Best Musical: Tony vs Grammy - Part 2
In the seventeen years when the Best Musical Grammy went to recordings of shows which won neither the Best Musical nor the Best Actress Tony, there seem to be four other factors that could logically have acted upon the minds of Grammy voters. They are: the noticeable success of record sales or radio play (including cover versions of a show's songs), the presence in the show's credits of recording industry veterans, the fact that the show appealed to African-American audiences during the 1970s, and the presence of a new type of recording technique or situation utilized in making the recording.
Record Sales and Radio Play
Though the Recording Academy always encourages Grammy voters to vote for quality recordings, without giving credence to what it calls "mass sales," there must surely be a correlation of some kind between top vote-getting recordings and the familiarity, popularity or commercial success of the music on those recordings. In the mid 1960s, the popularity with club singers of songs from She Loves Me ("Tonight at Eight") and On a Clear Day You Can See Forever (the title song) could explain the Grammy winning success of their original Broadway cast albums. And in 1964, Barbra Streisand's Grammy-winning cover version on Columbia Records of her first act song from Funny Girl, "People," surely helped that show's original cast album on Capital Records to Grammy success in the best show album category.
Extremely popular cover versions of songs from Hair ("Aquarius/Let the Sun Shine In," for example) and Promises, Promises ("I'll Never Fall In Love Again") may have helped lift those Broadway cast albums to Grammy wins in the late 1960s. And in 1971 the popularity of the single "Day By Day" as sung by the cast of Godspell (led by Robin Lamont) must have paved the way for that show's cast recording to achieve Grammy success, making it the only truly off-Broadway original cast recording to ever win the Best Musical Grammy.
Fascinatingly, in that same year the original studio cast "concept" album of that other religious-themed show, Jesus Christ Superstar, was nominated for the big-time Album of the Year Grammy (losing to Carole King's "Tapestry"), though it was not nominated in the show album category. (Maybe the concept of a "concept" show album was confusing for Academy members.) And the following year, the show's Broadway cast album was also nominated for Record of the Year (losing to the multi-artist "The Concert for Bangladesh"), but again the Andrew Lloyd Webber-Tim Rice tuner was not nominated for the show album award. Crazy!
In 1984, Barbra Streisand's influence via "The Broadway Album" and the song "Putting It Together" may have helped Sunday In the Park With George win "Best Cast Show Album" (as the award was called that year)-though being a Pulitzer Prize-winning show by a legendary composer/lyricist named Sondheim couldn't have hurt, either. But only a heady mixture of record sales, PBS broadcasts and incessant touring to the hinterlands west of the Hudson can explain the 1996 win in this category of the original Riverdance recording (not the Broadway cast album, but the earlier one). Left empty-handed by Grammy? A little show called, um, Rent. The Grammy Award seems like the only award that Jonathan Larson's blockbuster Pulitzer/Tony pop/rock musical didn't win. Well, gentle reader, remember that Riverdance was very, very popular.
It should be noted here that hit songs from certain shows which won both the Grammy and Tony for Best Musical have had a life of their own right off the bat, and may have been a contributing factor in the cast album's Grammy success. How To Succeed In Business Without Really Trying, The Wiz, Annie, Evita and Cats can be listed in that regard. (I don't have to list each show's breakout hit song, do I?) And recordings of two shows where the leading lady won the Best Actress Tony has also been helped by songs having recording industry success. They are Mame (Eydie Gorme won the Grammy for Best Vocal Performance, Female, for her popular cover of "If He Walked Into My Life") and Dreamgirls (Jennifer Holliday's radio-ready cast album performance of "And I Am Telling You I'm Not Going" won her the Grammy for Best R & B Performance, Female).
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Paul W. Thompson, a contributor to BroadwayWorld.com since 2007, is a Chicago-based singer, actor, musical director, pianist, vocal coach, composer and commentator. His career as a performer, teacher and writer is centered at Paul W. Thompson Music, located in Chicago’s historic Fine Arts Building, where he teaches the great songs of Broadway to the next generation of musical theater performers. A native of Nashville, Tennessee, Paul was raised in a family of professional musicians and teachers, steeped in classical, gospel, country, pop, sacred and show music. Dubbed a “thin, winsome lad” at the age of 13 by a critic for the Nashville Banner, he earned two degrees in musical theater (a B.F.A. with Honors from Baylor University and an M.M. from the University of Miami, Florida), plus an M.B.A. with Distinction from DePaul University. Paul’s memberships include Actors’ Equity Association, the American Guild of Musical Artists, the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences (proud voter for the Grammy Awards!), the National Association of Teachers of Singing and New York’s Drama League.|
Moving easily between the worlds of classical music, religious music, classic pop and musical theater, Paul has appeared onstage or in the orchestra pit in concerts, musicals, operettas and operas in 30 states and in Europe, in a career spanning more than 35 years. His Chicagoland stage credits include “Forever Plaid” at the Royal George Theater and twenty mainstage productions at Light Opera Works. Paul joined the Chicago Symphony Chorus in 1995 (he was Tenor I Section Leader for four years and sings on two Grammy-winning recordings), and is one of Chicago’s foremost liturgical singers, marking 20 years as a member of the choir at St. James Cathedral (Episcopal) in 2011.He has composed and arranged a number of anthems, hymns and songs for worship and concert use, and collaborates on the creation of new works of musical theater. Paul can be found on Monday nights watching showtune videos at the world-famous Sidetrack nightclub, the inspiration for his weekly column, “The Showtune Mosh Pit.” His proudest achievement is that he has seen the original Broadway production of every Tony Award-winning Best Musical since “Cats.” No, really. Since “Cats!”
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