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  • Writer's pictureOmar Holloway

Gladys Knight, Donna Summers, The Clark Sisters, DJ Kool Herc, N.W.A, K’naan, others honored with 2024 Lifetime Achievement Awards From Recording Academy

The best thing about the Recording Academy’s Special Merit Awards, where they dispense Lifetime Achievement Awards and other career-capping honors, is the warm way the recipients reach across genres and generations to acknowledge each other. And so it was when the 2024 honors were presented on Saturday (Feb. 3) at the Wilshire Ebell Theater in Los Angeles.

Since the Grammy Awards scaled up to arenas in 1997, the Special Merit Awards are seen as the warmer, more intimate show.

Laurie Anderson, The Clark Sisters, Gladys Knight, N.W.A, Donna Summer and Tammy Wynette are the Recording Academy’s 2024 lifetime achievement award honorees.

Also announced on Friday (Jan. 5th 2024), Peter Asher, DJ Kool Herc and Joel Katz are trustees award recipients; Tom Kobayashi and Tom Scott are technical Grammy award honorees; and “Refugee,” written by K’naan, Steve McEwan, and Gerald Eaton (a.k.a. Jarvis Church), is being honored with the best song for social change award.


Lifetime Achievement Awards awardee(s) included:

The Clark Sisters

Grammys won: 2

Members: Jacky, Elbernita, Dorinda and Karen Clark


The Clark Sisters are an American gospel vocal group which initially consisted of five sisters; Denise left the group early on. The sisters are considered pioneers of contemporary gospel. Their biggest hits include "Livin'", "Victory" and their signature hit, "You Brought the Sunshine".

The Clark Sisters won two Grammys in 2008 - best traditional gospel album for Live - One Last Time and best gospel performance for "Blessed and Highly Favored" (Karen Clark won a third Grammy that year as a songwriter on that song).

The Clark Sisters are the top-selling female gospel group in history.


Gladys Knight

Grammys won: 7

Age: 79


Ms. Knight spoke emotionally about family in accepting her Lifetime Achievement Award. She noted that her mother would never allow her to sing "easy". It had to come from a deeper place. All credit, then, to Gladys Knight’s mother for encouraging her daughter to find the perfect blend of "pain and glory" that has always been her trademark.


Gladys Knight has enjoyed smash hits in pop, gospel, R&B and adult contemporary. In 1974, Gladys Knight & the Pips became the first R&B act to open the Grammy telecast - with their instant-classic, Hot 100 topping "Midnight Train to Georgia". Later in that show, they became the first group to win in both pop and R&B categories the same night - their pop award ballad "Neither One of Us (Wants to Be the First to Say Goodbye)".


Ms. Gladys has won two Grammys each in pop, R&B and gospel and one in traditional R&B. She and the Pips were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1996 by Mariah Carey.

On her own, Gladys was a 2021 National Medal of Arts recipient from the NEA and received the Kennedy Center Honors in 2022.



Members: Eazy-E (died in 1995 at age 31), Dr. Dre, Ice Cube, DJ Yella and MC Ren

N.W.A is the fifth rap group to receive a lifetime achievement award from the Recording Academy in the past eight years, following Run-DMC, Public Enemy, Grandmaster Flash & the Furious Five and Salt-N-Pepa; in addition, Slick Rick, who rose to prominence in Doug E. Fresh & the Get Fresh Crew, was honored on his own last year.


The rap-group from Compton, California is credited with beginning the reality-rap Hip-Hop sub-genre coined "gangsta rap".

In 1988, N.W.A released their classic album Straight Outta Compton, which became an underground phenomena with little support from radio or MTV. Although the group was short-lived, gangsta-rap became the most popular form of Hip-Hop during the early to mid-1990s.

Bone Thugs-N-Harmony, who had a No. 1 smash on the Billboard Hot 100 in 1996 with “Tha Crossroads,” a tribute to Eazy-E, presented the award to N.W.A. The members said that N.W.A "changed music, culture and America forever."

The group was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2016 by Kendrick Lamar.


Donna Summer

Grammys won: 5

Died: 2012 at age 63

Donna Summer rocketed to international stardom with her groundbreaking merger of R&B, soul, pop, funk, rock, disco and avant-garde electronica, catapulting underground dance music out of the clubs of Europe and bringing it to the world.


She was the first female artist to win Grammy Awards in four different genres: R&B ("Last Dance"), rock ("Hot Stuff"), inspirational (“He’s a Rebel” and "Forgive Me") and dance ("Carry On"). Summer was the first artist to win a Grammy for best rock vocal performance, female (1980, "Hot Stuff") and was the first recipient of the Grammy for best dance recording (1998, “Carry On”).


Ms. Donna is the only solo artist with three consecutive double albums that hit No. 1 on the Billboard 200, and was the first female artist to have four No. 1 singles in a 12-month period on the Billboard Hot 100.

Summer was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2013 by Kelly Rowland.


Lifetime Achievement Awards Trustees Awardee(s) included:


DJ Kool Herc

Age: 68

Pioneer DJ Kool Herc is frequently considered as the fathering blue-printer of "Hip-Hop" origin. His mastery at the turntables is known worldwide, as are his positive contributions to the evolution of Hip-Hop culture.

Since the early 1970s, his popularity rose by playing long sets of assorted rhythm breaks strung together; hence he's often referred as introducing the practice of using two turntables to make the beats last longer, creating and continuing the party rhythm and momentum via any vinyl snippet on-the-spot. The great DJ's daringness to elongate the music sections into “break beats” during house-parties, community parks festivities, and neighborhood celebrations, while equipped with large boom box speakers to accompany the atmosphere, thus established the DJ as a factoring 1/4 element of Hip-Hop's root culture.


Unlike many expanding and evolving DJ counterparts within the past 3 decades, DJ Kool Herc was not the featured rapid rapper, but he is often signified as Hip-Hop’s culture innovator (though not necessarily for the specific term "Hip-Hop" itself or "Rap" eventual cohesiveness to Hip-Hop).

Herc was inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame last year in the musical influence category by LL Cool J.


Lifetime Achievement Awards Best Song for Social Change Awardee:




This award honors songwriter(s) of message-driven music that speaks to the social issues of our time and has demonstrated and inspired positive global impact. This award, now in its second year, honors songwriter(s) of message-driven music that speaks to the social issues of our time and has demonstrated and inspired positive global impact.


In June 2023, Somali-Canadian rapper K’naan released the inspiring single "Refugee".

This song interweaves personal and political narratives, and serves as a tribute to refugees around the world. K’naan drew inspiration from his personal experiences; K'Naan aimed to redefine the traditional perception of the term "refugee" into a symbol of resilience and strength.


K’naan, 45, was nominated in a comparable category, best video with a message, at the 2012 MTV Video Music Awards for "Is Anybody Out There?" - a collaboration with Nelly Furtado.


*SOURCE(S): N.W.A, Donna Summer, Gladys Knight & More to Receive 2024 Recording Academy Lifetime Achievement Awards: Full List. BillBoard >; Gladys Knight, Members of N.W.A & More Accept 2024 Lifetime Achievement Awards From Recording Academy. BillBoard >

*VIDEO: N.W.A accepts Lifetime Grammy Award, Ice Cube jokes about Dr. Dre's absent. Southpawers >


*RehaB101 Original New School Webcast > #RehaB101ONSW newsfeed.

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