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Jul 27

Music Notes: Explore the History of the Grammys

Posted on July 27, 2017 at 9:56 AM by Elizabeth Land

Notes from the Music Staff logoStaff Note: Notes from the Music Staff is a series of posts discussing what the library offers music fans. From our widely varied collection of music CDs to our nonfiction and fiction books covering all aspects of music, we've got something for everyone and we want to share our love of music with you!

Music fans will know that the 59th Annual Grammy Awards will air on February 12, 2017. While you debate about who will be the winners this year, check out this short history of the Grammy Awards.


On May 4, 1959, music’s elite—including Frank Sinatra, Sammy Davis Jr., Peggy Lee, Dean Martin, Gene Autry, Ella Fitzgerald, Johnny Mercer, Henry Mancini and André Previn—gathered for a black-tie dinner and awards in the Beverly Hills Hilton Grand Ballroom. At the same time, other new Academy members were gathering in New York City. Christine Farnon helped organize the first show and became The Academy’s Executive VP.

The Grammys originated from the 1950s Hollywood Walk of Fame project. As recording execs in the Walk of Fame committee listed important recording industry people who might qualify for a Walk of Fame star, they realized many leaders in their business would never earn a star on Hollywood Boulevard. So they created an award similar to the Oscars and the Emmys. This was the beginning of the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences. Regrettably, the Academy has a history of ignoring new music styles and artists at first, (notably Rock ‘n Roll) and concentrating on record sales over creative substance.

What's in a Name?

A Grammy Award is shown. The name and the shape of the award is based off the gramophone.One working title for the new award was the Eddie, to honor phonograph inventor Thomas Edison. Instead they decided to honor the gramophone, which was invented by Emile Berliner. The gramophone inspired both the shape of the award, as well as the name "Grammy".

Interesting Facts
  • The Grammy Awards were first televised live in 1971.
  • With 31 Grammys, classical conductor Sir Georg Solti has the most wins.
  • Among female artists, Alison Krauss has the most, with 27 awards.
  • U2, with 22 Grammys, holds the record for most awards won by a group.
  • The Peasall Sisters are considered the youngest Grammy winners, since they were credited artists on the "O Brother, Where Art Thou?" soundtrack, which won Album of the Year in 2002. They were the Wharvey Girls in the movie.
  • LeAnn Rimes is the youngest individual winner. She was 14 years old when she won her first two awards in 1997. She was also the first Country artist to win the Best New Artist Grammy.
  • Pinetop Perkins, who at age 97 was awarded Best Traditional Blues Album for "Joined at the Hip" in 2011, is the oldest person to win a Grammy.
  • Only 2 artists have won all four General Field awards. In 1981, Christopher Cross won Record, Album, Song of the Year, and Best New Artist. Adele is the second artist to win all four, and the first female. In 2009, she won Best New Artist and in 2012, she won Record, Album, and Song of the Year.
Listen Up

You can listen to many Grammy winners by either searching for the artist's name in our online catalog, or by checking out the Grammy Nominees compilation albums the York County Public Library has in its collection.