LOS ANGELES — Middle Tennessee State University caught up with three of its nine Grammy nominees Saturday, Feb. 3, as the university celebrated their achievements at its annual event before the music industry’s biggest night, the 66th annual Grammy Awards.
The university recognized alums Tay Keith and Brandon Bell at its event at the Mama Shelter Hotel rooftop spot, where alumni, industry professionals, students, and faculty gathered to reconnect and wish the school’s nominees well.
President Sidney A. McPhee and Beverly Keel, dean of the College of Media and Entertainment, presented special certificates at the event to:
• Two-time Grammy winner Brandon Bell, a 2004 Recording Industry graduate, who is 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.
• Tay Keith, who, as Brytavious Chambers, graduated from MTSU in 2018 with a degree in integrated studies and media management, and is 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.
• McPhee also caught up in Los Angeles with Julien Baker, a 2019 English graduate, up for five nominations as a member of boygenius, an indie supergroup with Phoebe Bridgers and Lucy Dacus. Her group was nominated for Album of the Year, Best Alternative Music Album, Record of the Year, Best Rock Performance and Best Alternative Music Performance.
And in recognition of her career accomplishments up to this point, Baker was conferred with the title of Honorary Professor of Recording Industry by McPhee and Keel.
“It was wonderful today to connect to so many of our alumni and industry partners,” McPhee said. “It’s a thrill for our students along for this trip to see our alumni Grammy nominees and our many friends in the Recording Industry.”
MTSU College of Media and Entertainment’s traditional pre-Grammy event also recognized the appointment of a new Recording Industry chair, associate professor Michelle Conceison, who assumed leadership of the department in January.
Nine nominees with MTSU ties are up for honors at the 66th annual Grammys ceremony on Sunday.
MTSU alumni, former or current students, and faculty from across the university have been a part of more than 150 Grammy Award nominations in the last two decades.
The number of MTSU-connected Grammy winners since 2001 currently stands at 19 people, with a total of 39 Grammys, including nine repeat recipients, in categories from classical to pop to rock to country to gospel.
(Story updated Feb. 6)
— Andrew Oppmann (firstname.lastname@example.org)