Suburban musicians among Grammy nominees
Their names might sound familiar, either because you're a die-hard music fan or because they grew up in your neighborhood. And you might just hear those names called Sunday night, during the Grammy Awards ceremony on CBS.
A handful of suburban natives are nominated for Grammys, the music industry's most prestigious honor.
The 55th Grammy AwardsWhen: 7 p.m. Sunday, Feb 10
Airing on: CBS
Hosted by: LL Cool J
Grammy nominees (or past winners) scheduled to perform: Justin Timberlake; Dierks Bentley and Miranda Lambert; The Black Keys; fun.; the Lumineers; Mumford & Sons; Rihanna; Taylor Swift; Carrie Underwood; Jack White; Elton John and Ed Sheeran (performing together for the first time)
In one category, two suburban men who are friends -- and play in the same band -- are competing against each other.
Songwriters Matthew West of Downers Grove and Jeff Pardo of Arlington Heights are each nominated for Best Contemporary Christian Music Song -- West for "Jesus, Friend of Sinners" (which he co-wrote with Casting Crowns' Mark Hall) and Pardo for "When Mercy Found Me," which he co-wrote with Rhett Walker of the Rhett Walker Band.
While West's been nominated for Grammys before, this is the first nomination for the humble, 31-year-old Pardo, the keyboardist and musical director of West's band.
"Matthew and I haven't talked about it, but probably because neither of us really think we're going to win," he joked. "It's a cliché to say 'It's an honor to be nominated,' and people say you only say that when you know you're going to lose, but it's true. It is an honor."
Neither West nor Pardo can attend the Grammys; they're currently on tour with the Winter Jam Tour Spectacular 2013 (which comes to the Sears Centre Feb. 23) and will be performing in Atlanta Sunday night.
"If you have to be somewhere other than the Grammys, I guess being onstage, performing, is a good place to be," West said. "We'll be celebrating in Atlanta."
Here are some of the suburban natives "nommed" (as they say in L.A.) for a Grammy Award:
Matthew West, of Downers Grove
The singer-songwriter is nominated for two Grammys. Besides the Best Contemporary Christian Music Song mentioned above, the Downers Grove North High School jock-turned-musician is also up for Best Contemporary Christian Album for "Into the Light."
The album is a compilation of songs about real-life stories of how God is working in people's lives. The title track is based on the uplifting story of a Northwest suburban mom and her escape from an abusive marriage.
Jeff Pardo, of Arlington Heights
The Buffalo Grove High School alum wrote the song "When Mercy Found Me" with Rhett Walker, earning him a Best Contemporary Christian Music Song nomination. The song is on the Rhett Walker Band's debut album "Come to the River."
Pardo, a songwriter for EMI Christian Music Group who now lives in Nashville, Tenn., has written songs for Mandisa (the "American Idol" finalist), Francesca Battistelli and Josh Wilson.
It's been clear to Pardo since he was a kid that his future was in music.
"By the time I was in fourth or fifth grade, I was writing songs. It was always kind of a dream of mine, and things lined up in the right way," Pardo said. "Christian music always kinda felt like home."
Kaskade (aka Ryan Raddon), of Northbrook
He just wrapped up a huge, nationwide "Freaks of Nature" tour (which included a show at Lollapalooza in Chicago), and now Kaskade's album, "Fire & Ice," earned the beloved DJ a nomination for Best Dance/Electronica Album. On it are guest artists including Skylar Grey, Skrillex and Neon Trees.
To truly experience the music of the Glenbrook North High School alumnus, it's best to see his show live. Kaskade performs in front of huge LED screens that sync images with the music while strobe lights beam across the crowd. His music regularly ranks on the Billboard's Hot Dance Airplay charts.
Jory Vinikour, of Mount Prospect
The 49-year-old world-renowned harpsichordist is up for Best Classical Instrumental Solo for "The Complete Harpsichord Works of Rameau." In a recent Daily Herald interview, Vinikour shared his praise for Rameau -- an 18th-century Baroque composer he considers one of the greatest.
Vinikour's musical talent was discovered early, while he was a student at Forest View High School. He moved to Paris in 1990, after receiving a Fulbright Foundation Scholarship, and now performs around the world with the top orchestras and musicians.
Deborah Voigt, of Wheeling
Popular on television, stage and CDs, the internationally acclaimed opera soprano is part of the cast nominated for Best Opera Recording of "Wagner: Der Ring Des Nibelungen."
Voigt -- who describes herself on Twitter as a "dramatic soprano and down-to-earth diva" -- is best known for her leading roles in Richard Wagner and Richard Strauss operas. Voigt is hosting (and performing in) the PBS series "Great Performances from the Met," as well as the Metropolitan Opera's "The Met: Live in HD" series. She is also writing a memoir, due out later this year.
Kathy Griffin, of Oak Park
The mouthy redhead, Bravo talk show host and Oak Park native is nominated for Best Comedy Album for "Kathy Griffin: Seaman 1st Class." She's been nominated in this category twice before, but did not win, and regularly talks about how badly she wants a Grammy. (This year she's up against Jimmy Fallon, Margaret Cho, Lewis Black and Jim Gaffigan.)
The Oak Park-River Forest High School graduate got her big break on the 1996 TV sitcom "Suddenly Susan." Soon after, she returned to stand-up comedy where she cracked up audiences by gossiping and skewering celebrities.
Griffin's experiences trying to get back in showbiz were the subject of the Emmy Award-winning, 2005 Bravo show "My Life on the D-List," which was such a hit that it promptly moved her up to the A-list. It also made a celebrity out of her mom, Maggie Griffin, now 92, who currently appears on the "Kathy" show every Thursday night on Bravo.