MTSU-trained Grammy nominees recognized for writing, singing, engineering

Nov 21, 2022 at 06:35 pm by WGNS News

Top Left to Right: Aaron Raitiere, Bradon Bell, Tony Castle, Hillary Scott and Rob Willford

(MURFREESBORO, TN) Songwriters, engineers and singers who refined their talents at Middle Tennessee State University have once again been singled out for recognition with the recent announcement of the nominees for the 65th annual Grammy Awards.  

The nominees’ list includes:  

  • Music businessalumnus Rob Williford, right-hand band man and songwriting partner of reigning two-time CMA Entertainer of the Year Luke Combs, who’s nominated as a co-writer for best country song for the platinum-selling “Doin’ This.”  
  • Grammy-winningMaster of Fine Arts and Recording Technologiesalumnus Aaron Raitiere, whose songwriting and singing are integral to Ashley McBryde's best country album nominee, the small-town-tales concept collection of "Ashley McBryde Presents: Lindeville.” 
  • Grammy-winningrecording industrygrad Brandon Bell, whose mixing work on Brandi Carlile's "In These Silent Days" earned him multiple nominations, including album of the year and best Americana album, plus record of the year for "You and Me on The Rock."  
  • Multi-Grammy winner and recording industry gradTony Castle, who's nominated for engineering icon Willie Nelson’s newest country album, “A Beautiful Time.”
  • Multi-Grammy-winning former studentHillary Scott, who's won her awards as part of the band Lady A and for her solocontemporary Christian music performance work and is back in that category with the sibling duo for KING & COUNTRY’s “For God is With Us.”  

The 2023 Grammys will air live Sunday, Feb. 5, from 7 to 10:30 p.m. Central on CBS and the Paramount+ networks from the Arena in Los Angeles. The nominees were announced Nov. 15. 

MTSU once again plans to take a contingent of College of Media and Entertainment students, faculty and administrators to LA for a long weekend of gathering with local alumni and attending backstage and pre-show Grammy events. 

Range of talent - Williford, a 2016 MTSU graduate from Gastonia, North Carolina, earned his first No. 1 single, “One Number Away,” in August 2018 and the 2019 CMA Song of the Year award for the quadruple-platinum-selling "Beautiful Crazy."  

2009 alumnus Raitiere won his first Grammy at the 2020 ceremonies for co-writing “I’ll Never Love Again” for “A Star is Born” in the best song for visual media category. 

The Danville, Kentucky, native co-wrote all but one of the songs and sings on two on McBryde’s concept album, which the pair and a friend created. Their musical pals, including Brandy Clark and Caylee Hammack, join them to make up the “cast.”  

Bell, a 2004 graduate who's engineered projects for artists ranging from Amythyst Kiah to The Lonely Island to the Zac Brown Band, plus Raitiere's new album, won the bluegrass album Grammy for mixing "Nobody Knows You," the Steep Canyon Rangers' 2012 release.  

Castle, a 1995 MTSU recording industry production and technology alumnus, has won two Grammys for engineering Nelson’s projects featuring the songs of George Gershwin and Frank Sinatra, respectively. 

Under Grammy rules, awards for best album and record of the year go to the winning artist, producers and/or engineers. The song of the year award goes to the songwriter, and performance awards go to the artist. 

Lady A — Scott, Dave Haywood and Charles Kelley — won the first of their five Grammys in 2009 for “I Run to You,” then commenced a two-year sweep through the country album, performance and record of the year categories that also earned 1980 recording industry alumnus L. Clarke Schleicher three engineering Grammys. 

Scott’s 2016 independent album “Love Remains” also won her solo Grammys for best contemporary Christian music album and best contemporary Christian music performance/song. 

37 Grammys and counting since 2001 - The Department of Recording Industry at MTSU, part of the College of Media and Entertainment, trains song creators and performers in its Commercial Songwriting Program, experts in recording live music and audio in its Audio Production Program, and music entrepreneurs, including managers and publishers, in its Music Business Program. 

MTSU alumni, former or current students, and faculty from across the university have been a part of more than 134 Grammy Award nominations in the last two decades. 

The number of MTSU-connected Grammy winners since 2001 currently stands at 15 people with a total of 37 Grammys, including nine repeat recipients, in categories from classical to pop to rock to country to gospel. 

The Department of Recording Industry and the College of Media and Entertainment are currently marking an eighth year on Billboard‘s latest international list of top music business schools, once again earning acclaim for the program’s diversity, depth and longevity. 

For more information about the Department of Recording Industry at MTSU, visit  

More details about the 65th annual Grammy Awards are available at  

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