Venice resident John Beasley takes home his first Grammy Award

By Kamala Kirk

Venice resident John Beasley celebrates his recent Grammy win with his daughter, Sierra Masters.

During John Beasley’s career, the jazz pianist and arranger has received multiple Grammy nominations.
At the 63rd Grammy Awards on March 14, Beasley won his first Grammy in the Best Arrangement, Instrumental or A Cappella category for the track “Donna Lee” from his recent album “MONK’estra Plays John Beasley.”

“This was my first Grammy Award out of nine nominations,” Beasley said. “I’m particularly proud that my three-series album project “MONK’estra” earned two nominations with each album record release, so six nominations in total and one win.

“It was Danny Stilwell, president of Mack Avenue Records, who had the vision that I had enough music to present and somehow had the intuition that the project would evolve over three albums of me arranging Thelonious Monk’s songs then transitioning to my songs.”

This year’s Grammy Awards were held virtually, and nominees sat in front of their computers when their category was being called. The camera came on for winners, who had 30 seconds to deliver an acceptance speech.
Beasley said he learned of his win in real time while he was in his home studio. He gave a virtual acceptance speech and was cheered on by his daughter, Sierra, and his wife and manager, Lorna Chiu, who Beasley described as “the backbone behind MONK’estra, my career and
my life.”

“I felt relieved when I won because it’s the nature of competitions,” Beasley said.

“Musicians do not make music to win awards. They write music that’s in their heads and hearts, then they share it with the world. When people listen to or buy our music, it’s their way of saying they like our art. Record labels then submit music to competitions and it’s always a surprise to see it in the running. Grammy members vote for what they like, so it’s very subjective. Thousands of people submit music for each category every year. Getting to the final round with five artists is really a feat. Getting nominated or a win really is the biggest compliment from your peers about your music.”