jmcnary Creative Page

James McNary

(Informally known as Jimmy Mack)

I was born to be in music. I say this because my journey has been blessed by every aspect of music. Starting as a child, I played my first piano recital at the age of eight. By the time I was nine, I played Tchaikovsky’s First Piano Concerto, and at eleven I played my first wind instrument (clarinet). By fifteen I had studied Music Transposition and Arranging and was able to play at least one of each class of instrument (reed, strings, percussion and brass). By then I was studying advanced music arrangements and conducting. I was playing bass clarinet and sousaphone in the school band, 1st Clarinet in the San Antonio Jr. Symphony Orchestra, and piano in multiple genres (Gospel, Classical and Rock/R&B). At sixteen, I was student conductor of the school band and won 1st place in the Texas State High School Band Competition.

I came to New York and landed my first job on Broadway because of my musical ability. However, I was immediately trained by the company as an executive. This meant I was introduced to owners and heads of almost every major record company in the city. I was shown the established methods of doing business in the record industry.  Through hands-on training, I was taught production, promotion, and marketing.

By the time I was twenty-two I was co-owner of a record label (Down East Records). According to Johnson Publications and The Amsterdam News, that made me the youngest black owner of an Internationally Distributed American record label. It was at this company that the first R&B record was produced which also contained Latin fusion. After our production, R&B/Latin became a popular musical form in the R&B music mainstream.

Later I worked with a variety of artists preparing them for their recording sessions and as a ghost producer on certain record dates. Eventually, my primary challenge was to produce a record with a soundtrack that utilized a live band to be used for both vocals and rap. At the time, most rap records used sampled sound, and the dance market used the metronome march beat for all of its music. Many funk bands were going under because they were no longer in demand. When the 1979 production (The Micstro) was released as a record in 1980, the musical arrangement utilized funk in a unique manner, creating a new beat for the clubs. As a result it became a major club hit and is still played on many radio stations which now consider it a rap classic. Beyond the positive reception of my earlier endeavors, this record influenced the sound of the music industry to the point that the musical funk sound was brought back into the fore-front of the dance music market. The four beat marches began to change and an emphasis was placed on creating new beats.

I am a believer in creativity in the arts. Major companies are designed to follow whatever works, but the creative artist should never be a follower. To do so only makes him an imitation of someone else. Art should reflect the times in which it is created, and the creator should seek the newness of the times in which he/she is living. I have always tried to bring to light the new day and I have preached this to all of the artists I’ve been privileged to work with. To thy own self be true. Write, play, live what you feel and not the feelings of others.

Updated:  August 26, 2008

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