Grammy Grabbers

Brenda Pike
June 15, 1999
Gary Burton and Chick Corea perform during the 1997 Commencement Concert.
Photo by Bob Kramer

Reflecting the musical diversity that has become a Berklee trademark, four alumni won awards in three musical genres at this year's Grammy celebration. One of the evening's big surprises was the success of Dixie Chicks, featuring 1995 alumna Natalie Maines. The group won Grammys for top Country Album, Wide Open Spaces, and for the best Country Performance by a Duo or Group, for "There's Your Trouble."

Rock veterans Aerosmith, home to drummer Joey Kramer '70 and guitarist Brad Whitford '71, earned their fourth Grammy, this time for best Rock Performance by a Duo or Group. The award recognized the group's performance on the instant classic "Pink," from Nine Lives. Kramer, Whitford, and the rest of the group also performed during the Grammy telecast.

Representing Berklee in the jazz sphere was the college's executive vice president and vibraphonist Gary Burton '62. He won his fourth Grammy, in the Jazz Instrumental Solo category, for the virtuosity he and ChickCorea displayed on "Rhumbata," from last year's duo recording Native Sense. It was Burton's first Grammy Award since 1981, when he and Corea won for Best Jazz Instrumental Performance on another duet recording, In Concert.

"This one was especially nice because it's been 18 years since my last win," Burton said. "'Rhumbata' was one of Chick's signature tour-de- force compositions that featured us both with flying mallets and rippling fingers."

Burton, who likely has collected more Grammys than any other college administrator in the country, won his first Grammy in 1972 for his solo outing Alone at Last, and his second for another collaboration with Corea, Duets, in 1979.

Maines had accepted a vocal scholarship to Berklee in 1995, but was asked to join Dixie Chicks shortly after enrolling at the college. She became the group's lead singer and put her mark on the award-winning record, which features a set of songs incorporating elements of country, pop, and bluegrass music. Wide Open Spaces has sold over 4 million copies.

Several other Berklee alumni received Grammy nominations this year, including Joe Zawinul '59 for Best Contemporary Instrumental Jazz Performance; Danilo Perez '88 for Best Latin Jazz Performance; Rob Mounsey '75 for Best Instrumental Arrangement Accompanying Vocal(s); Terri Lyne Carrington '83 who had a hand in Grammy-nominated records by Herbie Hancock and Dianne Reeves; and Robb Vallier '93, who coproduced Wailing Souls, nominated in the Best Reggae Album category.

Many Berklee alumni instrumentalists have contributed to nominated projects, including Norman Ellis Hurt '81, keyboardist on Erykah Badu's "Tyrone" track from Live, which was nominated for Best Female R&B Vocal Performance; and drummer John Roberts '92, who plays on Janet Jackson's "I Get Lonely" from Velvet Rope. South African singer/actress Tsidii LeLoka '97 performed the Tony Award-nominated role of the wise baboon shaman Rafiki in the original Broadway cast of The Lion King, which is nominated for a Grammy for Best Musical Show Album.