this way after all the years, all the miles and all the songs!”

In her acceptance speech, Nancy Wilson said, “In 1974, I followed my calling, which pulled me out of my college dorm room, to capture this dream I had with my sister, since we were little kids. The dream was to be The Beatles. We followed our muse through the decades. We blazed a few trails and broke a few glass ceilings along the way for both men and woman. And Recording Academy… thank you forever for this. It’s gonna look super sweet on my grandma’s piano in my home studio.” Her sister, Ann, did not attend the ceremony.

The other Lifetime Achievement Award recipients are Bobby McFerrin, Ma Rainey, and Slick Rick “The Ruler.” Ellis Marsalis and the late Stax Records co-founder Jim Stewart are the other Trustees Award recipients. Watch many of them accept the honors.

More from the original Jan. 5 announcement: The Lifetime Achievement Award of Special Merit is presented by vote of the Recording Academy’s National Trustees to performers who, during their lifetimes, have made creative contributions of outstanding artistic significance to the field of recording. See past recipients here (through 1972, recipients included non-performers).

Ann Wilson and Nancy Wilson are being recognized as Lifetime Achievement Award honorees for their creative work with the rock band Heart. Heart was inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, sold over 35 million records, garnered four GRAMMY Award nominations, landed 10 Top 10 albums, earned two No. 1 pop hits, and received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, among their many achievements.

Two-time GRAMMY Award nominees The Supremes were the leading act of Motown Records during the 1960s. Founded by Diana Ross, Mary Wilson* and Florence Ballard*, The Supremes were trailblazers in the history of music, transcending all genres as the first female group that defined a generation. Named the No. 1 female recording group of all time by Billboard in 2017, the group achieved an unprecedented 12 No. 1 hits and five consecutive No. 1s from 1964-1965 with “Where Did Our Love Go,” “Baby Love,” “Come See About Me,” “Stop! In the Name of Love,” and “Back in My Arms Again.” The Supremes were inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 1988, and received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in 1994.

Formed in 1987 by Kurt Cobain* and Krist Novoselic, Nirvana emerged from the Pacific Northwest onto the world stage with the 1989 release of its debut album Bleach. Two years later Nirvana’s sophomore album Nevermind would spark a seismic shift in global youth culture. Rising to No. 1 worldwide and featuring GRAMMY Hall of Fame® single “Smells Like Teen Spirit,” Nevermind‘s impact would transform Cobain, Novoselic and Dave Grohl into one of the most successful and influential musical entities of all time. Nirvana was inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 2014.

Nile Rodgers is a Rock & Roll Hall of Fame inductee, Songwriters Hall of Fame inductee and a multiple GRAMMY Award-winning songwriter, composer, producer, arranger, and guitarist. As the co-founder of CHIC, Rodgers pioneered a musical language that generated chart-topping hits like “Le Freak,” the biggest-selling single in the history of Atlantic Records. His work in the CHIC Organization including “We Are Family” with Sister Sledge and “I’m Coming Out” with Diana Ross and his productions for artists like David Bowie (“Let’s Dance”), Madonna (“Like A Virgin”) and Duran Duran (“The Reflex”) have sold over 500 million albums and 100 million singles worldwide while his innovative, trendsetting collaborations with Daft Punk, Daddy Yankee and Beyoncé reflect the vanguard of contemporary hits.

Ten-time GRAMMY Award winner Bobby McFerrin has blurred the distinction between pop music and fine art, exploring uncharted vocal territory and inspiring a whole new generation of a cappella singers and the beatbox movement. From his trailblazing, solo a cappella performances to his inspired collaborations with Chick Corea and Yo-Yo Ma, his iconic global No. 1 hit “Don’t Worry, Be Happy” and his work conducting top-tier orchestras, McFerrin’s calling has always been to connect people through the unlimited possibilities of music.

Often called the “Mother of the Blues,” Ma Rainey* (Gertrude Pridgett Rainey) was known for her deep voice and mesmerizing stage presence that drew packed audiences in the early twentieth century. A songwriter as well as a performer, her lyrics and melodies reflected her experiences as an independent, openly bisexual African-American woman. Rainey signed a recording contract with Paramount Records in 1923, making her one of the earliest recorded blues musicians. Between 1923 and 1928, she recorded almost 100 records, many of them national hits that are now part of the American musical canon. Her 1924 recording of “See See Rider Blues” (for which she was accompanied by a young Louis Armstrong) was added to the Library of Congress’s National Recording Registry in 2004.

Renowned as “THE most sampled hip-hop artist in history” and “hip-hop’s greatest storyteller,” Slick Rick “The Ruler” has set the pace for rap’s past, present, and future. The Ruler’s catalog, which includes the anthems “La-Di-Da-Di” and “The Show,” boasts over 850 samples, ranging from Snoop Dogg’s “Lodi Dodi” through Beyoncé and J. Cole’s “Party.”

Trustees Award Honorees are voted on by the Recording Academy’s National Trustees to individuals who, during their careers in music, have made significant contributions, other than performance*, to the field of recording. See past recipients here (*through 1983, recipients included performers).

Cover photo shot at a downtown Los Angeles flophouse for The Doors’ “Morrison Hotel” album, released February 1970. (Photo © Henry Diltz/Henry Diltz Photography. Used with permission)

Music photographer Henry Diltz photographed more than 250 album covers and thousands of publicity shots in the 1960s and 1970s, including the iconic Morrison Hotel cover for the Doors. Other artists, whose fly-on-the-wall style portraits he’s known for, include musical legends such as Eagles, Neil Young, Crosby, Stills & Nash, Jackson Browne, America, Steppenwolf, James Taylor, Jimi Hendrix, The Monkees, Joni Mitchell, and Linda Ronstadt. He was the official photographer at the 1969 Woodstock festival 1969.

Related: We talked to Diltz about the early ’70s Los Angeles music scene

Jazz pianist and music educator Ellis Marsalis* was regarded by many as the premier modern jazz pianist in New Orleans. He began formal music studies at the Xavier University Junior School of Music at age 11 and graduated with a bachelor of arts degree in music education from Dillard University in 1955. In 1986, Marsalis accepted the position of commonwealth professor at Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond, Va., where he spent two of the three years as coordinator of jazz studies before returning to New Orleans to become the University of New Orleans’ first occupant of the Coca-Cola-endowed chair of jazz studies.

Stax Records founder Jim Stewart* produced some of the greatest rhythm and blues (R&B) records of the 1960s. He was instrumental in launching the careers of Otis Redding, the Bar-Kays, Isaac Hayes, Eddie Floyd, Booker T. & the M.G.s, the Staple Singers, Johnnie Taylor, Albert King, Rufus and Carla Thomas, and hundreds of others. With Stewart at the helm, Stax moved some 800 singles and 300 albums, placing more than 167 hit songs in the Top 100 on the pop charts, and a staggering 243 hits in the Top 100 R&B charts. Stewart was inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 2002 by Steve Cropper of Booker T. & the M.G.’s, and Sam Moore of Sam & Dave. Stewart died on Dec. 5, 2022.

*Denotes posthumous honoree.

Best Classic Bands Staff

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  1. Yvette
    #1 Yvette 6 February, 2023, 03:51

    The Wilson Sisters, Ann and Nancy, so Happy to be a Young 20 Year Old in Growing Up with Your Multiple Chart Toppers… Enjoyed Seeing You in Concert some years ago @ Saratoga Mountain Winery in California Performing a Great Concert… You Still Have It Happening…
    KEEP ROCK’N!!!

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