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singer / songwriter, producer, performer, U.S.A.
In the 90s I formed the band Los Nice Guys and released several cassettes with Bahá´í Country/Rock material in English and in Spanish that I had written.
Many of these songs were redone and published, along with some new material, in 2002 on the 'Nightingale' CD and in 2004 on the 'Gladden My Spirit' CD. These CDs are available at the websites mentioned at the end of this article. Individual MP3 tracks are also available at www.DivineNotes.com
I love the process of song writing, mixing and recording and I'll often find myself working until 2:00 in the morning after saying goodnight to my wife at 10:00 (and I have a day job that keeps me quite busy working for Hewlett-Packard!. I'm a business development manager responsible for recruiting new resellers for 2/3 of the U.S).
The songs that are most special to me are the Bahá´í story songs. I really enjoy the process of retelling my favorite Bahá´í stories in rhyme and with a melody and music that adds to the impact of the story. I love to paint a word picture with the lyrics to put the listener into the story. For example, in "Riding the Rods" Fred Mortensen grew up in a criminal element, traveled as a hobo on freight trains, was eventually arrested and met a Bahá´í lawyer. Here's the word picture for that from the opening verse of the song that I tried to tell in the language that I imagine Fred might have used. It's set to a Johnnie Cash type of Country Train groove.
MY NAME IS FRED.
I BUSTED OUT OF JAIL
AND HOPPED A FAST FREIGHT.
SPENT THE NEXT FEW YEARS
FLEEING THE LAW AND RIDING THE RODS
FROM TOWN TO TOWN.
A BULLDOGGING LAW MAN
PICKED UP MY TRAIL,
CHASED ME DOWN
AND THREW ME BACK IN JAIL.
BUT I GOT A GOOD LAWYER,
A RELIGIOUS MAN.
HE TOLD ME ALL ABOUT THE MASTER
IN THE HOLY LAND.
HE WALKED ME OUT OF JAIL
AND INTO THE KINGDOM.
SOON, I WAS RIDING THE RODS
RIDING THE RODS
Los Nice Guys
(Larry Magee and Bud Humphrey) performing in Chicago in 2002.
Los Nice Guys
(Bud Humphrey and Larry Magee) performing in Chicago in 2002.
Another 'Bahá´í story song' is "Crack in the Wall". Here I'm trying to express the frustration that was felt when the prayer lesson from 'Abdu'l-Baha turned out to be over an hour of silent kneeling on a hard floor. This is the 2nd verse of the song -
WONDERING WHEN HIS LESSON WAS GOING TO BEGIN,
HE SILENTLY PRAYED FOR FAMILY AND FRIENDS -
FOR THE QUEEN OF ENGLAND AND THE KING OF SPAIN.
HE BLESSED THEM ALL IN GOD'S GOOD NAME.
BUT AFTER WAITING AN HOUR, HIS ANGER GREW.
HIS BACK WAS HURTING AND HIS KNEES WERE THROUGH.
OUTSIDE THE WINDOW HE HEARD A BLUEBIRD CALL.
THEN HE OPENED HIS EYES AND SAW THAT CRACK IN THE WALL.
In all the story songs I try to use as many concrete details as I can find in the story and then expand them a bit.
Another thing that I try to include in all of the lyrics I write is a reward for the listener. The lyric needs to build a level of expectation and frustration and then dramatically resolve at the end, just like a short story might. The two songs I mentioned above are examples of this. Another is "The Watchman", which is an adaptation of Baha'u'llah's parable of the watchman in "The Seven Valleys".
"Red Roan Stallion", an imaginary eyewitness account of Baha'u'llah's dramatic departure from Baghdad, is yet another. "Red Roan Stallion" ends with this verse after we see the protagonist throw himself down in the path of the horse and reach up to touch Baha'u'llah's hand as He rides by -
Music cassette, Buddhist-Baptist-Catholic-Jew
by Los Nice Guys, U.S.A.
Some tracks from this now sold out cassette are available on the CD, Gladden My Spirit
AS HE GALLOPED OFF TOWARD THE SUNSET, |
MY SPIRIT GREW HEAVY WITH GRIEF.
MY HEART RODE AWAY WITH THAT STALLION. AND PASSING YEARS HAVE BROUGHT LITTLE RELIEF.
HE RODE A RED ROAN STALLION, A RED ROAN STALLION.
The lyrics to all of my songs are on the www.losniceguys.com website.
Gladden My Spirit
cd cover, 2002
Released in 2002. 13 Tracks. The style is Country. Includes several
fun Bahá´í themed songs - "Buddhist-Baptist-Catholic-Jew", "Turn
My Troubles into Friends", "Riding the Rods", as well as moving
songs such as "The Face of the Lord" and "Someday". Several
of the songs are Bahá´í Scripture set to music.To listen to excerpts from any of these CDs, go to www.cdfreedom.com/larrymagee
We Are With You
cd cover, 2004
A collection of Ruhi Book 6 Quotations
set to contemporary R&B music.
Mallorie, a 16 year old African American singer, sings on the 8 tracks. The producer/songwriter is Larry Magee.
"Larry Magee has produced a CD of book six songs with a young singer,
Mallorie. She's got a great voice and this CD will definitely make
learning the book 6 quotes as much fun as MANA does for
- Michael Eissinger, RadioNUR December 2004 Newsletter
cd cover, 2004
Released in 2002. 8 Tracks. The style is Country/Rock. Includes three
Ridvan Songs that are appropriate for Ridvan Celebrations
("Nightingale", "Red Roan Stallion" and "O Earth"). The CD also
includes the often requested story songs "The Watchman" and 2002
RadioNUR song contest winner "Crack in the Wall".
Los Nice Guys
((left to right - Jerry York, Jeff Pringle, Larry Magee, Andy Anderson) performing in Houston in 2002.
There are several clever & funny songs on the 'Gladden My Spirit' CD that audiences really enjoy. These include 'Buddhist-Baptist-Catholic-Jew' and 'Turn My Troubles into Friends'.
The 'Nightingale' CD features 3 Ridvan songs that are appropriate for Ridvan celebrations. They were written for the Ridvan Pageant that Anne & Tim Perry produced in 1998. The pageant, now an annual event in that has been performed in several cities in Texas, includes authentic period costumes of 1860's Bagdad and is a theatre production with characters such as Nabil telling the story, interspersed with live music and dance. It relates the entire story of the Ridvan, when Bahaś'llah visited the island in Bagdad and made his proclamation in 1863. It includes lots of inspiring quotations and music. The songs I wrote for the pageant include "The Red Roan Stallion" mentioned above, "Nightingale" (a song about Baha'u'llah), "O Earth" - part of a Ridvan Tablet set to music, and "En El Jardin" (a song about Ridvan in Spanish). The three English songs are on the "Nightingale" CD.
I perform all the material on the two CDs with Los Nice Guys as a solo act and have given many concerts around the U.S. with Bahá´í communities and continue to do so.
A recent direction change in my music production came as a result of RadioNUR's Music Industry weekend at Bosh in 2004. There were about 30 American & Canadian songwriters at this conference representing a wide diversity of ages and music styles and a few of these stressed that Bahá´í songwriters and artists should consider the Bahá´í market needs and wants more carefully before investing in recording projects.
It was mentioned that Bahá´ís a few years ago wanted CDs with Bahá´í themed music to play in their cars. They said that now they wanted the Holy Writings set to music for use in devotional meetings and to aid memorization. It was also mentioned that there is a real shortage of Bahá´í Urban R&B/Hip Hop music available. This advice inspired me to work on a Ruhi Book CD with an R&B feel. Soon after I started writing the songs, a young African American singer moved to San Antonio and I wanted to go in the R&B direction in order to produce an album for her.
"We Are With You" was released in December 2004. It has 8 songs that are Ruhi Book 6 quotes set to contemporary R&B tracks. "We Are With You" contains powerful passages by Baha'u'llah on Teaching, so even if people aren't planning on taking the Book 6 Course there is a lot of inspiration in the quotations. I'm using www.CDFreedom.com to distribute the CDs and the album shot to the top 10 best seller list at CDFreedom by the end of the first month (They carry hundreds of CDs from small independent labels, so moving so quickly to the top 10 was a nice accomplishment).
I'm currently working on the next project that will again feature Mallorie. It is Sacred Writings from all the major religions set to R&B. Such as the opening verse of the Qur'an, a Hidden Word, and a Hindu Prayer, etc. I've just finished writing [the music for] 6 of the 7 songs and we're ready to go into the studio. I anticipate that this CD will be released in mid 2005. Expanding the work to producing for another artist gives me even more satisfaction. I'm very thankful that I have the Bahá´í audience to create for.
Arts Dialogue, Dintel 20, NL 7333 MC, Apeldoorn, The Netherlands