QUINCY -- First-time Grammy nominee Dan Nichols now can say he is a Grammy winner.
Nichols, a 2000 Quincy High School graduate and current faculty member at the Northern Illinois University School of Music, worked as the recording engineer for Third Coast Percussion's Steve Reich album, which won in the Best Chamber Music/Small Ensemble category in the 59th annual awards presented Sunday.
Fittingly, Nichols was working Sunday afternoon -- recording a combined performance of Cor Cantiamo, a professional Chicagoland choir, and choirs from Mendota/LaSalle-Peru High Schools -- when he found out about the award that was presented during the Grammy Awards Premiere Ceremony prior to the prime-time broadcast.
"Sometime during the Lacrimosa from Mozart's Requiem, my phone started blowing up with texts and emails from students and alumni," Nichols said in an email to The Herald-Whig. "I wasn't actually able to check (my phone) until after the recording, but it made the strike and travel back home more enjoyable than normal."
The Steve Reich album was another collaboration between Nichols and the Chicago-based group. The project brought together not only the talented musicians but Cedile Records, a gifted producer in Jessie Lewis and music by Reich, one of America's foremost composers.
The nomination alone marked a milestone for Nichols, and the actual win is motivating.
"It renews a sense of purpose and puts more wind in the sails, so to speak," he said. "I feel a greater urge to create or partner in the next handful of years."
The win is an accomplishment for Nichols, the son of Alan and Carol Nichols of Quincy, who headed to NIU as a student intending to become a performing jazz musician and then a performing Broadway musician before developing an interest in sound engineering.
As a recording engineer, Nichols works on location to craft a recording experience using high-end audio-capture equipment that "tells the story of the music and reaches out to listeners."
And like other Grammy winners, Nichols credits those who helped him achieve success.
"Undoubtedly I wouldn't have been able to make it to this point without the myriad of people that have affected my musical and personal development since I was young," Nichols said. "It certainly causes one to reflect on their personal journey and the many interactions with peers, musicians, teachers, students and mentors along the way."