Here Are the Artists Who Received Lifetime Achievement Awards at the 2023 Grammys

Slick Rick, Nile Rodgers, The Supremes, Bobby McFerrin, Ma Rainey and more were given the Recording Academy’s Lifetime Achievement Award.

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

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 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.

Jaelani Turner-Williams

Jaelani Turner-Williams is a contributing news writer for Okayplayer with bylines at Billboard, MTV News, NYLON, Recording Academy and more. Read her mind on Twitter at @hernameisjae.

Published by
Jaelani Turner-Williams

Recent Posts

Best Songs of The Week: Navy Blue, Benny Sings, and More

The Round-Up is Okayplayer’s weekly playlist of the best songs in the worlds of hip-hop… Read More

March 24, 2023

7 New Albums You Should Be Listening To (Week of March 24)

Navy Blue leads our spotlighted albums of the week. The Brooklyn rapper released his impressive… Read More

March 24, 2023

JAY-Z Achieves $2.5 Billion Net Worth

In a new report, Forbes revealed that hip-hop's first billionaire, JAY-Z, now has a net… Read More

March 24, 2023

Watch Ash & Pikachu Take One Last Walk On ‘Pokémon’

After 26 years of anime series Pokémon, Pikachu and Ash Ketchum star in the latter's final… Read More

March 24, 2023

Danny Brown & JPEGMAFIA Are ‘Scaring the Hoes’ on Their New Album

Alternative rap wordsmiths Danny Brown and JPEGMAFIA have released their debut collaborative album Scaring the… Read More

March 24, 2023

Listen to Navy Blue’s Major Label Debut, ‘Ways of Knowing’

On Thursday, Navy Blue released his Def Jam Recordings debut LP Ways of Knowing, fully… Read More

March 24, 2023