The National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences, or the NARAS, is a not-for-profit organization that is comprised of and represents a myriad of music makers of all kinds. From recording engineers to musicians to audio producers, this American learned academy has no shortage of professionals in the music industry. The core focus of the Recording Academy is to ensure the service, advocacy, and recognition of music as an art and a craft.
In addition to fostering their existing members, the Recording Academy is always welcoming and genuine in their invitation for newcomers to take a deeper dive into the work that their community continues to do every day. For many, an exploration into the NARAS is more than enough inspiration to motivate a desire to become an active member.
While not everyone has heard of the NARAS, plenty of people know what the Grammys are, the awards that the academy is most famous for.
What Are NARAS Recommendations?
The way that the NARAS adds new members to its group is through a highly vetted recommendation process to ensure that only the top musical minds are making the ultimate decisions when it comes to the Grammys.
In order to be considered for an invitation to join this illustrious academy and attain the highly coveted membership status, you first need to have a strong recommendation from two peers in the music industry. This recommendation process helps to weed out those who just want to make a name for themselves and aren’t really actively engaged in the music industry.
Those who are thinking about throwing their own name in the hat just to see what would happen need not waste their time: Applications with self-recommendation don’t even make it through the processing stage as they are immediately marked as incomplete.
Once you have recommendation from peers in the music industry, you’ll be able to send off an application. Once the Academy has received your recommendation, you’ll be questioned further about your career and your involvement in the music industry. It’s important to double check all the deadlines for submitting your profile to ensure that you don’t miss your chance to become a part of this exciting group.
Who Makes up NARAS?
In order to properly represent the rich and diverse world of music, the NARAS tries to fill out its membership with as diverse a group as possible. Active members of the Recording Academy include people from all walks of life who have taken their careers in all sorts of different directions. Sound engineers, conductors, virtuoso performers, audio producers, and composers all have their voices heard in the NARAS, and their contributions help shape its decisions every day.
The Grammys: A Brief History
The origin of the Grammys begins in the famous Hollywood Walk of Fame project during the 1950s. The Walk of Fame committee members were trying to decide who in the recording industry was important enough to earn a star on their Walk of Fame on Hollywood Boulevard. During that decision-making process, they came to the undeniable conclusion that there just weren’t enough stars to go around. A new solution had to be found.
In order to make sure all of the most important people in their business got their just recognition, it was decided that an award ceremony would be created in the style of the Oscars or the Emmys. The only problem that remained was what to call it.
One amusing first attempt at a name for the awards was “The Eddie,” but luckily that was scrapped according to Musicians Hall of Fame & Museum. Although it had a well-intended meaning to honor Thomas Edison, who invented the phonograph, they settled on the much more pleasing name of “The Grammy.” This title emerged as a tribute to Emile Berliner’s gramophone. The first time the ceremony was held was in 1958, and it has been a phenomenon ever since.
Awards Ceremonies: What’s the Point?
So, what is the benefit of awarding musicians and audio producers with Grammy awards? Is it all about the recognition and prestige? Many of the more cynical journalists and personalities have voiced their disdain for award shows of this kind and, indeed, any kind at all, for their self-serving and plastic, sterilized nature. However, there are many others who see plenty of value in the practice of this formal recognition.
While the arts will never have the same competitive nature of sports, having the opportunity for certain artists to be recognized above others does add a certain element of competition to the music world. When artists know that they’re going to be pitted against each other when Grammy time rolls around each year, it might push them to work a little bit harder in the studio and take their craft to the next level.
Sometimes, the choices of the NARAS can be surprising, boosting the talents of newer and as of yet unheard-of artists. In those rare but persistent cases, these indie-label artists or DIY musicians can enjoy a spotlight that they never would’ve gotten without this academic institution and their awards ceremony.
Which Artist has Won the Most Grammys?
While it can’t be overstated that the number of awards and accolades an artist receives is not necessarily a direct reflection of their talent or of their work’s impact on the music history and society as a whole, everyone is curious about who’s gotten the most. Although there isn’t any one number that can tell you who is the “best” musician or performer, it’s still nice to know who is the current reigning champion of this prestigious and widely discussed music award.
Currently, Sir Georg Solti is the musician with the most Grammys on his shelf or shelves, as is more likely, with 31 of the awards to his name. Solti was a British conductor from Hungary who conducted for numerous opera companies in Europe. In the United States, he’s more commonly recognized for his long tenure as director of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra. Close behind Solti in the Grammy book of records are Quincy Jones with 28, Alison Krauss with 27, and Pierre Boulez with 26.
Other notable artists include Vladimir Horowitz, the famous classical pianist whose performances of Chopin and Bach continue to set the precedent for what is possible with a piano performance, with 25 Grammys, Stevie Wonder with 25, John Williams with 24, and Beyonce with 22.
How Many Grammy Awards are Awarded Each Year?
The number of artists who are awarded with a Grammy at the annual event has been in flux but has recently leveled out. From 2017 to 2020, 84 of the awards were given out each year; in 2021, there will be 83 categories presented. Before that, the number went up and down, dipping to 78 in 2012 and reaching its highest in 2009 at 110 awards presented.
Popular and Well-Known Musicians Who Have Never Won a Grammy
As a testament to how awards don’t always reflect the talent or impact of an artist, there are plenty of big names who have never added the Grammy to their list of accolades. Such big names include the likes of Nicki Minaj, Katy Perry, and Blake Shelton, all of whom have received several nominations over the course of their careers but never quite made it to the top, according to Insider.
Even legendary performers like Diana Ross, The Beach Boys, and Jimi Hendrix never made it onto the Grammy list, but it certainly never hurt their careers.
Being an audio producer is a highly rewarding career with numerous opportunities that are growing all the time. It is great to dream of being nominated for a Grammy, and better still to dream beyond that and imagine yourself winning one. Certainly, anyone who has ever had the experience of winning can confirm that it’s truly magical.
However, creating music is not and never will be about winning prizes and prestigious awards. The real reason why anyone should become an audio producer is because they have a passion for music, they love to be creative, and they want to see how far it can take them. A Grammy is just the icing on the cake.
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