Originally created 08/18/00

Ramblin Rhodes: Singer makes Majic in all kinds of music



Lynn Houston must be magical: the Augusta entertainer has been able to disappear and reappear in many musical styles, including country, folk, rhythm and blues and beach music.

At 9 p.m. Thursday, she'll be working some beach-music magic when she sings with the 11-piece band Majic at Goodfella's, 3328 Washington Road. Cover charge is $7.

"Majic came about when I was singing at Henry's piano bar before it was Goodfella's," Miss Houston said. "Randy Johnson had been a drummer with Night Life. He told me, `Roy Smith and I want to form a band and have you join us.' We created Majic a little less than three years ago."

The trio also started creating magic in Imagine Studios in Belvedere, with three musical heavyweights at the control board: Steve Brantley, formerly in the band of country star Gary Morris, as chief engineer and producer; Andy McCraw, known for his guitar playing and vocals, as assistant engineer; and Bruce Dees, backup vocalist and musician on Ronnie Milsap and Barbara Mandrell recordings, in charge of mixing and mastering the recordings.

Since Mr. Smith was a legend in Southern beach-music circles - having penned the classic beach songs Myrtle Beach Nights and I Got the Fever and having been with one of the South's first interracial groups, the Georgia Prophets - the first album from the trio was billed as Roy Smith and Majic and titled Myrtle Beach Nights.

It ended up being a bittersweet project, with the album finished just before Mr. Smith died unexpectedly on June 27, 1998.

"Roy did get to see the final product," Miss Houston said. "He was ecstatic. He felt he was blessed at the end."

Miss Houston's appearances with Majic take her throughout the Southeast, especially in the summer along the Georgia and Carolina coasts. The band will perform in Myrtle Beach next month in connection with the shaggers convention and in November in connection with the sixth annual Cammy beach awards. Majic's single, Show and Tell, has been No. 20 on the national beach music charts.

Other band members are Joel and Janet McKinney (vocals), Doug Roddy (guitar/vocals), Tillman Ezernack (saxophone), Robert Kelly (trumpet), Joe Pittard (trombone), Mike Flanders (bass guitar/vocals), Phil Dominech (keyboards) and Rodney Kight (sound/lights).

You can read more about the band at its Web site, www.majic1.8m.com.

Miss Houston also is working with Mr. Dees and Mr. Brantley on two albums, one with Majic and one as a solo project. Both are due out later this year.

Miss Houston's musical career began in Texas. She was born Lynn Pearson in Houston (coincidentally she also married a Houston, hence her stage name), but grew up in Beaumont.

"I went to sleep at night listening to country music on a huge radio that looked like a television set," she said. "Me and my sister started singing together in church. She went into modeling, and I stayed with music. I was singing at Army and Navy base hospitals at the age of 14 with a group called Operation Get Well, mostly singing folk music to guitars. My big solo was Unchained Melody. That was my first taste of applause."

When marriage and two children, Jeffery and Brent, came along, she put her singing on hold. After she divorced, she hooked up with Sky High, a rock and pop show band, which brought her to Augusta and the old Man O'War nightclub at Surrey Center.

She liked Augusta so much she decided to stay. For six months she sang with the country band Intrepidation at Horne's Motor Lodge. Then came singing with the bluegrass band Flatbed for about six months, followed by the Southern Comfort country band at Horne's, followed by singing with Buzz Clifford in the first house band (the Honky Tonk Band) at the Honky Tonk country nightclub on Gordon Highway.

"I'll always respect Buzz," she said. "He was a great music teacher and performer and always demanded the best."

While with the Southern Comfort band, she was seen on the Heart of the Country series that aired on WAGT-TV (Channel 26).

When not on the road with Majic, she can be found working at Arrington's, a family owned business in Thomson, and enjoying life with her husband of 16 years, Jeff Butler, manager of the Airlay department of the H.P. Pelzer corporation in Thomson.

"Other than my husband, music is my best friend," Miss Houston said. "I feel more at ease when I sing than almost any other time.

"Augusta is a good place for singers because there have been so many good ones coming out of this area. These people are hard on you, and want you to do your best every time. It's a great feeling when I get applause from Augusta people."

Don Rhodes has written about country music for 29 years. He can be reached at (706) 823-3214 or at ramblin@groupz.net.