Berklee Alumni Receive Slew of 2017 Grammy Award Nominations

By 
Tori Donahue
December 7, 2016
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Sierra Hull '11, 2017 Grammy nominee
John Scofield '73, 2017 Grammy nominee
Lalah Hathaway '94, 2017 Grammy nominee
Stephen Oremus '92, 2017 Grammy nominee
2017 Grammy nominee KING, featuring Anita Bias ’07 and Paris Strother ’08
2017 Grammy nominee Craig Hella Johnson, a Berklee Online student
Sierra Hull '11 received her first Grammy nomination for her acclaimed album "Weighted Mind," one of many nominations 2017 Grammy nominations received by Berklee alumni.
John Scofield ’73 received Grammy nominations in the Best Instrumental Jazz Album and Best Improvised Jazz Solo categories.
Lalah Hathaway '94 earned nominations in the Best Traditional R&B Performance and Best R&B Album categories, the latter for "Lalah Hathaway Live."
After previously winning a Tony Award for his orchestrations on "Kinky Boots," producer Stephen Oremus '92 is now nominated for a Best Musical Theater Album Grammy.
KING, which includes alumnae Paris Strother '08 and Anita Bias '07, are up for a Grammy in the Best Urban Contemporary Album category.
Craig Hella Johnson, a composer and Berklee Online student, received a nomination for Best Surround Sound Album with the group Conspirare for "Considering Matthew Shepard."
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Dave Green
Kelly Davidson
Tea for Two Photography
Album cover courtesy of the artist
James Goulden

Berklee alumni could take home as many as 31 Grammy Awards at the 59th annual ceremony on Sunday, February 12, 2017. The Recording Academy nominated 29 alumni as well as two composers who have studied with Berklee Online for a total of 33 awards. For the sixth year in a row, Berklee alumni are nominated in  Album of the Year category. This nomination provides recognition for their work on a variety of chart-toppers, including Beyoncé's Lemonade (engineer/mixer Tony Maserati '86 worked on the album), Justin Bieber's Purpose (Johannes Raassina '03 worked as an engineer and mixer), and Sturgill Simpson's A Sailor's Guide to Earth (Gavin Lurssen '91 served as mastering engineer). Berklee Five-Week Summer Performance Program graduate Greg Kurstin, who worked on Adele's 25 album and its hit song "Hello" (which Kurstin produced, co-wrote, and engineered) is nominated for Record of the Year, Song of the Year, Album of the Year and Producer of the Year Grammys.

Lalah Hathaway '94 received two nominations. One came in the Best Traditional R&B Performance category for her song "Angel," and another came in the Best R&B Album category for Lalah Hathaway Live. Paris Strother '08 and Anita Bias '07, vocalists serving as two-thirds of the group KING, received a Best Urban Contemporary Album nomination for We Are KING. Several Berklee alumni will be competing for Best Contemporary Instrumental Album: Chuck Loeb '76, Bill Frisell '77, and Snarky Puppy's Bob Reynolds '00, Keita Ogawa '07, and Marcelo Woloski '07. John Scofield '73 received nominations for Best Improvised Jazz Solo with "I'm So Lonesome I Could Cry," and Best Jazz Instrumental Album with Country for Old Men. 

Several Berklee alumni contributed to a number of nominated performances, tracks, and albums this year. Jeff Bhasker '99 cowrote Rihanna's "Kiss It Better," a nominee for Best R&B Song, while Andrew Dawson '01 contributed to Best Rap Song nominee "Famous" by Kanye West. Two alumni were recognized for their work on two different Best Musical Theater Album nominees: producer and composer/lyricist Stephen Bray '78 for The Color Purple, and producer Stephen Oremus '92 for Kinky Boots; both Bray and Oremus have previously received a Tony Award for their work on these respective musicals. Craig Hella Johnson, a composer and Berklee Online student, received a nomination for Best Surround Sound Album with the group Conspirare for Considering Matthew Shepard, which will be performed at Berklee on Sunday, February 5 as part of the college's Signature Series.

A number of alumni engineered and/or mixed nominated works. Aya Merrill '94 is being recognized for her engineering work with Ariana Grande for the singer's Best Pop Vocal Album nominee Dangerous Woman and a corresponding Best Pop Solo Performance nomination for the album's title track. Aaron R. Sterling '99 contributed to Maren Morris' Best Country Album nominee Hero as an engineer, producer, programmer, and composer. Rob M. Macomber '91 mixed and engineered René Marie's Sound of Red, which received a nomination for Best Jazz Vocal Album.

The 59th annual Grammy Awards will be held at the Staples Center in Los Angeles on Sunday, February 12, and will be broadcast on CBS at 8:00 p.m. EST.

Below is a full list of Berklee alumni Grammy Award nominees.

Category 2 – Album of the Year

Lemonade (Beyoncé) – Tony Maserati '86, engineer/mixer

Purpose (Justin Bieber) – Johannes Raassina '03, engineer/mixer

A Sailor’s Guide to Earth (Sturgill Simpson) – Gavin Lurssen '91, mastering engineer


Category 9 – Best Dance Recording

"Tearing Me Up" (Bob Moses) – Tom Howie '09, vocalist and member of Bob Moses


Category 11 – Best Contemporary Instrumental Album

When You Wish Upon a Star (Bill Frisell) – Bill Frisell '77

Unspoken (Chuck Loeb) – Chuck Loeb '76

Culcha Vulcha (Snarky Puppy) – Bob Reynolds '00, tenor saxophonist; Keita Ogawa '07 and Marcelo Woloski '07, percussionists


Category 18 – Best Traditional R&B Performance

"Angel" (Lalah Hathaway) – Lalah Hathaway '94


Category 19 – Best R&B Song

"Kiss It Better" (Rihanna) – Jeff Bhasker '99, songwriter


Category 20 – Best Urban Contemporary Album

We Are KING (KING) – Paris Strother '08 and Anita Bias '07, vocalists and members of KING


Category 21 – Best R&B Album

Lalah Hathaway Live (Lalah Hathaway) – Lalah Hathaway '94


Category 24 – Best Rap Song

“Famous” (Kanye West) – Andrew Dawson '01, songwriter

"No Problem" (Chance the Rapper featuring Lil Wayne and 2 Chainz) – Jonathan Hoard '11 and Jaime Woods '12, songwriters 


Category 31 – Best Improvised Jazz Solo

"I'm So Lonesome I Could Cry" (John Scofield) – John Scofield '73, soloist


Category 32 – Best Jazz Vocal Album

Upward Spiral (Branford Marsalis Quartet with special guest Kurt Elling) – Branford Marsalis ’80 and quartet member Jeff "Tain" Watts '81

The Sting Variations (The Tierney Sutton Band) – Tierney Sutton '87 and band member Christian Jacob '86


Category 33 – Best Jazz Instrumental Album

Country For Old Men (John Scofield) – John Scofield '73


Category 51 – Best Folk Album

Weighted Mind (Sierra Hull) – Sierra Hull '11


Category 58 – Best Musical Theater Album

The Color Purple – Stephen Bray '78, producer and composer/lyricist

Kinky Boots – Stephen Oremus '92, producer


Category 63 – Best Arrangement, Instrumental or A Cappella

"Linus & Lucy" (The Phil Norman Tentet) – Christian Jacob '86, arranger


Category 64 – Best Arrangement, Instruments and Vocals

"I'm a Fool To Want You" (Kristin Chenoweth) – Alan Broadbent '69, arranger


Category 68 – Best Historical Album

The Cutting Edge 1965-1966: The Bootleg Series, Vol.12 (Collector's Edition) (Bob Dylan) – Steve Berkowitz '78, producer

Music of Morocco From the Library of Congress: Recorded By Paul Bowles, 1959 (Various Artists) – Michael Graves '81, mastering engineer


Category 72 – Best Surround Sound Album

Considering Matthew Shepard (Craig Hella Johnson and Conspirare) – Craig Hella Johnson (Berklee Online), composer  


Category 81 – Best Classical Compendium

Wolfgang: Passing Through (Various Artists) – Gernot Wolfgang '89, producer 


Category 82 – Best Contemporary Classical Composition

Winger: Conversations With Nijinsky (Martin West and San Francisco Ballet Orchestra) – C.F. Kip Winger (Berklee Online), composer