South Bend producer wins Grammy for Mister Rogers album

Published: Mar. 17, 2021 at 7:42 PM EDT
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SOUTH BEND, Ind. (WNDU) - Watching the annual ceremony from home on Sunday, Lee Lodyga, of South Bend, won a Grammy for co-producing It’s Such a Good Feeling: The Best of Mister Rogers. The 23-track compilation that featured five previously unreleased songs was named ‘Best Historical Album.’

“I’m still processing - literally still processing,” said Lodyga.

Lodyga and fellow Omnivore Recordings producer Cheryl Pawelski and mastering engineer Michael Graves pursued the Mister Rogers project after taking note of the television icon’s media resurgence with the 2018 documentary Wont You Be My Neighbor and It’s a Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood (2019), the film starring Tom Hanks.

“There was no Mister Rogers in the marketplace. There, it, it had just kind of fallen by the wayside,” Lodyga explained. “So we contacted the Fred Rogers Company and asked if we could do a do a ‘Best of.’ And they said, ‘Really?’”

One thing led to another, and bookseller Barnes and Noble requested a red vinyl version of It’s Such a Good Feeling.

“We said, ‘Sure,’ and they sold through those,” he said. “[That was] pre-pandemic, but everybody needed to feel good about something.”

Lodyga believes the mood of the pandemic and the ease of watching the recent Fred Rogers documentary and film contributed to the album’s success.

“As we all kind of were sitting in our houses and watching movies, and people were obviously streaming the documentary and streaming the Hanks film, they just realized they kind of wanted it back in their lives,” Lodyga reasoned.

The “it?” The essence of Mister Rogers.

“Innocence, honesty, never condescending, comfort,” Lodyga listed. “You know, watching the show as a child, I didn’t realize everything that I was being taught.

“There have been many great children’s television programs. But [Rogers] really kind of nailed it, I think, without knowing he was nailing it.”

Omnivore Recordings nailed it with the Recording Academy for their ‘Best Historical Album.’

“I wish Fred and his wife, who just passed not long ago, could have seen it,” Lodyga said. “It’s got to feel good to, to know that you - not only made a mark - but you’re still making a mark 40 years later.”

A John Adams High School graduate, Lodyga and his family moved back to South Bend in 2020, after spending 25 years between Los Angeles and Florida.

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