Quincy Jones Honored at Spotify Secret Genius Awards: "The Best Who Ever Did It"

Kevin Winter/Getty Images for Spotify
From left: Max Martin, Quincy Jones and Timbaland

“They can make a star out of the worst singer on the planet, a good song can," the producer said in his speech.

The second annual Spotify Secret Genius Awards honored the often unseen songwriters, producers and sound engineers behind the year’s most-streamed tracks. However, they also highlighted one particular figure whose influence in the industry is anything but secret.

Record producer and composer Quincy Jones on Friday night received the Legendary Genius Honor at The Theatre at Ace Hotel in Los Angeles. The multihyphenate produced Michael Jackson’s Thriller — the world’s best-selling album — and served as a film producer on The Color Purple. Jones was recently the subject of an eponymous documentary, Quincy, which was co-directed by his daughter Rashida Jones.

“Without a Quincy Jones, there would be no Michael Jackson, and without a Michael Jackson, there would be no Ne-Yo,” the night’s host Ne-Yo expressed during his opening speech.

In addition to performances by Bebe Rexha, Becky G and Daniel Caesar, the ceremony featured two musical tributes honoring Jones’ legacy. In the first, Jacob Collier, a multi-instrumentalist who started his career on YouTube before being discovered and subsequently managed by Jones, performed a rendition of Michael Jackson’s "Human Nature." Collier, playing barefoot on a grand piano, was accompanied by a string quartet.

The second tribute was a jazz medley by Terrace Martin, Robert Glasper, Taylor McFerrin and Ty Dolla $ign, which received a standing ovation that included Jones at the center table. When it came time to present the Legendary Genius Honor, producers Timbaland and Max Martin shared a few words about their friend.

"This man is my idol; he left us with a documentary that I call my music bible,” Timbaland said. “Q, you are the best who ever, ever did it — that’s just my personal words to you.”

During his acceptance speech, Jones spoke about what being a genius meant (he noted that, according to Frank Sinatra, geniuses have mastered five characteristics: feeling, sensation, believing, attachment and knowledge) and the importance of songwriting.

“They can make a star out of the worst singer on the planet, a good song can, a great song,” he said. “Even Sinatra, Aretha and Ray Charles cannot save a bad song ... so I share this award with all the great songwriters, artists, engineers, mixers, instrumentalists and background singers that I’ve been blessed to work with over the years, and this room is full of them tonight.”

Added Jones: "I believe that music is the auditory manifestation of our soul’s essence." He ended his remarks with, "All I can tell you is 'YOLO KOKO' ...you only live once, so keep on keeping on."

The night’s award winners also included songwriter Benny Blanco in the pop category, who kept his speech rather brief: “Quincy Jones is here — peace, guys.”

David Garcia won the award in the country category, which was presented by Keith Urban, who won entertainer of the year honors at the Country Music Awards just two nights prior (“It was epic, I was completely blindsided in all the right ways,” he told The Hollywood Reporter).

Ali Tamposi, who penned Camila Cabello’s hit “Havana,” was named songwriter of the year, and Murda Beatz, who produced Drake’s “Nice for What” and Travis Scott’s “Butterfly Effect,” took home producer of the year honors.

“It’s a blessing because producers and songwriters are such a big part of the music industry, for someone like Spotify to use that to their advantage, that’s good,” Beatz told THR before the show.

A complete list of winners follows.

Secret Genius: Legendary Genius Honor – Quincy Jones
Secret Genius: Songwriter of the Year – Ali Tamposi
Secret Genius: Producer of the Year – Murda Beatz
Secret Genius: Ambassador Grant – Smokescreen
Secret Genius: Pop – Benny Blanco
Secret Genius: Hip-Hop – Tank God
Secret Genius: R&B – The Stereotypes
Secret Genius: Dance – DJ Swivel
Secret Genius: Latin – Andrés Torres Y Mauricio Rengifo
Secret Genius: Rock – Jake Sinclair
Secret Genius: Country – David Garcia
Secret Genius: Breakthrough of the Year – Tank God
Secret Genius: Engineer – Kesha Lee
Secret Genius: Mixing Engineer – Manny Marroquin
Secret Genius: Social Message – This Is America (Ludwig Göransson)