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Music Supervisors to Watch: From Gaming’s ‘Redemption’ Soundtracker to Ryan Murphy’s Go-To

The Guild of Music Supervisors hands out its annual awards in 18 categories on Feb. 13 at the Ace Theatre in downtown Los Angeles.

As the profile of music supervision has risen over the past decade, so has the growth of the Guild of Music Supervisors, which hands out its annual awards in 18 categories on Feb. 13 at the Ace Theatre in downtown Los Angeles. In addition to recognizing those who soundtrack our favorite movies, shows and games, the GMS will honor composer and lyricist Marc Shaiman with the Icon Award and Joel Sill with the Legacy Award.

Performers at the event include Lukas Nelson, son of Willie and musical contributor to “A Star Is Born”; Aimee Mann, whose “Drive” is nominated in the song for TV category for “The Assassination of Gianni Versace,” and King Princess in the Spotlight Artist slot.

Presenters for the ninth edition of the GMS Awards include women’s rights advocate and attorney Gloria Allred,  Academy Award-winning director Taylor Hackford and producer-songwriter Linda Perry, co-writer of “Girl in the Movies” with Dolly Parton from “Dumplin’.” But the main event will be those tastemakers that shape the music that goes hand in hand with visual media.

As music supervision has become a coveted field to get into, these eight nominees are at the top of their games.

Dave Jordan

Marvel’s go-to soundtrack superhero (franchises include “Guardians of the Galaxy,” “The Avengers,” “Thor,” “Captain America”) is a three-time GMS winner, who’s also put his indelible touch on “Empire.” But “Black Panther” posed a unique challenge for Jordan, the CEO of Format Entertainment: capturing the thrilling promise of an action film, while ensuring it meaningfully taps into the zeitgeist. Jordan wisely locked in Pulitzer-winning rapper Kendrick Lamar to lead that charge, which culminates in the transcendent rallying cry of “All the Stars,” with help from SZA. And it’s that cultural resonance that has proven career-defining for this already veteran music supervisor.

Robin Kaye

Whether aspiring stars are actually belting out hits on “American Idol” or actual stars are just going through the motions on “Lip Sync Battle,” it’s Kaye working tirelessly behind the scenes as music supervisor on both of these music reality shows. She also serves as vice president of the Guild of Music Supervisors in her free time. Having won the GMS Award for music supervision in reality television three years in a row (2012 to 2014) for “Idol,” Kaye is nominated once again for her work on ABC’s reboot of the series last year. “The general public assumes that music supervision is a glamorous and exciting job — being paid to work with one of everyone’s favorite pastimes, music,” Kaye has said. “[But] in most films and scripted television … the music is usually the very last thing that happens, and sometimes there is not enough budget left to fill all the music needs. Music supervisors are often expected to work fast and pull miracles creatively and financially to complete the project.”

Season Kent

Two-time GMS Award winner Kent is nominated twice this year for films, but has a thriving career in television supervising such music-heavy shows as “The Walking Dead,” “Luke Cage” and “13 Reasons Why.” Besides the nominated “The Hate U Give” and “Love, Simon,” her film credits cover an impressive range of musical styles, notably “The Fault in Our Stars,” “Suicide Squad” and “Magic Mike XXL.” A native of Nashville, she got her industry start working on “Austin Powers in Goldmember” and “Charlie’s Angels: Full Throttle.” Kent and Gabe Hilfer are partners in the music supervision company Full Pursuit.

Kier Lehman

The brilliance of Lehman’s work on “Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse’s” soundtrack is how it’s architected to be a playlist its teenaged lead character would probably make. To that end, its marquee song, the wistful “Sunflower,” features the powerhouse duo of Post Malone and Swae Lee, and recently hit No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart. If Lehman has a Spidey sense, it’s his instinct for nurturing new music that fits so organically into his projects, as he’s done with great fanfare for HBO’s “Insecure.” With “Sunflower,” he’s helped hype this Oscar contender to audiences that may not otherwise care about an animated superhero film.

Ivan Pavlovich

The music-discovery power of video-game soundtracks is nothing new, but Pavlovich, director of Music and Audio at Rockstar Games (and a “Grand Theft Auto” alum), elevated the medium to new heights for “Red Dead Redemption 2,” a shoot-’em-up Western. He pivoted sharply away from pop, turning to producer Daniel Lanois (Bob Dylan, U2, Emmylou Harris) to exact swaggering, earthy, and soulful vocals from the likes of Willie Nelson, Rhiannon Giddens, Josh Homme and D’Angelo. (All told, more than 110 musicians contributed to this project.) Not only did the game make $725 million in its first three days of release, but it also spawned the ultimate endorsement: a culture of YouTube covers.

Joe Rudge

Brooklyn-based Rudge is best known for his work on the Grateful Dead documentary “Long Strange Trip,” Oscar-winning “Room,” Ryan Gosling-starrer “Blue Valentine” and “Beasts of the Southern Wild.” He most recently supervised the Hulu doc “Fyre Fraud” and music supervised six projects in 2018, among them the Guild-nominated “Eighth Grade” and “Hearts Beat Loud.” He started as a production assistant for MTV and VH1 and started music supervising while at the Disney Channel. In 2006, his breakthrough came when he supervised Rian Johnson’s “Brick” for Focus Features. Rudge co-founded the boutique music agency Silent Partners with Kyle McKeveny in 2016.

Robin Urdang

Beginning in the 1990s, Urdang developed a reputation for overseeing onscreen musical performances in films such as “The Mambo Kings,” “Introducing Dorothy Dandridge” and “Glitter.” She has since music supervised more than 100 films and 15 series, among them the song-heavy “Brothers & Sisters,” “Younger” and “The After Party.” Besides handling the journey into music of the 1940s, ’50s and ’60s in “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel,” Urdang also handles clearances for the TV series “Ballers” and “Broad City.” Urdang won a Guild award for her work on 2017’s “Call Me by Your Name” and an Emmy for “Mrs. Maisel.”

Amanda Krieg Thomas

Ryan Murphy’s go-to music supervisor for all of his FX productions — including “American Crime Story” (Versace as well as O.J.), the most recent seasons of “American Horror Story” (Cult and Apocalypse), and that infamous Hollywood horror story, “Feud: Bette and Joan” — Thomas also found time to work on such eclectic shows as “Claws,” “The Americans” and “Life in Pieces” last year. This year she’s up for three GMS awards: One for her work on Murphy’s trans saga “Pose” and two for “The Assassination of Gianni Versace,” including song/recording created for television for Aimee Mann’s acoustic cover of Ric Ocasek’s Cars classic, “Drive.” Considering that Thomas previously won the GMS Award for music supervision for “The People vs. O.J. Simpson,” the odds are definitely in her favor — and Murphy isn’t the only one betting on her.

Pictured (from left): Season Kent, Amanda Krieg Thomas and Robin Urdang

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