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Grammy org tuning up recording preservation

Programs launching thanks to $250,000 federal grant

The Grammy Foundation is beginning two significant preservation efforts after Congress’ passage of the “Grammy bill” last year.

In partnership with the Library of Congress, the National Academy of Recording Arts & Sciences will create a panel to identify recordings at risk that will be preserved and held at the D.C. archive.

NARAS president-CEO Michael Greene will announce the National Audio Recording Registry project Sunday at a musical tribute event honoring Lena Horne, Mahalia Jackson and Leontyne Price.

In a related move, the engineering and producing wing of NARAS will establish a list of studios that will be designated “official Grammy preservation studios.” Greene said the studios will be selected based on their ability to provide playback in a variety of formats.

The idea behind the preservation studios is to attract individuals and estates with recordings that need identifying and copying onto a digital format. Obvious candidates are possessors of tapes from defunct studios and labels, street or field recordings, or estates in which masters are not held by an operating label.

Developing methodology

Greene said the studios, which will be set first in NARAS’ 12 chapter cities, would use the experience to develop a “how-to” book on preserving recordings. Down the road, preserved works will be available through the NARAS Web site, Grammy.org.

“These are recordings outside our auspices that have no organization in charge of them or guaranteeing their safe-keeping,” Greene said.

The programs are getting started with a $250,000 grant from Congress. Greene expects to launch other fundraising activities, including a concert in L.A. with drummer Mickey Hart, who has been an active preservationist of percussion recordings from around the world.

Sunday’s event will begin at 7:30 p.m. at the Paramount Theater on the Melrose Avenue lot. Musical tributes will be sung by Shirley Caesar, Nnenna Freelon and Harolyn Blackwell; Shari Belafonte is the host.

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