Women owned all the major headlines coming out of the 2019 Grammy Awards, which aired this past Sunday night (February 10). Alicia Keys was the first woman host since Queen Latifah in 2005, Cardi B became the first solo female artist to earn Best Rap Album and country artist Kacey Musgraves took home four golden gramophones, including Album of the Year. One of the top trailblazers scored in a category you’re probably not familiar with, but you’ve probably heard of her alma mater.
Skidmore College alum Emily Lazar, a mastering engineer based in New York City, became the first woman to win a Grammy in the Best Engineered Album, Non-Classical category. “She’s in the mix,” Lazar said after accepting the award onstage, which she’d won for her work on alternative rocker Beck’s latest album, Colors (the artist just announced yesterday that he’ll be appearing at the Saratoga Performing Arts Center in August). “Winning the Grammy for Best Engineered Album, Non-Classical is a really special accolade,” Lazar tells saratoga living. “I’m very grateful to help inspire young engineers, both male and female. They can see my career and know that it exists so they can pursue it too. If you can see it—you can be it!”
The newly minted Grammy winner graduated from Skidmore in 1993, majoring in English and minoring in music. Lazar tells saratoga living her college education in Saratoga was a profoundly formative experience: “My time in Upstate New York provided an amazing environment for me to grow as an artist and an engineer/producer.” Lazar actually first started pursuing her interest in music and recording technology at Sweetfish Recording Studios in Argyle. After recording there, she felt compelled to get into the Skidmore studios and learn as much as she could from the other side of the glass. “I’m very grateful to have studied in an environment where ‘Creative Thought Matters,'” Lazar says. “The Skidmore College motto is an idea that remains in hyper focus both in the studio and out, and in everything that I do.”
Following her creativity has led Lazar to her current position as President and Chief Mastering Engineer at The Lodge, a mastering studio based in New York City that first opened in the late ’90s. With the majority of mastering engineers being men, it’s a niche subsection of the music industry that’s been decidedly difficult for women to break into. But Lazar’s been breaking ground for decades, having worked with a panoply of platinum-selling artists, including the late David Bowie, Madonna, Destiny’s Child and Missy Elliot, to name a few. Lazar has also worked in film and TV, mastering original soundtracks for Academy Award winners Boys Don’t Cry and Training Day and Emmy Award-winning TV series Six Feet Under.
Sunday’s Grammy victory marked Lazar’s first career win. She was nominated back in 2011 for Album of the Year for the Foo Fighters’ Wasting Light and in 2014 for Record of the Year for Sia’s hit song “Chandelier.” She was also most recently nominated in the category that she won in 2015 for her work on Recreational Love by indie pop duo The Bird and the Bee. For Lazar, the win on Sunday night was both a personal victory as well as one for women everywhere. She tells saratoga living: “The additional historic relevance of this win is actually hard to believe as it’s 2019 and has certainly been a long time coming.”