First-Time GRAMMY Nominee: Roseanna Vitro

  • Roseanna Vitro
    Photo: John Abbott

(The Recording Academy asked some of this year's first-time GRAMMY nominees to collect their thoughts and share what it feels like to be nominated for a GRAMMY.)

I'm very honored and excited to be a GRAMMY nominee in the Best Jazz Vocal Album category for the 54th GRAMMY Awards. Those of us who have been in the music business for many years work tirelessly on our craft simply for the joy and fulfillment of making great music. I am very blessed to have married a GRAMMY-nominated recording engineer, Paul Wickliffe, who recorded and produced almost all of my jazz albums. What could be better than knowing you'll have quality sound along with the best musicians in the business to learn from and play with?

Paul suggested I consider making an entire Randy Newman project after my participation on the 2008 live recording, The Delirium Blues Project: Serve Or Suffer, for Half Note Records. I had been singing Randy's soulful "I Think It's Going To Rain Today" for many years and the poignancy of that tune always stilled a room.

I've been a follower of Randy Newman's music since the early '70s, but I'd lost track of his recordings, except for his big hits. I knew of Randy's animated film writing for Monsters, Inc. and Toy Story because my daughter, Sarah Wickliffe, is a Student Academy Award-winning filmmaker/animator, so we always keep up with the Pixar and Disney films. At first I was hesitant. Since I have been a vocal jazz teacher for more than 15 years at New Jersey City University and the New Jersey Performing Arts Center, and also toured as a U.S. Jazz Ambassador, I considered that many jazz radio stations, clubs and promoters might not be hip to what a great American treasure Randy Newman is. So I knew I was taking a chance. Even though the jazz repertoire is expanding every day, there is still a divide sometimes in the jazz camp regarding what jazz is. I'm very lucky to work with my manager, Jeff Levenson, who always encourages me to be fearless and creative in my choices, and to find Jana Herzen at Motéma Music, who is a singer/songwriter herself and crazy about Randy Newman's writing. 

The Music Of Randy Newman was created with pianist/arranger Mark Soskin. Mark and I met for more than a year working on these arrangements with our bassist, Dean Johnson, along with violinist Sara Caswell and drummer Tim Horner. It was almost two years before we actually performed a gig. I love the music, and after studying all of Randy's music, I could make three more albums of his material and never look back or get bored.

When the GRAMMY nominations were released, Jeff called me and asked, "Are you sitting down?" Then he told me I was nominated! I cried for 30 minutes in disbelief ... oh my God. Paul cried, too. It's been a long road I have traveled and I thought about the 12 albums that I've made and all the great musicians I've worked with. I'm very grateful and simply thrilled to be one of the five in my category. My nomination should inspire and remind all musicians that you do not have to be anything but true to your art.

(Roseanna Vitro is nominated for Best Jazz Vocal Album for The Music Of Randy Newman. Released in May 2011, the album features Vitro's jazz interpretations of 10 Randy Newman tracks, including "Sail Away" and "Everytime It Rains.")

Come back to GRAMMY.com tomorrow as we hear from first-time GRAMMY nominee Royal Tailor. Tune in to the 54th Annual GRAMMY Awards live from Staples Center in Los Angeles on Sunday, Feb. 12 from 8–11:30 p.m. ET/PT on CBS. Meanwhile, visit The Recording Academy's social networks on Facebook and Twitter for updates and breaking GRAMMY news. 

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