The big Grammy winner at Sunday’s 59th annual awards in Los Angeles was Adele, but Tucson’s Miranda Agnew had the biggest Grammy moment.

The University High School senior appeared front and center before an audience of 26 million viewers and played a snippet of “America the Beautiful” on her trumpet.

“She was wearing this beautiful gown and she looked fantastic and she sounded like a million bucks,” said Tucson Jazz Institute founder and instructor Doug Tidaback.

“I feel super lucky to have been picked for the solo,” said Agnew, 18, who was tapped for the honor by Recording Academy CEO Neil Portnow.

Agnew, who came home from Los Angeles on Monday night after spending more than a week in the city preparing for the Grammys with the Grammy High School Band, said she had no idea why Portnow picked her.

“I was really nervous,” she said. “I had a conversation with the CEO who was a super nice guy. After that conversation I realized, ‘Wow I’m going to have to play before a super lot of people.’”

Agnew said the Grammy High School Band performed Saturday during the nominees reception and at an afterparty follow Sunday’s show.

Agnew is one of four students who have auditioned and appeared with the Grammy High School Band since Tidaback was first invited to send his students to audition five years ago.

“These are literally the 20 best high school jazz musicians in the country,” said Tidaback, who said the high school musicians performed throughout the Grammy broadcast and at the before and afterparties.

Tucson Jazz Institute is sending two ensembles — its Ellington Big Band and Basie Big Band — to the Moneterey Jazz Festival’s Next Generation Festival in California in March. Tidaback said the top 25 high school bands are selected from hundreds that audition. College jazz bands also perform during the three day event March 31 through April 2.

You can catch Agnew in action with the Tucson Jazz Institute at Wilbur’s Grill, 25 N. Arcadia Ave., at East Broadway and Swan Road, at 6:30 p.m., Feb. 22.

Contact reporter Cathalena E. Burch at or 573-4642. On Twitter @Starburch

I cover music for the Arizona Daily Star.