When the Grammy Awards air on Channel 3 in less than two weeks, a Connecticut father will be among the nominees.
Jimmy Greene lost his daughter, Ana Marquez-Greene, in the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting back in 2012.
Now, the album he wrote following her death has been nominated for the highest honor in the music industry.
For Greene, music is more than what comes out of his saxophone. It’s an expression.
He called it an extension of himself, his work and his family.
He also said it was hard to continue after one of his family members was taken away.
"I didn't practice or write any music for a few months after Ana was killed, not because I was rejecting music, but it takes a daily kind of meticulous focus, physically and mentally,” Greene explained. “And those days I physically couldn't do much and mentally I didn't have that kind of focus. I was just consumed with the business of just trying to get up and put one foot in front of the other."
Greene said Ana loved to sing and dance.
Honoring that spirit is what eventually brought him back to music.
"I have memories of writing melodies and chord progressions and lyrics through tears,” he said.
Greene said it was painful, but the ritual of practice and composing turned therapeutic.
"All the music that had been swimming around in my head in that time period came out, and the result is this recording,” he said.
The name of the album is Beautiful Life. It has 10 tracks, all carefully selected to represent Ana.
The very first song, Come Thou All Mighty King, even includes Ana’s voice.
Greene’s wife Nelba had recorded Ana and her brother Isiah singing and playing the song on the piano. He said hearing her voice is still comforting.
"It keeps her here, it brings her memory front and center, it feels like she's almost present, and that's a very warm comforting feeling,” he said. “We miss her so much."
It took 14 months of recording, collaborating and sessions in the U.S. and Canada to get the album the way he wanted it.
“I couldn't rest until everything was just the way I had envisioned it,” Greene said. “And it was just as great as it could be, and I'm just thankful it's being recognized this way."
Beautiful Life has been nominated for two Grammys. The categories were Best Jazz Instrumental Album and Best Arrangement for the song “When I Come Home.”
One of the tracks also features Connecticut-native Javier Colon.
"It’s just an amazing feeling to be surrounded by that community that I’m a part of, the musical community and have them lift me up and steady me, and hold me,” Greene said.
Above all, Greene said he wanted Ana to be remembered for her love and her skill for expressing it. That’s something he said he misses so much.
"It's like I'm going around without a limb,” Greene said. “How do you paint a picture of a person who was so meaningful to you, mean so much to your family? You do the best you can, with the musical language I have. I just wanted it to be just the way I heard it, and I’m really thankful it turned out the way it did."
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