Nearly 10 months after this year’s recipients were first announced, the Recording Academy will finally honor its 2020 special merit awards honorees with Great Performances: Grammy Salute to Music Legends. Jimmy Jam will host the awards ceremony and tribute concert, which will air Oct. 16 at 9 p.m. on PBS. This is one of countless awards programs that was thrown off balance by the COVID-19 pandemic.
The 2020 lifetime achievement award honorees, first announced on Dec. 19, are Chicago, Roberta Flack, Isaac Hayes, Iggy Pop, John Prine, Public Enemy and Sister Rosetta Tharpe. Trustees awards recipients are Ken Ehrlich, Philip Glass and Frank Walker. George Augspurger is the technical Grammy award recipient. Mickey Smith Jr. is the music educator award recipient.
This is the fifth year the Recording Academy has celebrated the special merit awards with a stand-alone TV event, but the first year that it has been produced without an audience and in different locations, due to the pandemic. Last year’s show, by comparison, was taped May 11, 2019, at the Dolby Theater in Hollywood. It aired on Oct. 18, 2019.
The Recording Academy also announced the performers who will appear on the show. Two are past lifetime achievement award recipients. Sam Moore, performing in tribute to Hayes, received the award as one-half of Sam & Dave last year. Philip Bailey, performing in tribute to Chicago, received the award as part of Earth, Wind & Fire in 2016.
This will be the second consecutive Grammy Salute to Music Legends special that will feature Flack and Donny Hathaway’s Grammy-winning 1972 classic “Where Is the Love.” Hathaway’s daughters Lalah Hathaway and Kenya Hathaway performed it last year in tribute to their father, a 2019 lifetime achievement award honoree. Cynthia Erivo and Leslie Odom, Jr. will perform it this year in tribute to Flack.
Here are key performances:
“The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face” — Performed by Cynthia Erivo
“Where Is The Love” — Performed by Cynthia Erivo and Leslie Odom, Jr.
“If You Leave Me Now” — Performed by Philip Bailey
Sister Rosetta Tharpe
“Up Above My Head, I Hear Music In The Air” — Performed by Yola
“Soul Man” / “I Thank You” / “You Don’t Know Like I Know” / “Hold On, I’m Comin’” / “You Got Me Hummin’” / “When Something Is Wrong With My Baby” — Performed by Sam Moore
“Gee Whiz” — Performed by Laurie Anderson
“Your Cheatin’ Heart” — Performed by Chris Isaak
“Time After Time” — Performed by Cyndi Lauper
“Storm Windows” — Performed by Jason Isbell & Amanda Shires
“I Remember Everything” — Performed by Brandi Carlile
The Recording Academy didn’t identify performers who will pay tribute to Iggy Pop or Public Enemy.
A production of Thirteen Productions for WNET, Great Performances: Grammy Salute to Music Legends was written by David Wild and directed for television by David Horn. Mitch Owgang served as producer and Horn and Branden Chapman as executive producers. Terry Lickona and Chantel Sausedo are co-producers.
The lifetime achievement award celebrates performers who have made outstanding contributions of artistic significance to the field of recording.
The trustees award honors such contributions in areas other than performance. The Recording Academy’s national board of trustees ratifies the honorees of both of these awards.
Technical Grammy awards are presented to individuals who have made contributions of outstanding technical significance to the recording industry. Recipients are voted on by the academy’s producers & engineers wing advisory council and chapter committees, and are ratified by the board of trustees.
The music educator award, which is presented jointly by the Recording Academy and the Grammy Museum, recognizes current educators who have made a significant and lasting contribution to the field of music education. The recipient is ratified by the board of trustees.