It was a night filled with music and celebration, when representatives from the worlds of music and politics came together at The Recording Academy®’s 2017 GRAMMYs on the Hill® Awards on Wednesday, April 5 to honor Keith Urban.
The four-time GRAMMY® winner was honored with the Recording Artists’ Coalition® Award for his musical achievements and commitment to numerous music education programs that have inspired young musicians and provided thousands of musical instruments to underserved programs across the country. The Academy also honored Senators Susan Collins (R-Maine) and Tom Udall (D-N.M.) for their ongoing support of music programs and the National Endowment for the Arts.
Martina McBride hosted the ceremony. John Popper of Blues Traveler played the National Anthem on his harmonica. Wynonna Judd got the audience laughing with her humor and ended her set by calling Democratic and Republicans members of Congress to the stage for a singalong of “No One Else On Earth.” Many of the lawmakers took the moment to show off some of their dance moves.
There was a special presentation by television composer Jonathan Wolff who shared with the audience through how he created the theme for Seinfeld. Scenes from the show played on the screen to illustrate the synchronicity of the music and Seinfeld’s monologues and other comedic moments.
Accepting his award, Keith Urban recalled that when child he became fascinated with the guitar and music. He shared a poignant story of his music teacher who attempted used innovative methods to teach him and other children in the classroon. The teacher was rebuffed and ultimately quit, but he celebrated her dedication to the arts. He also recalled how he had yearned to live in Nashville since he was very young. Today Urban lives in Nashville with his wife, Nicole Kidman and their two children.
One of the highlights of the night was Urban singing “Blue Ain’t Your Color.” He followed up with “Wasted Time,” which turned into a euphoric duet with as John Popper played his harmonica jammed out with Urban.
Potential budget cuts for the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) were not far from everyone’s minds. Recording Academy President/CEO Neil Portnow said,”music and the arts are among the forces that define us as a nation.”
On Thursday, April music creators will travel to Capitol Hill to speak with lawmakers artist rights, including copyright laws. Kirstin Maldonando of Pentatonix said she was looking for forward to going to the Hill and understands the significance of copyright laws.
“You put your entire life and your hours and your time into your job, I think what you get back should be fair,” Maldonado said.