Black music legends Slick Rick, Nile Rodgers, The Supremes, Bobby McFerrin and Ma Rainey were given the coveted Lifetime Achievement Award from the Recording Academy over Grammy weekend. Held on Saturday (February 4) at the historic Wilshire Ebell Theater in Los Angeles, the artists were given the Special Merit Award by vote of the Recording Academy’s National Trustees. The honor is given to artists “who, during their lifetimes, have made creative contributions of outstanding artistic significance to the field of recording,” per GRAMMY.com.
As the third artist signed to Def Jam Recordings, Rick released four studio albums during his career, also being interpolated, referenced and sampled on songs by rap predecessors Nicki Minaj, Eminem, Kanye West, Snoop Dogg, The Notorious B.I.G. and more.
During his acceptance speech, Rick, 58, sung Dionne Warwick’s “Walk on By” and The Supremes’ “Baby Love,” explaining that while growing up in England, he originally wanted to become a singer, per Billboard.
Rodgers, 70, also co-received the Grammy Award for Best R&B Song (“Cuff It”), accepting the gramophone on Beyoncé’s behalf before the 32-time Grammy winner arrived to the Crypto.com Arena on Sunday night (February 5).
Known as the “Mother of Blues,” the late Ma Rainey, who died in 1939, was also given the prestigious Lifetime Achievement Award honor. In 2020, Rainey was portrayed by Viola Davis in 2020 Academy Award-winning Netflix film Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom.
Ten-time Grammy-winner McFerrin is best known for his 1988 single “Don’t Worry Be Happy.” While Diana Ross was absent from the Lifetime Achievement Award ceremony, accepting the award on The Supremes’ behalf was the daughters of Mary Wilson, who died in 2021, and Florence Ballard, who died in 1976.
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