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Multi-talented MTSU contingent proud of latest sla...

Multi-talented MTSU contingent proud of latest slate of Grammy nominations

No one brought home hardware this year from New York City, but the half-dozen MTSU-connected nominees at the 60th annual Grammy Awards are carrying plenty of new connections, congratulatory messages and ideas for new projects in an industry that’s constantly changing.

Producer/songwriter Wayne Haun, a 2000 grad of MTSU’s School of Music in the College of Liberal Arts, produced three of the five best roots gospel album nominees. Country queen Reba McEntire took the Grammy for “Sing It Now: Songs of Faith & Hope,” an album she produced with a longtime friend of Haun’s.

The Secret Sisters — MTSU ’09 College of Media and Entertainmentalumna Laura Rogers and her sibling, Lydia — bounced back from losing their label deal, a lawsuit by a former manager, near-bankruptcy and a temporarily dry creative well to earn a nomination for a best folk album Grammy for “You Don’t Own Me Anymore,” their third release. Aimee Mann took the honor for “Mental Illness.”

Jason A. Hall (B.S. ‘00) engineered Little Big Town’s “The Breaker,” a Grammy nominee for best country album. Chris Stapleton took that win for “From a Room: Volume 1.”

MTSU School of Music alumnus Wayne Haun is moving onto other projects but still celebrating his nominations for three of the five best roots gospel album contenders for the 60th annual Grammy Awards. (Photo courtesy of Wayne Haun)

MTSU School of Music alumnus Wayne Haun is moving onto other projects but still celebrating his nominations for three of the five best roots gospel album contenders for the 60th annual Grammy Awards. (Photo courtesy of Wayne Haun)

Former student Sam Hunt’s chart-busting “Body Like a Back Road” earned best country solo performance and best country song Grammy nods. Stapleton’s music won both the awards — “Either Way” for the solo singing award and “Broken Halos” for best song.

Country trio Lady Antebellum, which includes former MTSU student Hillary Scott, also had dual nominations: best country duo/group performance and best country album for “You Look Good” and “Heart Break,” respectively. Little Big Town’s “Better Man” took home the group performance award, and Stapleton’s album won its category.

Two-time Grammy winner Torrance Esmond, the 2003 MTSU music business graduate known professionally as “Street Symphony,” also sought gold for his work on the best children’s album nominee “Rise Shine #Woke” by the Alphabet Rockers. Lisa Loeb won the category for “Feel What U Feel.”

The Secret Sisters — Alabama natives Lydia, left, and Laura Rogers — are still celebrating their first Grammy nomination for their third album, "You Don't Own Me Anymore.” Laura Rogers is a 2009 music business alumna of MTSU's College of Media and Entertainment. (Photo by Abraham Rowe)

The Secret Sisters — Alabama natives Lydia, left, and Laura Rogers — are still celebrating their first Grammy nomination for their third album, “You Don’t Own Me Anymore.” Laura Rogers is a 2009 music business alumna of MTSU’s College of Media and Entertainment. (Photo by Abraham Rowe)

MTSU President Sidney A. McPhee and College of Media and Entertainment Dean Ken Paulson were in New York City to congratulate the nominees and recognize MTSU’s ties to the Grammys. It was the fifth year MTSU’s held pre-Grammys events at the site of the music industry’s biggest ceremony; you can learn more about the trip here.

“These all are some good records that did very, very well, and all the nominees are very well-deserving, great artists,” Haun said of his fellow nominees in the roots gospel category.

“They’re all friends of mine. I’ve only met Reba a couple of times, but I can say that she definitely did a lot of great work. Her producer Jay DeMarcus, he’s been a friend for a long time, and they put out some great music. Larry Cordle is great, and it’s great he’s in there.

“It’s good to look at a category and think, ‘Yeah, if any one of these projects win, it’s totally legit.'”

Haun is already onto more projects, including “Clear Skies,” released Jan. 26 by Ernie Haase & Signature Sound, Haun’s record label co-founder and his Southern gospel group, and an effort two years in the making: a collection of newly discovered hymns by prolific “Blessed Assurance” composer Fanny Crosby, completed and recorded by modern artists.

MTSU recording industry alumnus Jason A. Hall was nominated for engineering Little Big Town's

MTSU recording industry alumnus Jason A. Hall was nominated for engineering Little Big Town’s “The Breaker,” a best country album contender at the 60th annual Grammy Awards. (Photo courtesy of Jason A. Hall)

Haun’s Grammy-nominated projects, released between October 2016 and July 2017, were “The Best of The Collingsworth Family, Volume 1,” a collection of classic recordings with new vocals; “Resurrection” by Joseph Habedank; and “Hope for All Nations” by Karen Peck & New River.

He also co-wrote five songs on “Hope for All Nations” and two on “Resurrection.” He’s been nominated for four prior Grammys and also is a 31-time Gospel Music Association/Dove Award winner and three-time BMI Music Award Winner.

“More than anything, I feel a sense of redemption,” Laura Rogers said during a special party MTSU held in the sisters’ honor on Grammy weekend. “It’s a big honor for us.”

Former MTSU student Sam Hunt's chart-busting

Former MTSU student Sam Hunt’s chart-busting “Body Like a Back Road” was among the best country solo performance and best country song nominees at the 60th annual Grammy Awards. (Photo courtesy of Red Light Management)

The Rogers siblings worked with producer Brandi Carlile and collaborators Tim and Phil Hanseroth on their crowdfunded third CD, earning heavy Americana airplay for the album’s first single, “He’s Fine,” and plenty of critical acclaim.

The Secret Sisters released their debut album in fall 2010, featuring classics like “Why Baby Why” and “Something Stupid” as well as music business grad Laura’s original “Tennessee Me” and “Waste the Day.” They’ve since toured with Bob Dylan, sung with Elton John and Elvis Costello, and recorded with Jack White.

Alumnus Hall‘s engineering on the Little Big Town CD, released last February, also put him on last fall’s Country Music Association’s album of the year and single of the year list with producer Jay Joyce, with whom Hall’s worked on dozens of successful albums.

The Department of Recording Industry grad also was nominated for a 2011 best country album Grammy for engineering Eric Church’s “Chief” and won a 2005 best rock gospel album Grammy for his work on Audio Adrenaline’s “Until My Heart Caves In.” He’s engineered projects for a list of artists that includes Carlile, Carrie Underwood, The Head and the Heart, and Cage the Elephant.

Hunt, who co-wrote his nominated song, broke a 55-year-old-record previously held by Leroy Van Dyke’s “Walk On By” when “Body” hit 20 weeks at No. 1 on the Billboard Hot Country Songs in June 2017.

Country trio Lady Antebellum, which includes former MTSU student Hillary Scott, center, was nominated in the best country duo/group performance and best country album categories for "You Look Good" and "Heart Break," respectively, at the 60th annual Grammy Awards. (Photo courtesy of LadyAntebellum.com)

Country trio Lady Antebellum, which includes former MTSU student Hillary Scott, center, was nominated in the best country duo/group performance and best country album categories for “You Look Good” and “Heart Break,” respectively, at the 60th annual Grammy Awards. (Photo courtesy of LadyAntebellum.com)

The song, which is part of Hunt’s upcoming sophomore album release, broke records again in late July, becoming the only song in the history of the Hot Country Songs chart to stay at No. 1 for more than 24 weeks, and remained there for a record 34 weeks before it was bumped off by Kane Brown the week of Oct. 21. The tune also was nominated for single of the year and song of the year at last fall’s CMAs.

The Georgia native attended MTSU 2003-04 and played football for the Blue Raiders. He saw his 2015 debut album “Montevallo” nominated at the 58th annual Grammy Awards as well as a best new artist nomination that same year. He also was nominated for 2015 CMAs for both single of the year and song of the year for his co-written hit “Take Your Time.”

Scott and Lady Antebellum also received a CMA album of the year nomination last fall for “Heart Break,” as well as their ninth consecutive listing for the CMA’s vocal group of the year.

The trio has won a total of five Grammys so far, and Scott picked up two of her own in 2017 for her Hillary Scott and the Scott Family contemporary Christian album “Love Reigns” and its single “Thy Will.”

Esmond, who produced “Rise Shine #Woke,” won Grammys for the 2013 best gospel album as the executive producer for former MTSU student Lecrae Moore’s album “Gravity” and again in 2015 for co-writing the best contemporary Christian music performance/song, Lecrae’s “Messengers.”

MTSU alumnus Torrance Esmond, left, and Beverly Keel, chair of the Department of Recording Industry, joke during Esmond's return visit to campus in 2015. Known professionally as “Street Symphony,” two-time Grammy winner Esmond produced the 2017 best children's album nominee "Rise Shine #Woke" by the Alphabet Rockers. (MTSU file photo by Andy Heidt)

MTSU alumnus Torrance Esmond, left, and Beverly Keel, chair of the Department of Recording Industry, joke during Esmond’s return visit to campus in 2015. Known professionally as “Street Symphony,” two-time Grammy winner Esmond produced the 2017 best children’s album nominee “Rise Shine #Woke” by the Alphabet Rockers. (MTSU file photo by Andy Heidt)

He’s also been part of the teams who created R&B album, song and female vocal performance Grammy nominees. He first gained recognition for his production work on the single “Work Hard, Play Hard” by the artist Yo Gotti in 2005.

He formed a production company Track or Die in 2014 and has produced for Don Trip, Starlito and Grammy-winning rapper 2 Chainz. Esmond established the “Street Symphony Scholarship” for MTSU Recording Industry students in 2015.

Since 2007, MTSU alumni, faculty and former students have brought home 16 Grammy Awards in categories from classical to gospel to bluegrass to rap.

Those who’ve won multiple Grammys, along with Esmond, Scott and Moore, include songwriter Josh Kear and his four awards and engineer Clarke Schleicher‘s three. Nearly 30 MTSU people have been nominated for Grammys in the last decade.

For more Grammy information, visit www.grammy.com.

— Gina E. Fann (gina.fann@mtsu.edu)


Multi-talented MTSU contingent looks for gold on Grammy-nominated projects Sunday night

It’s probably inappropriate to bet on who’ll win a Grammy for a gospel album, but if the odds are ever in anybody’s favor, this Sunday, Jan. 28, will be MTSU alumnus and producer/songwriter Wayne Haun‘s night.

The 2000 grad of MTSU’s School of Music in the College of Liberal Arts, who produced three of the five best roots gospel album nominees for the 60th annual Grammy Awards, isn’t alone among alumni and former students being recognized this year for their considerable talents.

The Secret Sisters — MTSU ’09 College of Media and Entertainment alumna Laura Rogers and her sibling, Lydia — are nominated for a best folk album Grammy for “You Don’t Own Me Anymore,” their third release

Jason A. Hall (B.S. ‘00), who engineered Little Big Town’s “The Breaker,” is included in the Grammy nomination for best country album.

Former student Sam Hunt’s chart-busting “Body Like a Back Road” is nominated for best country solo performance and best country song Grammys.

MTSU School of Music alumnus Wayne Haun is nominated for producing three of the five best roots gospel album contenders for the 60th annual Grammy Awards, which air Sunday night, Jan. 28, from New York. (Photo courtesy of Wayne Haun)

MTSU School of Music alumnus Wayne Haun is nominated for producing three of the five best roots gospel album contenders for the 60th annual Grammy Awards, which air Sunday night, Jan. 28, from New York. (Photo courtesy of Wayne Haun)

And country trio Lady Antebellum, which includes former MTSU student Hillary Scott, is nominated for Grammys in the best country duo/group performance and best country album for “You Look Good” and “Heart Break,” respectively.

Two-time Grammy winner Torrance Esmond, the 2003 MTSU music business graduate who’s known professionally as “Street Symphony,” also will be looking for gold for his work on best children’s album nominee “Rise Shine #Woke” by the Alphabet Rockers.

MTSU President Sidney A. McPhee and College of Media and Entertainment Dean Ken Paulson will be in New York City this weekend to congratulate the nominees and recognize MTSU’s ties to the Grammys. It’s the fifth year MTSU’s held pre-Grammys events at the site of the music industry’s biggest ceremony.

“One day you wake up with your phone buzzing and you realize you forgot to watch the Grammys announcement because you worked late on a session and slept in … and your phone’s blowing up with your friends all saying ‘Congratulations!’” says Haun with a laugh.

“And you’re like ‘What’s up with … oh, the announcements. Hey, one of ours must have gotten one!’ And then you see your three albums in the same category. But if you’re going to be in competition with somebody, it’s okay to be competition with yourself.”

The Secret Sisters — Alabama natives Lydia, left, and Laura Rogers — are celebrating their first Grammy nomination for their third album, "You Don't Own Me Anymore.” Laura Rogers is a 2009 music business alumna of MTSU's College of Media and Entertainment. (Photo by Abraham Rowe)

The Secret Sisters — Alabama natives Lydia, left, and Laura Rogers — are celebrating their first Grammy nomination for their third album, “You Don’t Own Me Anymore.” Laura Rogers is a 2009 music business alumna of MTSU’s College of Media and Entertainment. (Photo by Abraham Rowe)

Haun’s Grammy projects, released between October 2016 and July 2017, are “The Best of The Collingsworth Family, Volume 1,” a collection of classic recordings with new vocals; “Resurrection” by Joseph Habedank; and “Hope for All Nations” by Karen Peck & New River.

He also co-wrote five songs on “Hope for All Nations” and two on “Resurrection.” He’s been nominated for four prior Grammys and also is a 31-time Gospel Music Association/Dove Award winner and three-time BMI Music Award Winner.

“I had always had hopes of being in the music industry, and that may have been partially why I chose MTSU, but … deep down, I chose music education and the School of Music because I really enjoyed the staff and it really seemed to feel like home,” Haun says.

“When I got there I was … well, I have some talent, and I have what many consider a great ear for music, but I still needed to be whipped into shape. I would never be able to do what I do had I not gotten the training from my MTSU professors: the music theory classes, the composition classes, private lessons and everything from the Wind Ensemble to the Band (of Blue) to the Schola Cantorum, to music history and formal analysis and counterpoint classes. I took that counterpoint class that most people would say I was crazy to take, and that literally taught me to orchestrate. If I hadn’t done that, I would have never had the courage, if you will, to orchestrate my first chart.”

MTSU recording industry alumnus Jason A. Hall was nominated for engineering Little Big Town's

MTSU recording industry alumnus Jason A. Hall is nominated for engineering Little Big Town’s “The Breaker,” a best country album contender at the 60th annual Grammy Awards, which air Sunday night, Jan. 28, from New York. (Photo courtesy of Jason A. Hall)

The Rogers siblings worked with producer Brandi Carlile and collaborators Tim and Phil Hanseroth on their crowdfunded third CD, earning heavy Americana airplay for the album’s first single, “He’s Fine,” and plenty of critical acclaim.

They, too, are in fine company in their nomination category, included among artists Aimee Mann, Yusuf/Cat Stevens, Laura Marling and Offa Rex in the folk Grammy list.

The Secret Sisters released their debut album in fall 2010, featuring classics like “Why Baby Why” and “Something Stupid” as well as music business grad Laura’s original “Tennessee Me” and “Waste the Day.” They’ve since toured with Bob Dylan, sung with Elton John and Elvis Costello, and recorded with Jack White.

Alumnus Hall’s engineering on the Little Big Town CD, released last February, also put him on last fall’s Country Music Association’s album of the year and single of the year list with producer Jay Joyce, with whom Hall’s worked on dozens of successful albums.

Former MTSU student Sam Hunt's chart-busting "Body Like a Back Road" is nominated as best country solo performance and best country song at the 60th annual Grammy Awards, which air Sunday night, Jan. 28, from New York. (Photo courtesy of Red Light Management)

Former MTSU student Sam Hunt’s chart-busting “Body Like a Back Road” is nominated as best country solo performance and best country song at the 60th annual Grammy Awards, which air Sunday night, Jan. 28, from New York. (Photo courtesy of Red Light Management)

The Department of Recording Industry grad also was nominated for a 2011 best country album Grammy for engineering Eric Church’s “Chief” and won a 2005 best rock gospel album Grammy for his work on Audio Adrenaline’s “Until My Heart Caves In.” He’s engineered projects for a list of artists that includes Carlile, Carrie Underwood, The Head and the Heart, and Cage the Elephant.

Hunt, who co-wrote his nominated song, broke a 55-year-old-record previously held by Leroy Van Dyke’s “Walk On By” when “Body” hit 20 weeks at No. 1 on the Billboard Hot Country Songs in June 2017.

The song, which is part of Hunt’s upcoming sophomore album release, broke records again in late July, becoming the only song in the history of the Hot Country Songs chart to stay at No. 1 for more than 24 weeks, and remained there for a record 34 weeks before it was bumped off by Kane Brown the week of Oct. 21. The tune also was nominated for single of the year and song of the year at last fall’s CMAs.

Country trio Lady Antebellum, which includes former MTSU student Hillary Scott, center, is nominated in the best country duo/group performance and best country album categories for "You Look Good" and "Heart Break," respectively, at the 60th annual Grammy Awards airing Sunday night, Jan. 28, from New York. (Photo courtesy of LadyAntebellum.com)

Country trio Lady Antebellum, which includes former MTSU student Hillary Scott, center, is nominated in the best country duo/group performance and best country album categories for “You Look Good” and “Heart Break,” respectively, at the 60th annual Grammy Awards airing Sunday night, Jan. 28, from New York. (Photo courtesy of LadyAntebellum.com)

The Georgia native attended MTSU 2003-04 and played football for the Blue Raiders. He saw his 2015 debut album “Montevallo” nominated at the 58th annual Grammy Awards as well as a best new artist nomination that same year. He also was nominated for 2015 CMAs for both single of the year and song of the year for his co-written hit “Take Your Time.”

Scott and Lady Antebellum also received a CMA album of the year nomination this fall for “Heart Break,” as well as their ninth consecutive listing for the CMA’s vocal group of the year.

Esmond, who produced “Rise Shine #Woke,” won Grammys for the 2013 best gospel album as the executive producer for former MTSU student Lecrae’s album “Gravity” and again in 2015 for co-writing the best contemporary Christian music performance/song, Lecrae’s “Messengers.”

He’s also been part of the teams who created R&B album, song and female vocal performance Grammy nominees. He first gained recognition for his production work on the single “Work Hard, Play Hard” by the artist Yo Gotti in 2005.

MTSU alumnus Torrance Esmond, left, and Beverly Keel, chair of the Department of Recording Industry, joke during Esmond's return visit to campus in 2015. Known professionally as “Street Symphony,” two-time Grammy winner Esmond produced the 2017 best children's album nominee "Rise Shine #Woke" by the Alphabet Rockers. (MTSU file photo by Andy Heidt)

MTSU alumnus Torrance Esmond, left, and Beverly Keel, chair of the Department of Recording Industry, joke during Esmond’s return visit to campus in 2015. Known professionally as “Street Symphony,” two-time Grammy winner Esmond produced the 2017 best children’s album nominee “Rise Shine #Woke” by the Alphabet Rockers. (MTSU file photo by Andy Heidt)

He formed a production company Track or Die in 2014 and has produced for Don Trip, Starlito and Grammy-winning rapper 2 Chainz. Esmond established the “Street Symphony Scholarship” for MTSU Recording Industry students in 2015.

The College of Media and Entertainment will honor The Secret Sisters at its annual pre-Grammys event Saturday morning, which typically draws alumni along with supporters, artists and recording industry leaders with ties to MTSU.

MTSU also will again partner with the Americana Music Association for a pre-Grammys event, serving as one of the presenters of a Saturday night concert billed as an all-star salute to Americana artist Emmylou Harris.

The 60th annual Grammy Awards return to New York City for the first time since 2003 for Sunday night’s broadcast from Madison Square Garden. It airs beginning at 6:30 p.m. Central on CBS.

For more Grammy information, visit www.grammy.com.

— Gina E. Fann (gina.fann@mtsu.edu)


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