LOS ANGELES — Middle Tennessee State University alumni captured eight Grammys on Sunday, Feb. 4, during the 66th annual Grammy Awards ceremony in Los Angeles.
• Julien Baker, a 2019 English graduate, captured three Grammys out of five nominations as a member of boygenius, an indie supergroup with Phoebe Bridgers and Lucy Dacus.
The group won Grammys for Best Rock Performance, Best Rock Song, and Best Alternative Music Album. It was also nominated for Record of the Year and Album of the Year.
• Two-time winner and alumnus Lecrae won two more Grammys for Best Contemporary Christian Music Performance/Song for “Your Power” and also for Best Contemporary Christian Music Album for “Church Clothes 4.”
• Joining Lecrae in the Grammy win for best album is first-time winner Connor Back, a 2018 audio production graduate who earned a Grammy for his engineering work on “Church Clothes 4” and earned a certificate for his engineering work on the song “Your Power.”
• Jason Hall, a 2000 Recording Industry graduate, and Jimmy Mansfield, a 2014 audio production graduate, won Grammys for engineering, mixing and vocals work for Lainey Wilson’s “Bell Bottom Country,” which won Best Country Album. Hall and Mansfield have been part of past Grammy nominations.
While not singled out for a nomination, Josh Kear, a 1996 History graduate with a Recording Industry minor, was part of Wilson’s Best Country Album nominated project “Bell Bottom Country” for his composing work for the song “Watermelon Moonshine.”
“What a great way to celebrate the Grammys, seeing Julien Baker and Lecrae combine for five awards in the early ceremony,” said MTSU President Sidney A. McPhee. “It’s a True Blue Grammys to celebrate our Recording Industry’s 50th anniversary.”
“Celebrating our alumni while educating our students in a real-world environment at the Grammys is inspiring every year,” said new MTSU Recording Industry Chair Michelle Conceison. “This year, it was particularly rewarding to attend in our department’s 50th anniversary year. It lends perspective to how influential our alumni have been shaping the industry we know today. Where there is music, MTSU is there!”
Lecrae, who as Lecrae Devaughn Moore, attended MTSU through 2000. His win in 2013 for Best Gospel Album was the first such for a hip-hop artist and he won in 2015 for Best Contemporary Christian Music Performance/Song for “Messengers.” He has received eight prior nominations.
His win in 2013 for Best Gospel Album was the first such for a hip-hop artist and he won in 2015 for Best Contemporary Christian Music Performance/Song for “Messengers.” He had received eight prior nominations.
Under Grammy rules, awards for best album and record of the year go to the winning artist, producers and/or engineers. The song of the year award goes to the songwriter, and performance awards go to the artist.
Other MTSU alumni Grammy nominees for 2024:
• Two-time winner Brandon Bell, a 2004 Recording Industry graduate, was part of three Grammy-nominated efforts this year for his engineering work: Brandy Clark’s self-titled album up for Best Americana Album; Allison Russell’s “The Returner,” also up for Best Americana Album; and Billy Strings’ “Me/And/Dad,” nominated for Best Bluegrass Album. He has five previous nominations.
• Two-time winner Tony Castle, a 1995 Recording Industry graduate, was nominated for his engineering work as part of the team on Willie Nelson’s “Bluegrass,” up for Best Bluegrass Album. He has won two Grammys for engineering Nelson’s projects featuring the songs of George Gershwin and Frank Sinatra, respectively. He was also among the 64th annual Grammys’ best traditional pop vocal album nominees with “That’s Life,” Nelson’s second tribute collection of Frank Sinatra’s music, and in the traditional blues album category that same year for engineering Blues Traveler’s release “Traveler’s Blues.”
• Tay Keith, who as Brytavious Chambers graduated MTSU in 2018 with a degree in integrated studies and media management, was nominated among the songwriters for “Rich Flex” by Drake and 21 Savage, which was nominated for Best Rap Song. Keith, an honorary professor in MTSU’s Recording Industry program, was nominated previously in 2019.
•Randy LeRoy, who attended MTSU through 1991, was nominated for Best Historical Album as part of the team that produced “Playing for the Man at the Door: Field Recordings from The Collection of Mack McCormick, 1958-1971.”
• Phillip Smith, a 2016 Recording Industry graduate, was honored for engineering work for Brandy Clark’s self-titled album, up for Best Americana Album.
MTSU alumni, former or current students, and faculty from across the university have been a part of more than 164 Grammy Award nominations in the last two decades.
The number of MTSU-connected Grammy winners since 2001 currently stands at 23 people with a total of 47 Grammys, including nine repeat recipients, in categories from classical to pop to rock to country to gospel.
(Story updated Feb. 5 and 6 with additional nominees and winner.)
— Andrew Oppmann (Andrew.Oppmann@mtsu.edu)