“Virtual Choirs need their own Grammy category!”
- Ryan Heller, Conductor, Artistic Director of Chorus Austin
Written by award-winning poet/lyricist Julie Flanders and Emmy Award-winning composer Emil Adler, the song Return to Me is an October Project classic with over 50 million views on YouTube.
Reconceiving the song this year as The Worldwide Choir of Return to Me, a virtual choir single and video featuring 130 performers from 18 countries, Flanders, Adler and vocalist Marina Belica garner 3 entries for this release as Grammy season begins (the first round of voting starts on October 13).
The very things that make a virtual choir special, however, also make it difficult to fit neatly into any one Grammy category. In particular, the mechanics of a virtual choir (where individual singers record their parts onto a phone and upload them to a video editor and sound engineer who must then synch and mix all the individual performances) are completely different from those of a studio recording or a live recording of a choir that has been singing and rehearsing TOGETHER, in the same room, over time.
Says Flanders, “It’s like trying to fit a tuba into a piccolo case, an opera into a phonebooth!” Adds Belica, “There is a category for Best Choral Performance in the Classical Field, but where do you put a choir performance of a POP song?” The trio, whose previous Virtual Choir of Joy was also in contention for 3 Grammys and received a Telly and Anthem Award, advocates strongly for the establishment of a Virtual Choir category.
The first virtual choir appeared a decade ago under the baton of Eric Whitacre, who coined the term. During COVID, virtual choirs burgeoned, as choir singers who could no longer sing ’together’ found solace (and song) in the virtual realm. In good times (providing the opportunity to reach out and collaborate globally) and in bad (interruption of daily life due to pandemic, natural disaster, war), virtual choirs are likely here to stay.
While October Project’s Worldwide Choir of Return to Me remains for the time being in a category of its own, voting members of the Recording Academy can find it on the Grammy Awards ballot in the following traditional categories:
October Project Featuring Worldwide Choir:
•Best Pop/Duo Group Performance
•Best Arrangement, Instrumental or A Cappella
•Best Music Video
Produced by October Project and conducted by Ryan Heller, the recording features a vocal arrangement by Keiji Ishiguri and was mixed and mastered by Grammy winners Ed Boyer and Bill Hare. Video is edited by Ulrich Vilbois with hand-drawn animation by Phoebe Cavise.
FOR MORE INFORMATION GO TO:
October Project’s FYC Grammy page: http://bit.ly/rtmchoir
ABOUT OCTOBER PROJECT:
Winners of the 2021 Anthem & Telly Award for their Virtual Choir of Joy, October Project writer Julie Flanders, composer/producer Emil Adler and vocalist Marina Belica are internationally acclaimed recording artists, producers and musical activists who collaborate in the creation of musical recordings and events.
Grammy contenders for their recent choral recording, The Worldwide Choir of Return to Me, they are soon to release The Ghost of Childhood, a full-length album for our times, on which the Worldwide Choir of Return to Me will appear as a bonus track. Their earlier work with SONY/Epic followed by a succession of highly acclaimed independent recordings on their own October Project label have garnered millions of listeners across the world. They continue to innovate the landscape of independent music.