IF THEY HAVE satellite TV at the Bottom Time bar in Micronesia, chances are they’ll be tuned in to the Grammy Awards this Sunday, Feb. 12.
That night, Sea Bright resident Linda Chorney will walk the red carpet as a nominee for the ‘Best Americana’ album of the year – and it’s a pretty good bet they’ll be watching in Sea Bright, too.
An independent artist with 30 years of hard travel behind her, Chorney has gone where no independent artist has gone before – into the midst of a charmed circle of nominees who are already household names with major labels and a team of “people” behind them.
“I’m the Jackie Robinson of the Grammies, because I’m the first person to open up the door for the truly independent artist and take the flack for it.”
Despite her relative ‘unknownness,’ the Grammy committee deemed Chorney’s self-produced album, “Emotional Jukebox,” worthy of consideration for the “Best Americana” album of 2012, placing her into competition with Ry Cooder, Emmylou Harris, Levon Helm, and Lucinda Williams.
Her nomination ignited controversy in some circles, with a few music business insiders charging her with breaking some unwritten rules about self-promotion.
But Chorney says otherwise – and National Academy of Recording Arts President Neil Portnow agrees. “It shows everybody has a shot,” Portnow was quoted as saying in an Associated Press article on the controversy, “The Curious Case of Grammy Nominee Linda Chorney.”
She was able to get her music heard after qualifying for membership in a social networking group called Grammy365. Having her music circulating in that arena helped it gain the kind of attention that independent artists seldom enjoy.
The formidable difficulty of breaking into the mainstream is a challenge that has blocked many an independent artist from having their music heard far and wide.
So Chorney was as surprised as anyone when she began receiving congratulatory emails the night the nominations were announced.
“I had had a party that night, kind of a consolation party,” she told The Two River Times recently. Knowing what a longshot it was for an independent artist to get noticed in the big leagues, one of Chorney’s friends had presented her with a trophy that said, “Linda you are a Grammy winner with us.” Then, “All of a sudden I was getting emails congratulating me.”
Chorney, who moved to the Jersey Shore five years ago to be with her own Jersey Boy, Scott Fadynich, and his son, Hunter, couldn’t believe it when she got the news that she had been nominated.
“I just screamed and we hugged each other — Scott was my biggest fan. Then I called my parents and woke them up.”
On Sunday night, she’ll be sitting in the first three rows at the Grammies, waiting with her illustrious fellow nominees to see whose name will be called.
And though she would be delighted to carry a Grammy back to New Jersey, she knows she isn’t counting on it.
Chorney, who learned it was possible to make a living as a singer-songwriter some 30 years ago when she was singing for free in Key West, has come close to breaking in to major labeldom a few times in the past. Each time, some unpreventable occurrence derailed the effort.
Despite those disappointments, Chorney enjoyed a career that took her quite literally around the world, after a woman who found solace in Chorney’s music following a breakup presented her with a round-the-world airline pass.
Chorney played for ski bums in Vail, divers in Palau and muscled mammoths in biker bars. “I played my first gig with my name up in lights at the Holiday Inn in Pompano Beach,” Chorney laughs.
Along the way, she made a lot of friends.
She financed her stays at luxury resorts and out of the way scuba destinations with her music. She paid for her health care by playing parties for the “Rock Doc” – a Connecticut physician who became one of her closest friends.
It was the “Rock Doc” who gave her the gift that led to the Grammy nomination, offering to cover the costs involved in producing the album she dreamed of making. “I’ve always known how to make a really good album,” Chorney says. “This was like being a kid in a candy store.”
She composed, recorded and edited the album at Searsound studios in New York City. “That’s where Paul McCartney and John Lennon recorded in New York,” Chorney says. “That room has seen some history.”
She lined up a team of veteran session-players and a few local names she knew had the chops she needed. All but three songs on Emotional Jukebox are originals.
Among the names familiar to local music fans are Richie Blackwell, Ralph Notaro, Gladys Bryant, Mary McCrink and Arlen Feiles.
“Even though I had access to every
Last month, she played the Light of Day Concert at the Paramount Theater in Asbury Park, sharing the stage with another pretty well known Jersey Boy, Bruce Springsteen.
As she finished her song and headed offstage, Springsteen gave her a thumbs up. “You’re good,” he told her.
“I’d like to take the Grammy home,” Chorney says. But win or lose, “It’ll be nice to be back in Jersey.”