Mariposa Grizzly Band receives Grammy award

FRESNO, Calif.

The Grizzly Band from Mariposa County High School received the special award from recording artist Sheila E. The forty student Grizzly Band received a major award Thursday night.

Recording artist Sheila E. hand delivered a $5,500 check from the Grammy Foundation along with a special Grammy award to the school. It is just one of 36, chosen out of 20 thousand nationwide for having a top-notch music program.

"This is the biggest event, definitely for our band, and possibly for our community," Dr. Phillip Smith, the band's director.

A few months ago the band learned they won the Grammy and everyone here, including the students say it's well deserved.

"I think it's the way we work together," said Stefani Jantz, a senior at the school. "Most bands think of each other as a team, we think of ourselves as a family."

This family nearly lost its director and source of inspiration. Band Director, Dr. Smith still leads the group but last year he was diagnosed with stage four esophageal cancer.

The cancer is in remission now and Dr. Smith said his band continues to help him recover.

"He's our driving force, he's like our engine," said junior Joey Curti.

Dr. Smith doesn't like taking credit for the band's success. In fact, he practically had to be dragged on stage to be recognized. He said, that's because for him, it's all about the kids.

"It's the desire and the work ethic, these kids put in a lot of hours," Dr. Smith said. The Grizzly Band surprised their celebrity guest by performing her biggest hit, the glamorous life.

Sheila E. said giving back to local music programs is a privilege for her, especially because so many are being eliminated. "Kids and students come up to me all the time and say 'how can we keep the music in our schools because I want to play and we don't have the money.' it's heart-breaking to hear that," she said.

The accolades continue for Mariposa County High, in September these musicians will pack their instruments to perform in New York City.

They will be the only California band there to help commemorate the 10 anniversary of the 9/11 attacks.

In addition to the special Grammy award and the check from the Grammy Foundation, Sheila E. Also donated $5,500 to the band from her own foundation. That money will help fund the trip to New York.

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