Musical Gospel Outreach was an organisation in the 1960s that represented artists and performers, mainly in Christian music and media.
They also published a monthly magazine called Buzz.
I was playing drums, guitar and keyboards in a local band called ‘Ministry of Power’, created in a local church youth group. It was loosely a gospel band as we believed our songs would be good news for someone, and we were very loose!
The youth leader was an amazing visionary who, apart from being a great encourager, decided to put on regular weekend gigs inviting Christian ‘celebrities’ to perform, give their testimonies and sell their wares. It was at one of these events that singer Judy MacKenzie was asked to appear for two nights. Judy was signed to MGO as an artist and had been successful in recording and performing both here in UK and in USA as a featured singer with Billy Graham. She was seen as a star and celebrity.
So, it was with vast amounts of hutzpah and lack of chops that we agreed to be her support and kick off the gig.
The first night went well; we did our bit, singing our brand of evangelical protest poems to music inspired by Frank Zappa and Donavan. Judy did her set, solo with acoustic guitar and her unique home spun, bitter sweet songs. Little did we know at the time that she liked us, our music and our somewhat irreverent approach to what had been in the past quite carefully sanitised particularly when anything evangelical was involved.
So, the day of the second gig arrived and at soundcheck, she asked if we’d like to accompany her in her set. What? But she was a star! We were long haired unknowns with day jobs.
Between soundcheck and concert we grouped around the piano and sketched in some of her tunes preparing for the surprising fusion later that evening. I wish I had a tape of that night, but something good must have happened. I found myself days later with Judy, telling her that this was my destiny and I needed to give up my day job as a hospital porter, my only ever real full-time employment.
Again, I can’t really figure out the exact transition but within a month of that conversation, I was playing for Judy as her accompanist, guitarist, keyboards, blues mouthorgan and backing vocalist.
MGO, being her management and agent, had secured for her gigs, national TV, mini tours in Europe and even more gigs further afield.
Being one of their ‘major’ artists she was being paid to do these.
Suddenly this whippersnapper appeared and decided to be part of the agreement? To this day, I was never sure what they really thought of me with the long red curly hair and Jesus beard, but they took me on.
From being in a local church band to appearing on telly and playing in front of thousands of people within a few weeks was unbelievable. MGO signed me up to join PRS and MU, two organisations I’d never heard of and didn’t appreciate until much later.
They, along with Judy, encouraged me into writing which in turn became my first TV commission.
They, along with Judy, believed in me and that I could do this thing called Music and make a go of it.
Three words that appeared out of nowhere;
Musical– If you are, it’s a great start.
Gospel– Good News; that no matter what you create, it can affect and move people emotionally, spiritually, physically.
What’s not to like about any of that?
In these uncertain days we could really do with some more of what MGO offered; Musical-Gospel-Outreach.
Seek out those that can encourage you and in turn, encourage others, especially those who may well be the future in whatever creative business you find yourself.