North Texas Daily

From the Mean Green to the Grammy Awards

From the Mean Green to the Grammy Awards

From the Mean Green to the Grammy Awards
April 21
15:00 2022

A handful of alumni, a faculty member and a current student were named affiliated winners on several pieces of music at the 2022 Grammy Awards show as collaborating singers or orchestral members, according to a university press release.

More than a dozen university members were nominated or had been key players in various nominated works spanning several genres. Of the multiple nominated pieces and their performers, five university members were listed as collaborators on winning pieces.

Rosana Eckert, class of 1999 alumna and principal lecturer in the Division of Jazz Studies, and her husband, also a university graduate, were both sitting in the front rows of the awards show when the song they sang on, “Eberhard,” won Best Instrumental Composition.

The piece was the last creation from Lyle Mays, another university graduate, before he passed away in 2020. Mays’ niece, New York City jazz vocalist Aubrey Johnson, who sang on the album with the Eckerts, accepted the Grammy on his behalf.

“When that name got mentioned and Aubrey ran up to the stage, we were just smiling ear to ear,” Eckert said. “Both my husband and I just got tears in our eyes.”

Working on “Eberhard” as one of its singers with Mays was rewarding for several reasons, Eckert said. One was a return to releasing music for Mays after he was out of the business for 10 years.

“People were not expecting new music from Lyle Mays,” Eckert said. “To get a new piece that was released, after his passing, it just seems like such a beautiful gift.”

Partly because of the memories and partly because of the music itself, it is hard for Eckert to listen to the piece without crying. Going to the awards and getting Mays a posthumous win was an honor all in itself, said Eckert.

“We were just thinking of Lyle and missing [him] and so grateful that people found this piece to be as moving as we found it,” Eckert said.

Daniel Foose, a 2005 and 2007 alumnus, was another university affiliate featured on a Grammy-winning album. Foose collaborated with Tony Bennett and Lady Gaga on the album “Love for Sale,” playing the double bass and arranging.

Foose had worked with Lady Gaga and Bennett on award-winning albums before, playing on the 2020 film “A Star is Born” soundtrack and the 2017 “Tony Celebrates 90” album. In total, he has worked with Lady Gaga for years playing the double bass at her jazz shows in Las Vegas, said Foose.

“We’ve been working with these same bands and same crew for about six years now,” Foose said. “It feels like a family and that was that was really good to have in the midst of all the excitement and all the award show craziness.”

The biggest excitement came when “Love for Sale” won Best Engineered Non-Classical Album and Best Traditional Pop Vocal Album. Foose was backstage when “Love for Sale” won and celebrated the accomplishment with his bandmates.

“It’s definitely a highlight,” Foose said. “It’s still so fresh that I don’t think it’s really sunk in yet.”

While Foose was backstage when the win was announced, he was onstage earlier with Lady Gaga as she performed two of the album’s songs live.

“I got a call a couple of weeks ago from the music director,” Foose said. “He said, ‘Hey, do you want to go play the Grammys next week?’ And I said, ‘Sure.’”

Foose said besides winning, it was also exciting to show off jazz music on television to millions of viewers, including his mom.

“It was really nice to present jazz on primetime TV,” Foose said. “It’s really special and really fun.”

While Foose and Eckert were at the award show themselves, music education sophomore Sarah Decker only learned she was an affiliated Grammy winner from social media.

“I found out about the news because I follow [Los Angeles] Children’s Chorus on Facebook,” Decker said.

The LACC’s Grammy win was for an LA Philharmonic recording of Mahler’s Symphony No. 8, ‘Symphony of a Thousand,’ a recording Decker was featured on when she was a member of the chorus in high school. University alumnus Charlie Kim was also listed as an affiliate winner from the recording as an old member of LACC.

After seeing the Facebook post announcing the win for Best Choral Performance, Decker reached out to her old choir director to offer her congratulations.

“I like to stay up to date on what they’re doing because I feel like LACC was where I received most of my musical training prior to coming to UNT,” Decker said.

After being a LACC member for more than five years, Decker chose to leave LA to work toward a career as a church choir director at the university after listening to an alumnus speak at a sacred music symposium.

“Being a Grammy affiliate winner is pretty validating, to say the least,” Decker said. “It also just recalls how cool […] an experience that was.”

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Alex Reece

Alex Reece

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