Grammys to honor Nina Simone, Velvet Underground
Legendary singer Nina Simone, art-rock pioneers The Velvet Underground and funk great Sly Stone will receive Grammy Lifetime Achievement Awards in 2017, the Recording Academy announced Monday.
The music industry body each year presents the special prizes for career-spanning influence, in addition to the regular Grammys which recognize the past year’s works.
Simone — who never received a Grammy during her lifetime — was a young piano prodigy who, as an African American in the segregated US South, was discouraged from classical music.
She became one of the most celebrated singers of soul and a staunch civil rights activist, with classic tracks such as “To Be Young, Gifted and Black.”
The Velvet Underground, led by John Cale and the late Lou Reed, revolutionized rock music by bringing an aesthetic from avant-garde art.
The band’s 1967 debut album, “The Velvet Underground and Nico,” was produced by Andy Warhol and explored drugs and sexual fetishism in ways then unthinkable for mainstream pop acts.
Sly Stone, leading Sly and the Family Stone, brought a new psychedelic vibe to funk music. He became a major influence on later artists, notably Prince.
Also winning the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award are “First Lady of Gospel Music” Shirley Caesar and legendary pianist Ahmad Jamal, who helped bring a greater pop audience to jazz.
The other recipients are Charley Pride, the former baseball player who is the first African American to achieve success in white-dominated country music, and Jimmie Rodgers, who helped set the foundations of country before dying at age 35 in 1933.
The main gala of the Grammys takes place on February 12 in Los Angeles, with pop superstar Beyonce leading in nominations.