At least nine Middle Tennessee State University alumni will be dancing back to the 64th annual Grammy Awards, once the industry’s biggest honors are rescheduled, in categories ranging to country to pop to Latin music to bluegrass to gospel.
The Recording Academy announced its 2020-21 nominations in November. Shortly before 10 a.m. Central Jan. 5, the organization announced that its planned Monday, Jan. 31, ceremony in Los Angeles had been postponed indefinitely because of the pandemic.
The 2021 ceremony, celebrating the 63rd annual Grammys, also was pushed back because of the pandemic, ultimately airing in March instead of its originally scheduled January date.
When the 64th annual Grammys are held, MTSU’s nominees for music released between Sept. 1, 2020, and Sept. 30, 2021, will include:
• 2015 Master of Fine Arts in Recording Arts and Technologies Program alumna Maria Elisa Ayerbe, fresh off a 2021 Latin Grammys quadruple nomination for her producing, engineering and songwriting on fellow Colombian Paula Arenas’ “Mis Amores” album.
Ayerbe is included in this year’s best Latin pop album Grammy category for engineering Arenas’ project.
• Multi-Grammy winner Tony Castle, a 1995 Department of Recording Industry graduate who’s ridden into the winner’s circle twice before for engineering icon Willie Nelson’s projects. He’s back among the best traditional pop vocal album nominees this time with “That’s Life,” Nelson’s second tribute collection of Frank Sinatra’s music.
Castle’s also a nominee for the top traditional blues album for engineering Blues Traveler’s latest release, “Traveler’s Blues.”
• Billy Hickey, a 2006 recording industry production and technology alumnus who was nominated for three Grammys for his work on Ariana Grande’s 2019 release, “thank u, next.” He returns to the list of best pop vocal album Grammy nominees this year for Grande’s “Positions.”
• 1994 recording industry graduate F. Reid Shippen, who brought home his fifth career Grammy for engineering Gloria Gaynor’s 2019 best roots gospel album.
The current and now two-time Academy of Country Music Audio Engineer of the Year will return to the Grammy nominees’ circle this time with country standout Mickey Guyton, whose 2021 release, “Remember Her Name,” is nominated for best country album.
• The current best country album Grammy winners for their work on Miranda Lambert’s “Wildcard,” 2000 recording industry alumnus Jason A. Hall and 2014 audio production grad Jimmy Mansfield.
They’re in the same category again this year as nominees for engineering the Brothers Osborne’s “Skeletons.”
• 2000 School of Music alumnus Wayne Haun, a producer/songwriter, multi-award winner and repeat Grammy nominee who often has multiple projects competing in the same award categories.
He’s in this year’s best roots gospel album category again with his longtime collaborators Ernie Haase & Signature Sound and their newest album, “Keeping On.”
• And 2003 graduates Ceylon Wise and Ashley Brooks Wise, who created an educational YouTube channel with their young sons and are part of the best children’s music album-nominated compilation, “All One Tribe.” The project features 24 family music artists, known collectively as “1 Tribe Collective,” who aim to educate, encourage and inspire Black children.
Ceylon Wise earned his degree in audio production, and Ashley Wise’s degree from the School of Music is in music performance. Their album song “For All” is a mini-American history lesson.
Ceylon Wise also is credited on the album’s first song, “One Tribe,” as a songwriter, producer and multi-instrumentalist.
MTSU Audio Production Program grads and expert producers like Haun serve as the “ears” of a project, tasked with the hands-on duties of recording live music and audio to ensure everything and everyone sounds perfect.
Like Ashley Wise, Haun also is a performer and recording artist, though his MTSU degree is in instrumental music education.
The Department of Recording Industry at MTSU, part of the university’s College of Media and Entertainment, also guides song creators and performers in its Commercial Songwriting Program and music entrepreneurs, including managers and publishers, in its Music Business Program.
NBC News in 2019 began calling MTSU a “Grammy-winner factory” in the wake of its alumni, students’ and staffers’ multiple nominations and wins.
MTSU alumni, former or current students, and faculty from across the university have been a part of more than 125 Grammy Award nominations in the last two decades.
After the 2021 ceremony last March, the number of MTSU-connected Grammy winners since 2001 has risen to 15 with a total of 37 Grammys, including nine repeat recipients, in categories from classical to pop to rock to country to gospel.
The Department of Recording Industry opened its newly revamped and relocated Studios D and E this semester to expand the opportunities for MTSU students to learn their craft in nearly 5,000 square feet of customized, expandable, “world-class” space, complete with control rooms, equipment rooms and an open gathering/reception area.
The nearly $2 million facilities, located at 1408 E. Main alongside MTSU’s primary entrance with its striking obelisk, have been dubbed “Main Street Studios.” A formal ribbon-cutting ceremony was held Dec. 3.
The department’s new Commercial Songwriting Center, located five blocks east of campus in the Miller Education Center at 508 E. Bell St., is set to open next semester.
For more information about the Department of Recording Industry at MTSU, visit https://mtsu.edu/recording-industry. For more on the School of Music in the College of Liberal Arts, visit https://mtsu.edu/music.
More details about the 64th annual Grammy Awards are available at https://Grammy.com.
— Gina E. Fann (firstname.lastname@example.org)