The milestone 20th anniversary celebration included marquee names—from Neil Young and Alicia Keys to Quincy Jones—who acknowledged and celebrated the Wing’s accomplishments throughout its 20-year history
Santa Monica, Calif. — Since 2008, the Recording Academy® Producers & Engineers Wing® has held an annual celebration to honor music studio professionals and officially kick off GRAMMY® Week. This year marked the 20th anniversary of the founding of the P&E Wing; however, with the realities of the pandemic still very much a factor, the event was a departure from years past. Even though the usual star-studded, in-person fete was replaced with a virtual event, it managed to duplicate the warmth and camaraderie of past celebrations. Engagement was never in short supply as attendees crowded the chat forum with comments, and the celebration generated plenty of laughter and even a few tears, along with—as is customary at P&E Wing celebrations—great music. Ultimately, the proceedings were jam-packed with the P&E Wing’s highlights and accomplishments from the last two decades, along with excitement for the future of the more than 4,400—and growing—group of dedicated music professionals.
The hour-long program—which featured clips from previous honorees, including Jack White, Alicia Keys, Swizz Beatz, and Willie Nelson, among others—kicked off with P&E Wing co-chairs Ivan Barias and Piper Payne introducing Recording Academy Chair & Interim President/CEO Harvey Mason Jr., who offered a surprise for Maureen Droney (Senior Managing Director, P&E Wing), honoring her 15-year stewardship. Mason presented a certificate of appreciation and thanked Droney for her “tireless dedication to bettering the lives of music creators.”
Reflecting on past GRAMMY Week celebrations, and the 20-year history of the P&E Wing, Droney remarked, “The P&E Wing doesn’t just throw parties, of course; we have a lot of fun, but we’re also dead serious about many things. For instance, proper recognition and crediting for creators, along with education about best practices in recording, are very important to us. And when it comes to our overall cultural heritage as it relates to music, proper archiving and preservation of recordings are definitely part of our mission.”
A variety of laughs, gravitas, information, and education was on tap, kicked off with a little history. Jeff Greenberg, Owner and CEO of the storied Village Studios in West Los Angeles (where the annual event has typically been held), joined Droney to set the stage for some colorful P&E Wing history, courtesy of a video of Al Schmitt and the late Ed Cherney. The pair told the tale of The Wing as a group that began as the Music Producers Guild of the Americas. Congratulations were also on tap for George Augspurger, the 2020 Technical GRAMMY recipient, who shared some words of advice for technical hopefuls: “If you like music but are curious about how things work and why things sound the way they do, recording technology can be an awful lot of fun. It certainly is for me.”
Stellar, newly found and restored footage of Bob Dylan backstage and performing while facing down initially hostile fans during his legendary 1966 electrified tour—courtesy of the Bob Dylan Archives and Iron Mountain Entertainment Services (IMES)—thrilled the virtual attendees. Introducing the clip, Lance Podell, Senior Vice President and GM of IMES, remarked, “IMES has worked very closely with the P&E Wing to bring the art of archiving and preservation to the forefront of industry discussions. IMES’s mission is to help preserve our shared cultural heritage. We are so excited to be a part of this program and to share with you the excitement of the Bob Dylan Archive.”
Other highlights included intimate performances from past events at The Village Studios by Skylar Grey, Nile Rodgers, Dave Matthews and Anderson .Paak and the Free Nationals. The event also paid tribute to members of the recording community who passed in 2020, including Shure executive Mark Brunner and audio icon Rupert Neve.
The 20th Anniversary Celebration created a space to discuss the joys of an audio career as well as its challenges. The P&E Wing creates community, addresses industry issues and advocates for music creators, while collaborating in a manner that sets important precedents for future generations. As Cherney noted in the opening video, “If you ask, ‘What’s in it for me?’ that’s not the right question. It’s about supporting your profession, being a keeper of the faith; it’s about thinking of ourselves as part of a group with common goals and ideas. That’s who we are.”
The P&E Wing’s members concur, especially following the difficult year of 2020, where community building, support and shared goals became even more crucial. The event also took guests back to previous P&E Wing annual galas with remarks from Jack White, Alicia Keys, T Bone Burnett, Jimmy Iovine, and more. As Quincy Jones stated at the 6th annual celebration, “Music and water will be the last things to leave this planet. You can’t live without them, man.”
The event was sponsored by the P&E Wing’s sustaining partner Iron Mountain Entertainment Services (IMES), alongside sponsors L-Acoustics, Audio-Technica, Fraunhofer and Lurssen Mastering.
Photo caption: Screencap of (L-R) Jeff Greenberg (Owner and CEO of The Village Studios) and Maureen Droney (Senior Managing Director, P&E Wing), pictured at the Producers & Engineers Wing 20th Anniversary Celebration during GRAMMY Week 2021 on March 11, 2021. Photo by Theo Wargo / Getty Images. Courtesy of The Recording Academy. © 2021