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MAGIC! night at Junos for alumnus Mark Pellizzer and the band that brought you Rude

Bubbly, inescapable song of 2014 propelled band to five nominations

(photo by Melissa Rolston)

Two new Juno awards are the latest in a string of accolades for the band MAGIC!, started by alumnus Mark Pellizzer and singer Nasri Atweh just two years ago. 

Their reggae-inflected hit single Rude, which reached number one on the Billboard charts last summer, and their album Don’t Kill the Magic, took them touring around the world – playing the Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon. And on March 15 it brought them Junos for single of the year and breakthrough group of the year.

The group performed the song – with new single No Way No – on the show at Hamilton’s FirstOntario Centre. Other honorees included Leonard Cohen, Alanis Morissette, the Weeknd and Kiesza.

Dean Don McLean, who attended the Junos, said the Faculty was proud of Pellizzer's hard work as a performer and songwriter.

“He demonstrates the high level of musicianship developed by students at the Faculty and the depth and breadth of our Jazz Studies program. We look forward to what comes next from him and MAGIC!” 

Pellizzer, who sings, plays guitar and piano and produces, graduated with a Bachelor of Music in Performance from U of T in 2004. In an interview with the Faculty of Music’s Tyler Greenleaf last year, he spoke about the importance of those years.

“My university studies were integral to my work,” said Pellizzer. “I learned so much from studying jazz and classical music at U of T. The faculty members were incredible and the curriculum really challenged the students to improve rapidly. Also the network I developed and the friendships I made really influenced my career.“

One of those friends, bass player Anthony Lavdanski, introduced Pellizzer to singer/songwriter Justin Nozuk. After touring with Nozuka, Pellizzer also began working with Nozuka’s brother, George, producing and co-writing songs. It was George who introduced Pellizzer to Atweh, with whom he wrote a song for Chris Brown.

“A year later, Nasri and I started our band called “Magic!”... now our group is known internationally,” said Pellizzer. “None of this would have happened if I hadn’t taken my studies and network seriously at U of T.”

(Read more of Pellizzer’s interview with Greenleaf.)  

(MAGIC! performed live on New Year's Eve in Times Square with Taylor Swift, counting down for the ball drop with host Ryan Seacrest. See the video below.)