On the cover of former Weehawken resident Linda Chorney’s Grammy-nominated album, “Emotional Jukebox,” she “flashes” the public, opening the inside of her jacket to reveal pieces of paper with various emotions written on them. Of them all, “lazy” seems least fitting.
The 51-year-old has performed her music in bars and clubs for 30 years with only local notoriety – until she recently campaigned into contention for the 54th annual Grammy Awards.
Chorney’s husband bought her a $100 year-long membership to a legitimate, online Grammy networking website called Grammy365, and she spent inordinate hours writing individual letters to voters in an attempt to convince them she was worth a nomination.
“I’ve been bullied beyond belief and it’s total B.S. because I’m very proud of the album,” Chorney said, referring to the criticism she got for barging her way in.
Critics have also called her out for what the Grammy committee – not she – chose as her competitive category: Americana. They claimed her voice wasn’t “twangy” enough for the genre, and complained that a woman with no chart-worthy sales for any of her 10 albums didn’t warrant a place alongside the likes of Ry Cooder, Levon Helm, and Lucinda Williams.
Chorney ended up attending the Grammys last weekend. She did not win for her category, but she won a whole lot of buzz from press and fellow “bigger-time” musicians alike. She even earned herself a spot in zap2it.com’s “Red carpet goes black” list for the shagadelic, retro-modern dress she wore.
Chorney’s former collaborator and multi-Grammy winner Ken Lewis once said to her, “Linda, the thing is, you’re production is stuck in the ’60s and ’70s. It’s not current.”
“But that’s what I think is tasty,” Chorney responded, and refused to budge.
Think Sheryl Crow (in looks, too) meets Aimee Mann (sexy, growly voice) meets Joni Mitchell (ambling, subversive songwriting and lyrics) set to the rhythm guitar of the Allman Brothers.
In fact, “one of the highlights of my time at the Grammys, aside from hearing my name not called, was meeting Greg Allman and taking a picture with him on the red carpet,” Chorney said.
“There’s a lot of Jersey on ‘Emotional Jukebox.’ ” –Linda Chorney
“Emotional Jukebox” was a fitting reward for her years of hurdles and less-than-stellar successes. A doctor named Jonathan Schneider, whom she fondly calls her “mensch,” saw her perform in Aston, C.T. and insisted on financing the entire album.
Chorney was floored. She also emphasized the absence of any “FUNNY STUFF” (she requested all caps) in the transaction.
“I only sleep with people who can’t help me,” she said, “which until then was probably responsible for my inability to make it big.”
Sweet-talkin’ ’bout Weehawken
“There’s a lot of Jersey on ‘Emotional Jukebox,’ ” Chorney said. Many of the musicians on the album hail from the garden state, and Chorney herself spent many years “just loving it.”
She performed “God Bless America” at Hamilton Park in Weehawken right after 9/11. Chorney, who currently lives in Monmouth County, was told during her newspaper interview that Richard Turner was still Weehawken’s mayor. She said, “Send him a big kiss for me!”
Chorney plans to write a book entitled “Grammygate” about her path from recording her album to Grammy nomination. Her website featuring her music, press, and blog can be found at www.lindachorney.com.
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