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Retrospectives by Bobbie Gentry, Pete Seeger & More Vie for Best Historical Album Grammy

Bobbie Gentry
NBCU Photo Bank/Getty Images

Bobbie Gentry

Grammy voters are going back in time as they consider nominees for best historical album. The contenders include retrospectives by Bobbie Gentry, Vladimir Horowitz and Pete Seeger, as well as Various Artists collections spotlighting the much-chronicled Woodstock festival and a more esoteric collection of ambient 1980s music from Japan.

As usual, the original artists are not nominated. The nominations go to the compilation producers and mastering engineers. Here are the nominees:

The Girl from Chickasaw County—The Complete Capitol Masters. Andrew Batt & Kris Maher, compilation producers; Simon Gibson, mastering engineer.

Gentry caused a sensation in 1967 with "Ode to Billie Joe." The story song topped the Billboard Hot 100 for four weeks and sent Gentry's album of the same name to the top of the Billboard 200. Gentry also made a big splash at the 1967 Grammys. She was the first artist to be nominated in each of the Big Four categories: album, record and song of the year plus best new artist. She won the latter award and in two vocal performance categories. Gentry was nominated again three years later for her Fancy album. The title track was a top 40 hit on both the Hot 100 and Hot Country Songs charts. Reba McEntire's remake of the song reached the top 10 on Hot Country Songs in 1991. "Ode to Billie Joe" was voted into the Grammy Hall of Fame in 1999.

This eight-disc box set includes Gentry’s six solo albums, her collaboration album with Glen Campbell and more than 70 previously unreleased recordings. The set contains an 84-page book, eight postcards and a copy of Gentry’s original handwritten lyrics to "Ode to Billie Joe."

The Great Comeback: Horowitz at Carnegie Hall. Robert Russ, compilation producer; Andreas K. Meyer & Jennifer Nulsen, mastering engineers.

In 1965, Horowitz returned to the concert stage after an absence of 12 years. Horowitz at Carnegie Hall—An Historic Return, a double-disk album which was recorded on May 9, 1965, reached No. 22 on the Billboard 200 that year -- a strong showing for a classical album. The album won two Grammys: album of the year, classical and best classical performance, instrumental soloist or soloists (without orchestra). The album was voted into the Grammy Hall of Fame in 2002. The Russian-born pianist and composer won 25 Grammys, which puts him among the top six winners of all time. Horowitz died in 1989. He posthumously received a lifetime achievement award from the Recording Academy in 1990.

This 15-CD collection includes rehearsals, recording sessions, studio conversations and an interview at Horowitz's home. It also includes a coffee table book and a remastered, unedited copy of Horowitz's recital.

Russ, who produced the collection, received his first Grammy nomination three years ago for another Horowitz collection, Vladimir Horowitz: The Unreleased Live Recordings 1966-1983.

Kankyo Ongaku: Japanese Ambient, Environmental & New Age Music 1980-1990. Spencer Doran, Yosuke Kitazawa, Douglas Mcgowan & Matt Sullivan, compilation producers; John Baldwin, mastering engineer.

This is an overview of Japan's ambient, avant-garde, and New Age music -- what can collectively be described as kanky? ongaku, or environmental music. Some of the artists are known internationally, including Yellow Magic Orchestra, which had a Billboard Hot 100 hit in 1980 with "Computer Game," and Ryuichi Sakamoto, an alumnus of Yellow Magic Orchestra, who won an Oscar and a Grammy for co-writing the score for the 1987 film The Last Emperor. But most of the artists on this collection are known primarily in Japan.

The set is available either as two CDs or three LPs, including a clear vinyl option. Two of the compilation producers have been nominated in this category for their work on previous projects. Mcgowan was nominated in this category last year for his work on Any Other Way, a collection by Jackie Shane. Sullivan was nominated in this category five years ago for his work on There's a Dream I've Been Saving: Lee Hazlewood Industries 1966 - 1971 (Deluxe Edition).

Pete Seeger: The Smithsonian Folkways Collection. Jeff Place & Robert Santelli, compilation producers; Pete Reiniger, mastering engineer.

This career-spanning anthology documents the life and career of the American folk singer and social activist. It was released on the occasion of Seeger's 100th birthday. Seeger had Grammy nominations spanning 54 years, from 1960 through 2013. He won three Grammys, two for best traditional folk album and one for best musical album for children. Seeger was inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame in 1972. He received a lifetime achievement award from the Recording Academy in 1993; the Kennedy Center Honors in 1994. He died in 2014.

This set draws from more than 60 years of Seeger's Folkways catalog. The collection includes 20 previously unreleased tracks, historic live performances, and special collaborations. The set encompasses six CDs and a 200-page book.

Place received a second nomination this year for best album notes for this collection. Place and Santelli were nominated in this category as a team seven years ago for their work on Woody At 100: The Woody Guthrie Centennial Collection. Santelli is founding executive director of the Grammy Museum at L.A. Live in Los Angeles.

Woodstock: Back to the Garden—The Definitive 50th Anniversary Archive. Brian Kehew, Steve Woolard & Andy Zax, compilation producers; Dave Schultz, mastering engineer.

This is the latest commemoration of the generation-defining event that took place in August 1969. The Woodstock film won was a box-office hit in 1970 and won an Oscar for documentary (feature). A triple-disk soundtrack from the film topped the Billboard 200 for four weeks in the summer of 1970. That album was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame in 2014.

This opus consists of 38 CDs. The box set includes a Blu-ray copy of the director's cut of the Woodstock film, a hardcover book written by concert promoter Michael Lang and a replica of the original concert program. The set was released in a limited edition of 1,969 copies (clever touch). Two albums of selections from the box set were also released: a 10-CD collection with 162 tracks; and a 3-CD (or 5 LP) collection with 42 tracks. The deluxe edition was also nominated for a Grammy for best boxed or special limited edition package (Masaki Koike, art director).

Zax, one of the producers of the set, was nominated in this category 10 years ago for a previous Woodstock anniversary celebration, Woodstock - 40 Years On: Back To Yasgur's Farm.

2020 Grammy Awards


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