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From the Grammys to the Emmys: A Talk with David “Swagg R’Celious” Harris

Music producer David “Swagg R’Celious” Harris

How did you win a Grammy and an Emmy with H.E.R?

I executive produced H.E.R, which won Best R&B Album in 2017. H.E.R and I have a long working relationship. She contacted me when she was approached to create the music for We The People on Netflix (produced by Barack and Michele Obama) and I was all in. We were given a prompt to work from and teamed up with a few collaborators. The rest is history. The program won the Emmy for Best Outstanding Short-Form Program. 

How did it feel to win your first Emmy?

I got a call when I was in LA that I won Best Program and my reaction was, “What does that mean?” I was in the studio when I received the email saying I got a statuette. It felt unreal. 

Was creating music for children a new experience for you?

Yes, but we didn’t overthink the process. We tried to create something that wasn’t age-specific but more of a call to action in a fun, hip, and jazz way. The purpose is to help kids feel empowered to do what they can to improve their local communities and think about how to be an active citizen. It’s a call to action. 

How long have you been teaching in the Songwriting program?

It’s been more than three years, and it’s really fun. I started one semester and then the pandemic hit, so I was teaching remotely for four semesters. I teach a course called “African-American Music: Its Origins and Influence.” We’re in the process of creating a new course called “Drums, DAWs, and Drum Machines.” I also teach private lessons. 

Anything else you'd like to share about your experience in the music industry and as an educator?

I’m from a really small town in Georgia called Manchester, which when I was growing up, had a population of around 3,000. I also went to a small college called Lagrange College where I was inspired to pursue my dream in music production. Being the school’s first graduate to win a Grammy and an Emmy is mind blowing and surreal for me. 

As a person of color from a town where dreaming big was unfathomable, it’s important for me to understand the gravity of being blessed in the position I’m in. Hopefully it can inspire someone from the same circumstances.

Listen to award-winning Change.