Sangeeta Kaur, an American opera singer in residence with the Seal Beach Symphony, was awarded a Grammy Award for her performance in the Best Classical Solo Vocal Album category during the 64th annual Grammy Awards held in Las Vegas April 3, making history in the process.
Kaur, who recently appeared at the February “Love Songs” event in Seal Beach, put the artistic world on notice that her musical message of peace, love and harmony is powerful, and is here to stay.
“This album was made with love and friendship,” Kaur told The Recording Academy after accepting the award. She thanked the Recording Academy for the Award and for the work they do to facilitate the “communities of music” around the world.
Kaur and fellow soprano Hila Plitmann were presented with Grammy Awards by The Recording Academy for their vocal performances on the album “Mythologies,” composed by pianist Danaë Xanthe Vlasse, who also was awarded a Grammy.
Kaur, of Vietnamese descent, Plitmann, of Israeli descent and composer Danaë Xanthe Vlasse, of Greek and French origin, said the album was a spiritual gift to people all over the world.
“It is a miracle,” Kaur said during her acceptance speech. “It is proof that we can create miracles with love,” the soprano said, urging fellow musicians around the world to “put more love in our art and music.”
According to Operawire, Kaur becomes the first artist of Vietnamese descent to be nominated, and win, a Grammy Award in this category.
Kaur graduated with an opera performance degree from Bob Cole Conservatory of California State University, Long Beach and obtained a master’s degree from the top-performing art college Boston Conservatory.
Previously, she has released five albums, including “Niguma,” “Ascension,” “Mirrors,” “Compassion” and “Illuminance.”
Kaur and the other “Mythologies” artists surpassed many nominees in the category, including Will Liverman, Joyce DiDonato, Jamie Barton and Laura Strickling.
In an interview after the ceremony, Kaur said “I am beyond ecstatic and grateful for this recognition. It’s unreal. I’m still pinching myself. It is an honor to have been on the list of nominees with such incredible artists such as the legendary Joyce DiDonato,” she said.
“I am so blessed to have such loving and talented friends like Hila Plitmann and Danaë Vlasse. What a blessing it is to share this Grammy with my two dear soul sisters,” said Kaur.
As an historic, first-ever Vietnamese American Grammy winner in the category, Kaur said she hoped it will inspire others with similar dreams.
“To my Vietnamese community all around the world, I love you. I feel proud and honored to be the first Vietnamese American woman to have won a Grammy in this category, Best Classical Solo Vocal Album, said Kaur.
“I hope that we can help and come together to continue to support our younger generation of Vietnamese artists and musicians around the world to achieve their dreams in the arts,” she added.
Kaur also thanked her husband, who she said had made all things possible for her and the team. “I especially want to thank my husband, Hai Nguyen for all of his love and support in all of us. You are an angel,” she said.
In a Sept. 2021 article, the Sun profiled Kaur’s musical ascendency, noting her meteoric rise since refocusing her music into a new age, spiritual genre with a message of peace and harmony.
Kaur’s message of spiritual peace resonates not only with her audience, but obviously with Xanthe Vlasse, the “Mythologies” album’s composer.
“Nothing matters in life unless we exist in harmony with those around us,” said composer Xanthe Vlasse, noting that “this award is meaningful because it is a testament to the immensely loving contributions of those around me.”
“I grew up in a French-Greek household and a love of both cultures has been with me all my life,” she said.
“My father is from the island of Ithaca, which was prominent in Homer’s epic, The Odyssey, so I’ve always felt connected to that history,” she said.
Using the drama in Homer’s Odyssey, Vlasse said she composed six musical sonnets of a sort for the album “Mythologies.” It contains six musical allegories set in Ancient Greece, which are given musical voice by the epic sopranos, Kaur and Plitmann, and was ultimately selected by The Recording Academy as the “Best Classical Solo Vocal Album.”
“Sharing this with my two soul sisters [Kaur and Plitmann] makes it three times as nice,” said Vlasse.
The three artists are best friends and have already hinted about working together on a new project.
For Plitmann, this is her third Grammy Award. She thanked her son and boyfriend, also expressing appreciation to the “Mythologies” team and the Recording Academy.
Kaur’s manager, Gregory Scelsa, a long-time veteran of the music industry, said the most difficult part was getting the word out to members of The Recording Academy.
However, for Scelsa, the historic recognition was no surprise. “Sangeeta, along with Danaë and Hila, have been doing Grammy worthy music for quite some time,” he suggested.
Following the Grammy Awards ceremony, Kaur and her husband, Hai Nguyen, hosted an afterparty in the Barry Manilow Suite at the Westgate hotel in Las Vegas. They were joined by many of their friends, family members and fellow musicians as they celebrated the Grammy win.
Kaur said collaborators and producers, some of who were also awarded Grammy Awards for their key roles in the project.
“Thank you to Emilio D. Miler, co-producer on this album,” said Kaur, “and Gerhard Joost, audio engineer, and all of the incredible musicians who shared their talents on this album.”
Joost said winning a Grammy “really feels good,” especially after an illustrious recording career that began in Ohio and saw Joost evolve into one of L.A.’s top producers, working with the likes of Dru Hill, Missy Elliott, Michael Jackson and more.
Among the musicians stacked into Kaur’s after party suite was International Latin recording artist Gustavo Alarco. Standing next to Barry Manilow’s piano, Alarco donned a pair of sunglasses and said, “you can’t have a trip to Vegas without a little Elvis.”
Alarco sang the Elvis classic “It’s Now or Never” as Sangeeta Kaur and her husband enjoyed a unique opportunity to dance as the others looked on.
Going forward, Kaur and Nguyen have purchased a ranch home in Austin, Texas, that includes a state-of-the-art recording studio. Joost, a producer, the Chief Recording Engineer at Studio Hill, their collaborative Texas venture.
Kaur said she will continue to split her time between L.A. and Texas.
Chad Berlinghieri, the President and Artistic Director of the Seal Beach Symphony, said Kaur’s Grammy Award opens many new doors for her.
“Having known her since our college days, I have been able to watch her grow and blossom into the artist that just won a Grammy while still being so incredibly young,” said Berlinghieri.
“The question that I ask now is ‘what’s next,’” he said in a statement.
“With her mantra repertoire, is she now the new Enya? Being able to crossover so well, will she become the next Celine Dion? Of course, the world of Grand Opera is always an option. The Grammy will open so many doors, which will she choose?” said Berlinghieri.
Kaur, who is also quickly becoming a savvy soprano, recently collaborated with Stephen Powers to bring Wisdome Austin, the Immersive Art & Meditation Experience, to Texas. It quickly become one of the most popular attractions during the pop tech South by Southwest event.
“I will continue to use art to help others find purpose,” she said.
Kaur, who is one of PBS’ featured artists on its current Front and Center series, said the win confirms her belief that artistry can make a huge difference for so many around the world.
“Art is so powerful,” said Kaur, noting “we can use this platform to bring more love and peace across the globe as well as to share our beautiful heritage with the world.”