And the Grammy Goes to… Annie Ray!

Blog: Annie Ray

Even if you didn’t watch the 66th Annual Grammy Awards ceremony held on Sunday, Feb. 4, you probably heard a lot about it. Taylor Swift, Joni Mitchell and Tracy Chapman were all over the news, and rightly so.

But you may not have known about another Grammy Award winner who deserves serious accolades. Annie Ray, an orchestra director and performing arts department chair at Virginia’s Annandale High School took home the Grammy’s 2024 Music Educator Award. The award “recognizes educators who have made a significant contribution and demonstrate a commitment to music education.”

Ray was chosen from among 10 finalists because of her advocacy work on behalf of students with disabilities and their parents. One example of Ray’s work is her creation of a Parent Orchestra, wherein nearly 200 caregivers of children with disabilities are taught to play their children’s instruments. She is also the creator of the Crescendo Orchestra program, which teaches students with severe developmental and intellectual disabilities to play music and provides opportunities for them to perform together.

Though Ray didn’t appear on the televised Grammy Awards show, she was invited to the ceremony in Los Angeles and received her own award at the Recording Academy’s Special Merit Awards Ceremony on Sat, Feb. 3.

In an interview with NPR, Ray said that the award really belonged to her students. “I’m just lucky enough to have been a part of their journey and their process and to have been taught by them…They completely changed my educational philosophy and approach of what it truly means to meet a student where they’re at and apply that elsewhere,” she added. “I believe they have a truly powerful message to share with everyone, and especially with how we look at approaching music education and what that looks like.”

In addition to the award itself, Ray received a $10,000 prize and a $10,000 matching grant for her school’s music program. She plans to use some of the grant money to buy new instruments – especially cellos and double basses. Ray also plans to start a scholarship for aspiring musicians and music educators.