As the NAMM TEC Awards approach their 35th anniversary, NAMM is conducting a series of profiles of the vibrant TEC community. Karen Dunn, of KMD Productions, has been working as the TEC team’s Event Director since the award’s inception. She recently sat down with us to share some stories of the show’s past, as well as her excitement of what’s to come when the NAMM TEC Awards returns, January 18, 2020.
What initially brought you to the TEC Awards?
Mix Magazine called me because they needed some help with the program book for this new award show they were starting. And, it was an incredible fit right from the beginning. It felt so different from what anyone else was doing at the time. My role expanded after the first year, and I’ve happily been a leader on the TEC team ever since.
What is your favorite aspect of the TEC Awards?
I really, truly love the TEC Awards. For me, it comes down to the community, the people. Across the board, we have such a special group that just can’t be found anywhere else. Year after year, I’m inspired by these talented, fun-loving people. Even the celebrity “giants” are just totally cool and down to earth. There’s not the kind of pretention or standoffishness someone might expect. We’re all building each other up. There’s lots of love, and I can’t imagine not being a part of it.
How has TEC evolved over the years?
The music industry continues to evolve for two primary reasons. First, popular music reflects shifts in culture, so it’s always a living, changing thing. And, as the world gets smaller, we’ve seen cross-cultural genres and innovations thrive. Secondly, technological changes have deeply affected the way that music is created, stored and distributed. TEC continued to stay with the trend and has evolved at each step. And, celebrating the best of both creative and technical is what we do—just look at the name!
Any crazy stories from TEC Awards past?
Well, I can’t share the craziest stories… but I loved when Stevie Wonder was our Les Paul Innovation Award Recipient. He didn’t want to be in the ballroom during the show because he wanted the other awards recipients to have the attention instead of himself. Being a huge Stevie fan, I volunteered to get him from his room when it was time for him to accept the Les Paul Award. I went up, and he was an incredibly nice guy. As we were walking toward the ballroom, he started humming, and people, recognizing the music, started popping their heads out into the hall whispering, “It’s Stevie Wonder!” all the way down the hallway. I’ve never experienced anything else quite like that.
What are you most excited for about the upcoming 35th Annual NAMM TEC Awards?
I can’t wait for our community to come together again and celebrate the latest products and creative achievements over the past year. And, I can’t wait to see who the next Les Paul Award recipient is!
Be sure to check out the nominations for the 35th Annual NAMM TEC Awards, and we’ll see you at the show!