By Kevin Haas
Rock River Current
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Rockford native Emily Bear took home a Grammy Sunday night for Best Musical Theater Album.
The 20-year-old composer, pianist, songwriter and singer won the award for “The Unofficial Bridgerton Musical,” which she co-wrote with Abigail Barlow.
“I want to thank my amazing family for their unwavering support and guidance and my mom for being my rock through and through. I love you,” Bear said during her acceptance speech.
Bear and Barlow started writing songs based of the Emmy-nominated Netflix drama amid the pandemic. It is now the first album that originated on the social media platform TikTok to win a Grammy.
“A year ago when I asked the internet, ‘What if ‘Bridgerton’ was a musical?’ I could not have imagined we would be holding a Grammy in our hands,” Barlow said during the speech. “We want to thank everyone on the internet who has watched us create this album from the ground up, we share this with you.”
Bear added, “You are just as much a part of this project as we are.”
Bear, who grew up in Rockford and now lives in Los Angeles, is a piano prodigy who made her first appearance at Carnegie Hall at age 9.
The duo won in a powerhouse category that included celebrated composer Andrew Lloyd Webber and Stephen Schwartz, who wrote the Broadway hit “Wicked.”
“This is really for all of my fellow female producers, composers, engineers that are still struggling to gain recognition and support for what we do,” Bear said in her speech. “It’s not that we don’t exist. We do.”
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The other nominees were:
• Andrew Lloyd Webber, “Cinderella”
• Burt Bacharach and Steven Sater, “Some Lovers”
• Girl From The North Country
• Les Misérables: The Staged Concert (The Sensational 2020 Live Recording)
• Stephen Schwartz, “Snapshots”
“The Unofficial Bridgerton Musical” hit No. 1 on iTunes U.S. pop albums shortly after its September release. It consists of 15 original songs inspired by “Bridgerton.”
Music and lyrics are by both Barlow and Bear, with vocals by Barlow and orchestrations and vocals by Bear. The album is produced by Bear, mixed by Scott Smith and Jon Rezin, and mastered by Jon Rezin.
Robert Istad wins for Best Choral Performance
Bear is one of two Rockford natives to take home a Grammy on Sunday. Robert Istad, who graduated from Rockford Christian Life High School, won the award with a team of several composers for Best Choral Performance.
Istad, who now lives in southern California, is the artistic director of the Pacific Chorale.
The group won for its recording of “Mahler: Symphony No. 8, “Symphony Of A Thousand.” Istad’s partners in the project were Gustavo Dudamel, Grant Gershon, Fernando Malvar-Ruiz and Luke Mcendarfer, Leah Crocetto, Mihoko Fujimura, Ryan Mckinny, Erin Morley, Tamara Mumford, Simon O’neill, Morris Robinson and Tamara Wilson, Los Angeles Philharmonic, Los Angeles Children’s Chorus, Los Angeles Master Chorale, National Children’s Chorus and Pacific Chorale.