Lonnie Park: A Cortland Voice Exclusive Interview

(Photo Source: lonniepark.com).

Earlier this week, Lonnie Park was hanging out in Las Vegas, taking in the aftershock of winning a Grammy the night before.

Park, who assisted in producing Divine Tides by Stewart Copeland and Ricky Kej, was part of a Grammy victory for best new age album at the 64th annual Grammy Awards ceremony this past weekend in Vegas.

“It’s been epic for sure,” Park said.

Early life

Park grew up and still lives in Freeville.

“It’s a wonderful place where many generations of family came from,” he said.

Park’s love for music began in his earlier years, where he was in a “very spiritual family.”

Park was part of a family that played instruments. His mother, Sally Park, and his sister, Audette Taylor, played the piano. His late father, Leonard Park, played the guitar.

“We spent a lot of time in church and church school, where there was just music all of the time,” he said. “I thought (playing music) was normal. I didn’t think of it as a job or anything.”

From there, music became something that Park was “passionate about.”

Park’s passion for music blossomed when he became aware of his friend, Kevin Hicks, writing songs. It led to him realizing, at one point, “this is something I want to do for a living. I want this to be my life.”

“I was like ‘wow you can do that,’” Park said in regard to Hicks writing songs. “(Hicks) showed me a little bit on how to write songs. The next thing you know I got bit by the (music) bug.”

The music bug has propelled Park into a career of his dreams. It’s something he believes is “always about the music” and “not necessarily about the success or fame.”

“I was always trying to get better and better at whatever it was I could do,” Park said. “Whether it’d be playing, singing, writing or producing, I’ve been very fortunate.”

Ten Man Push

His determination in music led to the creation of the band known as Ten Man Push. Park formed the band with Cortland native John West in 2008. Park considers West, and the members of Ten Man Push, his brothers. 

“It was an amazing journey of modern rock music,” Park added. “That had a nice little success, and we toured the country (for about seven years).”

Park, including members of Ten Man Push, started to see their individual careers gain “some heat.”

“It became difficult for us to be in the same place and do shows,” Park said, who noted the members of the band still keep in touch with each other.


Park was also nominated for a Grammy in 2013. In his time prior and after the nomination, Park has felt like he’s lived with “impostor syndrome every day.”

“It could be the feeling of I’m from Freeville, New York…how did I get here?” he said. “There’s never been a point where I’ve arrived. I just feel like every single day I’m learning,”

Park has worked with many different genres as a producer, some of them including heavy metal, country, industrial and new age. He has collaborated with many different artists. 

“The beauty of it is you never get bored. I’m doing so many different things that every day is fresh, new and exciting,” he said. “I’m kind of like a swiss army knife that’s been left out in the rain. I can do a whole lot of things, but none of them expertly,” he said. “If you’re always looking to learn, you’ll find something.”

A lot of focus in his musical career has been directed to his partnership with Kej, the musical composer he won a Grammy with. Park has known Kej since around 2014.

“That relationship has really grown,” Park said, who does world music (songs with world elements) with Kej. “Together, we write, record and tour.” Park noted he’s been fortunate to tour in countries like Switzerland with Kej. With the magnitude of the COVID-19 pandemic slowing down, Park is “excited to get back on the road and do more shows.”


Park dedicates his career, and his Grammy victory, to the support he receives from his family. Park’s wife, Jody, and his sons Nick and Dorian, and daughters Courtney and Melissa Ward, have been a “big support system” for Lonnie. Lonnie also gave a shoutout to Jody’s sister, Tammy Moore.

(Photo Source: Lonnie Park).

“Having a supportive wife and family means everything. Nothing happens with that sort of support,” Lonnie added. “I consider myself to be an incredibly lucky guy to have a wife that’s super supportive and a family who is supportive.”

Lonnie’s dream for his father Leonard, who passed away a couple of years ago, was to see him win a Grammy.

“I missed him being there, but my mother (Sally) paid attention,” Park said. “He had a custom suit made for the Grammys, and under the collar is inscripted ‘Make your mama proud.’”

For Lonnie, he accomplished his mission.

“It was like a little hidden gem underneath the collar in my suit,” Park said.

Home is home

As for Freeville, Park considers it not his home base, but base for work.

“If I ever live anywhere it’ll be a second home. It’s where my family is from and where my roots are,” he said. “I’m proud to be a Freevilleian. I’m not going anywhere.”