Dallas Music Industry Members Tell Us How the Grammys Changed Their Careers
Last week, nominees were announced for the 65th Grammys, and several Dallas-Fort Worth artists are up for awards at next year’s ceremony. Music’s biggest night still seems to be tearing up our (and soon to be non-existent Twitter) newsfeeds, and despite all the naysayers who claim year after year that the Grammys never pull off, they still carry enormous weight in the world of the recording industry.
Although Dallas is best known as a “backstage city” that primarily spawns prolific producers, songwriters and sound engineers, many locals say the Grammys open the doors to a promising and lasting musical career.
Plano native Gayle is thrilled with her first-ever Grammy nomination, which is nominated for Song of the Year with her kiss-off anthem, “abcdefu.”
“I was in shock,” the singer said upon learning of her Grammy nomination. “I started crying, then I FaceTimed my best friend, who I wrote the song with, and we both started crying, then I called my mom and I started crying more, and so does she.”
This year, Gayle released two EPs, A study of human experience, in volumes one and two. Her music gives her all the motivation she needs as she works on her first feature film and prepares for her tour.
Last February, Erykah Badu’s debut album, Baduism, turned 25. This album earned Badu her first Grammy nomination – the track “On & On” won the Grammy for Best Female R&B Vocal Performance, and the album as a whole won Best R&B Album. “On & On” was produced by Jah Born of Dallas, who also won Grammys for his contributions to the track and the album.
According to Jah, once he won those Grammys, he received “a lot of love and respect” for his career milestone.
“Winning a Grammy early in my musical journey paved the way for me to work with so many great artists and bands,” he says. “I learned tons of information about the music industry, and also got my music heard and placed around the world.”
Guitarist Mark Lettieri, who attended Texas Christian University in Fort Worth and got his start on the Dallas music scene, won his first Grammy in 2013 as a member of jazz fusion band Snarky Puppy. The group won Best R&B Performance for their song “Something,” which features Lalah Hathaway.
In subsequent years, the band won the Grammys for Best Contemporary Instrumental Album for their album Sylva in 2015, and in 2016 he won the same award for the album, Culcha Vulcha.
“I believe [winning these Grammys] was a great moment for the group and for the individual members,” says Lettieri. “For many avenues in the industry, having ‘Grammy-winning’ or ‘Grammy-nominated’ [in your name] may result in new or different opportunities.
Lettieri says that although his friends and family still treat him the same, he thinks the Grammys have significance among industry peers. But he insists he keeps making music for the same reasons he always has.
“It’s a real honor to be recognized by a win or a nomination,” says Lettieri, “but it’s not what we make our music for.”
Still, Lettieri treasures the accolades and remains active in the Recording Academy’s Texas chapter.
“The Recording Academy as a whole is doing a really good job for musicians and those in the industry,” Lettieri says, “like health care and benefits through MusiCares, educational initiatives in schools and even in Washington, D.C. DC, on behalf of finding more comprehensive solutions and fair ways to ensure creators are compensated for their art.
“For many avenues in the industry, having ‘Grammy-winning’ or ‘Grammy-nominated’ [in your name] may result in new or different opportunities. –Marc Lettieri
Producer Symbolyc One, also known as S1, is up for two Grammys at the 2023 ceremony for his work on Beyoncé Renaissance album. The album itself is nominated for Best Electronic Album, as well as the coveted Album of the Year. On the album, he produced the tracks “I’m The Girl” and “All Up in Your Mind”.
S1 is no stranger to the Grammys. In 2012, he won his first for his work on Kanye West’s My beautiful dark twisted fantasy album. He has since won for his contributions to Eminem’s The Marshall Mathers LP 2for which Dallas singer/songwriter Sarah Jaffe also won a Grammy, and for her work on Kirk Franklin’s album, Long Live Love.
“It’s just great to be part of this prestigious club,” says S1, “and to have that stamp on my name and brand.”
Over the years, the Recording Academy has come under fire for its predominantly white male voters. This year, the Academy announced that its new pool of voters will include 44% POC voters and 32% female voters – although the Academy hopes to attract 2,500 female voters by 2025.
Although some remain cynical about the Grammys, S1 is happy to see changes within the institution and believes it is on the right path to growth.
“It’s constantly evolving,” says S1, “and changing to make things better for creatives.”