Harping On The Good News

Radio exec strikes a harmonious chord

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There aren’t many who could have inspired Jeff Majors. King David, who wrote many of the psalms found in the Old Testament, is probably music’s best-known harpist. In fact, to everyday Americans, the harp often conjures up visions of angelic figures. And while Jeff is a hard-core executive by day, he will tell you that his interest in playing the harp came one night in a vision.

“At the age of 15, the Lord laid me down in a dream,” explains Jeff, vice president of gospel programming with Radio One Inc. in Lanham, Maryland. “And in that dream I was playing this instrument, and I was surrounded by imps. The [musical] notations from this instrument turned into arrows, and they started warding off all of these imps. Well, that morning, when I woke up, I was
sweating. My hands were over my head, and I knew that I had had a serious out-of-body experience.”

Since that spiritual experience more than 20 years ago, Jeff has become an accomplished businessman and artist, spreading God’s word both professionally for Radio One and in his spare time as a harpist.

His hectic work schedule involves overseeing nine gospel radio stations in several radio markets, among them Detroit, Washington, D.C., and Miami. His favorite hobby has kept him just as busy. Jeff has several CDs to his credit, and has played in churches, music arenas, and concert halls throughout the United States. In West Africa, he performed with the National Ballet of Senegal.

Jeff, who studied for several years with harpist Alice Coltrane, wife of the late jazz artist John Coltrane, believes part of his calling is to expose others to the harp’s soothing effects.

“My purpose is to send some comfort and healing in people’s lives,” says Jeff, “because that’s what the modality of the instrument was created for. Every time we see a harp, it’s so closely associated with angelic forces. When you see a picture of a harp, you see an angel with it, or you see a cherub with it. And that is the motive and direction in which I always try to play the music.

“There are healing properties in music,” he continues, “and, definitely, there are healing properties in this instrument.”

Getting started

  • Buying a harp. Expect to pay anywhere from $300 for a small lap harp to $40,000 for a full-size orchestral harp. Jeff suggests checking out the Chicago harp company Lyon & Healy. “The troubadour harp is the one I would ask people to start out on, because it’s somewhat easy to move around. It’s about five feet,” he says.
  • Check a Website. For answers to frequently asked questions, go to www.harpcenter.com. This site includes tips on choosing and buying a harp, as well as learning to play the instrument. An online community offering calendar listings, classified ads, and discussion groups may be found at www.harpcolumn.com .
  • Learn locally. Check your local phone book for music instructors and schools. Some may also provide instruments for rent.