Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Interview with James Marvell

Lamitschka: Music has many new fans throughout Europe who may be hearing about you for the first time. How would you describe yourself and the music you play to someone who has never seen or heard you?
James Marvell: First I'd like to thank you Christian for the opportunity you've given me to reach the thousands of great fans who read your articles and stories. Some fans may remember my recording with Mercy in the 1960s.
I'm a person who enjoys life and the beauty of God's creation. I'm a persistent performer/songwriter who believes in what I am doing. My music ranges from Pop to Country and Gospel.
Lamitschka: How was the last year for you? What were your highlights?
James Marvell: 2010 was a great year because I was in Branson Missouri and appeared on several shows. I also sold jewelry items that were once in the Johnny Cash, Willie Nelson, Bill Monroe ( Father of Bluegrass ) and other music icons' giftshops. I started designing jewelry in the 1980s. Entertainers sometimes can't rely soley on music. My wife Faye and I ended the year in Texas doing shows. Faye is a great singer and often joins me on stage.
Lamitschka: What is your latest CD and how's it doing?
James Marvell: My latest is a CD album titled The Finished Product. It has been doing well.
Lamitschka: How did you choose the title for the CD? Is there a story behind the name?
James Marvell: Thanks for asking. The title comes from 40 years or more of my recordings and I'm thankful I finally finished it. This is why I call it The Finished Product.
Lamitschka: Do you write the songs yourself? If not, how do you go about finding the songs for your CD?
James Marvell: Sometimes I write the songs. Other times I record originals that others have written. A song that comes to mind was written by Rhonnie Scheuerman of RHONBOB Promotions and her co-writer Jim Harmon. Though the song titled "Embrace The World" is not on my current CD it is truly a great composition. "Embrace The World" is a song of unity and good will for the world. Over 50 well known artists, DJs, musicians, industry folks and more joined me on the song. It took me 7 years to complete in at least 8 different recording studios accross the U.S.A. The song also features several different languages. It was a labor of Love.
Your readers can watch the video and hear the song on Youtube at: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ebm_e2iAtkU
Lamitschka: Please tell us about the songs on your album (influences, etc).
James Marvell: One song on the album titled "Only Country Music" was written by Deborah Lane from Louisiana. There is another song that I sing with the late Grand Ole Opry Star Ernie Ashworth. The CD also has my new version of the million seller I recorded with Mercy in the '60s titled "Love Can Make You Happy". There are old recordings from my MGM duo The Country Cavaleers on the CD. The Cavaleers were first to introduce the long-haired outlaw image to Nashville. Many of the Grand Ole Opry stars and industry folks including CMA wrote about us and our anti-drug campaigns. The CD includes gospel songs and one I wrote 40 years ago titled "Prophecy" plus other songs.
Lamitschka: What is the difference between your last CD and your current one?
James Marvell: Christian, I've recorded many as far back as the album on Warner Brothers in the 1960s with the group Mercy however the current CD is more personal because it's like laying out my life's journey in music.
Lamitschka: Your current single is being played by radio. What do you feel is special about this song that makes people want to hear it?
James Marvell: The current single titled "Love Can Make You Happy" is definately a special song because I first recorded the original hit version in the late '60s with Mercy. We sold several million records topping Billboard and Cashbox with Elvis Presley, Frank Sinatra and the Beatles! Now after more than 40 years, my new version is back on the Cashbox Top 10. I was just informed by Bruce Elrod, the president of Cashbox Magazine that "Love Can Make You Happy" has made chart history because I'm one of only 5 artists in music to ever have their million seller hit Top 10 twice in either Billboard or Cashbox. Chubby Checker did it with "The Twist", Neil Sedaka with "Breaking Up Is Hard To Do" plus 3 others in music history and myself. I thank the fans and DJs for helping to make this posible. People want to hear my new version of "Love Can Make You Happy" because they remember the group Mercy singing it in the 60s
Lamitschka: What will your next single be?
James Marvell: Maybe another love song. The world sure needs love.
Lamitschka: What kind of songs do you like to record the most?
James Marvell: Love and Gospel
Lamitschka: You did a duet with Ernie Ashworth. How did that happen to come about?
James Marvell: An important highlight of my career is the duet I recorded with the late Grand Ole Opry Star Ernie Ashworth. This came about because of our friendship. After leaving Rock and Roll I traveled with such country music stars as Ernie Ashworth, Dolly Parton, Conway and Loretta, The Wilburn Brothers and even 15 year old Hank Williams Jr. Buddy Good and I left the rock band Mercy and formed our early '70s duo, The Country Cavaleers. We kept our long hair which grew down to our waist. Arming ourselves with anti-drug messages, we reached out to the youth of those days in country music. See more on The Country Cavaleers at: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9UtNbGAb5AY
Lamitschka: What is your favorite song among all the songs you have recorded and what's the story behind it?
James Marvell: It's my composition "Prophecy" given to me by The Lord 40 years ago. I finally recorded the song 15 years ago in it's present form. The message in the song was spoken by Jesus Christ in Matthew 24 concerning things that would happen in the endtimes. In 1996 Paul and Jan Crouch at TBN asked me to perform my song on their worldwide TV program. "Prophecy" has been growing throughout the years on many TV and radio stations. God's Word is that way.
Lamitschka: How much creative control do you have over your music?
James Marvell: 100% at times but I'm always willing to listen to producers.
Lamitschka: There's a lot of work that goes into a number one hit. What did it take to make it in your case?
James Marvell: I've been blessed with hits in 3 fields of music. In the 1960s when I was with Mercy we were handled by management firms and record companies such as William Morris in New York and Warner Brothers in California. They booked us on TV and radio shows like Dick Clark, Mike Douglas and Wolfman Jack. Mercy toured with Franki Vali and The Four Seasons, Gary Puckett, The Association, The Cowsills and so many of the great '60s Rock legends. A hit record was the key to fame but I've paid more dues since after the million seller than I did before the hit.
Lamitschka: Do you have any interesting stories about how fans have been affected by your music?
James Marvell: I remember the screaming fans in the '60s. We had to keep hidden because of the fame. In the '70s I recall how the long-haired duo, The Country Cavaleers also had to keep hidden but this time because we were too early on the country scene with the outlaw image and look. Our manager John Centinaro would hide us on a bus or a van and we even had police escorts on stage for our safety. The American country music lovers of that era didn't like long hair too well especially in Texas but after they heard us sing they became our FANS! This was happening years before Waylon and Willie came on the scene with the same image which The Cavaleers pioneered.
By 1976 The Country Cavaleers had already broken up because of our years of being swept under the rug by the Nashville music establishment of the early '70s. Many thought we were hippies on drugs but in reality we were reaching the youth with our anti-drug messages. I'm thankful that hundreds of parents brought their kids to our shows because of our positive influence. The young people of that day were drawn to long-hair. In 1991 Willie Nelson acknowledged The Country Cavaleers by placing our history in his museums many years after the fact.
Lamitschka: Who inspires you musically and how deep do your musical roots run?
James Marvell: My wife Faye inspires me because I have to feed her! My music roots also come through my late cousin Lionel who appeared on the I Love Lucy Show. As a matter of fact it was my cousin who taught little Ricky to play the congas for the I Love Lucy Show. By the way, my wife inspires me even if I didn't have to feed her { smile }
Lamitschka: What do you think about today's music scene versus its past and where do you see it going in the future?
James Marvell: I believe music is universal. A very interesting thing is now happening with my music in connection with today's music scene. In the '60s I was in the Top 10 with Elvis, Sinatra and the Beatles. Now I'm back in the Top 10 again with the same song. My new version of "Love Can Make You Happy" is joining today's Pop legends such as Adele , P!nk , OneRepublic , Michael Buble and other major hitmakers. I can't believe I'm in Cashbox again after over 43 years with the same song that sold millions when I was with Mercy! Music is definately a universal language.
Lamitschka: What do you think about today's music industry?
James Marvell: I believe it's more about glitz than heart. Unfortunately it's more about money.
Lamitschka: If you had the chance to change something about the music industry, what would it be?
James Marvell: I would let the independent artists break through then fans everywhere would probably enjoy it more. I think you can cram certain artists down people's throat for only so long.
Lamitschka: As an artist, you so many tasks such as recording, touring, interviews. What do you like best, what's your favorite activity?
James Marvell: Touring, because I'm are right there with the people who really count ... The Fans!
Lamitschka: Are you doing anything to take music beyond its current borders or are you happy where it is?
James Marvell: I mentioned earlier about a song of unity titled "Embrace The World" which has several different languages in it. Since I'm spanish I also like to sing some of my song in both english and spanish. I've written many bi-lingual songs.
Lamitschka: What was your big break that got you into the music business?
James Marvell: The first big break was the million seller I recorded with the 1960s group Mercy. However, I was in the music business before that during my my garage band days in the mid '60s. See some garage band footage at: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ouRyS8scozA
Lamitschka: Before you became a star, were your friends and family supportive or was it a struggle?
James Marvell: Very supportive. My mom bought me my first guitar and my 99 yr. old Dad still tells people about me even today.
Lamitschka: What inspired you to become an artist?
James Marvell: I started loving country music around the time the Beatles came out so I had a couple of influences going.
Lamitschka: What inspired you to become a songwriter?
James Marvell: You never really know but I did have and still have melodies that come to my mind. My wife Faye of course inspires me greatly!
Lamitschka: What drives you?
James Marvell: The Lord and faith in what I'm trying to do. One can never stop. Look at my 99 yr old Dad. He's not in music but he is always doing something around the house. He still gets out in the yard and works a littlle!
Lamitschka: What does it take to be a music icon?
James Marvell: Wish I knew. We who are on the inside of showbiz know it's mostly an illusion but if you think I'm a legend I'm not going to change your mind. I also hope your readers like me. That's very important.
Lamitschka: What's unique about you that will differentiate you from other artists?
James Marvell: Well Christian. I sold millions of records with Mercy and have never made a penny in royalties. I helped start a trend in country music but was kept silenced. I continue to believe and work. Thank goodness that people like you are around to help get my story out. As a matter of fact I would appreciate it if your readers will go to  www.myrawdeal.com   and watch for my upcoming TV appearence on the show called RAW DEAL. I'd be very grateful if folks would go there and vote for my segment which should start showing by October of this year or early next year. Just look for James Marvell and vote for my segment at:  www.myrawdeal.com
Lamitschka: What has been your greatest challenge in music business?
James Marvell: Weeding through the hype to know what the truth is. The business side of this industry can be tricky and a monumental challenge for performers. My heart goes out to all entertainers.
Lamitschka: What moments in your career stand out in your memory as highlights and achievements which you are proud of?
James Marvell: Bringing an anti-drug message to thousands in country music during the early '70s and making the Top 10 twice with the same song in two different centuries are two great moments.
Here is the Cashbox Chart from 1969. Note the band Mercy at # 2 - http://www.cashboxmagazine.com/archives/60s_files/19690607.html
Here is the Cashbox Top 10 in 2011 - Note same song at # 6 -  http://cashboxmagazine.com/dispwksing.aspx?id=80&time=251
Lamitschka: Any thoughts of retirement ahead?
James Marvell: God willing I'll continue. No, I don't want to retire.
Lamitschka: Who is your biggest critic, yourself or others?
James Marvell: Probably myself and well meaning people. However, I do take constructive criticisim.
Lamitschka: When you get time off, how do you like to relax?
James Marvell: Go to the beach with my beach babe ..... she just walked in the room. It's my wife of course. { smile }
Lamitschka: Is there anything in your life that you would change if you could?
James Marvell: If only I could change the many mistakes I've made but then again Christian, I may not be here with you today. Life works in strange ways. We might change something that changes something else that is very important to us. I don't know how to really  answer that.
Lamitschka: What hopes and desires do you have?
James Marvell: Hope to stay healthy and hope to see and meet the great fans in Europe. It would be a dream for my wife Faye and I to visit Europe and entertain the people.
Lamitschka: What has been the biggest disappointment in your life?
James Marvell: I've had many but I try to stay positive. I guess to name one dissapointment in music would be the day the band Mercy had to turn down the Ed Sullivan Show because of scheduleing conflicts.
Lamitschka: Many European fans travel to the United States to attend the several of the music festivals for the opportunity to see so many of their favorite artists, bands and celebrities. Will you be participating and how will the fans be able to find you?
James Marvell: They might find me in Branson Missouri or in South Texas or a number of other places.
Lamitschka: What can your fans expect to see when they see you in concert?
James Marvell: Old time Country, nostalgic Pop, hilarious Comedy, heart felt Gospel my memories of meeting Elvis Presley and so much more!
Lamitschka: When you're on tour, do you have time to play tourist?
James Marvell: My wife makes sure that I do.
Lamitschka: Do fans mob you everywhere you go or do they respect your privacy?
James Marvell: Back in the '60s and early '70s they did. Even today it still happens if I'm on a big show.
Lamitschka: Many music fans today get their information about artists online. Do you have your own website and what will fans find there?
James Marvell: Yes, ck out : www.jamesmarvell.com  and http://wintertexaninfo.com/countrycavaleers1.html  Fans can see a glimpse of my music history at these two sites.
Lamitschka: Tell us about the fan club and how people can join it.
James Marvell: Fans, agents and DJs can email me direct at: jmarvell7@yahoo.com
Lamitschka: What's the best compliment a fan has ever given you?
James Marvell: I sing from the heart
Lamitschka: What's your favorite song that you wish you could have recorded?
James Marvell: Christian I have so many. This question is not easy to answer.
Lamitschka: What message would you like to send your European fans?
James Marvell: Thanks for reading this article. Please do go to  www.myrawdeal.com and vote for my TV story later this year.
Lamitschka: You have a new love in your life? Can you tell us something about it?
James Marvell: No new love just Love what I've done for years and that's my music.
Lamitschka: Fans are always hungry for good road stories. Do you have one you can share with us (come on don’t be shy)?
James Marvell: I find myself wondering, was that really me on the Mike Douglas show out of Philadelphia and was I really there with Don Rickles and was Rickles making cuts at me about my teenage pimples in the make-up room before the show? Did Mercy really tour with Frankie Vali and the Four Seasons, The Cowsils, Gary Puckett and The Union Gap, The Association and many of the '60s superstars? Was I really on stage at the Houston Astrodome in 1969 as a frontman for Mercy singing our million seller "Love Can Make You Happy"? The answer is a BIG YES! I have so many great memories and stories from my days on the road in the '60s and early '70s. I even met Ed Sullivan and Elvis Presley!
Lamitschka: Describe what a perfect day is like for you.
James Marvell: Waking up with hope in my heart to get me through the day.
Lamitschka: Most careers don't last as long as yours. What's given your career the staying power?
James Marvell: It has to be the important people behind the scenes who really care for the music. What comes to mind are the DJs who play the music. I'm so thanful to each and every DJ, Radio and Internet station around the world who has helped to bring back my hits and those independent DJs who are open to the independent artists as well as the major artists. I want to ask fans everywhere to please call your radio stations and ask for my songs. Thanks and blessings to all!

Christian Lamitschka ( Ch.Lamitschka@t-online.de )

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