heil-headshot_web Music: Music Professor Leila Heil Directs Grammy Jazz ChoirImage of

Music: Music Professor Leila Heil Directs Grammy Jazz Choir

03.05.10 – Each year, the Grammy Foundation, a subsidiary of the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences, provides a once in a lifetime experience for thirty talented high school jazz musicians from across the United States. Based on a video audition, student musicians are invited to participate in the Grammy Jazz Ensemble program consisting of a big band, a jazz combo and a choir. The program runs for ten days and includes performances associated with Grammy Week events culminating in attendance at the Grammy awards.

Leila Heil, assistant professor of music at Colorado State University, has served as the assistant director of the Grammy Jazz Choir for the past ten years. During this time, she has had the pleasure of working with, and listening to performances by some of the top musicians in the jazz field. The Grammy Jazz Ensembles have shared the stage with such legends as Oscar Peterson, Horace Silver, John Hendricks, Benny Goldson, Chick Corea and Terrance Blanchard. They have also had the pleasure of working with pop artists, smooth jazz artists and singer-songwriter artists.

Dr. Heil’s colleagues in the program include director David Sears, senior director of education programs for the GRAMMY Foundation; Ronald McCurdy, professor of jazz studies at University of Southern California; and Justin DiCioccio, assistant dean, jazz division at Manhattan School of Music.

This year, the Grammy Jazz Ensembles performed during the Salute to Jazz Concert featuring jazz guitar legend Kenny Burrell. On another evening, the ensembles had the honor of performing with jazz saxophonist James Moody. The ensembles also performed at the Music Cares Person of the Year dinner honoring Neil Young, the Grammy Nominee party and the After Grammy Celebration.

One of the most memorable experiences of the week took place at Capitol Recording Studios (pictured) where the jazz choir spent an entire day making a CD recording. Imagine the thrill of singing into the same microphones used by singers such as Frank Sinatra, Nat King Cole, Judy Garland, the Beatles and hundreds of other recordings artists. As Natalie Cole so aptly stated: “unforgettable.”