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Gayan Macher: A Musical Bio

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Gayan Macher

No more than three years old, I listen to the black church stations on the radio where I grow up in Georgia. I’m mesmerized by the choirs featuring a young Aretha Franklin and many others who are no names at the time.

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Aretha Franklin

My sister, five years older, builds a record collection of show tunes and the Kingston Trio. I spend hours listening and effortlessly memorizing the lyrics. I sing “Oklahoma” at school during show and tell time in second grade.

My mom sends me to piano lessons with an old, humorless woman with bad breath. My interest in learning music dies quickly and I’m happily back to playing baseball in the neighborhood in the afternoons.

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Ray Charles

I can sing almost every song recorded by Ray Charles, doing a pretty good rendition of Ray’s vocals, and even a decent job of the Raylettes. Years later, on a car ride to Cape Cod, I pull this five-hour set out of my memory to serenade my future wife. She claims that this was the turning point in my attempt to woo her.

In high school, after my parents are asleep, I climb out my window at night and drive into downtown Atlanta with two friends to black clubs and other soul music venues. We’re kids and the only white people there, and the music is magic. I see Wilson Pickett, Major Lance, Ben E. King, and a young Stevie Wonder.

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Bob Dylan

Older now, I hear Bob Dylan and am changed forever. It is the dawning realization that songs can have a message that can change your mind, and thus your life. And that words, when gliding along in harmony with music, take on a whole other dimension.

I’m in college taking a bath one Sunday morning, when I first truly hear Beethoven’s 5th Piano Concerto, The Emperor. There’s only one thing I’d ever heard that’s comparable to the second movement, and that’s a soft rain.

Inspired by the song, I ask my college roommate to teach me to play The Great Mandala by Peter, Paul and Mary. I don’t realize that it has a Travis pick and fairly intricate chords for a beginner. He starts me on simpler songs. Eventually I get my calluses and learn to strum in rhythm, and I’m off.

After college I hitchhike through Europe and East Africa with my guitar, writing songs. A Dutch guy sells me his 1950 Gibson LG1 for $100 to get his plane fare home.

A white water rafting accident on the Chatooga River almost kills me. I spend the summer immobile in a leg cast playing guitar for hours a day. It’s a musical turning point.

During the first forty-five minutes of meeting Richard Mason, my musical soul mate for many years, we spontaneously write a song while tuning up our guitars. (You can download a free copy of When Words Hide by signing up for my newsletter, on the right-hand side of this page). This was my entree into making music with others, singing harmonies, and performing. Soon we joined with Marcy Telles and Elizabeth Lesser to form A Few Good Friends. We record an album, my first.

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Hazrat Inayat Khan

Years pass raising kids, working, and deepening my spiritual life. While not playing, I continue to listen, and gain an appreciation for Indian and Middle Eastern music with their complex rhythms and haunting modes. I realize, however, that my life is becoming dry without music and the creativity of composing. Seeking a jump start, I take a song writing workshop with Paul Reisner and Beth Neilson Chapman. That’s all I need.

I record my first solo CD, Stay Awake With Me, in 2007.

It usually takes me a long time to write a song. All the while I’m studying guitar. By 2013 I have enough material and record I’ll Give You My Wings. I’m pleased with it. I hope you are too.

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Gayan Macher, circa: 1970s