Charley Pride, Jimmie Rodgers and Ralph Peer have been recognized with the Special Merit awards from the Recording Academy, the organization that hosts the Grammys. Pride and Rodgers will be honored with Lifetime Achievement awards, while Peer will be honored a Trustees Award posthumously.
Pride is a three-time Grammy nominee, winning 1972’s best country vocal performance for “Charley Pride Sings Heart Songs,” 1971’s best sacred performance for “Did You Think to Pray” and best gospel performance for “Let Me Live.”
Rodgers is the father of country music. Peer recorded him during 1927’s famous Bristol Sessions in Bristol, Tennessee, which is considered the “big bang” of modern country music. The sessions led to the popularization of music by both Rodgers, the Carter Family and the genre itself. His most famous hits include "Way Out on the Mountain," “Blue Yodel (T for Texas),” "Blue Yodel No. 4," "Waiting for a Train" and "In the Jailhouse Now." Rodgers was the first inductee into the Country Music Hall of Fame in 1961. Twenty-five years later, he was inducted as a founding father at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
Peer managed Rodgers until Rodgers’ death in 1933 and was one of America’s earliest musical innovators being the first of his kind to record music in the field. He recorded country music’s first stars including Fiddlin’ John Carson, Stoneman Family and Vernon Dalhart. In 1927, he oversaw Tennessee's famous Bristol Sessions. By the 1930s he was publishing songs by Hoagy Carmichael, Johnny Mercer and jazz composer/arranger Don Redman.
According to the Country Music Hall of Fame, Peer claimed to have conceived the idea of a rival publishers’ group to the American Society of Composers, Authors, and Publishers (ASCAP) five years before Broadcast Music, Inc. (BMI) came into being in 1940. When it did, Peer split his catalogue between ASCAP and BMI (a daring move then, standard practice today). At Peer's death, his publishing company Peer International was America's biggest BMI publisher; his other publishing company Southern Music Company was among ASCAP's top twenty.
The Recording Academy’s additional 2017 lifetime achievement award honorees include Shirley Caesar, Ahmad Jamal, Nina Simone, Sly Stone, the Velvet Underground, Thom Bell and Mo Oslin.
The Lifetime Achievement Award celebrates performers who have made outstanding contributions of artistic significance to the field of recording, while the Trustees Award honors contributions in areas other than performance.
The 59th annual Grammy Awards air live from Los Angeles on Feb. 12 on CBS at 8 p.m. ET/PT.