A Brief Grammy History

Grammy history dates back to 1958, when the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences decided to create an award to honor achievement in performance and audio recording.

What's a Grammy?
The first Grammy awards were held on May 4, 1959 in the Grand Ballroom of the Beverly Hills Hotel. The award was established in 1958. The Grammys are the only awards that focus on artistic achievement, technical proficiency and overall excellence instead of album sales or chart position.

The award itself is a gold gramophone, symbolic of the first home record players, on a black base. The name "Grammy" is an abbreviation of Gramophone. The trophies themselves are hand-made by Billings Artworks of Colorado.

Choosing the Winners
The Grammys are the only peer-nominated artistic award. Record companies, individual artists and other music industry professionals all get a chance to submit nominations. A panel of 150 experts reviews the list of nominees. This panel checks to see if the nominees are eligible for that year and if they are in the proper category.

The entries are whittled down to the top five nominees in each category. After the nominees are announced, they are sent to the Recording Academy members for a final vote.

Receiving Awards
Early awards ceremonies didn't look like the who's who of the music industry we see today, although the early shows did have live perfomances emceed by a Grammy host. Prior to 1971, the Grammys appeared as taped specials. NBC ran highlights of the Grammy awards under the title, "The Best on Record."

Until 1971, the ceremonies were held in both New York and Los Angeles. Winners could accepting at whichever location was closest. When Pierre Cosette acquired the broadcast rights for ABC, he changed the format to a live broadcast, similar to the Oscars. This eliminated the second ceremony.

Some Grammy categories include Record of the Year, which is awarded to the performer and production group of a single song, and Album of the Year, which is awarded to the performer and production group of a full album. Song of the Year is presented to the writer and composer.

There is also a Technical Achievement Award given to an individual or company that makes a significant contribution to recording technology. Lifetime Achievement awards are handed out to artists, producers, engineers and other people who have had a considerable influence on the music industry during their professional careers.

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