Murfreesboro Post

MTSU-trained Grammy nominees up for writing, singing, engineering awards

Former MTSU student Hillary Scott of Lady A is nominated for a Grammy in the contemporary Christian Music category for her performance with for KING & COUNTRY.File

Former MTSU student Hillary Scott of Lady A is nominated for a Grammy in the contemporary Christian Music category for her performance with for KING & COUNTRY.File

Songwriters, engineers and singers who refined their talents at Middle Tennessee State University are waiting to hear who’ll be holding the golden gramophones when the winners of the 65th annual Grammy Awards are announced this Sunday night.

The nominees’ list includes:

• Music business alumnus Rob Williford, right-hand band man and songwriting partner of reigning two-time CMA Entertainer of the Year Luke Combs, who’s nominated as a co-writer for best country song.

• Grammy-winning Master of Fine Arts in Recording Arts and Technologies alumnus Aaron Raitiere, whose songwriting and singing are integral to Ashley McBryde’s best country album nominee.

• Grammy-winning recording industry grad Brandon Bell, whose mixing work on Brandi Carlile’s “In These Silent Days” earned him multiple nominations, including album of the year and best Americana album, plus record of the year for “You and Me On The Rock.”

• Multi-Grammy winner and recording industry grad Tony Castle, who’s nominated for engineering icon Willie Nelson’s newest country album.

• Multi-Grammy-winning former student Hillary Scott, who’s won her awards as part of the band Lady A and for her solo contemporary Christian music performance work and is back in that category with the sibling duo for KING & COUNTRY.

MTSU has taken a contingent of College of Media and Entertainment students, faculty and administrators to Los Angeles for a weekend of gathering with local alumni and attending backstage and pre-show Grammy events.

Bell, a 2004 graduate, will be honored by the college during a music industry gathering Saturday sponsored by MTSU. Bell, who’s engineered projects for artists ranging from Amythyst Kiah to The Lonely Island to the Zac Brown Band, plus Raitiere’s new album, won the bluegrass album Grammy for mixing “Nobody Knows You,” the Steep Canyon Rangers’ 2012 release.

He also has been twice-nominated for the Grammy for best nonclassical engineered album: “Like Red On A Rose,” Alan Jackson’s 2006 CD, and Sarah Jarosz’s 2011 release “Follow Me Down.”

Under Grammy rules, awards for best album and record of the year go to the winning artist, producers and/or engineers. The song of the year award goes to the songwriter, and performance awards go to the artist.

Bell also was busy at the 64th Grammys. Carlile’s album’s lead single, “Right on Time,” released in 2021, earned three nominations for last year’s ceremonies, including record of the year. Bell also mixed the 2021 best country album nominee “The Marfa Tapes” by Miranda Lambert, Jack Ingram and Jon Randall.

Williford, a 2016 MTSU graduate from Gastonia, N.C., was nominated for song of the year for co-writing Combs’ platinum-selling “Doin’ This.”

2009 alumnus Raitiere won his first Grammy at the 2020 ceremonies for co-writing “I’ll Never Love Again” for “A Star is Born” in the best song for visual media category.

Raitiere also has a song each on this year’s country album nominees by Miranda Lambert and Maren Morris and co-wrote two cuts on McBryde’s Grammy-nominated 2020 second album, “Never Will.” He also recently released his newest album, “Single Wide Dreamer.”

Castle, a 1995 MTSU recording industry production and technology alumnus, has won two Grammys for engineering Nelson’s projects featuring the songs of George Gershwin and Frank Sinatra, respectively.

This nomination is for engineering Nelson’s 72nd studio album, the country release “A Beautiful Time.” Nelson also is nominated in the best roots gospel category for “The Willie Nelson Family,” a collection with his children and sister that Castle didn’t engineer.

Castle was nominated at the Grammys last year for engineering Nelson’s second Sinatra tribute album, “That’s Life,” and for the top traditional blues album for engineering Blues Traveler’s latest release, “Traveler’s Blues.”

Scott’s collaboration with for KING & COUNTRY, “For God is With Us,” is part of the duo’s album “What Are We Waiting For?”

Brothers Joel and Luke Smallbone, who comprise for KING & COUNTRY, have won four Grammys in the best contemporary Christian music album and performance categories.

Lady A — Scott, Dave Haywood and Charles Kelley — won the first of their five Grammys in 2009 for “I Run to You,” then commenced a two-year sweep through the country album, performance and record of the year categories that also earned 1980 recording industry alumnus L. Clarke Schleicher three engineering Grammys.

The number of MTSU-connected Grammy winners since 2001 stands at 15 people with a total of 37 Grammys, including nine repeat recipients, in categories from classical to pop to rock to country to gospel.

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