Singer-songwriter Joan Hammel of Wildwood was honored earlier this month by the Chicago Chapter of the National Academy of Recording Arts & Sciences for her years of membership and for supporting its education, advocacy and human service initiatives.
The award was presented Oct. 8 at the Hotel Sax in Chicago during a special event celebrating membership in the Recording Academy, the organization behind the annual Grammy Awards. Hammel was one of four recipients honored by chapter president Peter Strand and executive director Tera Healy.
"It was a complete surprise," Hammel said Monday. "I went down there thinking it was just going to be for the office people and me, and it ended up being like 500 people (with) music and everything."
A graduate of Warren Township High School and the College of Lake County, Hammel is a frequent performer at area entertainment venues, including the Genesee Theatre in Waukegan, and is a past nominee for Pop Entertainer of the Year by the Chicago Music Awards.
In 2005, her album "Joanland" was a finalist for nominations in four Grammy Award categories, including Album of the Year. Her activities with the Recording Academy include chairing the Education Committee of the Grammy Awards organization for many years in Chicago, including planning a "Grammy in the Schools" initiative where music professionals in different fields spend the day with high school age students.
Hammel also served on the Board of Governors of the Grammy's Chicago chapter, and was a part of the first all female president/vice president team in Recording Academy history.
Asked what projects are on her immediate horizon, Hammel said she plans to participate in the Illinois Arts Council's 18th Annual Artist Showcase on Nov. 7 in Tinley Park, and her winter will be spent recording a new album.
"It'll be called 'Sanctuary,'" she said. "I'm looking at releasing it in the early spring or summer."