Berklee Alumni and Faculty Nominated for Grammy Awards

By 
Eugene Ahn
November 20, 2019
Press release
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28 Berklee alumni and two faculty members were nominated for Grammys across 17 categories.

David "Swagg R'Celious" Harris, an assistant professor in the Songwriting Department, is nominated for three Grammys.
2018 Berklee honorary doctorate recipient Esperanza Spalding received two Grammy nominations.
Image courtesy of David Arcelious Harris
Dave Green

The nominees for the 62nd annual Grammy Awards were announced on Wednesday, November 20, and Berklee alumni and faculty will once again be a major presence at the awards show on Sunday, January 26, 2020. The National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences (NARAS) nominated 28 alumni and two faculty members across 17 categories.

For the second year in a row, David “Swagg R’Celious” Harris, an assistant professor in the Songwriting Department, received a nomination in the Album of the Year category. Harris worked as a songwriter and producer on H.E.R.’s album I Used to Know Her. Harris and Berklee alumna Ruby Amanfu ‘98 both received nominations in the Song of the Year category for their work on H.E.R.’s “Hard Place,” and Harris is nominated in the Best R&B Song category for his work on H.E.R.’s “Could’ve Been.” Harris previously received a Grammy for Album of the Year for his work on H.E.R.’s eponymous album in 2018.

Jazz musician, producer, and vocalist Esperanza Spalding B.M. ‘05 is nominated for awards in two categories, Best Jazz Vocal Album and Best Arrangement, Instruments and Vocals, for her seventh studio album 12 Little Spells. The nominations mark the sixth and seventh Grammy nominations for Spalding’s music career. She previously won four Grammy awards, including Best New Artist, in 2011, making her the first jazz artist in history to win that award. Joining Spalding in the category of Best Arrangement, Instruments and Vocals is alumnus and two-time Grammy nominee Geoff Keezer B.M. ‘89, for his arrangement of Sara Gazarek’s “Jolene.” 

Berklee alumni comprise a majority of the Best Improvised Jazz Solo category: Melissa Aldana B.M. ‘09 for “Elsewhere,” Julian Lage B.M. ‘08 for “Tomorrow Is the Question,” and Branford Marsalis ‘80 for “The Windup.” Marsalis also received a nomination for Best Jazz Instrumental Album for The Secret Between the Shadow and the Soul.

Berklee alumni are also well represented in the category of Best Score Soundtrack for Visual Media. Composer and Berklee alumnus Alan Silvestri ‘70 is nominated for Avengers: Endgame, and Ramin Djawadi B.M. ‘98, composer, is nominated for Game of Thrones: Season 8

Chris Galland B.M. ‘07 is nominated for Record of the Year for his work on Lizzo’s smash hit “Truth Hurts,” and Josh Deguzman B.M. ‘15 is nominated for his engineering work on Khalid’s “Talk.” Jeff “Gitty” Gitelman B.M. ‘03 received a nomination for Album of the Year for his work on H.E.R.’s I Used to Know Her. Alumnus Christian Scott aTunde Adjuah B.M. ‘04 is nominated for Best Contemporary Instrumental Album for his album Ancestral Recall. In the Best Latin Jazz Album category, Grammy winner John Patitucci, Berklee visiting scholar in performance studies, and alumnus Chico Pinheiro B.M. '82 received nominations for Sorte!: Music by John Finbury; and alumnus Miguel Zenón B.M. ‘98 received a nomination for Sonero: The Music of Ismael Rivera. The indie rock band Big Thief, which includes Berklee alumni Adrianne Lenker B.M. ‘12, Buck Meek B.M. ‘10, and James Krivchenia B.M. ‘14, and their producer Andrew Sarlo '11 received a nomination for Best Alternative Music Album for their record U.F.O.F. Berklee alumna Courtney Powers B.M. '07, music director at South Philadelphia High School, was also named one of the 25 semi-finalists for the 2020 Grammy Music Educator Award.

The 62nd annual Grammy Awards will be held at the Staples Center in Los Angeles, California, on Sunday, January 26, 2020, and will be broadcast on CBS at 8:00 p.m. EST.  

Below is a full list of Berklee alumni and faculty Grammy Award nominees. Please note the list is subject to change as we receive updated information. 

Category 1: Record of the Year

“Talk” (Khalid) - Josh DeGuzman B.M. ‘15, engineer/mixer

 “Truth Hurts” (Lizzo) - Chris Galland B.M. ‘07, engineer/mixer

Category 2: Album of the Year

I Used to Know Her (H.E.R.) - David “Swagg R’Celious” Harris, assistant professor, Songwriting Department, producer/songwriter

I Used to Know Her (H.E.R.) - Jeff “Gitty” Gitelman B.M. ‘03, songwriter

Category 3: Song of the Year

“Hard Place” (H.E.R.) - Ruby Amanfu ‘98, songwriter

“Hard Place” (H.E.R.) - David “Swagg R’Celious” Harris, songwriter

Category 11: Best Contemporary Instrumental Album

Ancestral Recall - Christian Scott aTunde Adjuah B.M. ‘04

Elevate (Lettuce) - Erick Coomes B.M. ‘99; Adam Deitch B.M. ‘98; Adam Smirnoff B.M. ‘99

Category 13: Best Metal Performance

“Unleashed” (Killswitch Engage) - Adam Dutkiewicz B.M. ‘99

Category 16: Best Alternative Music Album

U.F.O.F. (Big Thief) - Adrianne Lenker B.M. ‘12; Buck Meek B.M. ‘10; James Krivchenia B.M. ‘14, Andrew Sarlo '11

Category 19: Best R&B Song

“Could’ve Been” (H.E.R. featuring Bryson Tiller) - David “Swagg R’Celious” Harris, songwriter

Category 31: Best Improvised Jazz Solo

“Elsewhere” - Melissa Aldana B.M. ‘09, soloist

“Tomorrow is the Question” - Julian Lage B.M. ‘08, soloist

“The Windup” - Branford Marsalis ‘80, soloist

Category 32: Best Jazz Vocal Album

12 Little Spells - Esperanza Spalding B.M. ‘05

Screenplay (The Tierney Sutton Band) - Tierney Sutton B.M. ‘87

Category 33: Best Jazz Instrumental Album

The Secret Between the Shadow and the Soul (Branford Marsalis Quartet) - Branford Marsalis ‘80

Category 34: Best Large Jazz Ensemble Album

Triple Helix (Anat Cohen Tentet) - Anat Cohen B.M. ‘98

Category 35: Best Latin Jazz Album

Sorte!: Music by John Finbury - John Patitucci, visiting scholar in performance studies, bassist

Sorte!: Music by John Finbury - Chico Pinheiro B.M. '82, guitarist

Sonero: The Music of Ismael Rivera - Miguel Zenón B.M. ‘98

Category 44: Best Tropical Latin Album 

Literal - Juan Luis Guerra B.M. ‘82

Category 52: Best Regional Roots Album

Good Time (Ranky Tanky) - Charlton Singleton B.M. '89, trumpet/vocalist

Category 60: Best Score Soundtrack for Visual Media

Avengers: Endgame - Alan Silvestri ‘70, composer

Game of Thrones: Season 8 - Ramin Djawadi B.M. ‘98, composer

Category 64: Best Arrangement, Instruments and Vocals

“12 Little Spells (Thoracic Spine)” - Esperanza Spalding B.M. ‘05, arranger

“Jolene” (Sara Gazarek) - Geoff Keezer B.M. ‘89, arranger

Category 77: Best Choral Performance

The Hope of Loving - Craig Hella Johnson (Berklee Online), conductor

Related categories: