2014 Grammy Awards

Hometown throwdown at the Grammys

When the Grammy Awards go live Sunday evening from the Staples Center in Los Angeles, at least a handful of the nominees will have cheerleaders back in Boston. We checked in with five artists with local ties to see how they were preparing for the big night.

Concord Music


  • Drummer, composer, professor at Berklee College of Music

  • Nominated for: best jazz instrumental album (“Money Jungle: Provocative in Blue”)

  • Q. How nervous are you feeling?

  • A. I’m feeling grateful for the recognition. I’m not feeling nerves, necessarily, because I’m already a winner. [Figuratively and literally: Carrington won her first Grammy in 2012 for “The Mosaic Project.”]

  • Q. You were first nominated in 1989 for your debut, “Real Life Story,” and you were in your mid-20s, no less. What do you remember from that Grammy night?

  • A. I don’t remember a lot of details, but I do remember what I wore and I went with my manager at the time.

  • Q. What did you wear that year?

  • A. I had this sparkly beaded jacket. I only wore it once or twice, and I remember it was the most expensive item I had ever bought. It was $600, which at that time was a huge amount of money. I went shopping with [jazz vocalist] Dianne Reeves, and she was the one who convinced me to buy it. So that was probably a mistake [laughs].

  • Q. Did that victory in 2012 make you the first Medford native to win a Grammy?

  • A. Probably. I might have been the first drummer to win a Grammy in the jazz vocal category. I could be wrong, but Medford’s in the house now!

david mcclister


  • Lead singer of the Boston-based bluegrass quintet, which records for Rounder Records

  • Nominated for: best bluegrass album (“This World Oft Can Be”)

  • Q. Describe the mood in the Della Mae van this week.

  • A. The mood in the van when we actually found out we were nominated was hilarious. We didn’t even know the nominations were coming out. Jenni Lyn Gardner, who plays mandolin in the band, was in the back of the van, and we all heard her go, “Shut. Up!” We all turned around, and she said, “You guys, we’re nominated for a Grammy!” We told her someone was playing a joke on her because the nominations happened months ago. We all whipped out our phones, and, lo and behold, it was true.

  • Q. Why the disbelief?

  • A. We’ve all been playing since we were small kids, and collectively I think there was a feeling that, because it was our first album together and we’ve been a band for three years now, it just felt like this couldn’t possibly happen to us so early in the game.

  • Q. How did you celebrate your nomination?

  • A. We found out right after a show while driving back to the house of a person who had graciously hosted us. We had met the woman for about five minutes earlier in the day, and we knew she had two little kids and a husband at home. We parked in her driveway, and we’re all screaming. I went in to tell the woman what had happened and that we were going to go out and celebrate. She was in her pajamas and putting away dishes and said, “Do you guys like wine?” They just pulled out a whole spread for us, and it was the sweetest thing.

vincent soyez


  • Pianist and composer who teaches at New England Conservatory

  • Nominated for: best improvised jazz solo (from “Song Without Words #4: Duet,” a collaboration with guitarist Julian Lage)

  • Q. This is not your first Grammy nomination, but you’ve never won one. So is the sixth time the charm?

  • A. We’d like to think so. It’s a strange business, the Grammys. I’m delighted to have this much recognition, since my first nomination was in 1993. I’m proud of the fact that one of them was for composer for best instrumental composition. These are nice things on the resumé. If I lose, I will not be surprised, but it’s always possible. I always think about the year that Esperanza Spalding beat out Justin Bieber [for best new artist]. Upsets happen at the Grammys.

  • Q. You’re taking your partner as your date. What are you gentlemen going to be wearing?

  • A. I’m not wearing black tie. I’m wearing a suit and very festive neckwear. On the off chance that I win, I will have a slip of paper in my pocket with people I need to thank. They’ll give me 30 seconds to do that, and then they’ll hook me by my tie and drag me off.

  • Q. Someone needs to update your Wikipedia entry. It still says you’re a five-time Grammy nominee.

  • A. Well, maybe I’ll wait till Sunday and be hopeful.


  • Singer-songwriter and mandolin player who graduated from New England Conservatory last year

  • Nominated for: best folk album (“Build Me Up From Bones”) and best American roots song (“Build Me Up From Bones”)

  • Q. You were nominated once before, but what was different this time?

  • A. I think the coolest part this time around is how many of my friends and musical heroes are in these categories with me. I know it sounds cliche to say that, but it’s really true.

  • Q. Where were you when you heard the news?

  • A. Joey [Ryan, of the Milk Carton Kids, whose “The Ash & Clay” is also nominated for best folk album] was the first person to let me know. I was in New York seeing “Inside Llewyn Davis,” which, ironically enough, is about folk music. I was in the middle of the movie, and I don’t want people to think I had my phone on, but it was on vibrate. I felt my purse going crazy and thought maybe something was wrong. I peeked down and noticed that the first text was from Joey and it just said, “Grammy! Congratulations.” My heart started pounding, and I ran out of the theater. I’m going to have to go see that movie again.

  • Q. If you could sit next to anyone at the ceremony, who would it be?

  • A. Oh, man. That’s tough, but probably Paul Simon. I don’t think he’s going to be there, but I just heard that Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr are going to perform that night, so they’re up there. I wouldn’t complain about meeting Beyoncé, either.

Elena Clamen


  • Singer-songwriter, children’s entertainer

  • Nominated for: best children’s album (“Singing Our Way Through: Songs for the World’s Bravest Kids”)

  • Q. This was your third children’s album but the first one submitted for a nomination. Why was that?

  • A. It’s a very funny thing how different the Grammys are from genre to genre. When I was traveling on the folk circuit, in the singer-songwriter world, it wasn’t even on the radar. I never heard people talking about it. In the Americana world, to be in that Grammy circle you had to be a John Prine and you might be up against people like Bruce Springsteen. But when I got to children’s music, it’s different. There’s been a bit of a revolution in that Grammy category. Things used to be focused on big, more commercial acts, but in the last several years it has become much more “kindie” [a term for indie-centric children’s artists].

  • Q. You made this album with Clio, your daughter whose battle with leukemia inspired the songs. Was this nomination especially poignant?

  • A. This album was very personal and special, and it’s an album with a bit of a cause. The album itself was created as a resource for families like mine, so a nomination really raises the profile of the album and helps us get it out to more families.

  • Q. Are you taking the whole family with you to the Grammys?

  • A. Just my wife and I are going out. This’ll be our first weekend away in about a year and a half, so we’re going to enjoy it. Our twins just turned 7. If I were to win, it’d be nice to have our girls out for that particular moment. But the rest of the weekend would suck [laughs].

Interviews were condensed and edited. James Reed can be reached at Follow him on Twitter @GlobeJamesReed.
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