The Portland Press Herald

Thanks to having to wear braces on his teeth, Myles Nuzzi of Cumberland will get a chance to sing for the biggest names in the music business this week during events related to the Grammy Awards.

Nuzzi’s talent, drive and determination had something to do with it, too. But it started with his braces.

“I only started singing about two or three years ago. Before that, I played trumpet,” said Nuzzi, a senior at Greely High School. “But when I got braces, it really hurt to play the trumpet, so I started focusing on singing.”

Nuzzi is one of eight jazz vocalists from around the country who were selected by the Grammy Foundation to sing at events surrounding the annual Grammy Awards. The awards show will air live at 8 p.m. Feb. 12 on CBS.

Nuzzi left for Los Angeles on Friday. His group’s schedule includes performing at a MusiCares benefit concert Friday honoring Paul McCartney alongside Tony Bennett, Coldplay, Katy Perry, Foo Fighters, Neil Young and Crazy Horse, and McCartney himself. They’ll also perform at a Grammy Awards after-party on Feb. 12.

“I’m a little nervous that I might get distracted at the after party, maybe a little star-struck, and mess up something,” said Nuzzi, who’s 17. “But I think I’ll be able to focus when I have to.”

A jazz vocalist with the Greely High band, Nuzzi isn’t quite as interested in meeting pop musicians as he is in meeting some jazz greats who might be at the Grammys. Jazz vocalist Kurt Elling, for instance, is someone he’d love to chat with at the after party.

According to the Grammy Foundation, Nuzzi was the only Maine student selected this year for this program, known officially as Grammy Camp — Jazz Session. Eight vocalists and 20 instrumentalists were selected from around the country.

Nuzzi said his group’s Grammy week schedule is up in the air, but it appears that there will be some sort of gig every night, perhaps beginning today.

The big event will happen on the night of the awards presentation, when Nuzzi and the other Grammy Camp members will attend the awards show, then sing at the after party as special guests of the Recording Academy.

Nuzzi applied for the honor by sending a video audition tape to the Grammy Foundation. He has been getting songs in the mail to practice and learn in anticipation of Grammy week, and said the arrangements are among “the hardest I’ve ever had to learn.”

“There are tunes people know, like ‘When You Wish Upon A Star,’ but the arrangements are so hard,” said Nuzzi.

When talking about his switch to singing, Nuzzi said he might have been able to “take some steps” to help him keep playing trumpet with less pain, even with braces.

But then he might not have gotten this chance to go to the Grammys and mingle with the musical elite.

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