WILLIAMSTOWN, Mass. — One week from Sunday, Matt Cusson will be walking the red carpet and waiting in the audience to hear if his name called at the 65th Grammy Awards.
The Pittsfield native is nominated in the "Best Arrangement, Instrumental or A Cappella" for his work on the Bee Gees' "How Deep Is Your Love" performed by Dallas-based a cappella group Kings Return.
Cusson said recently that his nomination feels surreal and he's been in awe thinking about getting the same gilded gramaphone as A-list celebrities like Beyonce, who's won 28 Grammys and is up for nine this year.
"It still hasn't hit me, I guess it's still like I'm in the clouds. My brain is pretty mushy. But it's surreal. There's no words," he said. "I think it's a validation that I didn't necessarily need but I'm in awe of it. And I'm glad, obviously, beyond glad it happened win or lose. And I'm up against the heaviest hitters in the world. It's crazy."
One of those heavy hitters is Grammy winner Danny Elfman, whose 15th nomination is for "Main Titles" in the Marvel film "Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness." Other nominees in the category include two-time nominee Armand Hutton ("As Days Go By" – An Arrangement of the "Family Matters Theme Song"), four-time nominee Remy Le Boeuf ("Minnesota, WI,") and Grammy-winner John Beasley ("Scrapple from the Apple"), who's up for three awards this year.
The musician and his wife, Lisa Kaki-Cusson, were in the middle of moving back to the Berkshires in 2020 when Kings Return member Gabe Kunda reached out to him after hearing some of his previous work.
He didn't have a studio at the time so he assembled the song using an impromptu set up he pulled together.
Since releasing the song, Cusson has worked on five or six songs with the group and intends to work with them in the future. Their collaboration has been long distance — band members and Cusson will meet up in person for the first at the Grammys.
Cusson received the "for your consideration" email last fall to inform him of the possibility of being nominated. But he'd received those before, so didn't watch the nomination announcements on Nov. 15.
Instead, he was at home in Williamstown playing with his daughter, Lila, and it wasn't until he received numerous messages from Kings Return members and old friends he became aware of the nomination.
The musician has lived in New York City, Los Angeles and most recently Greenwich, Conn., but calls the Berkshires home.
"It's a perfect place to raise a child, families near, there's so much music here, there's so much art here. I love it! It's just got kind of the best of everything," Cusson said. "I've traveled all over the world and the Berkshire seems to have just a little bit of everything. I love the culture. I love the food. I love the music."
He does a masterclass with his former professor Ellen Shanahan at Berkshire Community College, where he is able to see a lot of the area's talented musicians.
Technology now allows many musicians to have a home studio and work virtually, he said, and creating and distributing music has become more accessible.
Advice that he always gives to up and coming musicians is to be as self-reliant as you can, network, and to take any chance to perform — whether it's in a big stadium or a coffee shop.
"Being as self-reliant as you can is important, especially this day and age," Cusson said. "That way, you don't have to rely on record labels. I've signed to other famous artists before and now I don't have to rely on them. I can just kind of create your own destiny kind of thing."
Another piece of advice is to never be too good to stop learning. Coming from a musical family, he's been playing piano for his entire life and is still learning new things.
Meeting new people can also bring opportunities that you wouldn't expect being able to do, he said. An example of this was was NASA using his song "Calling it a Night" for its annual moon phase video and performing "The Moon and More
" with Javier Colon, Season 1 winner of NBC's "The Voice," for the agency's Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter project.
Since being nominated, he said he's gotten more fun opportunities and is looking forward to leveling up in his career.
Cusson will be releasing another album this summer and his third single from the album "No Light Yet" was released on Jan. 16.
"I just want to keep going. I've been blessed enough to work with the best and I want to do more of that," he said.
Fellow musicians are welcome to reach out to Cusson with career questions. More information here