FREEVILLE, N.Y.—Raised Baptist in a musical family, Lonnie Park grew up in Freeville with his parents and sister, and rock music was out of the question.

Singing in church seven days a week as well as around the house as a normal part of everyday conversation, music wasn’t something Park ever really thought about as something “special” until Kevin Hicks, a friend from high school, introduced him to the idea of writing music rather than just playing it.

After transferring to Dryden High School, Park soon joined a rock band with Hicks, and around 17-years-old, Park knew he’d caught the bug.

“I remember the spot I was standing in in the house in Freeville when the lightbulb came on — that, hey, maybe I could do something as a job related to music, because music is so powerful to me,” he said.

Aside from singing, playing piano, guitar, banjo, mandolin, the list goes on, Park also produces for all types of artists, mostly international. Of most recent note (no pun intended) is the Grammy-winning album called “Divine Tides” with artists Stewart Copeland, drummer of The Police, and Ricky Kej, an Indian artist who has been awarded multiple Grammys and is a passionate environmentalist.

“That’s what I was doing professionally for most of my career,” Park said of his production work. Eventually, he said, Hicks asked him to create a library of tracks that other artists could buy and use on their recordings, which was purchased by a musician in Singapore who Park later did an album with.“That is the pivotal point where my music changed from pop-rock, and metal and that kind of music that we’re all kind of used to here to working with people overseas, […] I started getting solicited to work with various artists from around the planet.”

Park has worked on all sorts of projects (the full list of albums he appears on can be found here), with about a dozen currently in the works. Due to the global nature of his collaborations, he’s been doing remotely since before COVID.

“It was a really seamless transition, when we started to do this album that got nominated for a Grammy. And it was all done remotely,” he said.

Divine Tides wins a Grammy in the New Age category. (Photo provided by Lonnie Park)

Though Copeland was originally supposed to appear as a special guest on the album, Park and Kej started playing some of the project for him and he decided to have a larger role, allowing the three to collaborate on the entire project.

The creative process can take anywhere from a month to two years, Park said and Divine Tides took just about a year to come together before being nominated and winning its Grammy.

You can probably imagine that it’s nerve-wracking to anticipate your work winning an award of Grammy scope, but Park said that while he was nervous, all the other albums in the new age category were made by friends of his in the industry.

“I was fully prepared to stand up and cheer for whoever won — I honestly did not think it was going to be us,” he said. “And they called us out, and it was just mind blowing. As a kid, I never thought I’d be walking up the Grammy stairs to accept an award. It was an amazing feeling to have come full circle, with those very people that allowed my career to flourish,” he said, referencing the row of friends and family who accompanied him to the ceremony including his wife, Jody.

Aside from the aforementioned dozen or so projects he has, Park is looking forward to touring again, and anticipates living out of a suitcase at least part of the time come fall.

Zoë Freer-Hessler

Zoë Freer-Hessler is a general assignment reporter for the Ithaca Voice. She has covered a wide range of topics since joining the news organization in November 2021. She can be reached at zhessler@ithacavoice.com...