Linda Chorney has been making a living as a working musician for 30 years. Her music is a blend of pop and American roots music -- folk, blues, rock, and R&B. She began her professional career at 21, when a club owner in Key West, Florida heard her singing on the Mallory Square dock. He asked her to play in his bar that night. She did and went over well. She's been playing gigs ever since. Chorney came from a musical family. Her mother was a concert pianist, her grandfather played mandolin, and a great aunt sang opera. She started playing piano at age four and guitar at ten, and started writing songs at 12. By the time she was discovered, she had several sets' worth of original material. After the Key West gig, she put together a band and started playing covers in biker bars, with a few originals tossed in. Over the years she moved to more diverse venues, slowly adding more original material to her sets until the covers were the anomalies. Chorney has been on and off the road for 25 years, performing on all seven continents. She sang for Nelson Mandela in Boston, after his release from prison, in front of 250,000 on a bill with Paul Simon, Jackson Browne, and other heavies.
Chorney produces her own albums and runs her own label. She frequently changes the company's name; her logo is most recently listed as Dance More Less War Records. Her first release was 1990's cassette-only recording Not Too Angry; a second cassette, Not Angry Anymore, followed in 1992. They featured art that Chorney inserted into each cassette by hand. Her first CD was 1995's My Blunt Instrument, a raw, unpolished album of rock-dominated tunes. She followed this with Racing with Reality in 1998; Me So Chorney, a collection of demo sessions, in 2001; 1 Kiss at a Time in 2005; Chornographey in 2008; and Emotional Jukebox in 2010. She had a brush with fame in 2001 when the indie McGoldtone label signed her and re-recorded "Living Alone," a track originally from Racing with Reality. The single went to 31 on the adult contemporary charts. There were scheduled meetings with major labels in New York on September 11, 2001, but in the aftermath of 9/11, the deals collapsed.
Chorney started losing her high-end hearing from band performances in the '80s, and decided to "go acoustic," but was still able to quiet a room with her outgoing demeanor, playful charisma, and strong singing and songwriting abilities. In 2003, she met Dr. Jonathan Schneider, who became a big fan. In 2010, he told her to make the album of her dreams, and gave her the money to do so. With his support, she hired some of the best studio musicians and cut the double-record set Emotional Jukebox. The album is eclectic, with hints of folk, rock, blues, country, and Americana. The second disc in the set is a classical piece called "Mother Nature Symphony." The album was going to be her swan song, but one of the guys who played on the album suggested she join NARAS (National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences), the organization that puts on the Grammys, and try to get some attention for the album. She submitted Emotional Jukebox in the Americana category and entered individual tunes in other categories including R&B, Country, and Best Original Composition with Vocals. Then she hit the Internet and asked NARAS members on the Grammy365 social network to listen to her album and consider it. It was a long shot, but it worked. Chorney's album was nominated alongside familiar (some may say overly familiar) names like Ry Cooder, Emmylou Harris, Levon Helm, and Lucinda Williams. The reaction to seeing an unknown name on the ballot was immediate and ranged from congratulations to accusations that she'd gamed the system.
Considering the ten-year struggle the Americana Association had to go through to get the category recognized -- a category that prides itself as a haven for outsiders, mavericks, and unknowns -- the reaction to Chorney's nomination was deemed by some to be a bit selfish and self-serving. The controversy only added to Chorney's sudden fame by generating a wave of features and articles in magazines and newspapers around the country. Following the nomination, Chorney garnered more gigs for more money and saw a noticeable bump in sales of CDs, which she mainly sells at shows and through digital retailers. Regardless of her success at the 2012 Grammys, her music (along with the controversy) has finally given her the national name recognition she's been working toward for her whole career. ~ j. poet