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Grammy whammy

Threat of strike puts local impact in focus



Every year, several dozen Atlanta musicians primp and preen for the Grammy Awards. This year's awards show, however, came close to not happening at all.

For the past three months, the Writer's Guild of America has threatened strikes at several high-profile award shows – including the Grammy Awards Sunday, Feb. 10, at the Staples Center in Los Angeles – in hopes of negotiating a better contract with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers.

The National Academy of Recording Arts & Sciences, however, placated the WGA by arguing that the Grammys isn't only a self-congratulatory celebrity bonanza, but an engine for music-education programs. It also has a huge economic impact – sales of winning albums often skyrocket after the show.

It's the first time nominees such as DJ Toomp have seen how underlying politics can affect the Grammys. Toomp has three nominations, including Album of the Year, for co-producing Kanye West's Graduation. Other locals headed to the show include Akon, Terius "The Dream" Nash, Brendan O'Brien (who produced Bruce Springsteen's Magic) and Ann Nesby.

Michele Caplinger, senior executive director for NARAS' Atlanta chapter, is excited for locals such as Freddy Cole, who earned a Best Jazz Vocal Album nomination for Music Maestro Please. But she also promotes the Grammys' broader influence.

"This is how we raise funds that support our yearlong philanthropic ... efforts," she writes in an e-mail. "The impact far exceeds the upset of just not having an awards show."

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