Boulder pianist makes another run at elusive Grammy

By Tyra Sutak For the Camera

Posted:   12/08/2012 01:00:00 AM MST

Peter Kater is in good company at the 2012 Grammy Awards ceremony, where he waits on the red carpet behind Tony Bennett. (Courtesy photo)


Kater’s nomineesPeter Kater albums (by year they were released) that have been nominated for a Grammy Award:

2004: Red Moon

2005: Piano

2006: Fire

2007: Faces of the Sun

2008: Ambrosia

2009: In a Dream

2011: Wind, Rock, Sea & Flame

2012: Light Body

For most Boulder residents, Grammy night means getting together with friends, dressing up in whatever ballgown or tux is collecting dust in the closet, sipping a Grammy-themed cocktail and spending a few hours of time being wholly invested in the best musicians on the scene today.

But for one Boulderite, Grammy night means so much more.

Peter Kater, a multiplatinum-selling pianist/composer, learned Wednesday night he had been nominated for the 2013 Grammy Awards for Best New Age Album for his work, “Light Body.” And not long after, the congratulatory texts and emails from family, friends and peers began pouring in.

Though he has seen his name on the list of Grammy nominees seven times before, Kater says it’s always an exciting moment.

“I saw my name, and it was a huge rush and an affirmation,” he said. “I felt thankful. It was a big deal.”

Kater, who was born in Germany, got his start in music at age 7, when his mom demanded he start playing the piano in their New Jersey home.

And, now, the 54-year-old will be eagerly waiting to hear his name called for the first time as he sits among the well-dressed, cream-of-the-crop of the music business at the Staples Center in Los Angeles on Feb. 10.

“Getting nominated is an amazing thing,” Kater says. “I’ve been nominated seven times (before) and haven’t won. I know, it’s kind of stupid to complain about.”

Considering he is in a category that has been won by the likes of Peter Gabriel, Pat Metheny, Enya and plenty of Kater’s mentors, including cellist David Darling, Kater realizes the journey and the nomination are just as important and humbling as the win.

“The main thing to focus on is we’re all in it together, and it’s an honor to be there,” he said. “And you know, someday I’ll win. Maybe this time, maybe next time.”

Despite having fallen short in his quest to return to Colorado with a Grammy, Kater continues to remain optimistic and enthusiastic and supportive of his peers. The New Age category is mostly home to instrumental artists but has also included a variety of vocalists.

“New Age music is kind of a throw-away category for music that doesn’t really fit anywhere else,” Kater said. “There’s a degree of soulfulness in the music that comes from a heart-centered place.”

Music actually led Kater to Colorado. He credits John Denver as a huge driving force in his decision to initially relocate here in the ’70s. Songs such as “Rocky Mountain High” and “Country Roads” ignited a curiosity in Kater, just out of high school, as he sought creative inspiration for his music.

Kater spent four years in Maui before returning to Boulder in 2011.

“There’s a bit of an edge here,” he said of his adopted hometown. “There’s something that’s kind of resonating — it’s active, not passive. It’s agitating, and I want to dig deeper and explore that creative edge in myself. It becomes a need almost.”

As a Grammy Awards red-carpet regular, Kater’s quite familiar with all the festivities associated with the glamorous evening — pre-Grammys party attendance, having a range of stylish outfits from which to choose, knowing how to work the red carpet, sometimes sneaking back through the press line more than once.

And, of course, meeting legends such as Tony Bennett, Ringo Starr, Chick Corea and Robert Plant.

Whether he walks away from these Grammys a winner, Kater plans to continue to create and produce his own music as a Boulder resident.

“I haven’t done my best record yet, I’m always looking forward to getting back to it,” he said. “I guess that’s why I still do it after all of these years — I’m still totally interested in it.”

And if Kater were to come away with the big prize in February, he knows exactly where he’d keep it.

“I joke around and say that I’m going to put it on the counter of my favorite sushi bar in Maui,” he said, “but realistically, I’ll probably keep it in my bedroom somewhere.

“It’ll be nice to look at.”