The Recording Academy and the Grammy Foundation recently revealed the 2017 Grammy Music Educator Award finalists. Among them, is Aldine ISD educator José Antonio Díaz.
“CBS This Morning” announced the top 10 finalists for the Grammy Music Educator Award on the show’s broadcast that aired Dec. 8, 2016.
The Award recognizes teachers for their significant contributions to music education in their schools. In October 2016, the Grammy Foundation announced 25 semifinalists.
The nine finalists and their schools will each receive $1,000. All the schools of the top 10 finalists will receive a matching grant. The top teacher will receive a $10,000 personal honorarium. The winner will also be honored during Grammy Week in Los Angeles. The winner will attend the 59th Annual Grammy Awards. The Awards ceremony will air live on CBS, Sun., Feb. 12, 2017 at 8 p.m. ET.
The finalists represent 10 cities across seven states.
Díaz was one of the recipients of the 2014 Hispanic Heritage Awards presented by the Mayor’s Office. Díaz received the award for Art in the Community. The awards recognize exemplary Hispanics in the Houston area who are making a difference.
Díaz has been molding musicians at MacArthur High since 1985. He also works with students in Latin jazz at the Diaz Music Institute, a nonprofit he founded in 2000.
His attention to excellence has garnered him recognition from well-known artists. One of those artists is percussionist Ndugu Chancier. The former member of Santana has worked with Díaz for more than 20 years.
Some of his students have won recognition. For example, three former students have won Grammy awards. And some of his former students have performed with many famous artists ranging from Harry Belafonte to Beyoncé.
“We have been fortunate to work with many artists,” said Díaz. “The students have had the opportunity to work with Terence Blanchard, Ndgu Chancier, Branford Marsalis, Johnny Pacheco, the great Celia Cruz and the list goes on. I am grateful that so many talented musicians take time to spend with the students.”
Other artists include Wynton Marsalis, Eddie Palmieri, Bobby Valentín, Ismael Miranda, Roberto Roena, Poncho Sánchez, Dave Valentin, Brian Lynch, Néstor Torres, Arturo Sandoval, Pete Escovedo, Alex Acuña, Danilo Pérez, and David Sánchez.
Díaz is a talented player and composer in his own right and is known for pushing his students to do well.
For more than 30 years, Díaz’s ensembles have gained national and international attention. He and his students have performed many times at the Midwest Clinic and the International Association of Jazz Educators.
Caliente is the Diaz Music Institute’s repertory youth group. Díaz organized Caliente to introduce students to the full range of Latin music. They learn about the infused heritage of Latin jazz. They learn about its elements of Cuban and West African rhythms. Díaz also trains the students to play swing, hip-hop and pop.
In 2008, Díaz received the Jefferson Award presented by KPRC-Channel 2. The award recognizes individuals for their achievements and their contributions in the community.
The Houston Arts Alliance awarded Díaz in 2011 with an Individual Artist Grant (IAG). The IAG Program supports local Houston artists. The Alliance seeks to advance Houston’s reputation as a vibrant, creative and cultural hub.
Additionally, DownBeat magazine named Díaz to its Jazz Education Hall of Fame in 2014. Tom Smith shared his effusive praise of Díaz with Downbeat. Smith is a professor at Ningbo University in China.
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