With Jacqueline Kellock
Welcome to the Country Gospel Corner and it is with great pleasure our feature on James Marvell.
Marvell’s music career began in Tampa Florida. When he was twelve years old, his mother gave him his first guitar. James was also encouraged by his father who of note, lived to the young age of 103. When James Marvell was a young boy, he was drawn to the Bible and always carried a guitar and small Bible with him.
In the mid sixties, at the age of 16, James and his good friend, Buddy Good, played in Garage bands Surprize and The Skopes. As The Skopes they recorded a novelty song titled “She’s Got Bad Breath." The song did not go over with Scope mouthwash. Scope forced the song to be banned even though their manager, John Centinaro and producer Carl Bonafede had gotten the boys a deal with USA Records out of Chicago for this song.
Around 1968 James Marvell and Buddy Good formed the Country Cavaleers. They teamed up with Bobby Bare's uncle, Johnny Bare who was their lead guitar player and taught them everything about Country music. Country music legend Bobby Bare would often come in to see his uncle and felt James and Buddy should go to Nashville. Near the end of the sixties, The Country Cavaleers discontinued for a while because Jack Sigler, Jr. invited them to join his band Mercy.
Jack founded Mercy and he wrote the hit song 'Love Can Make You Happy' which became a solid gold classic for the band. There were seven members in Mercy with Jack Sigler's four members and three of James Marvell's band members, Roger Fuentes drummer, and Buddy Good who played bass and sang harmonies.
A young DJ by the name of Mike Harvey had heard “LOVE CAN MAKE YOU HAPPY” on a small radio station in Florida. He approached the station and bought the song for twenty dollars. Mike played it on his station WFUN in Miami and it instantly became the station's #1 most requested song. "Love Can Make You Happy" was re-released on Warner Bro's and skyrocketed to #2 on the charts second to The Beatles' song "Get Back." This month marks over 50 years that it topped the charts and Record World! Mike Harvey is the only three-time winner of “Major Market Program Director of the Year Award" and his stations have won the “Station of the Year” award an unprecedented four times!
Because of their love for Country music, James Marvell and Buddy Good, left Mercy in 1970 and reformed their duo The Country Cavaleers. Faron Young gave them a break in his magazine, Music City News. He saw something in their style that foretold what was coming. They were dressed in prison shirts and vests along with their long hair. The duo was stated to be stirring up things in Nashville and this all happened years before the Outlaw movements in Country Music. Through a photographer, Bill Grimes, they received an invitation to Waylon Jenning's home. Waylon still wore the clean cut Nashville look at the time. Waylon thought James and Buddy were cool and unique. James Marvell has always appreciated Waylon Jennings, Willie Nelson and all who were involved in those 70s Outlaw movements.
The Country Cavaleers' duo was ahead of their time with a new style of Country Music growing their hair down to their waist, wearing cowboy hats and playing Country Music long before Waylon and Willie ever became known as the Outlaws. The Nashville Music Industry, at that time, didn't understand their look and felt, "they were causing waves in Country Music." The new duo just didn't fit the mold however, twenty years later, in 1991 with respect to the early years of The Cavaleers, Willie Nelson placed them in his museums in both Nashville, TN and Branson, MO.
The trendsetting duo also wanted to help the young people with anti drug messages in their performances. Parents would bring their kids to see their shows. Marvell remembers it was dangerous in those days to perform and recalls that they even needed police escorts at some venues. At this time in the early seventies, they appeared on several Nashville TV shows including The Wilburn Brothers and Ralph Emery Show. The Country Cavaleers' anti drug campaign received written support from Grand Ole Opry stars like Jack Greene, Jean Sheppard, Del Reeves and many others who said that they were far ahead of their time. Many felt they were too early on the scene.
They rose above it all and because of the huge response from their fans and crowds, their manager John Centinaro, became an agent at Nashville's top booking agency Buddy Lee Attractions. The boys did shows with Hank Williams Jr when he was just 16 years old backed by his dad's band The Drifting Cowboys. The Cavaleers were booked with stars like Loretta Lynn and Conway Twitty, Jack Green, Johnny Cash, Dolly Parton, Bobby G. Rice, Freddy Fender and many more of the legends in Country Music. They also had a string of hits with CSA and MGM Records, some of which Richie Mareno produced. Mareno also produced big hits on Tommy Overstreet..
In 1973, Marvell attended a Crusade in Nashville held by a minister from New Orleans, Bob Harrington, The Chaplain of Bourbon Street. Something pulled at James Marvell's heart when he heard the minister preach the word of God. James accepted Jesus as his Lord and Savior.
In the early 90's, the Lord led Marvell into the Christian Country and Country Gospel genre. He recorded "Prophecy" a composition he wrote over forty years ago. The song makes more sense in today's world than it ever did. It deals with Matthew 24 when Jesus was asked by his disciples, "what shall be the sign of your coming and of the world?" Marvell says that it was the Lord who really gave him the words for this song. He is now recording "Prophecy" in several different languages.
James Marvell has performed Gospel duets with Grand Ole Opry star, the late Ernie Ashworth and the president of CGMA, Billy Hale. In 1996, Marvell was introduced by Pat Boone on TBN to sing another of his #1 Country Gospel hits “Banking On Jesus” written by Juliet Massey and Tommy Crews. James has been blessed with more than a dozen top ten hits in the world of Country Gospel and is now releasing songs with Colt records out of Nashville. He has been inducted into two of the major Country Gospel Music Association Halls Of Fames, the CGMA and the ICGMA.
James is associate producer with The ALG Gospel Network and recently recorded "In A Dream", written by Roy Young, the founder of ALG. Joining him on the song is actress/producer, Tomey Sellars. She sings harmony on the song which is now on the Indie Chart Top 20 Countdown's top10. Marvell also has a 2021 version of "Love Can Make You Happy" the classic he originally recorded with Mercy in the late 60s. His recent recordings have been sponsored by Welcome Home Vietnam Vets 2020 and are recorded at Dreamlab Recording Studio in Port Richie Florida.
James Marvell continues to receive airplay from radio stations worldwide and has always respected and appreciated all DJ's and Program Directors . Most of all, many of his recordings have been inspired from his deep love of his wife Faye and her support. Faye herself, is an amazing watercolor artist.
James Marvell knows none of his success and path in music was possible without the guidance of the Lord and his God given talents. The little Bible he carried in his youth has led him to the Country Gospel music he now fills his life with, in gratitude and service to God.