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Wayne Wallace: The Thrill of the Grammys

Wayne Wallace: The Thrill of the Grammys
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I have had the honor of performing on four Grammy-nominated recordings. Mister E, by Pete Escovedo
Pete Escovedo
Pete Escovedo
b.1935
percussion
, S.F. Bay, by the Machete Ensemble, Then Some, by Steve Berrios
Steve Berrios
Steve Berrios

percussion
, and Far East Suite, by Anthony Brown
Anthony Brown
Anthony Brown

percussion
and the Asian American Orchestra. This was my second time being a part of a Grammy presentation, but my first as the leader of a nominated project, let alone as a presenter for the Pre-Telecast Awards ceremony.

I arrived at LAX on Saturday afternoon, checked in at the Biltmore hotel and immediately prepared to attend the nominees' reception. Beautiful starlit warm evening, first class entertainment, fabulous people and sumptuous food everywhere you turned. The energy and excitement of being around so many great artists was contagious for all of the participants. As Grammy nominees the first order of business was to sign in, receive a Grammy medallion honoring the achievement of being a nominee and then having a photo taken for the archives.

Some of favorite moments were meeting fellow musicians/artists, learning of how they had gotten to this moment and how dedicated they were to their craft. Some were veterans of the Grammys and other first timers. Didn't seem to matter though, as everyone was savoring the lusciousness of the being there.

Sunday was the awards day. Everyone from my record label, Patois Records, had made the trip, so we went over to the L.A. Convention Center en masse. It was an honor and a privilege to have been asked to be a presenter for the Pre-Telecast Awards. I was presenting for the Latin and Gospel Awards, and had to be at there early for the walk through and staging for my segment. The director and technicians were all first-class professionals and made every step easy and fun. The hang backstage with Bobby McFerrin
Bobby McFerrin
Bobby McFerrin
b.1950
vocalist
, Esperanza Spalding
Esperanza Spalding
Esperanza Spalding
b.1984
bass, acoustic
, Trombone Shorty
Trombone Shorty
Trombone Shorty
b.1986
trombone
and all of the presenters was a blast! We shared notes on the recording of each others projects, talked about new music we had heard and joked about the business.

In total there were 98 Grammys presented at the Pre-Telecast Awards. In my opinion, this segment felt like the "working class" of the music business. A majority of the artists had funded their own projects or received grants to record them. For many of them, being nominated was a reward in itself. Some of my personal highlights for the Pre-Telecast Awards were presenting to Oscar Hernandez and the Spanish Harlem Orchestra
Spanish Harlem Orchestra
Spanish Harlem Orchestra

band/orchestra
, Lalah Hathaway
Lalah Hathaway
Lalah Hathaway

vocalist
's talking about how she had brought several pairs of shoes to deal with the long day, Mavis Staples
Mavis Staples
Mavis Staples
b.1939
vocalist
' emotional acceptance speech, Trombone Shorty's performance with the Pre-Telecast Grammy Band, and the McFerrin/Spalding duet to open the show. Folks have asked if I was disappointed in not winning a Grammy. I wasn't disappointed in the least. The honor of being recognized by your peers with such great artists as Pablo Aslan
Pablo Aslan
Pablo Aslan
b.1962
bass
, Chucho Valdes
Chucho Valdes
Chucho Valdes
b.1941
piano
, Poncho Sanchez
Poncho Sanchez
Poncho Sanchez
b.1951
congas
and Henry Martingon is something to be cherished and treasured be its own merit.

After a one hour break, the CBS Telecast took place over at the Staples Center. Every segment was magnificently produced and staged. Kudos to the production team!!! Loved every moment of the presentation.

Had a brief but nice conversation with Cee Lo, before his performance. The tribute to Aretha Franklin
Aretha Franklin
Aretha Franklin

vocalist
was quite touching. When Esperanza Spalding won the New Artist of the Year Award, it was like someone had suddenly open a door and a blast of cold air rushed in and woke up the Staples Center. Everyone I talked to was thrilled!! To know that it's still possible for a talented musician who puts artistic integrity at the forefront to be honored in this way speaks to many of the reasons why we all love being musicians and artists. During the commercial breaks, we were entertained by videos of past Grammy performances. (My personal favorite was the Aretha Franklin clip of her subbing for an ailing Luciano Pavarotti on Puccini's Nessum Dorma, from Turnadot, with just 30 minutes to prepare).

The after party was a nice cool down from all of the day's frenetic energy. Once again we were treated to great music, conversation and incredible food. Bottom line, I had a blast!!! Looking forward to doing it again.


Photo Credit
David Belove, Courtesy of Wayne Wallace
Wayne Wallace
Wayne Wallace

trombone

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