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USF Distinguished Professor Nominated for Four Grammy Awards

Grammy Pre-Telecast Premiere Ceremony begins at 3 p.m. on Sunday, Jan. 28

USF Distinguished Professor Chuck Owen leading USF’s Jazz Ensemble.

Chuck Owen has spent the last 35 years teaching students all about jazz at the University of South Florida School of Music. This weekend, those students, and the entire USF community, will be rooting for Owen as he heads to the 60th Annual Grammy Awards in New York City.

The Distinguished Professor of Jazz Studies, and his band, the Jazz Surge, received four Grammy nominations for their 2017 album, Whispers on the Wind.

“It’s a big deal to get four nominations – I really was astonished,” said Owen, who is also the director of the USF Center for Jazz Composition. “I would have been delighted with one, but to get four was beyond my wildest expectations.”

As the album’s composer, Owen was personally nominated in three categories: Best Large Jazz Ensemble Album, Best Instrumental Composition (Warped Cowboy) and Best Arrangement, Instrumental or A Cappella (All Hat, No Saddle). Jazz Surge violinist Sara Caswell also received a nomination in the Best Improvised Jazz Solo category.

Recorded in Tampa, Whispers on the Wind combines folk music traditions and instruments with a big-band jazz sound. The album features more than a dozen Tampa Bay area musicians, including a number of current USF faculty, instructors and alumni. Several of Owen’s students were also able to be involved in the production of the album – a tremendous opportunity for students still in the classroom.

While the composer says this year’s Grammy season has proven to be a remarkable one, it’s not the first time Owen has been nominated. In 2014, he received two nominations for compositions from his album River Runs. A song from his 2009 album The Comet’s Tail also snagged a nomination.

The categories Owen is nominated in will be presented during this year’s ‘Pre-Telecast Premiere Ceremony’ beginning at 3 p.m. ET and streamed online at

Photo by Sandra Roa, University Communication & Marketing.

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