LaGrange College alumnus nominated for Grammy awards

Published 7:45 pm Friday, January 4, 2019

David Harris, a 2008 composition and music technologies graduate of LaGrange College, received two Grammy nominations this year for his work with R&B artist H.E.R.

Harris, whose professional name is Swagg R’Celious, is up for Grammys for best album and best R&B album. H.E.R., Having Everything Revealed, received five Grammy nominations, including album of the year, best new artist, best R&B song, best R&B album and best R&B performance.

Harris said he’s known H.E.R. since she was 13.

“I interned with her management and she signed with RCA about that time,” Harris said. “She is so talented – she plays five instruments and writes her own material. But she was so young and her label didn’t quite know what to do with her. Her manager and one of my mentors, Jeff Robinson, called me in 2014 and asked me to work as a producer on her first project.”

Harris and H.E.R. went into a studio piano room in New York City and started writing.

“She was changing from a young girl into a woman during that time, so several things changed musically through the process,” Harris said. “Her work really evolved.”

In a 2018 article in Interview magazine, H.E.R., whose name is Gabriella Wilson, credited Harris with her growth as an artist and a person.

“The studio was my safe haven,” Wilson said. “I would talk to Swagg, who’s like my big brother. … We would be in a room with a piano, and I would cry while talking to him and sharing some melodies and chord ideas. … Eventually I had seven songs that completely described exactly what I was going through. That’s ‘H.E.R. Vol. 1’ – the diary and stories of my four years of evolving as a woman.”

Harris said he couldn’t believe it when he heard about the Grammy nominations for him and H.E.R., now 21.

“She got five total,” Harris said. “I am so proud of her. I knew about all the hard work and sacrifice that had gone into it, and now it was paying off. I couldn’t sleep that night, I was so excited.”

Harris, who lives in Connecticut, said he’s just launched a new label with Richard Gottehrer, and is working with Alex da Kid and his KIDinaKORNER record company as well as singer Shari Marie.

“I’m branching out, developing new artists and working toward having a sustainable career in this business,” Harris said.

But throughout his career, he looks back on his years at LaGrange College with fondness and gratitude.

“Lee (Johnson, coordinator of the digital creative media and film program and Fuller E. Callaway professor of music) and Toni (Anderson, coordinator of the music program and professor of music) were very influential during my college years,” Harris said. “When times were bleak and I didn’t know what I was doing, they were always there to encourage me. I still stay in contact with them.”

Meanwhile, Harris is making plans for Feb. 10, Grammy awards night.

“My wife, Deborah, and I are going to have to get a babysitter for the twins — Logan Arcelious Harris and Ashtyn Marie Harris,” Harris said.

“And then we’ll fly out to Los Angeles. I am so excited.”