WATERLOO, S.C. (WSPA) – On Sunday, the Grammys gave out dozens of awards to today’s biggest artists. But did you know a musician right here in the upstate has played with some Grammy winners, and even has a claim to fame himself?
Doug Norwine first picked up the saxophone when he was in fifth grade, but throughout his career he’s played with many of the greats.
“Generally speaking, the Grammys go to the artist or their self-contained band but I’ve worked with Grammy winners Helen Reddy, Ray Charles, Frank Sinatra, Tony Bennett, briefly with Paul McCartney, Sheena Easton, Chaka Khan, Pat Benatar,” Norwine said.
His father encouraged him to learn the instrument when he was young.
“I want you to play the saxophone because you always get to play the melody,” he recalls.
He fell in love with the music.
“Nobody sounds the same on it, it has so many idiosyncrasies because of its imperfection that it really allows individuality as a player,” Norwine said.
His claim to fame isn’t a Grammy, but it is gold, or rather yellow in color.
“I will forever be remembered as the saxophone player as a cartoon character on the Simpsons, and you know what I hold that mantle proudly,” Norwine said.
Norwine’s riffs are best known as being played by Lisa Simpson.
“They’d say play something fast, play something slow, play something bluesy, and then they would animate to the music,” Norwine said.
He’s enjoyed seeing the way music has evolved and helped to feature his favorite instrument.
“To me, the ultimate success in my musical career was getting to record an album with Ray Charles and he was in the studio and liked it. He said he liked it,” Norwine said.
So what makes a great song? And when do you know it’s great?
“It’s just, the hair on the back of your neck stands up and you know it’s going to be great. You know it’s going to be great. And that’s the greatest honor you can ever be given,” Norwine said.
Now, Norwine sees the Grammys as a golden light.
“Maybe this is the beginning of our return to the world of music again,” he said, saying the pandemic has been tough on many musicians- leaving them without their audiences.
“A flower can’t survive without sunlight and a musician can’t survive without an audience, and that’s not out of ego. But you become a musician to give something back,” Norwine said.
He’s got a message for anyone looking to follow their passion.
“It’s for the person that loses the confidence and stops, they’ll always wonder what if. Don’t live your life that way. Live your life to know that you went for it,” Norwine said.
Norwine was born in Ohio before teaching at the Berklee School of Music in Boston, then he moved to L.A. before coming to live in the Upstate.