Faculty and Alumni Nominated for 2021 Grammy Awards

BY Robbie Armstrong, November 30, 2020

Music’s biggest night will feature the works of many Columbia faculty and alumni. The Recording Academy announced the 63rd Annual Grammy Award nominations last week, which recognize annual achievements in the music industry.


Soft Power by Associate Professor David Henry Hwang and Barnard alumna Jeanine Tesori ’83 is nominated in the Best Musical Theater Album category for their Off-Broadway high concept musical. Hwang and Tesori share the nomination as Lyricist and Lyricist and Composer respectively. The show was also nominated for the Pulitzer Prize and 11 Drama Desk Award nominations. Hwang’s musical includes a self titled character who is attacked and stabbed while walking on the streets of Brooklyn. After being rushed to the hospital, the character hallucinates a Chinese musical based on current events circulating through the media. The musical is a fantasia of sorts, with a version of the United States of America where everyone is blond and brandishes a gun and even includes Hilary Clinton riding on a Big Mac. The Off Broadway production, which played the Public Theatre in 2019, was directed by Adjunct Assistant Professor Leigh Silverman

Conrad Ricamora and the company of Soft Power. Photo credit: Joan Marcus. Courtesy of the Public Theater.

Jagged Little Pill directed by alumna Diane Paulus ’97 is also nominated for Best Musical Theater Album with Columbia College alumnus, Tom Kitt '99 being nominated for the Grammy. The Alanis Morissette jukebox musical is also nominated for 15 Tony Awards with Paulus nominated in the Best Director category, and additionally 3 Drama Desk Awards. Paulus is a Tony Award winning Director who currently serves as the Artistic Director of American Repertory Theatre in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Jagged Little Pill opened on Broadway last year.


Frozen 2, written and co-directed by Film alumna and Academy Award winner Jennifer Lee '05, was nominated for Best Song Written for Visual Media and Best Compilation Soundtrack For A Visual Media. Lee has made history in filmmaking as the first female director of a Walt Disney Animation Studios feature film and the first female director of a feature film that earned more than $1 billion in gross box office revenue. Lee also penned the book for the Broadway production of Frozen. Frozen 2 premiered in 2019 to positive reviews from critics and sensational reviews from families. Lee heads Walt Disney Animation Studios as the Chief Creative Officer


Becoming, co-produced by Associate Professor Maureen Ryan, was nominated for Best Score Soundtrack For A Visual Media. Alumna and Adjunct Assistant Professor Veronica Nickel ’10 served as the production supervisor, with alumnus and Adjunct Assistant Professor Jamund Washington ’10 as line producer and alumnus Kevin Contento ’18 as a production assistant. Becoming, released on Netflix earlier this year, tells the story of former First Lady Michelle Obama.


The Daily Show host Trevor Noah will emcee the Grammy Awards on January 31, 2021, under COVID-19-related restrictions. This marks Hwang’s first Grammy Award nomination. Hwang has previously won a Tony Award, a Drama Desk Award, and several Obie Awards. 


Congratulations to all the nominees.