by Candace Gray —
Veteran musician and long-time Memphian, Garry Goin, is cultivating an amazing career, replete with inspiration, once-in-a-lifetime performances and divine intervention.
When the global pandemic hit, Goin, the Memphis Grizzlies House Band musical director, like most musicians, saw a dramatic reduction in income and found himself needing to make a different move.
During those challenging times, Goin had an epiphany that would set the course for the next phase in his career: Garry Goin Presents.
The first installment in this proprietary music production series, Garry Goin Presents: A Tribute to Ray Parker Jr., is set for Saturday, (Nov. 20) at 7:30 p.m. at the Halloran Centre for Performing Arts & Education next door to the Orpheum Theatre. (Go to Orpheum-Memphis.com for tickets, which are $47, plus fees.)
Goin’s journey to here was a long and winding road that started with a friendly bet, a barter and an Elvis movie.
Goin recalled the scene: He and his brother Richard (two of five boys in the Goin clan) were watching a movie with his Uncle Tommy. A puffed-up Richard bet he could sing and play just like Elvis if their uncle would buy him a guitar.
He bought the guitar. Anxious but trepid, Goin knew he wanted that guitar and offered Richard a trade – Richard’s guitar for Garry’s stylish shirt the older brother had been eyeing for quite some time.
After playing around on the guitar one day, Goin had the courage to ask his mom, affectionately known as Mama Jean, if she’d pay for him to get guitar lessons. Without hesitation, she said yes.
“And we were poor,” said Goin. “She could have easily said no, and that would have been understandable. But that ‘yes’ changed the course of my life!”
So, on a city bus, he was off to his first guitar lesson. “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star” would be the first song a 16-year-old Goin would learn at his first lesson.
“At the end of the lesson, I jumped out of the chair and said ‘Man, that’s magic!’,” Goin exclaimed. He knew something had ignited inside of him and, at that moment, on the bus ride home, he knew what he would do for the rest of his life – music.
Suddenly, this bashful kid from Cleveland, Ohio had found his voice. He couldn’t get enough of it, practicing guitar at least four hours a day.
“That guitar was my opening, eye-opening, LIFE-opening,” Goin recalled, thinking. “This is going to take me where I need to go!”
A guitar opened the door
Goin’s career took off. He has played with some of the best in the business, including Stevie Wonder, David Porter, Howard Hewett (Shalamar) and Kirk Whalum – all mentors and sources of inspiration – and so many more high caliber artists across the U.S. and the world.
But what began as a career in guitar performance gradually evolved to include music production, engineering, writing, artist management and show production.
Inspired by musical icons Berry Gordy, Aretha Franklin, Ray Charles, The Beatles and Prince, Goin always has been mesmerized by these artists’ ability to tell a story and make people part of their world.
“Ray Charles had the ability to pull you into his story and before, you knew it, you’re part of the story,” Goin said. “Aretha did that, too. Like on “Dr. Feelgood” – you could see the picture, just by listening to her. And Ray Parker Jr., does this, too, and does it well!”
Parker also an inspiration and good friend to Goin, is an artist who creatively blends lyrics, melodies and music to tell an amazing story. That is why he was chosen to inaugurate Goin’s carefully curated tribute series.
Parker is most notably recognized for his cowriting and production with Chaka Kahn on “You Got the Love,” New Edition on “Mr. Telephone Man,” Holland-Dozier-Holland on “Want Ads,” and the iconic “Ghostbusters” theme song. (The new “Ghostbusters” movie, “Ghostbusters: Afterlife,” will be released Friday (Nov. 19). Parker will be in Memphis for this show Saturday (Nov. 20), then fly to Los Angeles for a Ghostbusters World Tour.)
This one-of-a-kind, 90-minute show will feature story-telling between Goin and Parker, videos about Parker’s career in music and film, and live music played and sang by Parker, Goin and Memphis musicians who work with Christina Aguilera, Stephanie Mills and Stevie Wonder.
According to Goin, “Ray loves Memphis and has a huge respect for Memphis music.”
(Learn more at Orpheum-Memphis.com. Follow Garry on social media @GarryGoin.)