Tompkins Co. musician reflects on becoming three-time Grammy Award winner, one month later
FREEVILLE, N.Y. (WENY) -- A small-town kid who brought home the gold. That’s one way to describe Tompkins County musician Lonnie Park after he became a three-time Grammy Award winner last month.
“I'm super grateful,” he said. “It’s been incredible.”
Last year, WENY-TV sat down with Park after he won his first Grammy Award for producing the album “Divine Tides.” That album went on to win the 2022 Grammy for “Best New Age Album.”
One year later, Park adds not one, but two more Grammy Awards to his resume.
"Last year was life-changing,” the musician said. “It was the first Grammy I'd ever gotten. I never dreamed I'd get one, and to have it further develop and happen again this year is just unbelievable.”
After “Divine Tides” won the Grammy for “Best New Age Album,” it was re-released this past year in a surround-sound format -- the way it was always intended to be.
"[The] 'Best New Age Album' is about the music itself," Park explained. "The immersive mix, the surround sound mix, as a separate release came out this year. So, it was in the 'Immersive Sound' category, which is a production field."
According to Park, the new release makes the listener feel as though they are inside the music itself.
“I'll never forget listening to it,” Park said. “When I was closing my eyes, it felt as if I could reach out...there's the spatial sense where I could almost grab a violin or grab a drum. It's just an incredible experience.”
The album’s re-release went on to win this year’s Grammy Award for “Best Immersive Album” at the Feb. 5 ceremony. Just like last year, that win was shared with The Police’s Stewart Copeland, and environmentalist Ricky Kej, who's known Park for almost a decade now.
"He's one of the most talented [people] I know,” said Kej on Park. “He's basically good at pretty much every department when it comes to the music creation process or the music performing process.”
Despite the album already winning a Grammy Award last year, this year’s win was even more meaningful for the trio, because they were not sure it would happen.
“Our competitors in this category were Christina Aguilera and the Chainsmokers,” Kej said. “So obviously, the chances that we felt that we would win was very little, simply because they are mainstream acts [with] a huge amount of name recognition. So, winning this Grammy was very, very special, because it was the way that the album was meant to be experienced -- as an immersive album.”
Park’s second win, on the other hand, was for a brand-new project alongside Japanese musician Masa Takumi. After meeting through mutual connections, the two knew they had to work on a project together.
“I connect[ed] [with] him and then we wrote a song,” said Takumi. “Then, I realized how amazing [Park] is.”
That song eventually turned into the album “Sakura,” which took home the title of “Best Global Music Album.”
“It was such an amazing experience because we were working to really talk about Japan, its heritage and the sights and sounds in Japan...and [then] translate that musically,” said Park. “I think we did an okay job. [Takumi] is just a joy to work with.”
Coming from a musical family, Park was surrounded by music his whole life, but he never thought a small-town kid like himself would actually be able to receive such a prestigious honor.
“Growing up in the little village of Freeville, where there was no music industry...nobody was dreaming about being a rock star or anything, [so] it never even crossed my mind,” he said. “Freeville, for me, has roots that go back so many generations. And this is home.”
His younger sister Audette Taylor, however, knew it would become something much bigger than a hobby.
“He would touch any instrument and he could figure it out and play it,” she said. “So, he was very talented, very early.”
But even after rising to success over the years, Taylor says Park is still that small-town kid on the inside.
“We were at the after party, and um, there's lots of people there and he kind of leans over to me and he's like, ed, do you see that guy over there? He's won three Grammys. And he was just in awe of this guy and what he had accomplished....and then I looked at Lonnie and I said, ‘Hey, so have you. You've won three.’”
Park attributed that humility to his upbringing and biggest supporters.
“Everybody's just been so encouraging and pushing [me] to just keep going and going,” he said. “So, it really puts the wind under your wings, so to speak.”
His family couldn’t agree more.
“I've just been so impressed with how…the community in the area has just rallied around and celebrated with him on these accomplishments,” said Taylor.
Park’s wife, Jody, added to Taylor’s sentiments, emphasizing her husband’s love of the simple things in life.
“From a small-town perspective, I think a lot of people here love him so much,” she said. “…He’s still humble...and he's still a guy out on his tractor, tapping maple trees and loving that small-town life.”
Despite the overwhelming support from the community, Park expressed how there is one person that truly keeps him going.
“My wife has been really instrumental in the success because she's really pushed me, encouraged me and supported [me],” he said. “It makes you realize how powerful that is in your life when you're with somebody that really connects and really wants you to do well.”
For Jody, those feelings are reciprocated.
"I know he talks a lot about the support I give, but he gives that right back,” she said “He celebrates my wins and I get to celebrate his wins...it comes with such pride when you've encouraged somebody to just keep chasing that dream and you recognize the passion that they have for what they do. So as his wife, I think there's no prouder moment.”
So, what’s next for Lonnie? While he can’t exactly say, he was able to share one little hint.
“I'm working with Stuart Copeland again, and Ricky's involved, of course,” he said. “It's probably going to be the biggest project I've had the privilege to be a part of, and we are quite a way into it. It is very exciting.”
To learn more about Lonnie Park and follow his journey in the music industry, visit his website at LonniePark.com.