Classical Music

5 Things To Know About the 2022 Grammy Awards

The 2022 Grammy Award nominees will soon be announced. A handful of Houston groups are hoping to join other local musicians who have won the award.
The 2022 Grammy Award nominees will soon be announced. A handful of Houston groups are hoping to join other local musicians who have won the award. Photo by Anthony Rathbun
The Recording Academy will reveal the nominations for the 2022 Grammy Awards on Tuesday at 11 a.m. CST. The nomination's livestream event will begin live from the GRAMMY Museum in Los Angeles. Immediately following the nominations livestream, a full nominations list will be made available on GRAMMY.com.

With the plethora of musical talent embedded right here in the city, Houston Press was curious to hear from previous Grammy Award winners as well as groups submitting for their first award about what goes into an award submission as well as the thrill of victory.

Without skipping a beat, Apollo Chamber Players’ artistic director Matthew Detrick, Houston Chamber Choir’s founder Bob Simpson and Houston Symphony’s Senior Recording Engineer Brad Sayles stepped up to offer thoughts on their experiences.

For clarification, there are several stops along the way. Entries pour in from across the globe and are whittled down to a paltry list of, say, 200 nominations per category. Members of the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences may nominate recordings for consideration as well. The five recordings that earn the most votes in each category (there were 84 categories last year) become the nominees. And just like an episode of Highlander, there can be only be one winner in each category – which will be announced at the end of January. But first…Tuesday’s nominations.


Why decide to enter for a Grammy Award?
Other than the obvious acclaim, musicians have various reasons about what they feel their strongest work is and when the time is right to seek the industry’s highest award. Apollo Chamber Players recently released With Malice Toward None, which peaked at the No. 1 spot on Amazon. The group is hoping to clench the win, or at least make their way into the top five nominees.

“We’re on the hunt this year. We’re closer than we’ve ever been. This is our fifth studio album, and it reflects our best work. It’s very eclectic and reflects the times in which we live, especially with the album’s title. It’s inspired by President Abraham Lincoln’s second inaugural address when he was trying to heal a divided nation after the Civil War. The album is dedicated to John Lewis. We have Armenian music that we stitched together during COVID-19. It reflects what Apollo Chamber Players is all about,” Detrick said.

“Earning the the No. 1 spot on the Amazon charts gave me a little more confidence to say we have something that is resonating with people. Maybe we can go all the way with this one,” he said.
click to enlarge The four-person string quartet Apollo Chamber Players has big plans for its 14th season, including the opening concert, With Malice Toward None and its album of the same title. - PHOTO BY KATY CARTLAND
The four-person string quartet Apollo Chamber Players has big plans for its 14th season, including the opening concert, With Malice Toward None and its album of the same title.
Photo by Katy Cartland
What does it feel like in the moment when you hear your name called?
Simpson recalls the moment Houston Chamber Choir won and the utter shock at the announcement.

“They listed the five groups with conductor first [and then the album name second], so it was ‘Robert Simpson, Duruflé: Complete Choral Works.’ Then they opened the envelope and announced ‘The Complete Choral Works of Maurice Duruflé, Robert Simpson conductor.’ I was listening for my name, so I didn’t move a muscle because I didn’t hear ‘Robert Simpson.’ In my state of anxiety, I sat there until my wife screamed and exclaimed that we had won. Everyone in the row jumped up to congratulated us. In an out of body experience, I stood up and walked to the stage to thank the Academy,” he said.


“Then I was escorted backstage, and at that point on, there’s a stage with reporters and photographers and people who interview you. It’s a public relations gauntlet that takes about 15 to 20 minutes. There are reporters from around the country and world who ask you what it feels like and why you picked this project. Then, afterward, my wife and friends were there, and it all started to set in. We do in fact have a Grammy,” he followed.

The moment was rather charming. While Simpson and company were attending the awards ceremony, the Houston Chamber Choir was busy in Houston performing its annual Hear The Future concert. The choir was about to perform when word got out about the new hardware.

The singer in the middle sums it up.
Does anything change after a Grammy win?
After Duruflé was announced as the winner in the Best Choral Performance category in 2020, Simpson says that it changed the organization, but at the same time, it changed nothing. Houston Chamber Choir’s end goal has been and always will be to produce the best in choral music.

“We’ve gotten interview requests from across the country and world. It changes your profile. It changes how people see you and what they expect of you. It also puts a burden on you to make sure that you continue to deliver. The lasting impact on me has been to make me feel even more determined that anything Houston Chamber Choir does is going to represent the finest in choral music we can provide. If another Grammy nomination comes our way, that’s great. And if it does, it will be a byproduct of our initial concern of doing our art as best as we can,” he said.

For Sayles, whose recording of Alban Berg’s Wozzeck earned the Best Opera Recording prize in 2018, he says that it gave the century-old organization a title it never previously held.

“Just the fact Houston Symphony could say it is a Grammy Award-winning orchestra. The country’s top orchestras in New York, Chicago, San Francisco and Los Angeles are all Grammy Award-winning orchestras. It was the one thing that Houston Symphony was missing in that group. I’ve taken a certain amount of pride that we championed and brought home the Houston Symphony’s first Grammy. I think that helps check another box off that makes them more competitive with the other top orchestras in the country.”

Advice for new entrants?
The entry process is different for everyone, but Sayles suggests doing research and doing it yearly.

“You’ve got to first know what your landscape is. Every organization is submitting what they consider to be their best work, and you have to know who your competition is and what they’re submitting. You have to follow them every year,” he said.

As an educator, he made his students follow this same practice.

“When I taught audio production, I would bring in the nominee lists to the classroom, I’d bring their albums, and we’d analyze them. I’d ask, ‘Why did this album make it and this other album didn’t make it?’,” he added. “If it doesn’t sound good sonically, people will pass it up. Get a great production team to work on the album. If a group sounds great but doesn’t get captured equally as great, it will not pass the test. People will bypass it.”

He also recommends having a product that offers a through line.

“Have interesting programming and programming that says what you want it to say. Stand by it and champion that message throughout. More and more people are releasing albums that have a great thread or a great movement that makes it stand above the rest,” he said.

What else?
Did you know that the Grammy Award given on stage is only a prop and more than one is given?

Simpson recalled “When you find out the Grammy Award you were just given is a prop, you ask, ‘When do I get my Grammy?’ That comes a little later. Maybe about five to six weeks later because it has to be engraved. Houston Chamber choir received two: one for the conductor and one for the ensemble. Even though the single album won, we have two statues.”
Grammy Nominations will be announced Tuesday at 11 a.m. CST on live.grammy.com. Immediately following the nomination's livestream, a full nominations list will be made available on GRAMMY.com. Music's Biggest Night, which returns to Los Angeles' STAPLES Center, takes place Monday, January 31, 2022. It will broadcast live on the CBS Television Network and stream live and on demand on Paramount+ at 7 - 10:30 p.m. CST.
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Sam Byrd is a freelance contributor to the Houston Press who loves to take in all of Houston’s sights, sounds, food and fun. He also loves helping others to discover Houston’s rich culture.
Contact: Sam Byrd