Marvin Dexter Moore, Former BMI Executive & VP at Jobete Stone Diamond Music, Now Sings Gospel Music
Updated: May 11
Gospel Recording Artist, Writer & Producer Marvin Dexter Moore, One of The First Black Executive at BMI & Former Creative VP at Jobete Stone Diamond Music, of Motown Testimony, Will Blow You Away!
Marvin Dexter Moore became the first black executive at BMI, the world's largest performing rights organization. He was the former Creative VP for Jobete Stone Diamond Music, a division of Motown Records. He also has excellent talent, testimony, intelligence, faith, wisdom, and humility. He won the "Best Engineered Recording" award at the 44th Annual Mississippi Gospel Awards and has released one of the most anointed gospel albums yet. Although losing his eyesight, he is one of the most optimistic and determined souls alive. I had the honor of interviewing this incredible man of God. He took me through a fantastic journey of lessons learned and triumphs. Here is what he shared.
Hi Marvin, it's so lovely to meet you. Thank you so much for calling me and agreeing to interview me.
It's my pleasure. I am honored. No, I’m the one that’s honored.
That’s so kind. Marvin, where are you from? I was born in Birmingham but raised in Brighton, AL. Currently, I’m in Los Angeles. Since few people know about Brighton, I am raising awareness. My job is to do that.
Awesome! When do you first recall being interested in music and singing? My home was filled with music every day. My grandmother and mother played gospel music before I went to school in the morning, and the smell of homemade biscuits, bacon, and grits filled my house. So, I have fond memories of gospel music growing up.
That's awesome! Breakfast in the country sounds delicious! It gives you a reason to wake up! (laughs) Yes.
Do they only listen to gospel music? No, my grandmother also enjoyed country music, and my mother enjoyed jazz and R&B. I was exposed to great music. That's how my love for music began.
In what ways did your parents support you in your interest in music? When I attended AG, Gaston Junior High School, my homeroom teacher, who was also the band director, said that he needed members for the band. So, I said, ok, fine. Then he inquired as to which instrument I would be interested in playing. So, I told him I was interested in playing trumpet, but he said I couldn’t because my lips were too big. I was insulted. I said, what do you mean my lips are too big? Look at yours!
I can't believe what he said to you! Then, I was instructed to play the tenor saxophone. There was, however, no tenor saxophone at the school at the time. As a result, he convinced my mother to purchase me a tenor saxophone. The funny thing is that I had no idea how large that tenor saxophone was. I walked home with that colossal saxophone every single day after school! I was not a happy camper, but I did it.
While I was coming into the school, down the hallway, I would hear the choir singing so beautifully, and that sounded good to me. The musical "Love Story "was a big deal then, and the choir would sing that. So that piqued my interest because of how beautiful it sounded.
Because I was already becoming in tune with orchestrated classical music, I was drawn into that and the gospel. Therefore, I had an eclectic understanding of music. I loved it! Little did I know that experience would impact my life and influence me in my later years.
Because of how you were raised, was singing the gospel a no-brainer for you? When I was growing up, I didn't have a choice. As a child, my mother put me in the youth choir. During high school, the band director wanted me to play in the after-school band, but I didn't know if I could. Having previously participated in talent shows and showcases, my mother asked me if that was something I wanted to do. In response, I said yes. She told me that if I decided to be in the band, I had to attend church, choir, and Sunday school every Sunday! So then, I consented to her request.
What kind of music did you play in the band? I played funk music on the weekends, but no matter what, I ensured I was in church on that choir stand on Sundays.
You can come in at 2 am if you want. (laughs) You can come in at 5 or 6 am, but you better be in church on that choir stand on Sundays. And you better be standing straight and tall. I didn’t play with my mother. She had that look and that boomerang house shoe that she could throw around corners and hit you. She was no joke! (laughs) I had respect for that shoe! You can hear her coming around the corner. Her hearing was also superhuman. (laughs)
Can you recall when your mom spanked you, and you still remember it today? Yes, in elementary school, I got into a fight, and because I was gaining the upper hand, the sister of the kid I was fighting came up and tried to protect him. So, she stabbed me in my hand with a pencil. Nevertheless, because I was taught never to hit a woman, I would not retaliate.
So, I started crying and went home to tell my grandmother what had happened. My grandmother asked me what I did to defend myself, and I told her nothing. She said, “nothing?” Then she whipped me! (laughs)
Gina, I was so confused! I said, “wait a minute, you raised me never to hit girls,” but then she said, “yes, but you can't let people stab you." (laughs)
When my mother came home, I told her my grandmother whipped me for not hitting a girl and letting her beat me up. I reminded my mom that she said to me that a guy should never hit a woman. Then my mother whipped me for telling on my grandmother.
(Laughs) Yes, indeed. Back then, that was the way things were. We all survived, so I'm glad you did, too. (laughs) Marvin, at what point did your professional career take root? As a high school student, I played in various bands. Following high school, I played in a few local bands. In addition to attending Tuskegee and studying engineering, I also played in bands there.
In the summer after I returned home, I realized I needed to take my education more seriously. Still, at the same time, I wasn't sure that I wanted to continue with the engineering program because it didn't appeal to me any longer. As a result of my need for more money for school, I decided to get my real estate license.
During summer break in my junior year of college, I ran into a few community guys I'd previously played with who encouraged me to come to their house to hang out. To be clear, I decided I was done playing in bands and would get serious about getting my education. That was the road I was on, but I agreed to go. When I got there, they were jamming! I jumped up on the stage, and we killed it! We rocked out!
Then they said, "hey, man, you have to come with us and join the band." I said, "you want me to what?" Then they told me I needed to make a quick decision between returning to school or joining the band because they were leaving for California. As I explained, I had only come home briefly and was returning to school to complete my education.
My friend's uncle, Bill Whitten, was a famous black clothing designer designing for many well-known celebrities, including Michael Jackson, Lionel Richie, and Elton John managed the band. He wanted to bring the band to California. So, I decided to go. I went home and told my mom, and I think I broke her heart because I was moving to California. So, I got on the Greyhound bus with $50.00 in my pocket and came to California. That’s how my professional musical career began.
How did it work out for you guys? The band had a little tour going and a small record deal, but you know how things go in the entertainment business: sometimes, things don't work out as expected. There was one thing I was confident of: I would not be returning home. So, I left the band, but I opted to stay in California. My bandmates returned home while picking up a few dates along the way. I stayed in California and lived off Corn Flakes, Top Raman, and bologna sandwiches.
Wow! You hit hard times. Yes. I slept on benches for a while and was even a cab driver. I moved around quite a bit. Although I had good and bad days, I always bounced back whenever I hit bottom. I’m resilient. I don’t quit.
So, I started living in a Christian men's house and became involved with a street ministry in Hollywood. Andraé Crouch established the outreach ministries I was involved in. Then I hooked up with some guys and started a little band. There were three of us. Gina, we played original Christian songs on the corner of Hollywood Blvd. I enjoyed it. I played bass, and I sang.
Later I got hired at Hollywood sporting goods and became the manager. So one day, this guy approached me and said he got a job at BMI. I asked him, "what was BMI?" He told me that it was a music company. As he spoke to me, he informed me that there was an opening and that the girls who worked there were cool, and they were Christians also.
He explained that I would need to be able to type at least 40 words per minute to be considered for the position. I told him I could come for an interview in two weeks. My typing speed wasn't fast enough, so I asked my current employer at the sporting goods store if I could practice typing on their machine after closing. My employer agreed, so I practiced typing on the job site religiously. As a result, my typing improved considerably.
During the interview, we talked about the Lord and faith, and they told me what they needed me to type: these cards that sent out information, labeling, and filing. I was ok with that, so I got the job. It was incredible! I was unfamiliar with the company's inner workings at the time, but as time progressed, I learned more about BMI and why it existed.
Can you explain BMI to those who have never heard of its existence? BMI stands for Broadcast Music Inc. and is the world's largest performing rights organization. They're responsible for black music being on the Airways and bringing gospel, R&B, and all sorts of black music into the forefront of the market.
Therefore, I was drawn to what they represented. As I witnessed people coming and going frequently, I became curious. I ran my mouth all the time and was involved in everything. In addition to welcoming people who came to meet with the executives, I thoroughly learned and understood all the contracts. When I began, I was about 1 ½ from being a file clerk. Several years later, I became one of the first black executives at BMI. It took a lot of hard work, but I accomplished my goal and enjoyed my time at the company. I loved what they did, what they were all about, and what they stood for. I'm so proud that they allowed me to be there and to represent them in the capacity which I did. I represented a lot of great people! So that was my launching pad to the professional world of music.
At some point, you worked for Motown? Yes, I worked for Jobete Stone Diamond Music, the publishing division of Motown. I was creative vice president of creative at Jobete.
After I left BMI, I worked at a small label where we did a movie in Jamaica. We used a few original songs by Bob Marley. I set up Jam Town records for them and did many entrepreneurial types of things. “Soon Come,” I love that expression.
How did you start working at Jobete? When I returned, I received a phone call asking if I would be interested in interviewing for Jobete. I did, and I became the creative vice president of Jobete.
What did you love about working there the most? I loved hearing the archived catalogs of renowned artists like Marvin Gaye and some of Michael Jackson's songs recorded while they were young and starting their careers. I just loved that! Also, I had a chance to represent their catalogs, so I got quite a few covers done. I was very proud of what I did there; unfortunately, that only lasted for a few years, and then he sold the company to EMI.
What an amazing testimony! Listening to your story reminds me of the scripture where the Bible talks about in Romans 8:28, which says, "a righteous man's footsteps or ordered by the Lord," and I can see how everything that happened in your life, whether good or bad, all works together for God's good in the end. Thank you so much!
Earlier in our conversation, you mentioned that you played bass. When did that start? I took advantage of whatever was available at the time. Initially, I played tenor sax; then, along the way, I played Alto saxophone because somebody stole my tenor saxophone. So then I started playing bass because I no longer had my saxophone. I found the bass for $30.00, so I started playing bass. I'm self-taught. Then I had an old piano in my complex, down in the rec room. So, I got permission and used to go down there and play on that when everyone left. Therefore I began to play the piano. I'm very creative and grateful that God has blessed me in that way.
Sometimes I don't even understand it, but I'm so grateful for what He has given me and allows me to use those gifts to bring glory to His name. That's why I do what I do, and that's what I'm all about.
You're dealing with something now. Can you share this with our readers? I have glaucoma, but because I now deal with computers and software, I can play guitar, bass, string ensembles, and drums from my computer. I’m the entire band on my own. You can accomplish incredible things when you're dedicated and know what you want. I've created some amazing pieces!
What is the secret to your continuous drive? It all comes down to your dedication and knowing where you want to go. You need to have a vision. Although I've lost my sight, my vision has increased.
Praise God for that. What you're saying about not giving up is right on point. When people read this, I pray that your testimony will encourage our readers because many people make excuses for why they can't do what God has called them to do for various reasons. You know, it could be an element, like such as what you're dealing with. Sometimes people feel like I've raised a family, and now they are too old, have made too many mistakes, or are not good at anything. God didn't create us to be on this earth and not contribute. God gives gifts to all men. Sometimes our covetousness of other people's talents paralyzes our efforts even trying. We become afraid, but we must believe what God said. In Mark 9:23, the bible says, "All things are possible to him who believes. So, we have to believe in and trust God. I've survived cancer and addiction, and now I'm going through this, but I tell people it is never too late. Never give up!
I want to tell people to keep going and believe. Do not give up, and do not stop because you're disabled doesn't mean anything. It just makes your story that much more potent.
When you look at the Scripture, God used all the people with issues. He could have used better people, but He didn't. When does this say somebody was perfect? If you don’t have an issue, you're not being truthful. Look, Moses Stuttered.
So true! Yes. Everybody has issues. We must accept that we are human and flawed. Accept it, deal with it, and get on with life.
Yes. If you have a dream, see the dream through. I now have a superpower. I can see in the dark. Not many people can see in the dark, but I can. The dark no longer frightens me. I've overcome my fear of it. Therefore, I want to let people know they can overcome their fear of the dark. You can overcome it. I had to teach myself how to use my phone voice-over, emails, and everything, but now I can do those things. I can even type. It's unbelievable what you're able to accomplish and what you're able to do.
Now my senses are on fire! We even travel. I've been to England and plan to go to Europe soon.
Awesome! Yes, and whenever I visit these places, I inhale life: the smells, the feel, the touch, and the sounds. We use those senses daily without taking notice of the simple blessing of just having that alone. We walk down the street without paying any attention whatsoever.
That's right. What you're expressing is beautiful and on point. Marvin, as a former VP and executive in the music business, you've seen the other side of the industry. Having become an artist, producer, and songwriter, how does that feel? To be honest with you, it feels strange. I spent most of my career helping other people, helping artists to achieve their goals and dreams. Advising them, putting them in contact with people, and doing everything possible to assist them in being the best that they could be, was what I did. So, now I have to put my hat on and become an artist.
What aspect of being an artist did you find strange? It felt weird because I could not advise myself as an artist. Now, I am beginning to ease into it. Because I knew so many great people, I judged myself against them.
I'll write and sing a song, then tell myself it's not as good as others. I always judged myself against other artists. Then, one day, I cried out to the Lord, who reassured me that what he put in me was enough. He told me that He created me to be me and someone else to be who they are. He also told me not to compare my talent with another person, which changed how I thought from then on. God said to me that what He wants me to do is between Him and me. He reminded me of who I served; that was all I needed to hear. Now I'm a better artist because all I focus on is pleasing God, not the industry, not another person, just God.
Gina, I got so caught up in trying to have a viral video, but all I needed to do was to have faith in God, worship Him, and let him take me where He wants me to go. God told me to trust Him, and I hear Him tell me that daily. "Marvin, but do you trust Me?" The more I trust him, the more he reveals to me. And I can't tell you how peaceful and relaxed I am, no matter what. It could be a tornado, but calm and relaxed when I'm with Him.
God has given you peace. Yes. The peace that passes all understanding. I need that because there are days that I get scared, wondering where I will go from here. But when I ask those questions, God reassures me there is nowhere to go because I'm already there. He told me, “you're already in the future, so what are you looking for?”
That's right! We have everything we need in God; He is more than enough! Each of us experiences Him differently in our lives. Your music resonated deeply because I know Him primarily as a God of Grace and Mercy. The grace of God is something you sing about. What's the story behind that? It comes from experience. There were times when I was so low that I looked up to dust. There were times when I, like all of us, made terrible choices and bad decisions.
Unfortunately, I got caught up in things I shouldn't have been doing and went to places I should not have been. But God touched me and showed me that His grace was sufficient. The grace of God was enough for me, so I didn't need all the material things I was chasing. At that time, I thought getting more respect, money, and stuff would solve my problems. I was chasing all those things. But I learned that life is not about chasing material possessions and that God's grace is sufficient. He gave His life for me because He first loved me. I love Him so much because He loved me despite me. I wouldn't have given me the time of day. But He loved me! So, I promised Him that if He would do that for me, I'll never go back, and that's precisely what happened. I’ve never gone back.
I repented, changed, and am no longer the same person. The enemy tried hard to pull me back into my old ways, but I was changed. I had gotten clean, and one day, I walked out of the store, went to the car, and found a gram of cocaine on the floor. I laughed and said, "satan, you have to do better than that! You aren't going to get me like that, bro!" Then, I got in my car and drove off.
Wow. Praise God! Yes! Praise God! And, I said, "His grace is sufficient for me." Gina, I know what God can do in a person's life. When I sing, I'm not just singing about something I read in a book, although the bible is the Book of Life. I am talking about a real-life experience where He is taking me and has brought me all the way through, and He will continue to take me all the way. I’m externally His!
People say, don't worry about your sight. If God allowed this to happen in my life, He knew I could handle it. And guess what? I can. Therefore, anyone reading this struggling with any problem can do exactly what I am doing. Trust God!
Do not give in to your fears or worries or feel sorry for yourself. Get up, tell people about God and what good he's done in life, and let the love of God strengthen you. Go out and show out for God! Represent Him well!
Right now, I'm working out two or three times a week. I'm getting stronger every day. I'm working on my balance and flexibility because I plan on doing shows this year.
There you have it. Amen! That's right, Amen! I've even figured out how to be on stage and how to do a show. As a result of my inability to find the microphone when I moved away from the microphone, I have developed techniques that assist me when I am on stage. I now place a rod under the rug to mark centerstage. The rod is hidden so the audience cannot see it, but I can feel it. This way, I'll know where the microphone is when I return. Hence, I am capable of dancing and moving around on stage. I'm going to show out for God!
Marvin, thank you for sharing your amazing testimony. You are indeed a man of God! I thank God for your life and conversion. I firmly believe that God will use you in many mighty ways throughout your life. Now, you write and produce your music, which is incredible! You have an anointed album out. Tell me about that. Yes, my album is called "The 2020 Collection." Also, I have been writing quite a bit, so more are coming. This year I plan on releasing one single every two to three months. As the Lord gives them to me, I will continue to put them out.
Each song is different and unique and different. There's something that will resonate with other people. I even have an actual, down, home-sounding gospel song that reminds me of the music I listened to growing up. It's called "The Lord Is in This Place." Each piece depicts different aspects of Him and His Spirit. My song, "Jesus What a Wonderful Name," has a different vibe than others with an R&B and Reggae vibe. I'm not worried about following a format. I will just put out what God gives me and let Him do what He wills.
I hear you're getting positive feedback as well. Yes, radio presenters tell me how the music has touched them. They all have had a great experience and said they put the song in heavy rotation. The feedback has been positive, and the radio coverage has been impressive.
Amen, and praise God! Marvin, I am so proud of you! Also, I believe congratulations are in order. You won the “Best Engineered Recording” award at the 44th Annual Mississippi Gospel Awards. Thank you.
You’re welcome, and you’ve also worked with Leon McCrary. Yes, Leon is from the gospel family, The McCrarys. Darius McCrary is a TV actor, and pretty much everybody in their family sings.
That's awesome! My final question is, what would you like to say in closing to anyone freshly getting into this industry? I would say, whatever God wants to do in your life, let Him do it. I also encourage anyone new to this industry who is an artist to follow their passion, especially if they are believers.