ALL THAT DRAMA Co-creators Kimberly P. Johnson and Bruce McKagan
In 2011 Bruce McKagan was an executive at Muzak in Fort Mill, SC and VP of the company’s non-profit foundation. Muzak’s Heart & Soul Foundation helped underprivileged kids from a across the country with music education. A director from the local United Way came calling one afternoon, hoping to get Bruce and his foundation involved in a community project she had organized. Her name? Kimberly P. Johnson. Bruce’s time was short and she was long winded. He had several meetings back to back that day, so he had to cut her off after 30 minutes. Bruce appreciated her cause, but wasn’t sure he could help. Heart & Soul had several other charities calling and he had to protect the foundation’s limited resources. The end of the meeting came quickly and Bruce was off to his next.
A few days later, Bruce received a follow-up call from Kimberly…. then another. Before he knew it he found himself involved with her Community T.E.A.M.S. project. It was her vision and enthusiasm that hooked him. He was drawn by her energy and commitment. She made things happen and Bruce simply held on for the ride… a ride that continues to this day.
What Kimberly had created with Community T.E.A.M.S. was a summer program for rising 6th graders that helped teach them the social skills needed to transition from elementary to middle school. It was a four week, Monday thru Friday - very ambitious, but also very necessary. She felt that music could be a great team builder and motivator for her students. That’s where Bruce and his foundation would come in… at least that’s what Kimberly hoped.
Only a few of the 45 kids in the program had any music education, so they needed to work from scratch. Bruce recommended that the students write, record and perform a song of their own. Kimberly thought he was crazy but liked the idea. They split the kids up into three groups; rhythm, melody and lyrics. Kimberly worked with the lyrics group and Bruce grabbed a fellow musician, Jagger Gestson, and worked with the melody and rhythm teams. Over the next few weeks a song was born entitled “Life”. Next up were rehearsals, studio time, a CD and an exciting performance finale. The local press loved it…. so did the kids and their parents. A successful project complete. A hug from Kimberly to thank Bruce and that was it… or so he thought.
It wasn’t long before Bruce received another call from Kimberly. She wanted to talk to him this time about a very different project that had to do with another part of her professional life. It was then that Bruce learned that Kimberly P. Johnson was also a very popular children’s author, an educator and motivational speaker. She had just completed a book of poems called ALL THAT DRAMA. After seeing first-hand the impact music can have on kids, she thought that her book of poems needed that same injection of music. The poems targeted middle school and teenage girls. These are prime music years for kids. Kimberly’s request made sense, but Bruce’s available time was slim. He dug into his collection of original compositions to find positive songs he had already produced that complimented her poems. Bruce felt they would do the trick, so he packaged them up, sent them to Kimberly and moved on to his next project.
Another call from Kimberly... “Bruce, these songs are nice… BUT I think we need to write and produce our own tracks created specifically for my ALL THAT DRAMA book of poems.”
Bruce knew that she had no idea what she was asking! The time, energy and resources it takes to produce music can be extreme. She’s a pro, so he knew that she wanted the best quality and talent possible, but he also knew that Kimberly had no concept of how to get there… the resources, talent, time and money. This was a whole new level of commitment that Bruce wasn’t sure he could sign-up for. After all, he had a job and all kinds of other obligations…. and she wanted a full album of original tracks? Now she was the one who was crazy!
It was around this time that a series of events happened in Bruce’s life. He lost his job at Muzak. A consolidation due to several acquisitions ended the tenure of the entire executive staff in Fort Mill, Muzak’s corporate HQ. That included Bruce.
This motivated Kimberly to get even more aggressive with Bruce to compose and produce her ALL THAT DRAMA album. She knew he believed in her project, its message and how much Bruce loved writing music. She also knew he now had the time!
In the following month, December 2012 to be exact, they began to really connect. Kimberly and Bruce’s bond as co-creators started to mesh with the New Year and 2013 would take their passion, creativity and experiences to a place far beyond their wildest dreams.