Today, I am happy to welcome Meghan Walker from Tandem Literary to Booking Mama. She has written a fantastic guest post about tonight's 55th Annual GRAMMY Awards® and why, as book lovers, we should be interested! Make sure you also check out the great giveaway for this year's Best Spoken Word Album nominees!
And the GRAMMY® Goes To…
by Meghan Walker
So the 55th Annual GRAMMY Awards® are tonight. As lovers of the written word and great storytelling, what is the book lover’s role on “Music’s Biggest Night?” To groan as we listen to the pop idol du jour butcher the English language? No! Why, it is to root for your favorite audiobook, of course!
Each year The Recording Academy gives out an award for Best Spoken Word Album. Thankfully, this does not mean recognizing an aging TV star for his dramatic reading of a Beatles song. It means books, people!
This year the five nominated titles in this category are: American Grown by Michelle Obama; Back To Work by Bill Clinton, Drift by Rachel Maddow, Seriously... I'm Kidding by Ellen DeGeneres, and Society's Child by Janis Ian.
In each case, the nominee is the “label,” which means the publisher. The odds are stacked in favor of Random House Audio/Books on Tape as three out of the five nominees (Obama, Clinton, Maddow) are theirs. But the big prize could just as easily go to Hachette Audio for the DeGeneres title or to Audible for the Ian autobiography.
Dan Zitt is the Director of Master Recording at Random House Audio. He declares this year’s race too tough to call.
“There are thousands of great audiobooks released each year, so I can only imagine how difficult it is for The Recording Academy to narrow it down to five nominees,” Dan says. “This year it is such a strong category, it really is a toss up.”
Political books have fared well in past years—titles by Bill Clinton, Barack Obama, Al Gore, Jimmy Carter, and Hillary Rodham Clinton have all taken top honors. However, comedy is also a perennial favorite. Last year’s winning audiobook was Betty White’s memoir, If You Ask Me (And Of Course You Won't) and the 2010 GRAMMY® went to The Daily Show With Jon Stewart Presents Earth. But Society’s Child could run away with it. The Recording Academy has shown the love to celebrity memoirs from Michael J. Fox, Ossie Davis & Ruby Dee, and Quincy Jones over the past decade.
The GRAMMY Awards® ceremony at STAPLES Center in Los Angeles (and even the pre-telecast where the Spoken Word award is doled out) is a far cry from your typical east coast publishing trade show or wine and cheese author party. But this year’s GRAMMY Awards® will not be Dan’s first time at the big dance.
“I have worked on eight books that have been nominated over the years,” Dan said. “I have been to the GRAMMY®s more than five times, but not quite eight.”
He checked in with me on Thursday night just after landing in LA to prep for this year’s big event. In response to everyone’s favorite red carpet question, Dan reports that he will be wearing a classic black Hugo Boss suit, with some Nike Air Force 1s on his feet “to give it a little flavor.”
So what is it like for the publishing folks who get to partake in the GRAMMY® glitz and glamour, rubbing elbows with the likes of Bruce Springsteen, Adele, Paul McCartney, and Beyonce?
“It is strange to say the least,” Dan reports. “Here you are at a music event waiting to hear if you won the only award that goes to book people! I think it really first hit me, as to the gravity of where I was, when I was sitting next to Andy Garcia one year. Then in the lobby of the convention center I had Tony Bennett on one side of me, and the Wu Tang Clan on the other. Surreal in every way!”
Having won a GRAMMY® Award before (in 2005 for President Clinton’s My Life), Dan reports that he keeps it on a shelf at home next to some pictures of himself with some of the more interesting people he has had the opportunity to work with over the years. “None of my friends believe that the GRAMMY® or the pictures are real,” he says.
But, still. Dan is not quick to take credit. The Recording Academy sets the nominees for each nominated title based on strict guidelines.
“Since many people are part of the recording process, it is somewhat of a shared award,” Dan says. “The author, the producers, the narrator in some cases all can accept the award.”
So, is it an honor just to be nominated? Well, yes.
“It’s great to win, but just as great to be recognized for the work we all put in on these recordings,” says Dan. “I just hope the award brings more recognition to what so many authors, actors, publishers and producers have put their time into: great productions. And if the GRAMMY®s somehow help bring more consciousness to the audiobook format, now that is the true reward for all of us.”
So this Sunday, get your book lights in the air and raise those devil horns like you just don’t care as you tune in to root on these five deserving audiobooks. (The pre-telecast will be a web-streaming event. Visit www.grammy.com for details.)
While books may not take center stage at the GRAMMY®s, at least they are invited to the party. Rock on for that.
Giveaway alert: To celebrate audio books and 55th Annual GRAMMY Awards®, I have a wonderful giveaway! One lucky winner will win a set of the five audio books nominated for the Best Spoken Word Album. This prize package includes: AMERICAN GROWN by Michelle Obama; BACK TO WORK by Bill Clinton, DRIFT by Rachel Maddow, SERIOUSLY... I'M KIDDING by Ellen DeGeneres, and SOCIETY'S CHILD by Janis Ian.
To enter, just fill out the form below before Sunday, February 16th at 11:59 p.m. ET. I will randomly select and notify the winner the following day. This contest is open to those of you with U.S. addresses only. Good luck!