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Grammy Awards salute ‘Philly Sound’ legend Thom Bell

October 13, 2017 GMT

Kimberly C. Roberts Producer and songwriter Thom Bell, a pioneer of the world-renowned “Philly Sound,” is among a stellar group of musical icons being honored when “Great Performances,” in collaboration with the Recording Academy, presents “Grammy Salute to Music Legends 2017, the second annual all-star concert offering a primetime spotlight for the academy’s 2017 Special Awards recipients. Premiering at 9 p.m. Friday on WHYY, the celebration and tribute concert features rare performances by honorees and renditions by those they’ve inspired. The two-hour special, led my Grammy-winning industry icon Paul Shaffer as musical director, was recorded in July at New York’s Beacon Theatre. Historically held during Grammy Week, this is the second time the Recording Academy has celebrated the Special Merit Awards with a stand-alone event and musical tribute. This year’s Lifetime Achievement Award honorees are Shirley Caesar, Ahmad Jamal, Charley Pride, Jimmie Rodgers, Nina Simone, Sly Stone and the Velvet Underground. Additional Special Merit Awards honorees include the Trustees Awards recipients — record executive Mo Ostin; recording executive, A&R man and music publisher Ralph S. Peer; audio inventor Alan Dower Blumlein, who is the Technical Grammy Award recipient; and Bell. Bell, who moved to Philadelphia from Jamaica as a child, was initially preparing for a career as a concert pianist before becoming captivated by rhythm and blues. A trailblazer of the symphonic soul genre, Bell, once a partner in the prolific Mighty Three Publishing with Kenneth Gamble and Leon Huff, is best known for his work with the Philadelphia-based vocal groups the Delfonics (“La La Means I Love You,” “Didn’t I Blow Your Mind this Time?”) and the Stylistics (“Betcha By Golly Wow,” “Stop, Look, Listen”) as well as solo artists Johnny Mathis and Deniece Williams. In 1974, his exquisite work on the Spinners’ unforgettable “Mighty Love” album, featuring the wistful ballad “Love Don’t Love Nobody,” earned Bell the Grammy Award for Producer of the Year. Along with never-before-seen video packages celebrating each honoree’s contributions to the music industry and our cultural heritage, there will be performances by Caesar, Pride, jazz pianist Stanley Cowell, Valerie Simpson, Andra Day, Kirk Franklin and Charlie Wilson. Paying special tribute to Bell will be Russell Thompkins Jr., original lead singer of the Stylistics, who delivers the classic “You Make Me Feel Brand New,” as well as Dionne Warwick, who will sing “Then Came You,” which she recorded with the Spinners. There is also a special appearance by Grammy winner Whoopi Goldberg, who accepts for the late Nina Simone.

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Producer and songwriter Thom Bell, a pioneer of the world-renowned “Philly Sound,” is among a stellar group of musical icons being honored when “Great Performances,” in collaboration with the Recording Academy, presents “Grammy Salute to Music Legends 2017, the second annual all-star concert offering a primetime spotlight for the academy’s 2017 Special Awards recipients.

Premiering at 9 p.m. Friday on WHYY, the celebration and tribute concert features rare performances by honorees and renditions by those they’ve inspired.

The two-hour special, led my Grammy-winning industry icon Paul Shaffer as musical director, was recorded in July at New York’s Beacon Theatre. Historically held during Grammy Week, this is the second time the Recording Academy has celebrated the Special Merit Awards with a stand-alone event and musical tribute.

This year’s Lifetime Achievement Award honorees are Shirley Caesar, Ahmad Jamal, Charley Pride, Jimmie Rodgers, Nina Simone, Sly Stone and the Velvet Underground.

Additional Special Merit Awards honorees include the Trustees Awards recipients — record executive Mo Ostin; recording executive, A&R man and music publisher Ralph S. Peer; audio inventor Alan Dower Blumlein, who is the Technical Grammy Award recipient; and Bell.

Bell, who moved to Philadelphia from Jamaica as a child, was initially preparing for a career as a concert pianist before becoming captivated by rhythm and blues.

A trailblazer of the symphonic soul genre, Bell, once a partner in the prolific Mighty Three Publishing with Kenneth Gamble and Leon Huff, is best known for his work with the Philadelphia-based vocal groups the Delfonics (“La La Means I Love You,” “Didn’t I Blow Your Mind this Time?”) and the Stylistics (“Betcha By Golly Wow,” “Stop, Look, Listen”) as well as solo artists Johnny Mathis and Deniece Williams.

In 1974, his exquisite work on the Spinners’ unforgettable “Mighty Love” album, featuring the wistful ballad “Love Don’t Love Nobody,” earned Bell the Grammy Award for Producer of the Year.

Along with never-before-seen video packages celebrating each honoree’s contributions to the music industry and our cultural heritage, there will be performances by Caesar, Pride, jazz pianist Stanley Cowell, Valerie Simpson, Andra Day, Kirk Franklin and Charlie Wilson.

Paying special tribute to Bell will be Russell Thompkins Jr., original lead singer of the Stylistics, who delivers the classic “You Make Me Feel Brand New,” as well as Dionne Warwick, who will sing “Then Came You,” which she recorded with the Spinners. There is also a special appearance by Grammy winner Whoopi Goldberg, who accepts for the late Nina Simone.