1973 Grammy Awards: When Nashville Hosted Music’s Biggest Night
The American Southeast reigned as the center of the popular, classical and folk music worlds on March 3, 1973: the night Nashville hosted the 15th annual Grammy Awards.
Music City's big night for Music's Biggest Night marked a couple of changes to the annual celebrations of all things musical. First, it began CBS' ongoing run as the network home of the Grammy Awards (the first two ceremonies broadcast live, in 1971 and 1972, aired on ABC). It was also the only nationally televised ceremony to date hosted by a city other than Los Angeles, Calif., or New York City. During the awards show's pre-televised era, from 1959 through 1970, however, multiple locations hosted Grammy Awards presentations each year, including sites in Chicago, Ill., and Nashville.
Pop crooner Andy Williams served as Grammy Awards master of ceremonies in Nashville, the city in which he'd later record the 1973 country album You Lay So Easy on My Mind with producer Billy Sherrill. Williams and a cast of guest presenters, including Roger Miller, Bobbie Gentry, Loretta Lynn and Eddy Arnold, shared the stage with Grammys winners representative of early '70s trends.
The big winner that night, Charley Pride, won Best Country Performance, Male for the album Charley Pride Sings Heart Songs and Best Country Song for "Kiss an Angel Good Mornin'." Other household names in the making with big wins that night included the Statler Brothers (Best Country Vocal Performance By a Duo or Group for "Class of '57"), Tom T. Hall (Best Album Notes for Tom T. Hall's Greatest Hits) and Hee Haw star Charlie McCoy (Best Country Instrumental Performance for Charlie McCoy / The Real McCoy).
A lesser-known yet no less deserving winner, Donna Fargo, took home the Grammy Awards' Best Country Vocal Performance, Female trophy for "Happiest Girl in the Whole USA." The North Carolina native scored her own crossover hit at a time when such country women as Lynn Anderson and Susan Raye found pop acceptance.
Other category winners are indicative of folk music's influence on rock and pop in the early '70s: For example, political-minded singer-songwriter Ewan MacColl's song for Peggy Seeger, "The First Time I Ever Saw Your Face," won Record of the Year and Song of the Year after getting put on the pop culture map by Roberta Flack.
Two other pop-minded acts, New Artist of the Year America and Best Vocal Pop Performance, Female winner Helen Reddy, would at times represent the crossover between twangy songwriting and soft rock finesse.
The 1973 Grammy Awards' list of performers seems lost to time, but the official flashback video shows clips of musical guests the Staple Singers and Mac Davis.
The 2021 Grammy Awards will take place on Sunday (March 14), with comedian and late-night TV host Trevor Noah as host. The televised ceremony will begin at 8PM ET on CBS, and the pre-telecast Premiere Ceremony will be available to stream online earlier in the evening. The show was pushed back from late January due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
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