6 Things you might not know about the Grammy Awards (from a member of the Recording Academy)

By Mary Mazurek |

This year, the Grammys return to New York after a 15-year hiatus. As a native New Yorker, Recording Academy president and CEO Neil Portnow said at the Grammy Salute to Classical Music, which took place at Carnegie Hall on Friday, September 26, 2018, that he was very happy and excited for the awards to return to New York for the 60th anniversary.

The Grammy Awards were first held in 1959 with simultaneous ceremonies at the Beverly Hilton in California and the Sheridan Park Hotel in New York. The 60th Annual Grammy Awards will be held at Madison Square Garden on January 28, 2018, hosted by James Corden and broadcast on CBS at 7:30 pm ET.

As a member of the Recording Academy attending the 60th Grammy Awards, I wanted to share a few facts about “Music’s Biggest Night” that you might not know.

1. The Grammy Awards are really a weeklong celebration.

Alicia Keys and Chick Corea together at the 2018 Grammy Awards Producers & Engineer’s Wing celebration (Photo: @RecordingAcad on Twitter)

This year, Grammy week began with a number of gatherings and musical celebrations like the MusiCares Person of the Year Gala, which celebrated Fleetwood Mac at Radio City Music Hall. MusiCares, dedicated to providing support to music people in need, honored the legendary super-group with an award presented by former President Bill Clinton.

The annual Producers & Engineer’s Wing celebration honored producer, singer, and songwriter Alicia Keys and producer and hip-hop artist Swizz Beatz for their achievements. At the event, renowned jazz pianist Chick Corea gave an intimate performance. Ms. Keys later joined Corea on stage for a rendition of Gershwin’s “Summertime,” and the night concluded with husband Swizz Beatz leading the audience in singing “Happy Birthday” to his wife Alicia.

2. Grammy day is a really, really long day.

Madison Square Garden, where the 60th Annual Grammy Awards will be telecast on Sunday, January 28, 2018 (Photo: @RecordingAcad on Twitter)

Most people are familiar with the three-and-a-half-hour telecast, but the awards presentations begin much earlier. Most of the Grammys are awarded at the Premiere Ceremony, which is scheduled at 3:00 pm ET at the Theater At Madison Square Garden, with more than 70 categories being presented. This ceremony will also be lived streamed on grammy.com from 3:00-6:00 pm ET and feature performances by India Arie, Jazzmeia Horn, Taj Mahal, Keb ‘Mo’, Stile Antico, and is hosted by Paul Shaffer.

The CBS telecast begins at 7:30 pm ET and concludes at 11:00 pm ET typically presenting between 10-12 awards with a number of star-studded performances. This year’s telecast features Childish Gambino, Lady Gaga, Pink, Sting, U2, and others.

The night concludes with the Grammy Celebration gala to be held this year at the New York Marriott Marquis. Three-time Grammy winner Nile Rodger and Chic will perform hits such as “Le Freak” and “Good Times” during the festivities. Saxophonist Jimmy Green will join the Grammy Camp jazz band, made up of select high school musicians from across the country, in the Jazz Room.

3. Awards are made with a special metal alloy called Grammium.

The Grammy Award weighs 6 lbs and is made of a 24k gold electroplated special metal alloy called Grammium. Each of the Grammy statuettes is handmade by artesian John Billings a.k.a. the Grammy Man, in a detailed, 15 hour process from his workshop in Ridgway, Colorado. I had the pleasure of meeting Mr. Billings two years ago, and it is evident that his work is a labor of love as he considers each of the awards to be like his children.

4. Winners have to wait about 3 months to receive their actual Grammy Awards.

The Grammy received by the winner on the show is not their actual Grammy award. No one except for Deloitte knows the winner until the envelope is opened on stage, so what the recipient receives is a prop, which is returned after back stage photos are taken. The actual engraved statuette arrives by mail approximately 3 months later.

5. The Grammys are awarded based on a peer voting process.

Voting members from the Recording Academy’s 12 chapters (Atlanta, Chicago, Florida, Los Angeles, Memphis, Nashville, New York, Pacific Northwest, Philadelphia, San Francisco, Texas, and Washington D.C.) can submit recordings, vote in the first round nominating process to determine the nominees, and then in the final round voting. For Life Time Achievement, Trustee, and Technical Grammy Awards, national review committees made up of voting members from across the chapters select the recipients from proposals.

6. Tickets to the Grammys sell out in less than a minute.


Grammy tickets are not available to the general public. Nominees are given tickets to attend the awards show. The rest of the membership has the ability to purchase tickets. However, they generally sell out in less than a minute.­ Get a peek at the red carpet for the 60th Annual Grammy Awards in the video above.