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Danbury Professor, Dad Of Sandy Hook Victim, Earns 2 Grammy Nominations

Jimmy Greene, a Western Connecticut State University Music professor, has been nominated for two Grammy awards. His 6-year-old daughter, Ana, died in the shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary School in 2012. Photo Credit: JimmyGreene.com
Jimmy Greene's album is a tribute to his daughter, Ana. Photo Credit: JimmyGreene.com

FAIRFIELD COUNTY, Conn. -- A music professor at Western Connecticut State University in Danbury has been nominated for two Grammy Awards for a jazz album that celebrates the life of his daughter, who was killed in the Sandy Hook shootings.

Jimmy Greene’s album, "Beautiful Life," was nominated for Best Jazz Instrumental Album and Best Arrangement, Instruments and Vocals for his arrangement of his composition, “When I Come Home,” featuring vocalist Javier Colon.

His daughter, Ana Márquez-Greene, was 6 when she died in the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown on Dec. 14, 2012.

“I want to give a sense of how Ana lived,” Greene said of the album on his website .

The album features Greene’s customary instrumental jazz with Christian music, standard ballads and three original songs framing his own lyrics.

The vocalists include Colon, Kurt Elling and Latanya Farrel. Pianists Kenny Barron, Cyrus Chestnut and Renee Rosnes; bassist Christian McBride; guitarist Pat Metheny; drummer Lewis Nash; and a 13-piece string ensemble from the Hartford Symphony Orchestra are also featured on the album along with spoken words by Tony Award-winning actress Anika Noni Rose.

The album was released in the fall of 2014. It is Greene’s 10th as an album leader, and he started working on it shortly after his daughter's death.

“Ana loved to sing and she sang beautifully.’’ Greene said on his Facebook page. “That is why I made sure her singing voice was on the first track of 'Beautiful Life.' The world needs a lot right now, but I felt that hearing her voice and knowing her name would be important for people going forward.

"The Chesky brothers, Norman and David, donated their resources to ensure that her voice could be heard by many. All of the amazing musicians, engineers, photographers and Mack Avenue label folks involved in the production and distribution of Beautiful Life poured their everything into my vision.”

Ana and her twin brother, Isaiah, are included in the album. A YouTube video clip shows Ana singing while her brother plays the piano. "We would go to the mall, and sometimes the stores would have music,'' her mother, Nelba Márquez-Greene, told Katie Couric in 2013. "She would just start dancing. She had a joy that was just not containable."

A portion of proceeds from sales of "Beautiful Life" go to two charities set up in Ana’s memory: The Ana Grace Project and the Hartford-based Artists’ Collective.

Greene is an assistant professor of music and coordinator of jazz studies at Western Connecticut. He earned a bachelor’s degree at Hartt School in Hartford and holds a master's degree from Boston University.

Ana and 19 other students and six teachers were killed at Sandy Hook, the deadliest shooting at a U.S. elementary or high school.

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