First-Time Nominee: BT (Part Two)
The Recording Academy asked this year's first-time GRAMMY nominees to collect their thoughts and share what it feels like to be nominated for a GRAMMY. Tune in to the 53rd Annual GRAMMY Awards on Sunday, Feb. 13 on the CBS Television Network from 8–11:30 p.m. (ET/PT).
I found out I was going to be a father. It was then I made a very conscious and life-changing choice. I chose to return to Maryland and raise my daughter in a simple place, where she could flourish and be a child. At the height of my "climb," I left the fast track of Los Angeles. After almost 15 years of purposeful work and diligent innovation, I walked away.
I left to be a dad.
It is not to say my work did not continue, it did. It was just now crammed into the wee hours of the night, after my little girl was fed, bathed and read to, and finally sound asleep. For those sleepless years and through a period of incredible personal heartache and conflict, the themes and meaning in my work deepened. My heart grew in a way I did not know was possible at that time. My life and my work became an expression and devotion to my daughter, and to the idea that hope and perseverance have meaning. I also developed a deepening compassion for the human condition. I began to see that music is one of the few voices that soothes all our common struggles. I wrote from that place.
While I lived in Los Angeles I proudly served on The Recording Academy Board of the Los Angeles Chapter. I pushed hard to forward the acknowledgement and understanding of electronic music and culture. I petitioned the board for a Best Electronic Album GRAMMY category. I wrote a proposal, met with my peers and friends, and with pride and enthusiasm I worked to convey why our music and community matter. I implored bands and artists to submit their works. Through those years of prodigious effort and struggle, that hope in me never died. As the years went by, however, the prospect for acknowledgement by my peers waned, and after many years grew silent.
On Dec. 2, 2010, at 6:50 a.m. (UK time), I landed in London. Prior to my flight it had been a long day of school errands and I couldn't for the life of me figure out if I was supposed to get the shrimp for the teacher conference or not. Did I remember to pack my daughter's ballet slippers for "The Nutcracker" rehearsal? I didn't know. My psoas and left shoulder were killing me (as they usually are after 20 years of flying) and I couldn't imagine how I would manage to perform in India for the next four days. I was deeply exhausted and overwhelmed.
When we touched down, I quickly turned on my phone to call my daughter, but my phone was going haywire. It was like every text message in the world had mistakenly come to my phone. They were too fast to read, hundreds filed in, one after another. I finally interrupted them and saw a message from my best friend of over 20 years now.
It said, "Brian, you did it. You've been nominated for a GRAMMY!!"
There are some moments that are impossible to explain and the next hour after this moment is kind of a blur. What I do remember, I will share.
Silence and then inconsolable tears.
I wept from the place of that 13-year-old kid with a dream. It was as if all of the years of work and struggle, hope and diligence had converged in this one moment. I felt as though my peers had joined in quiet solidarity to tell me, "Son, your work has value."
My nomination for Best Electronic/Dance Album seemed to resonate with a place in me that hadn't been opened since I was a child. It was, and is, the greatest professional moment and honor of my entire life. Ever.
Well, they had to help me off the plane. Everyone was saying, "Is he okay?" By the time I was able to get the words out, "I've been nominated for a GRAMMY," the entire plane erupted into applause. It was nearly as powerful as watching my daughter's birth. In some ways more so, just different — very different.
I wouldn't be truthful if I said I didn't want to win. I'd also be lying if I said I hadn't picked out a spot on our little mantle for a GRAMMY so I could look at it every day. But, that being said, this is the finish line.
I proudly accept this nomination as the greatest win of my entire life.
Thomas, Herbie, Howard, and Stevie, thank you for providing this kid from suburban Maryland with a dream. Thank you forinnovating and for inspiring me to do the same. Thank you from the bottom of my 13-year-old heart.
(BT is nominated for Best Electronic/Dance Album for These Hopeful Machines at the 53rd Annual GRAMMY Awards. In addition to his solo career, he has worked with artists including Tori Amos, Peter Gabriel, Seal, and Sting.)