MURFREESBORO — A quartet of former MTSU students, including two who'll be competing against themselves, will be waiting Sunday night, Feb. 8, to hear the winners of the 57th annual Grammy Awards in Los Angeles.
Chart-topping alumnus Luke Laird, who won the Grammy for Best Country Album in January 2014 for co-producing Kasey Musgraves’ “Same Trailer, Different Park," is nominated this time for Best Country Song — twice.
He is a co-writer on both Kenny Chesney's "American Kids" and Eric Church's "Give Me Back My Hometown."
Former MTSU student Lecrae Moore, known professionally as Lecrae and winner of the Best Gospel Album at the 2013 Grammy Awards for his 2012 release "Gravity," is nominated in two different categories at this year’s Grammys.
Moore is included as a co-writer of the Best Gospel Performance/Song nominee "Help" by Erica Campbell, on which he also was a featured artist. He also co-wrote his own Best Contemporary Christian Music Performance/Song entry, "Messengers," which he sang with featured artists For King & Country on his 2014 "Anomaly" album.
Former MTSU student Jaren Johnston is nominated for Best Country Song as a co-writer on "Meanwhile, Back at Mama's," a cut by Tim McGraw that features Faith Hill.
And MTSU alumnus Torrance "Street Symphony" Esmond is nominated for a Best Contemporary Christian Music Performance/Song Grammy as a co-writer on Moore's "Messengers."
Laird earned his MTSU music business degree in 2001 and has had more than 14 No. 1 singles since he signed his first publishing deal in 2002.
He also co-wrote a second song on Church's Best Country Album Grammy nominee "The Outsiders" and an album cut on Miranda Lambert's nominated "Platinum."
The 2012 BMI Country Songwriter of the Year also has written for Lady Antebellum, Jason Aldean, Hunter Hayes, Ne-Yo, Carrie Underwood, Luke Bryan, Little Big Town and John Legend.
Moore attended MTSU in 2000 and 2001, majoring in electronic media communication. A rapper, songwriter, record producer and actor, Moore also is the president, co-owner and co-founder of the independent record label Reach Records and co-founder and president of the nonprofit ReachLife Ministries.
He's so far released seven solo studio albums, including "Anomaly," his 2014 CD, which was the first to chart simultaneously atop Billboard's Top 200 and gospel listings. Moore has been nominated multiple times as Artist of the Year at the Gospel Music Association's Dove Awards.
Moore's 2012 album, "Gravity," debuted at No. 1 on iTunes, and his 2013 Grammy win was the first in that category for a Christian hip-hop artist.
Johnston attended MTSU in 2000 and studied percussion. A singer and guitarist for The Cadillac Three and former front man for American Bang, Johnston also played, sang and co-wrote two songs on Dierks Bentley's Best Country Album nominee "Riser."
His "You Gonna Fly" was a No. 1 hit for Keith Urban, and he's also written for Chesney, McGraw, Meatloaf and Sara Evans.
Esmond, who graduated from MTSU in 2003 with a music business degree, also was a co-writer on a second album cut on Moore's "Anomaly" album and co-wrote nearly half the songs on "Gravity."
He served as executive producer on Moore's 2013 "Church Clothes, Vol. 2" release, was a co-writer on albums by Andy Mineo and Derek Minor and contributed to Keyshia Cole's 2008 Best Contemporary R&B Album Grammy nominee, "Just Like You."
Almost 20 MTSU alumni or former students and faculty from around the university have been nominated for Grammy Awards in the last five years. Seven have won Grammys so far, including some repeat recipients, in categories from classical to gospel to bluegrass.
You can watch the 57th annual Grammy Awards Sunday night live from the Staples Center in Los Angeles beginning at 7 p.m. Central time on CBS. More details are available at http://Grammy.com.