The annual Grammy Awards presentation always manages to bring together intriguing, surprising and, ultimately, satisfying musical combinations for its best performances.
February's show saw the Black Keys join New Orleans' Dr. John and the Preservation Hall Jazz Band for a stirring rendition of the rock group's Lonely Boy.
And the legendary Sting kept up with youthful Bruno Mars on a pair of songs.
Essentially, Bob Santelli expects to duplicate similar combinations when he gives 25 Tampa Bay teens a chance to be part of the Grammy Museum's Music Revolution Project this summer. Sure, the players will be unknowns instead of famous performers, but Santelli believes the creativity will be just as magical.
"Imagine what happens when we (have) a kid who is nothing but a classical artist," Santelli says. "Let's say she's played the cello all her life, and then we'll have a kid who's nothing but hip-hop and only knows beats and rhymes, and another kid who grew up on country music and another kid who's grown up on Latino music.
"I'm going to be putting them together in a room for a month and they're going to be working with each other. The idea is to break down those barriers, give these kids an opportunity to grow artistically and musically."
Santelli, executive director of the Grammy Museum, helped launch the project's pilot program in Kansas City, Mo., last year. The teens who earned a spot got to work with big names from a variety of genres, including R&B producer Terry Lewis, blues legend Keb Mo and female rap pioneer MC Lyte.
• • •
This summer, the project returns to Kansas City and adds Tampa as a second location. Santelli defines the mission with the loftiest goals.
"The program is designed to essentially create, if I could be so bold as to say, future Grammy winners," Santelli said last week. "And I say that seriously. We're dreaming big here."
It doesn't sound so improbable when Santelli explains that two participants from last year's program now have direct contact with Lewis and routinely pitch him songs.
The more improbable part involves the selection of Tampa Bay. Santelli said his group originally considered 14 cities. Tampa Bay? Not even on the list.
But a chance encounter and familiarity with a key player gave the area a chance.
Lisa Yob, who runs the Yob Family Foundation, promised her daughter, who suffers from adrenal insufficiency, that if she was healthy for her birthday last summer, she could pick her destination to visit.
She choose the Grammy Museum, and that allowed Yob to learn about the project and try to bring it to Tampa.
Santelli spoke with Lightning chief executive officer Tod Leiweke, a familiar face because Leiweke's brother is an L.A. Kings executive. He grew even more impressed when he paid a visit to Tampa and got overwhelmed with the enthusiasm he found in Leiweke, Yob and eventual partners at Ruth Eckerd Hall, St. Petersburg College and the University of South Florida.
Now Santelli and his staff will field applications (go to grammymuseum.org and search under education) through April 29. He promises the chosen few will be unique.
"We are looking for kids who exemplify the possibility of musical creativity. We're looking for the future leaders of American music."
Sounds like another winning show to me.
That's all I'm saying.