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The Recording Academy announced in December that Steve Jobs would be honored with the Trustees Award for “outstanding contributions to the industry in a nonperforming capacity.”
On behalf of Steve’s wife, Laurene, his children, and everyone at Apple, I’d like to thank you for honoring Steve with the Trustees Grammy Award. Steve was a visionary, a mentor, and a very close friend. I had the incredible honor of working with him for the last fifteen years.
Accepting this award means so much to me because music meant so much to him. He told us that music shaped his life…it made him who he was. Everyone that knows Steve knows the profound impact that artists like Bob Dylan and The Beatles had on him.
Steve was focused on bringing music to everyone in innovative ways. We talked about it every single day. When he introduced the iPod in 2001, people asked “Why is Apple making a music player?” His answer was simple: “We love music, and it’s always good to do something you love.”
His family and I know that this Grammy would have been very special to him, so I thank you for honoring him today.
YoYo Ma, the world renowned Cellist and friend of Jobs, paid tribute:
Before I met Steve, I first had to say no to him. In the early ’90s, I was touring like a madman, trying to juggle professional commitments and a home life with a young family, when a call came in. Steve Jobs was getting married at Yosemite and he wanted me to play. I declined with great regret. When we met, years later, I was also introduced to his wife and children. The simplicity, directness and openness of his family really struck me. Steve showed me the things he cared about, and I shared the music I would have played at their wedding. From there, the friendship grew.
There were many more meetings, sometimes for a picnic dinner before concerts, other times grabbing lunch after one of his legendary presentations. Steve was ever eager to share the latest “one more thing.” I will never forget how he pulled out a prototype of the iPhone for me and the astonished members of the Silk Road Ensemble at UC Berkeley, or the conversation about intuition versus intelligence and the importance of stimulating disciplined imagination in our students to ensure an innovative workforce. His life’s work was a reflection of his father Paul’s lesson: “When you make something, make sure the back is as beautiful as the front, even if nobody sees it.”
This last year we had three visits, and in the spring Steve asked me to play at his funeral. I said I would, if he would speak at mine. Needless to say, Steve got his way. I, like so many others, will always be grateful for the impact he had, for the beautiful tools that have helped change my thinking, but even more so for his extraordinary friendship.
(Cellist Yo-Yo Ma is a 16-time GRAMMY winner. His most recent recording is The Goat Rodeo Sessions with fellow GRAMMY-winning string virtuosos Stuart Duncan, Edgar Meyer and Chris Thile. This appreciation was originally published in Entertainment Weekly.)
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