New York Artists Make a Splash at 2017 Grammys

Talk of the 59th Grammys will center on Adele’s profanely humble request to re-start her tribute to George Michael so she can “get it right for George,” Beyonce’s cinematic performance of “Love Drought” and “Sandcastles” from her universally acclaimed album Lemonade or Bruno Mars’ role as the Purple One in the joyous celebration of Prince that also included Morris Day and the Time. The televised portion of the awards is the show, with the focus on performances and the marquee categories. However, there was a slew of awards presented throughout the weekend that weren’t televised. NYS Music detailed a number of the New York-based honorees and nominees in December. Many took home Grammys this weekend.

The late David Bowie was nominated in five categories for his groundbreaking album Blackstar and won all five. Taking home the Grammy for Best Rock PerformanceBlackstar, Best Rock Song, “Blackstar,” Best Alternative Music AlbumBlackstar, Best Recording PackageBlackstar, and Best-Engineered Album, Non-ClassicalBlackstar.   Bowie had never won for his music throughout his storied career prior to this year. In his later years, the Great White Duke maintained a residence in Woodstock.

DJ duo the Chainsmokers, Andrew Taggart (a Syracuse University graduate) and NYC native Alex Pall, were nominated in three categories – Best New Artist, Best Pop Duo/Group Performance for their single, “Closer,” which also features Halsey on vocals, and for Best Dance Recording for their single, “Don’t Let Me Down,” featuring Daya – ultimately leaving with a win in the Dance category.

2016 Nobel Prize winner Bob Dylan was nominated for Best Traditional Pop Vocal AlbumFallen Angels, and for Best Historical AlbumThe Cutting Edge 1965-1966: The Bootleg Series, Vol.12 (Collector’s Edition), winning for Best Historical Album.

New York-via-Texas transplants, Snarky Puppy were also nominated and won the Grammy for Best Contemporary Instrumental Album for Culcha Vulcha, an album NYS Music reviewed last year. The jazz fusion band made several stops in New York last year, breathing new life into the genre. You can read our review of Snarky Puppy’s Syracuse stop last year here.

Perhaps one of the most powerful performances of the night came from Queens natives a Tribe Called Quest who were joined by Busta Ryhmes and rising rap newcomer Anderson .Paak to perform “Award Tour” and “We the People.”  An empty microphone stand was present in tribute to fallen Tribe member Phife Dawg, who passed away last March.

The performance with Rhymes delivering a particularly scathing diatribe of President Trump and the executive order signed to prevent people from seven predominantly Muslim countries from entering the United States. It concluded with a parade of people of varying ethnicities entering the stage to cheers from the people in attendance.

Art rock pioneers the Velvet Underground were honored with a Lifetime Achievement Award, an award few would have imagined for the band in the burgeoning New York City art scene of the late 1960s. The late Lou Reed and Sterling Morrison, former roommates at Syracuse University, along with Welsh-born John Cale formed an early version the Velvets, called the Worlocks in the mid-60s. Cale was in attendance at Sunday’s ceremony to represent the band.

The Velvet Underground was a band that never achieved significant commercial success. But as producer Brian Eno once said in an interview, “everyone who bought one started a band.”