Christopher Tin made video game history today, becoming the first composer to win a Grammy Award for a song composed for a game. Tin took home the Best Instrumental Arrangement Accompanying Vocalist(s) at the 53rd Grammy Awards in Los Angeles today for his composition "Baba Yetu," the opening track from Sid Meier's Civilization IV. Tin also won the Grammy for Best Classical Crossover Album for his debut album, Calling All Dawns, which also features the song "Baba Yetu."
A native Californian, Tin studied music at Stanford and Oxford universities before launching his career in film, television, advertising, and video game composition. He cocreated the startup sound for Microsoft's Surface operating system, as well as the demo song for Apple's Garage Band software.
"Baba Yetu" was born when Tin's Stanford roommate, Soren Johnson--lead designer of Civilization IV and then-employee of Firaxis Games--asked him to compose the theme song for Civilization IV. The choral piece was first performed by the Stanford Talisman a cappella group and features Swahili lyrics--a translated version of "Our Father," one of the most popular prayers in Christianity. Upon Civilization IV's release in 2005, Tin's composition quickly gained critical praise in the games industry and went on to win two Game Audio Network Guild Awards in 2007.
Since then, "Baba Yetu" has become a regular in the repertoire of Video Games Live, an international touring concert that teams up with some of the world's best orchestras and choirs with some of the most popular video game anthems. The song had its world premiere in 2006 at the Video Games Live concert at the Hollywood Bowl in Los Angeles.