Peter Kater is to the Grammy Awards as Meryl Streep is to the Academy Awards. (Or Susan Lucci is to the Emmys. Of sorts.)
On Sunday, the former Boulder resident finally snagged the Best New Age Album Grammy Award for "Dancing on Water," after being nominated 13 times over his music career.
"It feels really good," said Kater, who lives in Maui, Hawaii. "I didn't win for 12 years in a row, so this was particularly a rush of all kinds of feelings. A part of me didn't think it was going to happen and the next thing I know, I'm running up on stage collecting an award. Thirteen nominations is impressive enough, but there's just something wonderful about a win."
Kater went backstage, where he stood "stunned." The staff gently guided him through interviews and camera flashes, which was nice, because he was "semi in shock," he said, laughing.
"They also had a vodka bar," he said. "I definitely checked that out."
Kater beat out some big-name musicians in the category, including Brian Eno, India.Arie, Kitaro (another former Boulder County resident and friend of Kater's) and Steve Roach.
Kater, who comes back to visit Boulder at least twice a year, lived in town from 1977 to 1990, then again from 2012 to 2015. It was in Boulder, he said, where his music career took off. Kater went from performing at places such as l the mezzanine at Hotel Boulderado and the Broker Inn to Chautauqua and Macky auditoriums. In the late '70s, he even played the piano backing to renowned beat poet Allen Ginsberg's live improvisational poetry a couple times, he said.
"The old days of Boulder was so rich and fertile," said Kater, also an environmentalist, naturalist and recipient of a United Nations Environment Leadership Award.
Kater, who produces film scores, studied classical piano at an early age. He has released dozens of albums, many with Silver Wave Records and one with New Earth Records, both Boulder-based.
But the funny thing about this Grammy-winning album, he said, was that "Dancing on Water" was more of a personal journey. He said he really had no intentions to release the material, as they were a collection of piano "readings" he has been practicing with others for the past couple years.
"I'll have people lie under my piano, one at a time, and talk to them about what's going on in their life," said Kater. "I'll play the piano and get very intimate and personal. I'll record the session and give them the MP3."
He said the process organically evolved, as he selected 10 of his favorite sessions and put them on an album — an album that won a Grammy Award.
"All of my other albums were very much produced records," said Kater. "This album almost didn't exist. It was very personal."
Kater said he hopes to play at least one show in Boulder this year, and fans can check for updates at peterkater.com.
"As much as I love living on Maui and being out in the middle of the Pacific Ocean," he said, "I can't express how important Boulder was to my personal growth as a person and a musician."