MTSU grads, former students eye more Grammy gold i...

MTSU grads, former students eye more Grammy gold in March ceremony [+VIDEOS]

63rd annual Grammy Awards logo for the Jan. 31, 2021, awards ceremony, accompanied by the horizontal MTSU logo

dMiddle Tennessee State University alumni and former students may need their own virtual seating section at the upcoming 63rd annual Grammy Awards.

The MTSU-trained professionals will be recognized in multiple genres in the ceremony, set to air Sunday, March 14, at 7 p.m. Central on CBS, including one category where the university’s grads had a hand in all but one nominated project and more where they’re competing against themselves.

logo for the 63rd annual Grammy Awards, set for broadcast Sunday, Jan. 31, 2021, on CBS

The Recording Academy had planned its annual ceremony for Jan. 31. On Jan. 5, the organization announced a rescheduled date in response to what its leadership called “the deterioriating COVID situation in Los Angeles.”

The Grammys, hosted by Emmy-winning host of “The Daily Show” and New York Times bestselling author Trevor Noah, will still be held at the city’s Staples Center. As of March 11, organizers continued finalizing what elements will be in-person and how much will be virtual and/or remote because of the pandemic.

The MTSU-connected slate of nominees, for work ranging from performance to songwriting to engineering in country, contemporary Christian, gospel, folk and roots music released between September 2019 and Aug. 31, 2020, includes:

Jimmy Mansfield, 2014 MTSU audio production graduate and multiple Grammy nominee for his audio engineering work

Jimmy Mansfield

MTSU recording industry alumnus and Grammy winner Jason A. Hall

Jason A. Hall

• 2000 Department of Recording Industry alumnus Jason A. Hall and 2014 audio production grad Jimmy Mansfield, who are looking at their third consecutive year of Grammy nominations together. This time it’s for their teamwork on three of the five best country album candidates.

• Their fellow alumnus, 2012 audio production graduate Jeff Braun, whose mixing work on the country album project by Ingrid Andress, “Lady Like,” also earned him a Grammy nomination.

• 2000 School of Music alumnus Wayne Haun, a producer/songwriter whose work on three of the five best roots gospel album nominees has him competing with himself again, just as he did at the 2018 awards ceremony.

Jeff Braun, MTSU 2012 audio production graduate and nominee for engineering in the best country album category of the 63rd annual Grammy Awards

Jeff Braun

2000 School of Music alumnus Wayne Haun, multiple Grammy nominee

Wayne Haun

• Former student and multi-Grammy winner Lecrae Moore, known professionally as Lecrae, who’s back in the golden circle for two new efforts. This time it’s for best contemporary Christian music performance, “Sunday Morning,” with gospel icon Kirk Franklin, and a best gospel performance/song co-writing nod for “Come Together” for Rodney Jerkins Presents: The Good News.

• 2009 music business alumna Laura Rogers and her sibling, Lydia Slagle, who perform as The Secret Sisters and are nominated for two new Grammys: best folk album for “Saturn Return,” their fourth release, and for writing a best American roots song on it, “Cabin.”

• Former student Hillary Scott and her bandmates in Lady A, multi-Grammy winners who are nominated for best country duo/group performance for their song “Ocean.”

Lecrae Moore, former MTSU student, multi-Grammy winner and nominee in two categories of the 63rd annual Grammy Awards


Hillary Scott, former MTSU student, multi-Grammy winner, member of the country trio Lady A and nominee at the 63rd annual Grammy Awards

Hillary Scott

Hall and Mansfield, who’ve worked together on multiple artists’ award-winning projects, have been Grammy-nominated for their work on country albums released in 2018, 2019 and now 2020, including work by Eric Church, Little Big Town, the Brothers Osborne and Brandy Clark. Hall won a 2005 best rock gospel album Grammy for his work with Audio Adrenaline.

For the 2020 nominations, the two are credited for their work on Clark’s “Your Life is a Record,” Ashley McBryde’s “Never Will” and Miranda Lambert’s “Wildcard” country albums.

The title-track video for McBryde’s album is available below.

Their friendly competition in the category, Braun, has mixed releases for Jason Aldean, Kane Brown, Hunter Hayes and fellow MTSU alumnus Mitchell Tenpenny. He’s played a role in four No. 1 hits so far and has a nomination for a Country Music Association single of the year.

The video for Andress’ album’s title track is available below.

Haun has been nominated for seven previous Grammys and has won more than 30 Gospel Music Association/Dove Awards and three BMI Music Awards.

He’s nominated in the 63rd annual Grammys for producing his longtime collaborators Ernie Haase & Signature Sound’s “Something Beautiful” album and The Erwins’ “What Christmas Really Means.” Haun also provided orchestral arrangements for The Crabb Family’s “20/20” album in this category, though he didn’t produce it.

Two-time Grammy winner Chad Evans, a 1989 MTSU recording industry graduate, also was a part of the “Something Beautiful” project, producing the vocals on the album.

The video for the “Something Beautiful” title track is available below.

Moore won the Grammy for best gospel album at the 2013 awards for his 2012 release “Gravity,” then won again for his 2014 contemporary Christian song, “Messengers,” featuring For God & Country. He co-wrote that winning song with Grammy-winning 2003 music business graduate Torrance “Street Symphony” Esmond.

A rapper, songwriter, record producer and actor, Moore has so far released nine solo studio albums, including 2014’s “Anomaly,” which was the first to top both Billboard’s Top 200 and gospel listings.

The lyric video for “Sunday Morning” is available below.

The Rogers sisters’ 2017 album, “You Don’t Own Me Anymore,” was a crowdfunded project that garnered the duo’s first Grammy nomination, also in the best folk album category. Americana superstar Brandi Carlile and her longtime collaborators and bandmates Tim and Phil Hanseroth returned to produce “Saturn Return.”

The acoustic video for the songwriting-nominated “Cabin” is available below.

Scott, Dave Haywood and Charles Kelley won the first of their seven Grammys in 2009 for “I Run to You.” The trio then commenced a two-year dance through the country album, performance and record of the year categories that also earned 1980 recording industry alumnus L. Clarke Schleicher three engineering Grammys.

The group, called Lady Antebellum since its 2006 founding, changed its name last summer to remove slavery-related connotations in the wake of Black Lives Matter protests.

Scott’s 2016 independent album “Love Remains” also won her Grammy Awards for best contemporary Christian music album and best contemporary Christian music performance/song.

The video for “Ocean” is available below.

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 and best song awards go to the songwriter, and performance awards go to the artist.

Alumni winners work on new nominated projects

More Grammy-winning MTSU alumni aren’t singled out for nominations at the upcoming 63rd annual ceremonies, but their work on Grammy-nominated projects merits recognition.

Grammy-winning mixer and MTSU alumnus F. Reid Shippen

F. Reid Shippen

MTSU alumnus and Grammy winner Aaron Raitiere

Aaron Raitiere

For example, F. Reid Shippen, a 1994 recording industry graduate,  produced this year’s groundbreaking best country solo performance nominee Mickey Guyton’s debut album, “Bridges.” In January 2020, Shippen brought home his fifth career Grammy since 2001 for co-producing, engineering and mixing Gloria Gaynor’s best roots gospel album, “Testimony.”

Since only artists are credited on performance nominations, his work on Guyton’s groundbreaking “Black Like Me” from her album won’t be formally recognized.

2009 Master of Fine Arts alumnus Aaron Raitiere has two co-written cuts on McBryde’s country album nominee: “Voodoo Doll” and “Sparrow.” Raitiere won his first Grammy at this past January’s ceremonies for co-writing “I’ll Never Love Again” for “A Star is Born” in the best song for visual media category.

Sean McConnell, 2006 MTSU music business graduate (photo by Joshua Black Wilkins)

Sean McConnell

Multi-Grammy-winning songwriter/producer and 2001 recording industry graduate Luke Laird

Luke Laird

Similar positive predicaments face 2006 music business grad Sean McConnell and 2001 music business grad Luke Laird.

McConnell co-wrote “The Daughters,” “Wine, Beer, Whiskey” and “Problem Child” on best country album nominee Little Big Town’s “Nightfall.” 2018 best country song winner Laird co-wrote “The Past is the Past” with Clark on her nominated album.

Songwriters aren’t listed in album nominations, under Grammy rules — but of course they still get the boost in royalties from Grammy-fueled purchases, streams and airplay.

MTSU alumni, former or current students, and faculty from across the university have been a part of nearly 125 Grammy Award nominations in the last two decades. Since 2001, 13 have won a total of 35 Grammys, including eight repeat recipients, in categories from classical to pop to country to gospel.

MTSU music business alumna Laura Rogers, left, and Lydia Slagle, who perform as The Secret Sisters, are nominated in two categories at the 63rd annual Grammy Awards, set to air Sunday, Jan. 31, on CBS. (photo courtesy of the Secret Sisters/Alysse Gafkjen)

MTSU music business alumna Laura Rogers, left, and Lydia Slagle, who perform as The Secret Sisters, are nominated in two categories at the 63rd annual Grammy Awards, set to air Sunday, March 14, on CBS. (photo courtesy of the Secret Sisters/Alysse Gafkjen)

Last April, MTSU’s Department of Recording Industry made Billboard’s annual list of America’s top music business schools for the seventh year, once again joining its counterparts across the country as top producers of ready-to-work music industry pros.

For more information about the Department of Recording Industry in MTSU’s College of Media and Entertainment, visit For more on the School of Music in the College of Liberal Arts, visit

More details about the upcoming Grammy Awards ceremony, which also will be streaming live and on demand on Paramount+, are available at A complete list of this year’s nominees is available here.

— Gina E. Fann (