In the 2011 Latin Grammy Awards, City College Latin American Studies instructor Greg Landau was nominated in the Best Instrumental Music category for producing Omar Sosa’s album “Calma.”
The Latin Grammys was founded in 2000 by the Latin Academy of Recording Arts & Sciences to recognize outstanding achievement in the Spanish and Portuguese-language music industry.
Landau, a Mission District native, is an experienced nominee: This is his second nomination at the Latin Grammys and fifth Grammy nomination overall with three nominations coming from the original (American) Grammys.
“It feels really good to be recognized in this way,” said Landau. “Especially [since it was] low-budget and locally produced where we don’t have big resources or public representatives, just our creativity and passion.”
Growing up with a father who was a film director and a mother who was a poet and theater director, Landau has been profoundly influenced by the arts. This is manifested in his sprawling resume of music, media, education and installation art.
Landau studied sociology at UC Berkeley and graduated from UC San Diego with a doctoral degree in communications with an emphasis on music as a social force.
“I was not interested in studying music scientifically,” said Landau, “but how music was [used] as a social force and expressed social ideas.”
Landau has taught classes in four departments: history, anthropology, music and Latin American & Latino/a Studies.
He has taught Anthropology 11: Latin American Cultures and Societies and Music 25: Music of Latin America and the Caribbean.
He emphasizes the cultural significance of music, how it’s been used as a tool to preserve what might otherwise have been lost.
“Music is very important in Latin American culture, probably more so than in North America,” said Landau, “because of censorship under colonial and post-colonial times, [music] gives people a way to express themselves.”
Landau uses Omar Sosa’s album “Calma,” as an example of expression translated through music.
“Calma means calm,” said Landau, “and that’s what it expresses.”
Professor Landau has been producing music in various genres for 30 years.
“I think that people should follow their passion and that I feel that if you want to [follow your dreams] you should do it,” said Landau. “This is something I always wanted to do.”
Landau is currently producing four albums that are expected to debut in early November 2011.
Unfortunately, Sosa’s “Calma” lost the best instrumental award, to the album “Forever” by Chick Corea, Stanley Clarke and Lenny White.