NMAAM Sixth Annual Celebration of Legends Gala

(l-r) H. Beecher Hicks III, Chrissy Walter, Gloria Gaynor, Doug E. Fresh and Dionne Lucas attend The Celebration of Legends Gala 2019 at Music City Center on June 27, 2019 in Nashville, Tennessee. (Photo by Jason Kempin/Getty Images for the National Museum of African American Music)

The National Museum of African American Music (NMAAM) presented George Clinton, Doug E. Fresh and Gloria Gaynor with the Rhapsody & Rhythm Award at the museum’s sixth Celebration of Legends Gala on Thursday, June 27, at the Music City Center’s Karl Dean Ballroom in Nashville. The gala celebrates African American musical and cultural icons who have made significant contributions to American music across all genres.

“The Rhapsody and Rhythm honorees span the breadth of African American music, representing disco, hip hop and funk,” said NMAAM President and CEO H. Beecher Hicks III. “Their artistry is innovative and influential, and carries an impact that can still be felt today. Even the museum’s tagline, ‘One Nation Under A Groove,’ is an homage to George Clinton and Parliament-Funkadelic’s quintessential song.”

As the lead musician of the eclectic Parliament-Funkadelic collective, George Clinton was an early pioneer of funk music. After more than 50 years in the music industry, he is best known for his colorful hair, unique fashion and “psychedelic” artistry. Clinton will perform live at Nashville’s Municipal Auditorium on July 26 for the One Nation Under A Groove Tour. Tickets, on sale now, are $35, $45, and $55 at the NMA box office (additional fees online). George Clinton’s Farewell Tour also features Parliament Funkadelic, Galactic, Fishbone, and Miss Velvet & The Blue Wolf.

Doug E. Fresh, known as the “Original Human Beatbox,” is an artistic trailblazer whose 30-year career has been groundbreaking for hip hop. As the creator of the beatbox art form, Fresh, along with the Get Fresh Crew, captivated audiences around the world with his vocal simulations of drums and other musical instruments.

Gloria Gaynor’s “I Will Survive” is one of the best-known songs to come from the Disco Era. Released in 1978, the single earned Gaynor the title of the “Queen of Disco.” Gaynor received the Grammy Award for Best Disco Recording in 1980 and landed on Rolling Stone Magazine’s list of “The 500 Greatest Songs of All Time.”

The Gala featured performances by Louis York, The Shindellas and Mr. Talkbox, honoring George Clinton; Fatman Scoop and DJ Mars, honoring Doug E. Fresh; and Avery Sunshine honoring Gloria Gaynor. The gala was hosted by Grammy Award-winning producer Shannon Sanders.

The late David Williams, who served as Vanderbilt University’s vice chancellor for university affairs and athletics and athletics director, was an avid supporter of NMAAM and chairman of its campaign steering committee and was honored at the event. Vanderbilt University, the presenting sponsor for this year’s event, had several VU administrators in attendance, as they announced a long-term partnership with NMAAM to enrich educational and research opportunities around the musical legacy of African-American composers, performers and supporters and their impact on American culture and musical history.

The university’s pledge of foundational support, which totals $2 million in in-kind contributions and direct financial support, will expand the museum’s archival collection, contribute to innovative programming, support the completion of the facility and more.

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