Lawrence University voice professor Estelí Gomez is coming home with a Grammy Award.
Gomez and her vocal ensemble, Roomful of Teeth, won a Grammy on Feb. 4 in the Best Chamber Music/Small Ensemble Performance category for the album Rough Magic, released in May 2023. Gomez was among the ensemble members accepting the award at the 66th annual Grammy ceremonies, held at the Crypto.com Arena in Los Angeles.
It’s the second Grammy win for Roomful of Teeth. They won a Grammy in 2014 in the same ensemble performance category for their self-titled debut album, and they were nominated in two other categories. They were nominated again in 2016 following the release of their second album, Render.
Gomez joined the faculty in the Lawrence Conservatory of Music in 2019. She continues to perform at music halls around the world. She leaves this week for Paris, where she will teach remotely while Roomful of Teeth embarks on a series of performances with Radio France Philharmonic Orchestra.
In the lead-up to the Grammys, Gomez said she was excited about the accolades coming to Roomful of Teeth for the Rough Magic album.
“I’m so glad to have this album out in the world finally, after eight years between our second and third albums,” she said. “We’re really proud of it. It’s an honor for our group to have been nominated for Grammys for all three of our albums, but this one is such a special mix of music that we’ve gotten to tour and dig into over years of live performances, commissioning projects, and artist residencies.”
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Gomez is doing her best to bring her students along for the ride. The performing she does with Roomful of Teeth—striving to improve and grow as a vocal performer—informs her teaching every step of the way. That, she said, is at the heart of being a mentor.
“I really feel a sense of symbiosis with my teaching and singing work—both types of work are about communication and self-expression, and connecting with people,” Gomez said. “The kinds of connections I get to make with Roomful’s collaborators directly inform and inspire the way I think about singing, and the way I think about teaching. That makes my teaching always more creative and alive upon my return.”
Watching Gomez build those connections between her performances and her teaching has been a joy to witness over the past five years, said Brian Pertl, dean of the Conservatory.
“Estelí Gomez is one of the most versatile and virtuosic singers in the world,” Pertl said. “Classical, jazz, musical theater, throat singing, and heavy metal. She literally can do it all. When she is not performing at the most famous concert halls around the world, she is here at Lawrence teaching. And her teaching is as virtuosic as her singing.”
Gomez’ students share the Grammy excitement. Prior to Sunday’s Grammy ceremony, they talked about what she brings to her students.
“She has spent so much of her time caring for her students and showing us love and compassion, and I think this nomination is a good way for her to receive that love and appreciation back,” said senior Damian Islas, a music performance (voice) major from Houston. “Aside from her nurturing persona, she has put in so much hard work into mastering the art of singing and knowing her voice and body inside and out, which is the hardest job for a singer. Some singers spend their entire lives trying to figure that out, but with one single beautiful soprano note, Prof Gomez shows us all that she has cracked the code.”
Ava Wadia, a sophomore from San Diego, said she’s thrilled to see Gomez and the Roomful ensemble recognized at the highest levels of the music industry.
“It's inspiring as a student to see the payoff of all the techniques that she imparts to us in our lessons,” Wadia said. “It's also a point of pride I think for me, like I get to shout, ‘That's my voice teacher!’ at people.”