Did you know that a New Orleanian introduced the name for music’s biggest award, the Grammy?
Sixty years ago this month, Rosejay "Jay" Elizabeth Danna won a national contest organized by the Recording Academy that gave the Grammy Award its name. “I saw an article that said the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences was having a contest to name a new awards show they wanted to put on, comparable to the Oscar for the Academy Awards,” Danna told The Times-Picayune in 1983.
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Danna said she immediately thought of the little record player, or gramophone, in her living room at home. “I used to play that little machine all the time and sometimes it got loud and my mother would yell, ‘Turn down the grammy!’”
Jefferson Downs originally was at the site that now is Lafreniere Park.
Some 300 other people also suggested the name Grammy in the April 1959 contest, but Danna’s was the first to be received in the mail, so she won. Her prize included 25 LP records.
The first Grammy Awards were presented the next month. New Orleanian Louis Prima and his wife Keely Smith were among the winners, earning a Grammy for “That Old Black Magic.” Danna, later an executive secretary for New Orleans Public Service Inc., died in 2014.