Two CAM Faculty Recognized by the 2024 Grammy NominationsCAM Communications | The College of Arts & Media Dec 14, 2023
The Grammys are the music industry’s highest recognition for artistic excellence. The growing list of awards recognize excellence across nearly ever genre of music and the array of contributions professionals make in the industry. CU Denver’s College of Arts & Media (CAM) and Music & Entertainment Industry Studies, a department home to academic programs that prepare students to thrive in the complex music field, proudly boasts two faculty in 2024 Grammy race: Senior Instructor Greg Garrison and Associate Dean Mark Rabideau.
Nominated for Best Bluegrass Album: “Mighty Poplar,” Mighty Poplar (Andrew Marlin, Noam Pikelny, Greg Garrison, Chris Eldridge, Alex Hargreaves)
Garrison, well-known as bassist for Colorado Music Hall of Fame inductee Leftover Salmon, is a stalwart member of the Bluegrass and Americana music communities, having performed with some of the genre’s most familiar acts, including Punch Brothers, Lyle Lovett, Sam Bush, and Del McCoury.
His most recent project, Mighty Poplar, recorded by his band of the same name, has been nominated for the Grammy Best Bluegrass Album of the Year. Dubbed a “bluegrass supergroup,” Garrison and Mighty Poplar have been hosted by NPR’s World Café, received outstanding reviews from bluegrass and roots music outlets, and crossed the US touring. Garrison is no stranger to the big stage, having headlined major US festivals such as Telluride Bluegrass and storied venues such as Red Rocks and the Ryman Auditorium.
At CU Denver, Garrison teaches bass and leads the Bluegrass Ensemble, a popular group that performs on campus every fall and spring. He is known for helping his students navigate the introduction into the professional music industry. This is Garrison’s third Grammy nomination.
Nominated for Best Contemporary Classical Composition: “Rounds,” Jessie Montgomery, composer (Awadagin Pratt, A Far Cry and Roomful of Teeth) produced by Mark Rabideau
Rabideau produced STILLPOINT, an album featuring pianist Awadagin Pratt, two-time Grammy-winning vocal ensemble Roomful of Teeth, and twice-nominated string orchestra A Far Cry. The album boasts of six newly commissioned works by some of the most celebrated composers of our time, each inspired by five-lines from T.S. Eliot’s “The Four Quartets”. The first track, Rounds, penned by composer-in-residence with the Chicago Symphony, Jessie Montgomery, has been nominated for Best Contemporary Classical Composition. Pratt, who is longtime friend to Rabideau, visited CU Denver as for a performance in 2021.
A big night for the nominees, CU Denver, and Music & Entertainment Industry Studies
As a way of inviting our CU Denver community to the Grammys (if even vicariously), CAM has asked Greg and Mark what it takes to produce Grammy-worthy music, how those lessons can be shared with our students, and what they will be doing on “music’s biggest night.”
What does it take to produce Grammy-worthy music?
GREG GARRISON: In the case of something like the Bluegrass Album category it takes a respect for the tradition, well curated material, and a genuine love for the music. This all needs to be executed on the highest level by musicians who have dedicated much of their careers to interpreting bluegrass and acoustic music.
MARK RABIDEAU: In 2019, Awadagin and I began a conversation about making a record together. For me, the joy would be to both put to the test my own creative energies and to do the work alongside one of my dearest friends, while inviting into the project some of our heroes. We decided early on to borrow five lines from the first of T.S. Eliot’s poems “Burnt Norton” to offer inspiration to a diverse set of composers. We, too, knew that we wanted to provide them with a rich palette of sounds to work with, in addition to Awadagin’s virtuosic piano playing. Roomful of Teeth’s eight amplified voices and the 18-person conductorless string orchestra opened up a universe of possibilities for imagining a world that did not yet exist. My job also included navigating the logistics of raising a quarter-million dollars, contracting the composers and artists, scheduling rehearsal and studio time, working with a team of engineers to edit, mix, and master the recording, and then getting it out into the world. The prize? More than 30 performances, including with the Chicago, Boston, and Colorado Symphony Orchestras, named to NPR’s “The10 Best Classical Albums of 2023,” a rave review in the New York Times, and now a Grammy-nomination has been all we hoped for.
How can these lessons be shared with our students?
GREG GARRISON: Personally, I try to share my performance and recording experiences with students in all of my classes through open dialogue about what I'm up to in my time outside of the classroom; who I'm working with, the kinds of shows I'm playing, the impact anything I'm involves might be having in the industry, etc.
MARK RABIDEAU: This semester, I had the great joy of learning alongside 35 students from across every major on campus in a course entitled Fostering Creativity. The class provides frameworks to better understand creative processes and then challenges students to identify needs, gaps, and opportunities within their own communities and to ideate creative solutions. Problems ranged from seeking opportunities to reduce Colorado’s recidivism rates among the incarcerated to restructuring restrictive parking pricing so that students can more easily balance school-life-work responsibilities. To be able to model creative outcomes for students in my own work allowed them to see that they too are empowered to leverage the limitless applications of their own creativity across life’s challenges and opportunities. And I’ve never been more impressed than witnessing what our students are capable of doing in the classroom and beyond.
What are your plans for "music's biggest night"?
Greg is working on his calendar and hoping to attend.
MARK RABIDEAU: I will be accompanying my gorgeous wife, Laura Rabideau on the red carpet, cheering on Rounds to win the gramophone, and feeling grateful that I am in the business of imagining something beautiful that does not yet exist and then doing the work to bring it to life.
The 66th annual Grammy Awards will take place on Sunday, February 4, 2024 at Crypto.com Arena in Los Angeles, and will air live on CBS and Paramount+ at 6:00 p.m. MT.