DENVER — Denver-based composer Derrick Hodge will conduct the music for the 94th Academy Awards telecast airing on ABC this Sunday at 6 p.m. MT.
Derrick, a native of Philadelphia, has created music for some of the most well-known artists and shows of recent years, primarily from his home studio in Denver.
“I started working on some things for the Grammys for a really cool upcoming performance in a couple of weeks and also did the Super Bowl a couple months ago,” Derrick said.
Derrick has worked with Common, Kanye West, Quincy Jones, Robert Glasper and many other artists. But working on the Oscars was a career highlight.
“It’s been fun writing, working for the Oscars,” Derrick said.
At a time when #OscarsSoWhite is still circulating online, Derrick is one of three black composers to lead the music for this year’s awards show.
“My lifelong brother, Adam Blackstone, who was the creative musical director for this whole year, he reached out. He was like, ‘Hey, let’s do this!'” Derrick said.
Derrick said that at times rehearsals this week were emotional.
“People shed tears, crying as they recorded with us right now saying, ‘You know, this is the same room that the musicians said, ‘I don’t even want to sit next to it. of that black person” “” Derrick mentioned.
Derrick is inspired by the stories of musicians who came before him and the objects they passed down, including his family’s piano.
“Every time I touch this family piano…I feel the history and the spirit. The piano, I think, is about 121 years old,” he said.
The piano has been in the family of Christian, Derrick’s wife, for decades.
“It has been a connection with the family. It’s been a connection to the spirit and the heartbeat of so many things I’ve done, especially over the past two years,” he said.
“Our piano is a family heirloom,” said Christian. “It came to my mom in the early 1950s. It was given to her and it’s been in our family ever since…He’s working out ideas in his mind on the piano, so he’s constantly playing the piano at home.
Christian and Derrick have two children and have been together for 15 years. Christian is originally from the Denver metro area.
“It was important for us to stay in Denver because our family is here,” Christian said.
As their family grew, so did Derrick’s career.
“He’s always been in love with the orchestra, so to see him compose films and documentaries and come to this precipice of the Oscars where it’s this global platform – it was really amazing,” said Christian. “I’m really proud to see him grow through it all. Every challenge that came his way, he rose to the occasion and far exceeded anything he was held to. I’m just very proud that our family is part of this historic moment.
But Derrick said it’s Christian who deserves the praise.
“I have to give my wife Christian all the love because I feel like every part of my journey is completely connected to her,” Derrick said. “Family is everything to me and it’s honestly what made it possible for me to write for the Oscars, sitting in the same place where that piano is. It’s that balance that made it possible.
As he prepares for one of the biggest gigs of his career, Derrick said he surrounds himself with reminders of what brought him here.
“On all my bases, I write knowledge, integrity, wisdom, respect, love,” Derrick said.
Derrick said it is the love of his family and his music that will continue to sustain him through the many chapters, or verses, to come in life.