The Sammy Film Music Awards (SFMA)
are named in honor of lyricist, Sammy Cahn (1913-1993)
and are the longest-running awards for film music recordings
Hall again awards Sammys for best movie music
Roger Hall of Stoughton holds one of the Sammy Awards certificates. On the bookshelf behind Hall is his book, "A Guide to Film Music - Songs and Scores" and his CD "Film Music and the Sammy Awards."
Posted Mar 19, 2010 @ 07:03 AM
Established 22 years ago by Stoughton resident Roger Hall, the Sammys are the Oscars for film music.
As the elite of Hollywood recently handed out revered gold statuettes, Hall sat back and enjoyed the show because his Sammys already were selected, announced and distributed to about a dozen music professionals.
The New Jersey native created the Sammys following years of frustration over the lack of attention paid to the songs and scores of movies.
“A lot of people become engrossed in the storyline of the movie and forget there is music underneath - and a lot of times it is the music that reinforces the story or brings out the emotions of viewers,” Hall said.
The Sammys, certificates awarded annually by Hall recognize the professionals who create worthwhile and often exceptional music.
Hall, a singer, songwriter and composer, named the awards for movie lyricist Sammy Cahn, an Oscar-winning songwriter whose credits include “Three Coins in the Fountain”, “All the Way”, “High Hopes” and “Call Me Irresponsible.” Frank Sinatra recorded all four songs. Cahn, who died in 1993, contacted Hall and expressed his honor in having the awards named after him.
When Hall, 67, first created the awards, he focused on just a couple of categories. Over time, he added categories based on the music released that year. For example, a number of times when he felt a song or score wasn’t good or didn’t quite fit a movie, he issued a Sammy for the “Worst Music of the Year.”
In the early days of the Sammys, Hall announced the winners on WGBH’s “Music America Radio Show” the Sunday two weeks before the Academy Awards.
“It reached more people that way,” he said.
Unfortunately, the show moved to a different radio station, so Hall instead sends out press releases and lists the awards on his Web site, www.americanmusicpreservation.com. The site, a vast resource for music professionals, offers the history of the Sammys as well as a complete list of winners from every year.
As the years have passed, Hall has noticed a decrease in the quality of original songs in movies. In fact, he has not selected a “Best New Film Song” in a couple years because the songs have been “mostly forgettable,” with only a few notable exceptions, including 1996’s “Our Town” from Disney/ Pixar’s animated film, “Cars,” he said. That year, the Sammy was given to singer/songwriter/composer Randy Newman, who did both the music and lyrics for the song.
Although Hall has been impressed with many of Newman’s past works, this year he was not. Newman did not receive a Sammy despite being nominated for two Oscars for his musical work on the Disney movie, “The Princess and the Frog.”
Newman also received a Sammy for his original score in the 1993 movie, “Sea Biscuit.”
Most years, usually after much phone and e-mail correspondence, Hall mails the Sammys to the recipients. But with Newman’s award for “Sea Biscuit,” Hall was fortunate enough to meet the celebrity in person. Newman was in town visiting Harvard and Hall scheduled to meet him to present the award.
“He is a very talented guy – he was very friendly,” Hall said.
A consultant, educator and lecturer, Hall has more than 35 years experience in the music field. He has his PhD in musicology and is considered one of the foremost authorities on vintage American music.
Now retired, Hall spent 12 years teaching music in the Brookline Adult and Community Education Program. Over the years, he has authored more than 25 publications including the book, A Guide to Film Music. A long time member of the Old Stoughton Musical Society, he is the editor of the online magazine Film Music Review and is a member of the International Film Music Critics Association.
Each January, Hall goes through all of the English language music releases from the previous year and makes his selections.
“I don’t just pick what is popular – I spend a lot of time listening and deciding,” Hall said.
Sometimes his choices are also Oscar nominees and sometimes they are not. For Best Original Score this year, “Up,” by Michael Giacchino, won the Sammy. It also was nominated for an Oscar and has won a Golden Globe.
“It is the best score that I have heard this year – I’m glad to hear that it is winning those awards,” Hall said.
He is, however, surprised by all of the attention “Avatar” is receiving for James Horner’s original score. Hall didn’t think it was that good and awarded it the Sammy for “Most Overrated New Film Score.”
In addition to recognizing new work, Hall has expanded his awards to encompass several categories including recently re-recorded and released classics.
A music preservationist, a term he coined for himself, Hall is passionate about all music, but especially enjoys the works from films in the Gold (1930s-1950s) and Silver (1960s -1970s) ages. He recommends tuning into the Turner Classic Movies television station where this month all of the old Oscar nominees are being rerun. He hopes that while watching the older films, people will take a step back from the story line to listen to the music.
Preserving music is very important to him and he believes many composers are not properly recognized.
“Even though they are writing for big movies or winning awards, it doesn’t mean they become well known,” Hall said.
The Sammys, which are the longest-running awards chosen exclusively for film music recordings, have made Hall feel a bit more satisfied knowing that great music and some of the most deserving songwriters and composers are being recognized.
“I’m just trying to get more respect for the music that deserves to be remembered,” Hall said.
The 22nd Annual Sammy Movie Music Awards for 2009
Best New Film Score: UP
Music by Michael Giacchino (Disney Pixar)
Best Overlooked New Film Score: CAPTAIN ABU RAED
Music by Austin Wintory (BSX Records CD)
Most Overrated New Film Score: AVATAR
Music by James Horner (Fox Music/ Atlantic CD)
Best Golden Age Film Score (1930s-1950s): THE CHARGE OF THE LIGHT BRIGADE (1936)
Music by Max Steiner (Tribute Film Classics CD)
Best Silver Age Film Score (1960s-1970s): TIME AFTER TIME (1979)
Music by Miklos Rozsa (Film Score Monthly CD)
Best Bronze Age Film Score CD (1980s-1990s): TWILIGHT ZONE: THE MOVIE (1983)
Music by Jerry Goldsmith (Film Score Monthly CD)
Best Vintage Compilation: A JOHNNY MANDEL TRIO
(THE AMERICANIZATION OF EMILY, THE SANDPIPER, DRUMS OF AFRICA)
Music by Johnny Mandel (Film Score Monthly 3 CD Box Set)
Best Newly Recorded Vintage Film Score: EXODUS (1960)
Music by Ernest Gold (Tadlow CD)
Preservation Award – Best Album Producers:
Anna Bonn, John Morgan, William Stromberg (Tribute Film Classics)
Lifetime Achievement Award: Aaron Copland (1900-1990) – 1 Oscar (1949)
Copyright 2010 Stoughton Journal. Some rights reserved.
Words By Sammy Cahn
Many of Sammy's popular movie songs are included in
this excellent collection
The New Sammy Cahn Songbook
Read Sammy's his frank and witty autobiography --
I Should Care: The Sammy Cahn Story
Help Support The Sammy Awards!
Now available is a special CD featuring Oscar (Academy Awards) and Sammy Award-winning film music.
This CD features film music critic, Roger Hall, as a guest on several radio programs in the Boston, Massachusetts area, and also on his own radio prgram, "In The Mood."
Among the music heard on this CD are Max Steiner (THE INFORMER), Bernard Herrmann (THE DEVIL AND DANIEL WEBSTER), Franz Waxman (A PLACE IN THE SUN), John Barry (DANCES WITH WOLVES), and John Williams (THE ACCIDENTAL TOURIST, BORN ON THE FOURTH OF JULY, SCHINDLER'S LIST).
There is also a lively interview with Oscar-winning lyricist, Sammy Cahn, speaking as a radio guest about his movie songs.
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Sammy Cahn and His Four Oscars
Sammy Cahn was Oscar nominated more than any other songwriter –
26 times in all between 1942 and 1973.
The first Sammy Awards were chosen for best score and song of 1988 – the year of Sammy Cahn’s 75th birthday.
When he was notified, Sammy said he was “flattered and honored" to have them named after him. He certainly deserved the honor.
Sammy received 4 Academy Awards (Oscars) for his lyrics to these songs:
- "Three Coins in the Fountain" (1954) from
THREE COINS IN THE FOUNTAIN -- music by Jule Styne
- "All The Way" from THE JOKER IS WILD (1957) --
music by James Van Heusen
- "High Hopes" from A HOLE IN THE HEAD (1959) --
music by James Van Heusen
- "Call Me Irresponsible" from PAPA'S DELICATE CONDITION (1963) --
music by James Van Heusen
All four songs were recorded by Frank Sinatra,
a longtime friend and fan of Sammy's lyrics.
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