Golf Invitational Entertainment, Marcus Johnson, Jazz Keyboardist,
Composer and Producer
a Jazz Movement for the People
“The measure of a man is not where he
stands in moments of comfort and convenience,” Dr. Martin
Luther King Jr. once said, “but where he stands at times
of challenge and controversy.” Throughout his 10-year
career odyssey, jazz keyboardist, composer and producer Marcus
Johnson continues to stand steady and unbowed.
Johnson’s artistic journey with music
reflects his entrepreneurial spirit, his maverick approach
to composing and performing as well as his principled dedication
to God, family and community.
His latest CD, “The Phoenix”
(released July 2007) is aptly named as the work represents
Johnson’s struggle in building his brand within the
music industry and his conviction to rise above the setbacks
and disappointments. Widely lauded by jazz critics and aficionados
alike, “The Phoenix” is his best work yet. But
then again, Johnson, a ubiquitous performer and consummate
businessman, planned on delivering nothing less to his loyal
At quick glance, observers note that Johnson’s
previous five CDs have all peaked in the top 20 of Billboard’s
Contemporary Jazz charts for sales and predict that “The
Phoenix” will surely rise and eclipse that mark.
During the past decade, Johnson has developed
a reputation as a stellar showman, wowing audiences with his
emotive displays of keyboard dexterity, while mixing his jazzy
beats with R&B, go-go, Latin funk, a taste of salsa and
a sip of hip hop. It’s an unbridled genre that has allowed
him to cultivate both mature smooth jazz fans as well as the
younger urban-contemporary audiences.
Born in Ohio, Johnson was raised in Washington,
D.C. and grew up sampling a cornucopia of musical styles.
His mother was a classical pianist and his father purveyed
the funk. After Johnson witnessed his first live show –
Earth, Wind and Fire – with his father, his musical
chariot was in motion. His step-father, using his winnings
from a Maryland Pick-3 Lottery game, bought Johnson his first
keyboard and the noodlin’ began.
With private lessons from an aunt and direction
from his high school music director, Johnson’s keyboard
fetish flared into a passion particularly knowing he couldn’t
sing nor rap.
The young mogul soon began studying both contemporary and
traditional jazz and cites Thelonius Monk and Joe Sample as
early influences through high school and his undergraduate
studies at Howard University. While pursuing both a JD and
MBA at Georgetown University, Johnson decided to independently
produce and distribute his own album. The product, Lessons
in Love (1997), went on to sell 40,000 units, a phenomenal
success for an unknown artist’s debut release. It also
helped him launch his career as a jazz musician and chief
executive of Marimelj Entertainment Group LLC (MEG).
During the next decade, Johnson would release more critically-acclaimed
music: Inter Alia, Chocolate City Groovin’, Coming
Back Around, Urban Groove, In Person: Live@ Blues Alley; Just
Doing What I Do, Smooth Jazz Christmas, and In Concert For
He’s shared the stage with many musical
legends including Boney James, Kim Waters, Peabo Bryson, Diana
Krall, Eryka Badu, Peter White, Miles Jaye, Rick Braun, Norman
Brown, Chaka Khan, Arturo Sandoval, Chuck Magione, Marion
Meadows, Rachelle Ferrell, Mike Phillips, George Duke and
Jeffrey Osborne among others.
And he’s played at many of the world’s
famous festivals and venues including The Capital Jazz Fest,
Bermuda Jazz Fest, Atlantic Artscape, Huntington Beach Jazz
Fest, The National Smooth Jazz Awards and the John F. Kennedy
Center for the Performing Arts.
Noting Johnson’s business savvy and
musical ambition, Black Entertainment Television (BET) founder
and businessman Robert L. Johnson (no relation) invested in
MEG and became Marcus’ business partner. Under this
partnership, MEG’s label Three Keys Music – based
in the Washington, D.C. metro area – established its
own full-service recording studio, Studio 8121; and two music
publishing companies, Marimelj Music Publishing and Three
Keys Music Publishing.
And now for the foreseeable future, Johnson
plans to “keep doing what I do. I love jazz and there’s
a huge demographic of folk out there that I intend to expose
and let them know “I’m their man!” Johnson
says humbly but confidently.
Bringing jazz to the masses is a challenge
that any lesser man might wince as too daunting. But to Johnson,
his faith, his music and his ideas are the rock from which
he plans to stand and raise jazz steady and unbowed.
more information please visit www.Threekeys.com or contact
Alonza Robertson at firstname.lastname@example.org or 301.589.1327.