Music producer and Chapman University alumnus Henry Allen ’11 was just coming off one terrific year. Among the feats was the release of his debut EP, production and writing credits on Major Lazer’s chart-topping Cold Water and The Weeknd’s Starboy.
And there was his work on a little something called All Night for Beyoncé’s Grammy-winning album
But on Grammy night, when it was time to trot down that red carpet, Allen – who goes by
King Henry in the music world – slipped away with friends and unceremoniously found another door into Staples Center for the Feb. 12 awards.
“I was nervous. I didn’t actually do the red carpet because I didn’t think I was cool enough,” Allen says with a quiet laugh.
Maybe it’s hard to be nonchalant when you’re busy burning up with red-hot success. Allen shared the producing and writing credits on the Beyoncé hit All Night , which earned him a Grammy nomination for Album of the Year in connection with Lemonade. The album won Best Urban Contemporary Album, an award that doesn’t put one of the coveted gilded gramophones into the hands of all co-producers, but is, frankly, still pretty darn cool.
“We hoped for Album of the Year, but I never even imagined a nomination in the first place,” says Allen, who graduated from the College of Performing Arts , where he was part of several award-winning classical guitar ensembles.
The honor capped off an especially successful year for Allen. His own Duke City imprint released his EP
Don’t Stay Away , which was also released internationally on Black Butter Records.
Don’t Stay Away incorporates a video homage to his native New Mexico, produced by fellow Chapman alumni Dillon Moore, Dan Streit, and Tanner Hall. The song has been streamed more than 2 million times on multiple platforms.
But the seed of his pop music success was planted at Chapman – especially the rigorous training in musical foundations and classical guitar, he says.
“Just understanding music at all different levels has given me an advantage to come up with different sounds, basically different approaches,” he says. “I understand how music works.”
And practice, practice, practice under the tutelage of Jeff Cogan, associate professor and director of Guitar Studies and Music Technology at CoPA.
“He forced me to practice for hours a day, even though all I wanted to do was hang out with my friends and make weird electronic music,” Allen says. “But it all panned out into what I’m doing now.”
Now he’s onto the next thing, which includes more storytelling pieces like Don’t Stay Away , producing for Major Lazer and some ventures he’s not quite ready to talk about.
“It’s been crazy, but in an awesome way. There’s so much going on and so many good projects,” he says.
Sounds like before long Allen just might have to reconsider his side-door entrances at award events.
Top image/Courtesy of Henry Allen