USF professor nominated for two Grammy Awards

By Melissa Eicihman, Reporter
Last Updated: Thursday, January 16, 2014

Professor Chuck Owen has a passion for music. It’s a love the Distinguished Professor of Jazz Studies shares with his University of South Florida students.

"You interact and you allow them to be creative and you see where they go with the music," he said.

But it's the music Owen composed that’s giving him reason to celebrate, as he has been nominated for two Grammy Awards.

"It feels pretty good," he said. "It doesn't hurt, that's for sure."

The musician, who is also the director of the USF Center for Jazz Composition and the director of the USF Jazz Ensemble, said it’s surreal to see his name on the list of Grammy nominees.

“That's something as a musician you've seen, Grammy associated with all these major names and stars all your life and now to see your name kind of associated with it, it's pretty terrific,” he said.

The nominations are for Best Instrumental Composition and Best Instrumental Arrangement for “River Runs: A Concerto for Jazz Guitar, Saxophone & Orchestra.”

Professor Owen started composing the hour-long concerto in 2010. His inspiration dates back decades.

"A musical portrait of my own journeys down various rivers across the United States in either canoes or rafts," he said.

"My composition on the New River Gorge in West Virginia, this narrow, extremely white water gorge is going to be obviously totally different than being on the Hillsborough River, where there's almost no discernible current and you're amongst the gators and the cypress knobs," said Professor Owen.

Owen’s students are inspired by their professor’s accomplishments.

"It's unbelievable just to think about that I'm in the presence of someone that's gotten nominated for a Grammy," said trombone player Jordan Craig.

While Professor Owen hopes for a win, he also hopes other musicians will want to perform his music.