Cardinal Mooney graduate snares Grammy selection
Warren’s Dave Grohl, Foo Fighters pick up 3 nominations; ceremony Jan. 31
Nearly 20 years ago, Michael J. Moritz Jr. was appearing in a production of the musical “Godspell” at Youngstown Playhouse.
Now he’s nominated for a Grammy Award for his work with composer / lyricist Stephen Schwartz, the man who wrote the songs for “Godspell,” “Wicked,” “Pippin” and other Broadway favorites.
In the nominations announced Wednesday, the 2000 Cardinal Mooney High School graduate is up for best musical theater album as a producer alongside Schwartz, Daniel C. Levine and Bryan Perri on “Stephen Schwartz’s Snapshots.”
“I was coming off a long few days of production work and forgot the nominations were today,” Moritz said Tuesday. “It was kind of lovely. Usually I think and think and think about it (getting nominated). This year I was too busy to remember.”
“Snapshots” is a new musical built around songs from throughout Schwartz’s career. A streaming production of the musical was presented during the COVID-19 pandemic. The cast album was released by Broadway Records.
“I do a lot of work with Broadway Records,” Moritz said. “When it seemed like the project was going to happen, the label called and recommended me to Stephen Schwartz. We’ve done a couple things in the last year, but this was kind of our first long-term collaborative project.”
Because of the pandemic, the singers, musicians and producers often worked in isolation, but Moritz said he and Schwartz did spend some time in the studio together finishing the project.
“None of this is lost on me as a musical theater kid,” he said. “I’m not a starstruck person, but it’s really cool to work with people you grew up listening to. When I get a chance to work with any of those legends, I’m there for the stories about all those different shows. Man, oh, man, I love those stories.”
Moritz already is halfway to an EGOT, the term used for someone who has won an Emmy, Grammy, Oscar and Tony award. He won a Tony Award in 2019 as a producer of best musical winner “Hadestown,” and he won an Emmy Award in 2017 for his audio work on “From Broadway with Love: A Benefit Concert for Orlando.”
The Grammys will be presented Jan. 31, 2022, in Los Angeles. He expects to attend.
“I’ve been working a lot with (retired music executive) Clive Davis,” Moritz said. “He throws this epic party for the Grammys, and I was invited this year. We weren’t sure we were going with COVID and everything, but now that I’m a nominee, I think it would behoove us to go.”
Moritz isn’t the only person with Mahoning Valley ties to land a Grammy nomination.
Foo Fighters, led by Warren native Dave Grohl, picked up three nominations. The band’s 2021 release, “Medicine at Midnight,” was nominated for best rock album along with two of its songs. “Making a Fire” is up for best rock performance, and “Waiting on a War” is a contender for best rock song.
Foo Fighters has won 12 Grammy Awards. Grohl, who was born in Warren and moved to Virginia at a young age, has 16 Grammy wins and 39 nominations in his career.