LOS ANGELES — Bladenboro, N.C., native Lee Allen took the stage last month at the Staples Center in Los Angeles along with his wife Mary Frances and the band Secret Agent 23 Skiddo, not to perform but to accept their first-ever Grammy Award.
The band was recognized in the Children’s Album category for its release of the “intergalactic superfunk” album “Infinity Plus One.”
“It was pretty surreal, really,” Allen said. “We didn’t know how to feel when we first heard about it. (But) it’s great to have this on the resume and have our hard work not go unnoticed,” he added. “We hope to continue doing what we’ve been doing and perhaps it’ll help open some doors.”
Prominently featured on the album are singer-songwriters Debrissa McKinney and Ryan Barber with Yo Mama’s Big Fat Booty Band, whose members — including Allen and Frances — are split between Asheville, N.C., and Nashville, Tenn. Allen and Frances, who now live in Nashville, co-wrote and recorded the children’s album at Echo Mountain Studios in Asheville. The album was the band’s second Grammy nomination, following “A Perfect Quick” in 2015.
“Infinity Plus One,” described as a combination of Dr. Suess and Dr. Dre, had numerous No. 1 hits on SiriusXM Radio’s “Kids Place Live.”
Allen and Frances have recently collaborated on a solo album by Frances called “A New Perspective,” which was written and recorded at the House of Groove Studios in Nashville, Tenn. That album can be heard online at https://maryfrancesmusic.bandcamp.com/.
Allen is the grandson of Peggy Allen, a former Bladen County teacher and resident, and Charles Allen Sr., a former Bladenboro High School principal, and son of former Bladenboro High School band director Charles Allen Jr.
Lee Allen lived in Bladenboro from 1981 to 1989, then moved to Laurinburg, N.C., and graduated from Scotland High School. While there, he was part of the Scotland High School band program and marching band drum line, then went on to study music performance at Berklee School of Music in Boston, as well as Appalachian State University in Boone, N.C.
Editor’s Note: This was Posted on February 15, 2017 by the Bladen Journal, our sister publication in North Carolina.