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Grammy stars come to shine

By Chen Nan  (China Daily)

08:51, June 07, 2013

Neil Portnow, president and chief executive of The Recording Academy.Photo provided to China Daily

The prestigious US music awards have recognized many international musicians throughout the world. Now the people behind the glitzy prize have their sights set on China.

In August 2008, at the invitation of Chinese pianist Lang Lang, Neil Portnow, president and chief executive of The Recording Academy, came to Beijing to watch the Opening Ceremony of the Beijing Olympic Games.

It was an experience which further strengthened his resolve to bring the Grammys, the prestigious United States based music awards, to China.

On Saturday, Portnow will again be in China to attend a concert of Grammy award-winning musicians in Chengdu, Sichuan province. The concert features nine Grammy winners, including Michael Bolton, Leo Sayer, Jody Watley and Richard Marx. Along with Chinese musicians, such as singer Song Zuying and pianist Lang Lang, the artists will perform their biggest hits.

"When I watched the Opening Ceremony of the Beijing Olympic Games, I was so inspired by the country's culture. I thought we must find a way to work together," Portnow says.

"The Grammys are open to music of different kinds. This year we have 82 categories, including classical, jazz, pop and country music," he says. "We know that China has thousands of years of musical history, which is very diverse. We are very interested in Chinese music and Chinese musicians."

Chinese musicians are no strangers to the Grammy awards, Portnow says. Yo-Yo Ma, Lang Lang and Song Zuying have all won prizes or been nominated at the awards.

"Yo-Yo Ma has 17 Grammys. That is a tremendous amount," he says. "With the development in technology, especially the Internet, the gap between Chinese musicians and the Grammys has already disappeared."

Portnow became president of The Recording Academy in December 2002, the dawn of the digital music age.

He has not only been responsible for overseeing the academy's many functions and programs, but he's also become a leading figure in guiding the music industry through this revolutionary period.

Despite the difficulties the music business is currently experiencing, Portnow believes that more people want to listen to music and are willing to play music than ever before.

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