SN Extra: Grammy-Winning Grocer

SN Extra: Grammy-Winning Grocer

ShopRite dairy manager Kevin Mackie, who co-produces CDs on the side, shares the Grammy in the Best Children’s Album category

Though he didn’t garner the same attention and acclaim as Adele at the 54th Grammy Award ceremonies last month in Los Angeles, it was still a special occasion for Kevin Mackie (right), full-time dairy manager for a Philadelphia-area ShopRite, as well as a part-time musician, songwriter and record producer.

His CD, “All About Bullies … Big and Small,” a compilation of stories and songs with an anti-bullying theme for which Mackie was a co-producer, won the Grammy for Best Children’s Album. Mackie experienced the thrill of receiving the Grammy along with his four co-producers before thousands of people during the “pre-ceremony” festivities, which are not televised but where most of the 79 Grammy Awards are announced and presented.

“I kept my speech short,” he said. “I thanked my family and said we did this to make positive change in the world.”

It was a celebrity-filled affair: After Mackie and co-producers Steve Pullara, Jim Cravero, Gloria Domina and Pat Roberson accepted their awards, they noticed Tony Bennett in the audience, who stood up and clapped. Paul McCartney and the Foo Fighters were among the other winners during the pre-ceremony. The night before, they met “Weird Al” Yankovic.

Mackie and his co-producers were also up for a Grammy last year for their children’s CD “Healthy Food for Thought: Good Enough to Eat,” which promoted healthier foods for school lunch programs. Nominated in the “Best Spoken Word Album for Children,” the CD lost to an entry from Julie Andrews, but was selected as a winner of a Parents’ Choice Award, given by the Parents Choice Foundation.

Both of Mackie’s CDs, which were made at East Coast Recording Co., Warminster, Pa., received free spoken-word and musical contributions from a wide range of artists, including Julian Lennon, Moby and Tom Chapin for “Healthy Food for Thought,” and Steven Van Zandt, May Pang and Blue October for “All About Bullies.” Only Human, a band for which Mackie plays bass guitar, performed on both albums.

The CDs have been distributed to schools and libraries and are on sale on iTunes, CD Baby and their own websites. All proceeds are channeled to two nonprofits, PACER’s National Bullying Prevention Center (for “All About Bullies”) and the New York Coalition for Healthy School Food (for “Healthy Food for Thought”). A previous CD was produced to support Doylestown Hospice Care, Doylestown, Pa.

Mackie has received support for his musical efforts from his employer Brown’s Super Stores [3], whose owner Jeff Brown has gained renown for opening stores in food desert areas of Philadelphia.  By benefiting nonprofit groups, Mackie’s CDs reflect the retailer’s own mission to “bring joy to the lives of the people we serve,” said Sandy Brown, Jeff Brown’s wife and a spokeswoman for Brown’s Super Stores. “This fosters our associates to be entrepreneurial in ideas and goals to help people in many ways.”

With all of his recording success, Mackie primary career remains in the grocery industry, where he has worked for ShopRite (the main banner for the Wakefern [4] cooperative wholesaler) since 1982, including the last 16 years as dairy manager for the ShopRite of Cheltenham, Pa., one of 10 stores operated by Brown’s Super Stores. “[Music] is an extremely difficult business,” he said. “Most people starve unless they make it big.” The attention from his Grammy Award may open some doors, but in the meantime, “We know we’re doing something really good, and having a lot of fun.”