(Originally published 4.15.11 in BizBash Washington)The Recording Academy hosted its 10th Grammys on the Hill last night for 400 Congressmen, academy members, and media at the Liaison Capital Hill hotel. The annual event brings the music world to Washington to honor those behind the scenes who protect the rights of artists. Vice President Joe Biden was the night’s top honoree, but he was unable to attend as originally planned, due to a scheduling conflict.
“We were focusing our efforts not on the music professionals but those who work to protect their freedom of speech and copyrights, and in the case this year, intellectual property and copyright laws,” said Daryl Friedman, vice president of advocacy for the academy.
Though Biden had to bow out at the last minute, his expected attendance made for an extra set of challenges for the event team this year. Led by Jason Zwolinski, director of production and events for the Recording Academy, the team had to factor additional security measures into the production, like earlier load-in times, arrangements for metal detectors, and adjusted sound-check times for performers. All equipment, ranging from musical instruments and microphones to staging gear, was supposed to to be set up in the ballroom by 4 p.m. yesterday, when the Secret Service was scheduled to make its security sweep of the event space and hotel.
After forgoing a formal dinner in 2010, the event began with a cocktail reception and heavy hors d’oeuvres at the hotel’s in-house restaurant Art and Soul. A separate reception for 40 V.I.P.s, including the night’s honorees and performers, also took place in the restaurant’s private room.
Oscar-winning songwriter Paul Williams once again hosted the award program, which took place in a nearby ballroom, where Zwolinski and 15/40 Productions created a theater arrangement. Stevie Wonder was set to present Vice President Biden with his award, but instead introduced a tribute video and presented him with the award at the White House earlier in the day. The academy also honored Senator Bob Corker for his efforts in protecting intellectual property laws through his co-sponsorship of the Performance Rights Act, which required radio stations to pay performers when their music is played on air. Grammy-winner Don Henley, founder of the Recording Artists’ Coalition, was also recognized.
Grammy winner Bruce Hornsby performed two songs at the end of the ceremony, before being joined onstage by Henley for a duet of a song they co-wrote. Afterward, guests retreated to a meeting room across the hall for an after-hours dessert and cocktail party. Members of the Recording Academy headed to the Hill on Thursday for a full day of lobbying on behalf of musicians and their interests.
*Photos courtesy of Tony Brown/Imijination Photography for BizBash