USF professor nominated for three Grammys

Professor Chuck Owen was nominated for three Grammys. 

While the way music is experienced has evolved overtime, what has never changed is the way it has a lasting impact on people and held the power to express some of the deepest emotions, providing something for people to truly connect to. 

Chuck Owen, USF Jazz Ensemble Director and Composer, is a five-time Grammy nominee, including three nominations this year. 

Owen relies on his deepest emotions to guide him while composing music he hopes will not only resonate with his audience, but spark inspiration in them as well. 

Owen’s depth into his emotions is eloquently translated into music, through elements of darkness and lusciousness. His most recent album, “Whispers in the Wind,” is nominated for best large jazz ensemble album, best instrumental composition and best arrangement for instrumental or acapella.

“As a composer, I’m trying to tap into a lot of ideas and feelings that I’m probably not on a normal day-basis, not really examining in the depth that I would,” Owen said. “There’s a freedom in being able to express that stuff as a composer.” 

Owen’s jazz ensemble, Chuck Owen and the Jazz Surge, who developed “Whispers in the Wind,” contributed different styles of music and a variety of instruments to fuse into what would become a Grammy-nominated work. Together, these passionate musicians were able to capture a flirtation with American folk music while preserving the rhythmic and deep character of jazz.  

“Being a composer is like putting some giant jigsaw puzzle together,” Owen said. “You have all of these pieces and you have to figure out how in the world they fit together. I love that challenge. I love the fact that, as a composer, I get to work with other musicians who inspire me, thrill me and are great friends.”  

Owen’s journey as a musician began with a difficult decision that many college students face: changing majors to pursue something full of risk, yet full of passion. His transition from majoring in pre-med/biology to chasing his love for music was an unpopular choice for most, but one that would change the rest of his life. 

For those faced with a decision similar to the one Owen faced, he said the uncertainty and risk is worth pursuing for the sake of passion. 

“There’s plenty of uncertainty,” Owen said. “There’s plenty of challenges. You can’t be naïve about any of that. You have to face it head on and recognize that this isn’t the most stable or easy profession. It’s very tough to make your way in it, but it’s certainly not impossible. And it takes a lot of dedication and takes someone to know that this is something that they really want to do.”