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“Prices have dropped and people are buying more of them.”
—-John Marmaduke, Hastings, on CD sales
NARM 2011: IT'S A WRAP
Awards Handed Out, Performances Help Make Retail Confab a Success
NARM 2011 is in the books, but not before the annual final night Awards Banquet featuring some truly great performances from Vanguard’s Matt Nathanson, whose endearing charm won the crowd over; Voltron’s Tyrese with a sultry set that included new material and a tribute to Gamble and Huff, plus a searing turn from RCA's American Idol winner David Cook.

The night’s first honor was the Independent Spirit Award that went to J&R Music World’s Rachelle and Joe Friedman celebrating their 40th anniversary of being in business. Joe, who usually leaves the talking to his wife, gave a humble thanks to the crowd, but it was Rachelle that told a touching story of perseverance, recalling how she had been intentionally passed over for medical school by a professor who told her she would be taking a spot away from a man in the system and should go into nursing. Instead, she started a small 3k sq. ft. record shop in downtown New York that 40 years  later became the single largest music, home entertainment and electronics store in the country, spanning an entire city block. She now sits on the board at the very school that ended her medical dreams. Really good stuff.

The Presidential Award for Sustained Executive Achievement went to Hastings' John Marmaduke. Never a man of many words, he thanked his 6,000 employees and then the suppliers for making big strides in bringing down the cost of CDs. “Prices have dropped and people are buying more of them.”

The incredible songwriting duo of Kenny Gamble and Leon Huff received the Outstanding Achievement Award for Musical Collaboration. The presentation got underway with a great video reel featuring vintage clips of Harold Melvin and the Blue Notes with Teddy Pendergrass singing songs from their voluminous songbook. Huff talked about how he would probably have never risen above being a studio musician if it hadn’t been for Gamble working with him. Gamble took many by surprise by telling of how he started in the music business in retail with a small record shop in Philadelphia, where he saw first-hand who was buying music and why, telling his partner, “We gotta write these songs for the girls.”

As the show ran a long, it was disappointing that YM/CM/Universal Motown star Nicki Minaj, on hand to receive the Breakthrough Artist of the Year award, was late for another commitment and had to leave before accepting.

The Harry Chapin Humanitarian Award was presented to Annie Lennox, who delivered an impassioned speech about the ravages of HIV in Africa.

The Outstanding Achievement Award went to the American Idol  franchise, celebrating their 10th season this year. The video reel was pretty damned impressive. The numbers in both ratings and sales during that time are just staggering. Accepting the award was 19 Entertainment President Iain Pirie.

The last presentation was the Chairman’s Award for Sustained Achievement to Brian Wilson. Another terrific vid reel with some classic old footage preceded his acceptance. As anyone now knows, Brian's a man of few words and didn’t disappoint. He thanked NARM and every retailer that ever sold his music, sang the line “God only knows what I’d do without you” before exiting stage right.

And that, my friends, was that. Another NARM in the books, bringing the convention back to L.A. for the first time in 21 years. Word has it that the odds are very good it will be at the same venue next year. But more on that later.


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