ICONS OF THE MUSIC INDUSTRY: KEN EHRLICH

Ken Ehrlich is a legendary television producer/director, and longtime GRAMMY Awards Executive Producer, Ken Ehrlich to the Clive Davis Theater as we profile his impressive four-decade career. He got his start in 1974 as the creator of the PBS music series, Soundstage, before moving to Los Angeles, where he has produced the annual GRAMMY telecast since 1980. As a producer/creator, Ehrlich has introduced numerous innovative concepts for shows ranging from the GRAMMYs, the Emmys, the Blockbuster Awards, the Alma Awards, the Latin GRAMMYs, the European MTV Awards and the MTV Movie Awards, which he created in 1992. Ehrlich also produced the CBS special “Sinatra 100 — An All-Star GRAMMY Concert,” celebrating Sinatra’s 100th birthday. Other specials from Ehrlich’s résumé include Lifetime Network’s Intimate Portrait, VH1’s Divas Live, We Will Always Love You: A GRAMMY Salute to Whitney Houston, and The Night That Changed America: A GRAMMY Salute To The Beatles. Other highlights include producing two shows with the Rolling Stones’ Mick Jagger, the first-ever GRAMMY Museum Gala concert and a highly successful fundraising concert for the Barack Obama campaign. His most recent project, Greatest Hits, was a six-episode series with each episode highlighting a five-year period of music, ranging from 1985–2000. Each episode featured iconic performers as well some of today’s biggest artists to perform the hits that defined that time. After the discussion, moderated by Scott Goldman, Vice President of the GRAMMY Foundation and MusiCares. 

Enjoy some highlights of the interview!

  • Ken Ehrlich cares about who artists are in front of a live audience, in front of people. Yes, he cares about their albums as well.  The music is important too. The Grammy audience is extremely broad so he must see an artist perform live before they perform at The Grammys. 
  • The biggest challenge when putting on The Grammys is reconnecting with the acts. They are scheduled minute to minute with events including interviews and more when they’re in town. Eventually, it hits them how important it is to connect with our production team ahead of time before the show to make sure everything runs smoothly.  But there has been times when they’ve had to refuse for artists to go on. 
  • During these politically charged times, Ken and his team want each artist to have artistic freedom and express themselves.  Being a child of the 60s, he’s been a part of many protests and cares deeply about civil rights and freedom of expression. 
  • Once The Shining a Light concert was introduced to him by the network, he reached out to artists who are aligned with the message like Alicia Keys and John Legend.  It’s these visible artists who can help bring awareness to causes that need to be addressed.  It’s encouraging as a young artist to know that, at every stage in your career, what you represent is sought after and understood as an opportunity to connect people to important causes and events. 
  • The Made in Chicago TV Show had incredible artists on the show.  Back then at PBS they did everything behind the camera while working with talent.  The labels found out about it and started sending incredible artists there particularly for the show. 
  • This year Ken is excited about Sound Stage, which the Bee Gees performed on in the early stages, and now they’ll be honored in the coming weeks at the show. Celine Dion and many popular artists are scheduled to attend. 
  • Favorite moments are made of the little things like Paul McCartney asking what should he play, artists giving an amazing performance then walking off stage and falling purposely in a chair back stage. 
  • Civil rights continues to move Ken and he values how music is color blind, reaching everyone at the heart no matter how different they are. Growing up he listened to black music and even had a chance to sit down with James Brown at the airport to talk about specific instances to share how music breaks down barriers. 

Another inspiring night at the Grammy Museum!  During these critical times, it’s a blessing to listen to the icons who blazed the trail before us. 

Dani W is a Soul Funk and Pop songwriter/singer from Los Angeles.  Learn more about her music and the new record release at www.daniellewcarter.com

Tweet your thoughts about the Grammys to @DanielleWCarter or connect on IG. 

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