By Sue Wambolt, Contributing Writer
Westborough – Westborough native Tom McDougall, 44, recently received one of the highest honors of the music industry – a Grammy.
McDougall graduated from Westborough High School in 1988 and went on to attend Syracuse University where he earned a Bachelor of Science degree from the School of Management with a concentration in the music industry. While at Syracuse, McDougall dabbled in guitar and piano but found himself more interested in the creation of music than the playing of it. He worked as a disc jockey and met people in the ‘music business’ who steered him toward a career in film.
After graduation, McDougall moved to Los Angeles and was hired by the Walt Disney Company to work as department clerk. In the years that followed, he has taken on jobs as an assistant, coordinator, manager, director, vice president, senior vice president and now executive vice president. He has worked on every Disney movie since “The Lion King” and every Pixar movie since “Toy Story.” As senior vice president of music, McDougall supervises all musical elements of Disney’s and Pixar’s animated features as well as the Mouse House’s shorts program and other ancillary projects.
“My job is to make movies better with music,” he said, adding, “My roster is in essence the entire world.”
While McDougall has worked on scores of movies, his favorite music project has been “Wreck-It Ralph” because, he said, it was diverse and had a lot of fun musical components.
“I’ve had the great fortune to work with many amazing artists, some who I’ve kept in touch with beyond the projects,” McDougall said. “Among them are Mumford & Sons, Skrillex, Fall Out Boy and Zooey Deschanel. My favorite artists to work with are Bobby and Kristen Lopez who, ironically, are the Oscar-winning songwriting team from ‘Frozen.’”
In early December McDougall learned that he had been nominated for a Grammy for Best Score Soundtrack for Visual Media for “Frozen.” Competing with “Frozen” for the Grammy were “American Hustle,” “Get On Up,” “Guardians of the Galaxy” and “The Wolf of Wall Street.”
On Feb. 8, at the 57th annual Grammy Awards Premiere Ceremony in Los Angeles, McDougall, with his wife Grace and children Joseph (11) and Paige (6) by his side, won his first Grammy for “Frozen.”
“It was my first time ever being nominated,” McDougall said. “I am trained to fight for my artists to win the Grammys, so this was different for me. Winning was absolutely amazing.”
McDougall’s latest project is “Frozen Fever,” a short film which comes out ahead of the live-action remake of “Cinderella.” Films on the horizon include “Inside Out” (Pixar), which will be released June 19, and “The Good Dinosaur” (Pixar), which will be released Nov. 25. “Zootopia” (Disney) will be released March 4, 2016.
McDougall is currently working on films that will not be released until 2020 which, he said, is “pretty good job security!”