ARLINGTON — Kenneth Boulton knows the Grammys.
He idolizes the elite musicians who are nominated for the gold trophies — especially the lesser known, classical pianists. Unlike most music-crazed Americans, the Arlington native is more interested in finding out who won the best classical album award than what the stars wore or what hit disc won record of the year.
In 2008, he’ll find out everything live, from a seat in the Staples Center in Los Angeles.
And the name he hears called as best instrumental soloist performer may well be his own.
His latest CD, “Louisiana — A Pianist’s Journey,” is one of five nominees in the category.
“Even if I don’t actually win the Grammy, it doesn’t get too much better than this,” he said from his home in Hammond, La. “I really don’t care what happens after this. Just being recognized by my peers in the profession is so incredibly gratifying and rewarding.”
Boulton grew up playing in Arlington schools and accompanying local choirs. He graduated from Arlington High School in 1980 and then went on to earn a bachelor’s degree from Washington State University and master’s and doctorate degrees in piano performance from the University of Maryland at College Park.
He has taught piano at Southeastern Louisiana University in Hammond for five years.
He recorded “Louisiana — A Pianist’s Journey,” with the help of a $50,000 grant from Awards to Louisiana Artists and Scholars. The two-disc set features music important to Louisiana and a 32-page essay on the state’s history and composers.
“He is a world-class pianist,” said Warren Hopkins, deputy superintendant of the Arlington School District. “I started my career as a music teacher. Over the years I’ve had the opportunity to listen to wonderful musicians in various places. He would rank with the best of them.”
As far as Hopkins knows, Boulton is the first Arlington High School graduate to be nominated for a Grammy.
His parents, well-known Arlington residents George and Annalee Boulton, are longtime supporters of music programs in Arlington schools. They recently donated a piano to the new Linda M. Byrnes Performing Arts Center.
Their son came back to Arlington to play at the center’s grand opening ceremony.
They will spend Grammy night, Feb. 10, eagerly awaiting a call from their son.
George Boulton, the retired owner of Flowers by George in Arlington, knew the CD was “a major work” because of the grant his oldest son won to pursue the disc. However, he didn’t realize how big it was until his son called to say he had been nominated for a Grammy.
“We knew this was more than just a Sunday school program, but we had no idea that it was this significant,” he said. “We were as excited as he was. We’ll just hold our breaths until after the award night.”
Reporter Kaitlin Manry: 425-339-3292 or firstname.lastname@example.org.