Brigantine home of Grammy-winning producer showcases his love of music

{child_byline}VINCENT JACKSON

Staff Writer


BRIGANTINE — After earning six Grammy Award statues during an entertainment career that spans decades, it makes sense that the two favorite rooms in the home of producer Joe Donofrio revolve around music.

A piano that was used in the now-defunct Sands Casino Hotel is in his great room. His six Grammy statues, four Grammy certificates and the recent Jazz Master Award that he received from the South Jersey Jazz Society, are all either on a book shelf or hanging on the walls of his office.

“The Sands tuner still tunes our piano,” said Donofrio, 75, who added his wife, jazz singer Cathy Rocco plays the piano daily. “Every day, I get serenaded by Cathy as she plays and does her vocal exercises.”

Donofrio’s great room is divided by a set of stairs that leads up to the second floor. The piano is on the same side of the room as the functioning wood-burning fireplace, a mirror, also from the Sands, is above the fireplace’s mantle and a black leather antique chair is near the fireplace.

The other side of the great room features a big-screen TV with a sofa and Donofrio’s black leather recliner where he and his wife watch TV shows and movies.

Above the sofa are black-and-white portraits of Rocco solo and with her sister, Connie, with whom she used to perform as the Rocco Sisters. The portraits were shot by the late American fashion photographer Francesco Scavullo, who was known for his celebrity portraits and magazine covers.

Donofrio and Rocco’s home used to be all dark wood with burnt orange rugs, but Rocco made the room light and open with a lack of clutter and either white or creme-colored furniture, floor and walls with a few black pieces such as the piano.

From 2002 to 2008, Donofrio earned a string of six Grammy statues for either mixing or producing best polka albums that were recorded by Jimmy Sturr. The Grammy statues are in front of him as he sits at his desk in his office.

Donofrio has also earned Grammy participation certificates for his work as producer on two albums by legendary lazz guitarist Pat Martino, who he has managed for the past 20 years.

For the past 34 years, Donofrio has lived in the same home here stretching from the time he used to manage the Rocco Sisters to being the artistic director for the South Jersey Jazz Society for the past five years.

“We fell in love with Brigantine. It’s wonderful, and my neighbors are wonderful,” Donofrio said.



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‘My Happy Place’ is a Press series in which local notables take us on a tour of a favorite spot in their home. Look for it online and on our Money page on Mondays. Look for a gallery of photos and a video with this story at


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