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The Importance of Playing It Forward – Guest Blog

Kristen Madsen, Sr. Vice President, The GRAMMY Foundation®/ MusiCares Foundation®

A special thank you to Kristen Madsen, the Sr. Vice President, The GRAMMY Foundation®/ MusiCares Foundation®  for contributing today’s blog.


On Sunday, February 10th, the GRAMMY Awards® will put a spotlight on the very best that music has to offer from 2012. The annual telecast will feature, as always, unique pairings of music legends with newcomers, some show-stealing performances by surprising artists, and complex productions showing off the latest and greatest in live music pyrotechnics.

The GRAMMY Awards’ focus is not just on the previous year’s most resonant music, but also on the new technologies that facilitate its presentation and have become an integral part of the creative process.

While Sunday’s focus is, without question, on the “new,” there will be one important moment during GRAMMY® Week, which will intentionally look in the rearview mirror. The 15th annual music preservation event, titled “Play It Forward” is a celebration of the tremendous cultural legacy on which every artist on the GRAMMY stage has built his or her career. And we are especially pleased to be presenting this event in partnership with Seagate for the second year in a row.

“Play It Forward” will trace the musical roots of today’s contemporary artists back to their influential predecessors. For example, Alicia Keys has a musical lineage dating back to Bessie Smith, by way of Barbra Streisand, Tony Bennett, Frank Sinatra and Billie Holiday.

In 2013, it seems that the amount of time between the present and the future is compressing to an uncomfortable pinch. So the idea of looking backward seems almost quaint, a luxury for those who actually have — what do you call it — free time. But that compression of time is exactly why it is especially important to look backward once in awhile, because understanding what came before is the best possible way to prepare for our more rapidly approaching future. Churchill said it best: “The farther backward you can look, the farther forward you are likely to see.”

So, for one evening during GRAMMY Week, all of us who spend most of our days racing to keep pace with the velocity of change that surrounds us, get to slow it down just a little. We’ll remember musical moments that have been embedded in our consciousness as the accompaniment to our most vivid life experiences. And, just maybe, those memories will trigger a new perspective on exactly how we choose to move forward.

Thanks to Seagate for sharing our appreciation for all content — old and new, creative and technical. And for making a great business out of helping all of us protect our output for future generations.

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