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PROFILE: From Cincinnatus Scholar to Grammy Nominee

UC alum Danny Kalb finds out this week if he can add Grammy-winner to his resume. He’ll return to his Alma Mater this weekend to greet a record number of students attending UC’s Cincinnatus Scholarship competition.

Date: 2/7/2006
By: Dawn Fuller
Phone: (513) 556-1823
Photos By: Colleen Kelley
UC ingot Bucyrus, Ohio, native Danny Kalb thought he was a small fish in a big city when he competed in the University of Cincinnati’s first Cincinnatus Scholarship competition back in 1997. Now working for The Dust Brothers in Los Angeles, he was recording engineer on Beck’s critically acclaimed album, Guero, which was nominated for a Grammy Award in the alternative music category. It’s sure to be an exciting week indeed, and Kalb is also excited to return to his alma mater Feb. 11 to address the newest round of high school seniors converging on UC for the Cincinnatus Scholarship competition.

UC is celebrating its 10th annual Cincinnatus Competition this month – which draws high-achieving high school seniors from around the nation to compete on campus in essay and problem-solving exercises. Kalb was one of the first full scholarship recipients from the very first Cincinnatus Scholarship competition to be held at UC, and he says his luncheon address this Saturday is another way he can thank the university for the opportunities he gained from his experience at UC.

2001 photo
2001 photo

The former valedictorian of Wynford High School graduated from UC in 2001 with a bachelor’s degree in business marketing and management and had the added honor of being selected as marshal to represent the College of Business at UC’s 2001 Commencement ceremony.

But it turns out his extracurricular UC classes – such as beginner piano at the College-Conservatory of Music, a classical guitar class, poetry class and a course on the history of pop and jazz – drew him closer to his love of music, and he discovered that the music industry was his true calling. After graduation, he spent a year at a recording arts trade school in Arizona, and after an internship in Los Angeles, he eventually became recording engineer for The Dust Brothers, where he has worked for three years. He lives in L.A. with his wife, Amy, who is also a UC alum. Kalb says Amy was his sister Mandy’s roommate at UC. The women both earned their bachelor’s and master’s degrees from the School of Social Work.

Kalb says that despite pursuing a career in the arts, his experience from College of Business is still used on the job. “There were a lot of group projects and presentations, and that still helps me today because in the studio, creating an album is a very collaborative project, so I had that experience of working together toward a goal.


Danny Kalb
Danny Kalb in Los Angeles

“UC and the opportunity it gave me with the Cincinnatus Scholarship still remains very much a part of me. The scholarship allowed me to focus on my school and my music. Plus, coming from such a small country town, moving to UC has benefited me greatly. I experienced living on a campus that was so diverse, and exploring a big city and an exciting music scene.”

Kalb is currently working on a project with the band, Maxeen, and has previously participated in projects involving artists such as Avril Lavigne and Garbage. “I’m very excited about a project I just completed and mixed with Ben Harper in December. I recorded and mixed his newest album and also co-wrote a song with him, and that’s where I want to go next, toward songwriting and producing.” Ben Harper’s new album, Both Sides of the Gun, is due in record stores in March.

Although The White Stripes claimed the alternative music category at the Grammys Feb. 8, Kalb says Beck’s experimentation with music was what made the work on the Grammy-nominated Guero both fun and challenging. “He constantly has ideas coming to him. He’s so creative and he’s such a hard worker that you really have to stay on your toes to keep up with him.”

Kalb is looking forward to his visit this weekend and seeing how much the campus has transformed since his 2001 graduation. He had never experienced student services – all under one roof – with the completion of University Pavilion in 2002. The Turner and Schneider residence halls were still under construction and completed in 2002. The official opening of the first phase of MainStreet – including a renovated Tangeman University Center, Swift Hall and new Joseph A. Steger Student Life Center – occurred in spring 2004, and the final phase of MainStreet, the new Campus Recreation Center, is currently nearing completion. “I visited UC last year over Christmastime and was just blown away!”

Kalb also says that one of his most profound experiences at UC was performing community service. As part of his Cincinnatus Scholarship commitment, he was required to perform 30 hours of community service a year. “It really affected me and made me thankful for everything I have,” he says. “It really opened my eyes to a lot of problems in society and the unfortunate situations people end up in.”

His advice for current UC students is to gain learning both in and out of the classroom. “Do as much as you can at UC. Experience the diversity, the different cultures and restaurants and events like concerts, shows and sporting events. Just do as much as you possibly can!”

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