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Chase City native snags Grammy

South Boston NewsSouth Boston News
Mary Frances Allen with her band, top, and with her husband Lee, above, co-winner of the Grammy (foreground).
SoVaNow.com / February 15, 2017
Chase City native Mary Frances Allen, daughter of Ronnie and Frances Newcomb, won a Grammy this week for Best Children’s Album “Infinity Plus One” with artist Secret Agent 23 Skidoo.

“This was our second nomination for a Grammy, and we got the win this time,” said Allen. “My husband and I wrote this all in our living room, and we would take it to studio two days later, where all the magic happens. It’s really a fun process.”

Mary Frances and her husband Lee Allen co-wrote and recorded the album in Asheville, N.C., where the original writing session took place in their home studio. They gathered with members of Yo Mama’s Big Fat Booty Band and Secret Agent 23 Skidoo to begin the writing process until it was recorded at Echo Mountain Studios.

“This was a big win for everyone involved,” she said. “We all have a great passion for music and are dedicated to our art and craft, so we pull it together as a team.”

Mary Frances has also been busy writing, recording, and releasing her first solo album “A New Perspective” which features the single “Chase in the City,” a song written about growing up in Southside Virginia.

“Being from Chase City, I learned the value of friends and family, and how important community can be,” Allen explained. “So all of this has really shaped me into the person that I am today.”

Mary and Lee recorded the new album at their home studio, House of Groove Studios, in Nashville, TN, where they currently reside. The album features several Nashville musicians, including Chase City native Will Newcomb, son of Bo and Debbie Newcomb.

“Nashville reminds me of Chase City in a lot of ways,” sad Allen. “It’s a really friendly place, so it’s easy to adapt to, which makes me proud of where I’m from.”

Allen’s passion for music materialized at an early age, starting with lessons at Carter’s Music and Arts School in Clarksville.

“My mom made sure I made it to all my lessons and practiced all the time,” Allen added. “But I got to work with a wide range of music while growing up, from classical at Carters to learning the blues and funk with my dad and eventually joining the Bluestone band. Plus, being from Chase City in general gave me a sense for country music. So all of this combined with being surrounded by a talented family has really helped me grow as a musician and person.”

Allen added that even though she’s visited places all over the country and has been touring on the road for 10 years, she still appreciates her small town roots that led her to where she is today.

“It’s been a personal goal of mine to get my solo album out and see it come to life,” she continued. “And when you do it because you love it, it can make all the difference.

“I give so much credit and respect to my amazing parents Ronnie and Frances Newcomb. They always taught me to believe and go for my dreams, and this is proof that with hard work, dedication, and faith you can make those dreams come true.”

You can purchase her new album “A New Perspective” locally from Colgate’s Electronics downtown Chase City or online from iTunes, Spotify or Bandcamp (maryfrancesmusic.bandcamp.com). You can purchase Grammy Winning album “Infinity Plus One” by Secret Agent 23 Skidoo at http://secretagent23skidoo.com/.

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