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Marcus Singleton - Jackson, MS

Marcus is the Music Director at Jackson Revival Center in Jackson, Mississippi. Besides playing for some great artists, like the Mississippi Mass Choir, Dathan Thigpen, and Karen Clark Sheard, he is one the biggest musical risk-takers I know. He inspires me every time I'm around him.

Timeline & Links:

1:10 - Mississippi Mass Choir & First Major Record

2:05 - Upbringing in Pentecostal Church

4:45 - Karen Clark Sheard & Drumming

6:45 - Mentorship, I'Yonna Minor

10:00 - Changing genres and listening to other music

13:45 - Breaking out of the major scale

18:55 - Number System

20:25 - Take Risks, Be Patient, Trust Your Team

21:10 - Ear Players, Technical Players (Sheet Music vs. Ear)

25:30 - Playing within a band setting

28:00 - Stretch Yourself as a musician, think differently

31:40 - Cory Henry at Duling Hall, and "maxing out"

33:20 - Carrol McLaughlin

34:08 - Barry Bolden

36:40 - Visiting Spain

40:48 - Warm-up songs/training videos with his worship band

44:30 - Holding Musical standards with volunteers

54:50 - Music Directing in the Professional Circuit

57:05 - Dathan Thigpen & Titus Robertson

62:40 - Take Risks, What can you do to electrify the song?

3 Take-Away's from Marcus:

Mentorship vs. Duplication

Mentorship is something the Marcus lives out. His endeavor is not to duplicate himself. His goal is to give his mentees the tools necessary to find their own voice. Marcus started out mimicking other players, and he found out later that music directors and artists would just go get the people that he played like to get the job done. "Why hire a duplicate when you can have the original?" Having your own musical voice is important, and that's exactly what he teaches others to find.

Break Out Of The Major Scale

Marcus' gospel background has given him the amazing ability to hear beyond the diatonic major scale. This is a concept that he's mastered. A tool that he utilizes when music directing is saying "up" or "down" in the talkback mic to cue the band to jump a half-step. His biggest advice is to take risks. We can all find a safe spot in the music, however Marcus encourages music directors to take risks. Change a key. Modulate a half step.

Technical Players vs. Ear Players

Marcus didn't grow up around sheet music, and many people don't realize that he doesn't read music. He has developed his ear to the point that he can hear chord and melody variations without a visual. It helps that he has perfect pitch, as well. There are certainly different applications where players need sheet music, and other applications where they need to have a strong ear. Our biggest problem is when technical players (who need sheet music) lack feeling or "groove" of the song. I think that why I'm so fascinated with gospel music, because it's root are ear based. There's a feeling that can't be written down within it.

Bottom line: musicians must be able to "feel" the music through their instrument.

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