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Decatur native wins Grammy award
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Decatur native wins Grammy award

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DECATUR — Decatur native Andrew Craig Brown received a Grammy on Sunday night for his contribution to the Best Opera Recording of “Fantastic Mr. Fox.

The Cerro Gordo High School and Millikin University graduate is currently living in Chicago, but with the coveted music award on his shelf, he is contemplating future opportunities outside of Illinois. 

Brown said the Grammy nomination was a surprise. “It was a shock and humbling and inspiring,” he said.

The award has spurred a renewed enthusiasm for music in Brown. After he graduated from Millikin in 2009, he went on to receive his master’s degree in opera from Yale University. “I got a manager right out of the gate,” he said about his career.

He sang professionally for about five years. “Then about three years ago, I stopped singing and became a full-time mechanic,” Brown said.

He said he learned mechanical skills from his father. Brown said he thought of the job as a hobby. “When I had a gap in performing, I would work on cars,” he said. “But the job security was nice.”

During his break from music, Brown said he learned the importance of working hard every day. “I’m going to be able to take that back to music,” he said.

Before he decided to take a hiatus from music, Brown recorded the future Grammy-winning album in 2014. As the years passed, he said he had almost forgotten about it. Brown along with the other performers waited for the project to be finished. “I thought maybe it was really bad,” he said.

The recording was finally released to the public in 2019. “Fantastic Mr. Fox” was written by Tobias Pickner and recorded by Brown and others with the Boston Modern Orchestra Project.

“That took a long time to get it ready,” Brown said.

The Grammy nomination gave Brown the motivation to return to music professionally. “Now I’m thinking about the future,” he said.

Brown plans to begin training in New Mexico this summer for a performance in Amarillo, Texas.

But the excitement of the Grammys is still with him.

The conductor and four performers, including Brown, accepted the award Sunday afternoon at the Microsoft Theater in Los Angeles. The “Fantastic Mr. Fox” cast were given their award at the Premiere Awards ceremony, which was not televised. The recipients were, however, allowed to attend the broadcast at the Staples Center.

“I was maybe 40 feet from the stage,” Brown said. “It was very surreal.”


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Contact Donnette Beckett at (217) 421-6983. Follow her on Twitter: @donnettebHR

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