Bass guitarist and Gloucester resident Rory McKenzie, who tours with the interactive children's show, Debbie and Friends, is sharing in the glory of the group's shared Grammy win for their original track on the CD compilation "All About Bullies, Big and Small."
The compilation piece took the 2011 Grammy on Sunday night for Best Children's Album.
"Never in my wildest dreams did I ever imagine I'd share in such an honor," McKenzie said Tuesday in a phone interview, "We'd just been playing out in L.A., but couldn't be there for the Grammys because we were booked for two shows in New York City. So we were on the road when we got the news and we couldn't believe it!"
The group's founding director, Debbie Cavalier, shares a Gloucester bond with McKenzie that goes back over 20 years to when his son, now 31, was one of her first-grade music students at West Parish School, where she taught from 1987 to 1991.
Now Berklee College of Music's dean of continuing education, Cavalier could not be reached for an interview, but following the Sunday awards show in Los Angeles, wrote in her blog that "we are beyond excited to share this amazing honor with so many artists who donated their songs and tracks to address the important issue of bullying."
Together with band member Mike Carrera, Cavalier wrote and produced the group's track, "Walk Away," for the winning album. The fully nonproÔ¨Åt children's CD benefits the National Center for Bullying Prevention and was produced by East Coast Recording Co. and Cool Beans Music. It edged out more than 125 other children's album nominees, to eventually win over a field of five finalists.
Of her five-member band, two — drummer Bill D'Agostino and guitarist Eric Saulnier — were recruited from the ranks at Berklee. But Cavalier plucked McKenzie right out of the ranks of parents at West Parish, once she'd heard him hit the bass line. They've been making music together ever since, and the band maintains close ties with Cape Ann communities, frequently playing Rockport's Old Sloop concerts.
McKenzie, who for 31 years has "kept his day job" as a nurse and addiction counselor at Addison Gilbert Hospital in Gloucester, also plays rock, blues and folk-acoustic with bands throughout New England, and more recently, with Emmy-winning Brad Hatfield, Mark Earley, Duke Levine, Dave Mattacks and Billy Novick, on the recent jazz CD, "Too Much".
Asked if the band planned to celebrate its Grammy glory in glamorous L.A. style, McKenzie said, "That's not Debbie's style."
"I know she's thrilled for the recognition," he said, "but she is just so much about the mission, so much about reaching the kids. It's all about what can we do next?"
As for himself, McKenzie said, "Well, when I got home I asked my wife, 'Honey, now that you're living with a Grammy winner, whaddya think?'
"She said, 'I think tomorrow is garbage and recycling day, and you need to get it out.'"
McKenzie is the second Gloucester resident sharing Grammy glory for the second year running.
Last year, in the biggest surprise of the 53rd annual Grammy Awards, a relatively unknown young jazz musician named Esperanza Spalding materialized onstage to claim the award for best new artist of the year, beating out teen idol Justin Beiber, and hip-hop's newest bling king, Drake, leaving the music industry scratching its collective head over the upset.
But for Gloucester's Scott Southard, the only mystery surrounding Spalding's triumph was the fact that it was such a mystery to his fellow industry insiders.
The Lanesville resident and founding director of International Music Network (IMN) had represented Spalding since her student days at Boston's Berklee College of Music from an office on downtown Main Street.
Joann Mackenzie may be contacted at 978-283-7000x3457 or email@example.com.