By PAM SCHIFF Combining his love of music and his Italian heritage has long been a creative outlet for Cranston native Terry McEnaney - known to many for his alter ego, Bobby Braciola, the "Italian Rapper." Next month, he will join a celebrated list of
Combining his love of music and his Italian heritage has long been a creative outlet for Cranston native Terry McEnaney – known to many for his alter ego, Bobby Braciola, the “Italian Rapper.”
Next month, he will join a celebrated list of entertainers with his induction into the Rhode Island Comedy Hall of Fame.
McEnaney is not a typical addition to the Hall, which has largely celebrated stand-up comedians in the past. But he has made outstanding contributions to the local comedy scene for years.
Raised in Cranston, McEnaney attended Woodridge Elementary School, Western Hills Middle School and Cranston High School West, where he was on the co-captain of the tennis team which won the division title his senior year 1978. He was also voted “most humorous” in the class superlatives.
When he was little, he played CLCF basketball and CWLL ball. After West, he attended Providence College then went to Suffolk University Law School in Boston.
Always true to his roots, he returned to Cranston to practice law, and except for a few years in Providence and Johnston, his office has been located on Park Avenue.
“I was prone to be comedic in class and with friends at school. I became a DJ at the age of 17. I worked in the nightclub in Barry’s, at the Chateau de Ville, Vineyard, the Cantina in Foster … also Sadies, the Vineyard and Shamrock Cliffs in Newport,” he said.
While working at the Disc Jockey Club in Warwick, Bobby Braciola was born. It was an amazing time said McEnaney.
“I was DJ MC T Mac. I actually wrote and produced a song for the PC Friars during their run to the Final Four in 1987 … coach Rick Patino called to offer thanks,” he said.
McEnaney entered a rap contest to help raise substance abuse awareness at the Temple to Music in Providence.
“I pulled up in a white limo, I put on the whole ‘spaccone’ treatment. We took second place, which was a big honor. We won 16 hours of recording time, a beat machine and an electric keyboard,” he said.
He decided to take the recording time and come up with his own different persona. He thought of names that would be interesting.
“I liked exaggerating the stereotypes. Bobby Braciola, I’m a spaccone. It took me three hours in the basement. This was 1988 when I wrote it, and it was released in 1989,” he said.
In true Italian fashion, he releases all his music on March 19, which is St. Joseph’s Day. He has written and produced 15 of his own songs and has collaborated on many others.
“My most widely played song on the radio is ‘Everyone’s Italian on Christmas Eve.’ It gets released every year. Last year it was played on 70 stations, including Cairo, Egypt,” McEnaney said.
He was hired to perform at a 40th birthday for another lawyer. While waiting to go onstage, he was approached outside in the parking lot in his car.
“A young man came up and tapped on the window. He explained that he was a U.S. Marine, and while he was deployed in Afghanistan at the age of 19, he was so homesick. ‘All I had to do was pop in ‘Everyone’s Italian’ and it brought me right back home to Johnston.’ It was the nicest compliment in the world,” he said.
Being recognized and having people ask for autographs is very humbling for McEnaney.
“I have been blessed, I’ve had a nice run. Knowing that the songs I wrote touched people, rang true to people, means the world to me,” he said.
He credits YouTube, the internet and viral videos for the success of “From Chooch to Gooch” as the most downloaded of his music.
“‘Chooch to Gooch’ got me signed to Big Fish media digital. They formatted my music for downloads, then were bought out by the Orchard which merged into Sony music. And, I am one of their recording artists,” he said.
“Chooch to Gooch” was written in 2010.
“My wife works for Cruise Brothers, and I would see all the line dances, and I realized I need to do a song. The 10 steps of Disco dancing, grab the apple off the tree, put it in the bushel, reel in the tuna, etc. You would learn how to change from a Chooch to a Gooch in three minutes,” he said.
Longtime friend Rick Harris thinks McEnaney is a great addition to the Hall of Fame.
“Terry is a fun, caring person. We met through basketball. He is a big fan of the Friars, Celtics. His son attended the CCRI Summer Basketball School/Camp which I have been the director of since 2007,” Harris said. “Terry and I then went on to coach our sons together in the West Warwick Recreation Summer League. From there, my wife Lucy and I started attending the different variety shows that he would put together. I also remember Terry long ago when he was a DJ at various nightclubs, including Barry’s.”
Harris thinks McEnaney is perfect fit for the Hall of Fame.
“He is one that enjoys entertaining for people and making them smile and happy. He is a talented and unique entertainer. He can rap, sing, act, he has many unique talents that fit in well with the many talented comedians here in R.I,” Harris said.
For Hall of Fame founder Joe Hebert, it was not a cut and dry decision to put McEnaney in the Hall of Fame.
“This was the most difficult decision of all the inductees. Not due to lack of talent on Bobby’s part, but due to my indecisiveness on which direction I wanted to take the Hall of Fame. Braciola is beyond talented and very funny, but not a stand-up comedian,” Hebert said. “He and I met for drinks on Federal Hill for drinks seven or eight years ago and we briefly discussed an induction. I told him I would think about it. I have never made a Hall of Fame decision lightly. All this time passed before I decided he deserved his rightful place in the Rhode Island Comedy Hall of Fame. He’s an incredible entertainer and his act is so much fun to watch. He even rapped in front of Judge Caprio in court.”
After the induction announcement, Hebert received an unsolicited email from Charlie Hall, the first inductee to Hall of Fame. Hall does his homework when it comes to inductees, and he wanted to let Hebert know what a fine choice he had made.
“A nod from Charlie Hall is similar to a blessing from the pope. I was already happy with my decision. Charlie cemented it,” Hebert said.
McEnaney is also proud to have appeared in five movies filmed in around and about Rhode Island.
“I was in ‘Federal Hill,’ ‘Temporary Girl,’ ‘Tax Day,’ ‘Italian Americans’ and ‘Used Guys.’ I had the most fun on that film. It was a great group of people,” he said.
McEnaney does not take his induction into the Hall of Fame lightly.
“To be inducted as a non-stand-up, I take great pride being included in this club. I am only the eighth inductee. It means a lot to me. I took it very seriously when they asked me to do it,” he said.
McEnaney wanted to thank his family – his wife, son, parents, brother Randy and sister Cheryl. There was always music in the house growing up.
“My dad was a DJ, my sister is a classically trained pianist. My aunt played piano and my wife is gospel singer. There is always music in the house. Music is a part of my daily and family life,” he said.
He also extended his gratitude to the city of Cranston.
“Cranston gave me so much inspiration for material. I am forever grateful,” he said.
McEnaney realizes that his music is eternal.
“My songs will carry on even when I’m gone. People will hear my songs, see my videos. I will live on,” he said proudly.
McEanany’s induction ceremony is scheduled for Saturday, Nov. 13 at the Knights of Columbus on Sandy Lane in Warwick.
For more information on tickets or the Comedy Hall of Fame, call (401) 639-7726.
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