The first New York Grammy Week in 15 years kicked off with a bang, as Mayor Bill de Blasio and Recording Academy chief Neil Portnow presided over a ribbon-cutting ceremony for the organization’s new local headquarters, a stunning $13.5 million, 1860 townhouse across East 37th Street from the J.P. Morgan Museum.
“This marks the first time the Academy will own our own offices and a real piece of the Big Apple,” Portnow, a New York native, said.
The event kicked off a week of parties, concerts, and benefits that will culminate with the Grammy Awards ceremony taking place at Madison Square Garden on Sunday night. It also culminates a two-year process of bringing the awards back to New York for only the second time since 1998.
The building, which will undergo significant renovations, has a large and acoustically pristine gallery at the back of its ground floor where the previous owner held classical concerts, Portnow said; a jazz duo performed while attendees explored the building, which has beautiful period detail and ornate decoration.
“This is the biggest night in music returning to the music capitol of the world,” de Blasio said. “New York City is where salsa was born; contrary to some other people’s claims, New York City is where hip-hop was born; New York City is where the American punk music scene was born. It’s the place where so many great American standards were written, it’s the place where Carole King and Sonny Rollins and Jay-Z became legends.
“We’re so happy to have the Grammys back where, in our humble opinion, they belong,” he continued, acknowledging Mayor’s Office of Media and Entertainment head Julie Menin and senior advisor Gabrielle Fialkoff. “That’s why we fought so hard and worked so hard to bring them back. And I have to tell you, like everything in life, it took a lot of negotiation. We worked closely with the Academy and the Garden and the unions and obviously the city agencies to try to make sure we could get it right. And there will be real economic opportunity created by this wonderful week: it’s projected to have an impact of [$200 million] on the city’s economy, and we know that impact will go well beyond the seven exciting days ahead.
“We’re looking forward to great performances in the week ahead,” he said, looking over to Portnow. “I know my son Dante commends you for having an important performance by Childish Gambino, one of his favorites,” he laughed. “It’s going to be a great week.”