Getting to Know Mr. Fontaine, the Grammy Nominee Among Us


Source: Mona Taylor

Mr. Fontaine with his Grammy nominations.

Mona Taylor, Editor in Chief and Staff Writer

Frank Fontaine has been teaching music as well as leading band and orchestra at McAuliffe Middle School for two years. He is already loved by his students and colleagues alike. 

Mrs. Wallace, the choir teacher at McAuliffe, has worked with Fontaine on numerous occasions. She described him as very knowledgeable, open to new ideas, laid back and intelligent.

“I think he’s really easy to connect with,” Mrs. Wallace added. “His students, from what I can tell, really like him.”

She noted not only his personality, but also the way he teaches and connects with his students. She explained, “He likes to teach the kids not just about music, but just life in general. Like, everything’s related to life lessons.”

Fontaine elaborated on what he teaches his students. He stated, “I believe that we are accomplishing those objectives…like showing students how to have integrity. Like, nobody’s looking, but you still have to practice…the more you put into it, the more you’ll get out of it.”

Besides being greatly admired by his co-workers and students alike, there is more to Fontaine than just teaching. He has been nominated for four Grammys, including Best Latin Jazz Album, which he worked on with the notable Latin Jazz artist, Chembo Corniel. He considers this nomination as being the one in which he takes the most pride. Aside from working on collaborative projects with artists such as The Temptations, he has also produced his own original work. In 2007, Fontaine released a solo jazz album called “Wisdom Rising.”

Fontaine describes releasing his music as a scary, but fun experience. “There’s other days when I just don’t care and I just want to put out my music and I don’t care if anybody likes it or if everybody hates it. I don’t care, I have to get this out,” Fontaine mentioned.

Fontaine started working with music at a young age. He admitted, “I started in school, playing recorder.” He credits a feeling that many teenagers know well as his inspiration to pursue music: the need to fit in. He explained, “In middle school, you want to fit in… And [music] helped me fit in.” But later in life, Fontaine didn’t feel the same way. “In high school, nobody wants to fit in. Everyone wants to stick out and be their own person, and [music] gave me both of those things when I needed it.”

For Fontaine, success runs in the family. His father, Frank Fontaine Sr., has won two Emmys for hair and makeup on TV shows. Fontaine Sr. has worked on shows such as Star Trek and NCIS. When he was younger, Frank Fontaine Sr. went on tour with many famous jazz musicians, including Duke Ellington.

For now, Fontaine will continue teaching at McAuliffe, while also pursuing his passion of creating music and putting it out for the world to hear. “Some days,” he stated, “it’s me versus the world and I’m gonna put my weird, quirky music out that nobody understands, and some days I just want to do that and just leave, you know, my fingerprint on the world. And that’s exciting… it’s terrifying and exciting.”