Welcome to the official site of "The Voice of Goodwill," with Bro. Ray MaGee... Please be sure to follow the links to like our Facebook page, follow our twitter, and to make purchases of recorded materials.
The Voice of Goodwill is the oldest and longest run African American Gospel Music Program on the airwaves of radio and television in America; Celebrating over 60 years. The ministry was founded by the late Rev. Nathan Wheeler and Dr. Laurence C. Jones, who also founded the Piney Woods School at Piney Woods, Mississippi. Bro. Ray MaGee's debut via television began at age six and he has been the primary host and executive producer of the ministry for more than thirty years. The Voice of Goodwill is televised every Sunday at 5:30 AM on WLBT, Channel 3, in Jackson, Mississippi and at 6:30 AM on WHLT in Hattiesburg.
The Voice of Goodwill was the first African American "gospel" ministry to emerge over the airwaves of radio and television in the South, beginning in Mississippi. Its arrival appeared during a time when it was very unpopular and, perhaps, dangerous for blacks to become visible on television or radio. The broadcast began in 1952 on Radio WBKH in Hattiesburg, Mississippi. The amazement (especially within the black community; this was an unbelievable "never before" thing!) that a "black" voice eminating over the air-waves was achievable! The fifteen minutes program attracted to WBKH a listening audience that excelled any other program of that format or that of other local radio stations at 7:15 on Sunday mornings. Afterwards, when the ministry advanced in 1956 via WDAM TV, then channel nine, in Hattiesburg, unimaginable calamity would befall those involved with the ministry for a long time to come. The ministry and members were confronted with various forms of intimidation and ridicule.
The VOICE OF GOODWILL's founding minister, Rev. Nathan Wheeler and singers/participants experienced a period of uncontrollable actions on the part of dissidents who fiercely objected to our goal and mission of bringing the word of God via music and scriptures to a sphere of believers who were either unable to attend church on a regular basis, shut-ins and others who needed encouragement based on the teachings of Christ. We were bombarded with obscenities and objects were hurled at our vehicle while traveling to and from the studio and engagements. There were also several occasions where we were run off the road, received written and telephonic threats and the founder, Rev. Nathan Wheeler's, home was suspiciously burned.
As a result of an accident in which Rev. Wheeler's vehicle was rammed and forced off the road, he was hospitalized. There was a myriad of suspects during this turbulent period by groups opposing Negroes having a high profile and such a successful production as this one; however, because of the racial climate and our beliefs, we chose to follow the way of peace. Many would have given up but we were determined then, as now, to continue to spread "good-will" and be the "voice" of believers seeking to save the lost.
Bro. Ray MaGee, who presently produce and host the VOICE OF GOODWILL television ministry, recalls his response when questioned: "What is your proudest moment of the VOICE OF GOODWILL?"..." Dr. Laurence Jones inculcated within us at Piney Woods School, 'As others have helped to make a better way for you, go forth from Piney Woods with determination to make a better way for others' and that is what we have tried to do in this ministry. When I see how the Lord protected and sustained us through the difficult times and sixty years later we are still here; evidently, He is pleased with what we are doing...The historical VOICE OF GOODWILL must be sanctioned by our Lord!! I am thankful and proud to be a part of its history; yet, I am most proud by the fact that every African American program that's on the airwaves today, the VOICE OF GOODWILL plays a MAJOR role in helping to pave the way for each of them, as we were the very first!"......
A non-profit sharing religious corporation, preaching, praying and singing goodwill to all races and creeds also to promote racial harmony between the races.
Bro. Ray MaGee, a powerful and soul winning gospel recording artist, was born in a log cabin just outside of Collins, Mississippi. His mellow singing style has often been paralleled to the late Rev. Cleophus Robinson and the late Brother Joe May, Ray’s mentors.
Ray’s singing career began in his plastic years of childhood. By the time he was 5, hardly did the congregations fail to ask to hear “Little Ray” sing when he’d attend the local churches. The congregation was so captivated by his singing that often attendees would raise their hands holding pennies, nickels, dimes and quarters encouraging him to “stay with the gospel, stay in church and keep on singing”. Stay, he did!
By age 6, Ray’s gift of music was broadened and his keyboard talent was discovered. His parents allowed him to live in Heidelberg, Mississippi where he was tutored in music by a blind musician, Bro. James Bradford. Also at age 6, he made his debut onto the airwaves of radio and television. Rev. Nathan Wheeler, the first and only African American in the south to have a weekly “gospel” radio and television program became enthralled with this “Little gospel singing giant” and made him a regular on the weekly broadcasts. Immediately “Little Ray” became the star of The Voice of Goodwill’s viewers and listeners. According to surveys, only the evening news had a greater audience than the shows starring “Little Ray” on the local television format.
Ray is the ninth of 10 siblings, 4 girls and 6 boys born to his parents…at age 13 he returned to Collins to help his father farm because his older siblings had gone from home. Having to farm would not allow Ray to attend school regularly; however, he was determined to do what his other sisters or brothers had not done, finish high school. His teachers recognized his talents and entered him into every contest possible ensuring exposure of his gifts. In the New Farmers of America’s club, he won first place at every level: local, district, state and national. He earned numerous honors, awards, trophies and recognition to Carver Central High School and himself. It was all gospel and he was respectfully given the title, ‘THE GENTLEMAN of GOSPEL SONGS”. The oldest student on the campus proudly graduated at age 21…a milestone for Ray!
In the early 60s, the late Bro. Joe May came to Hattiesburg, Mississippi. Someone told him a young boy was there who sings. Bro Joe May was so moved by Ray’s singing he immediately rushed to the microphone and told the audience, “If you all will bring twenty five dollars to this stage, tomorrow I will carry this young man to the recording studio and record his voice in song!” The applauds and the response was overwhelming. Bro. May did just what he said and Ray’s first recorded songs were, “JUST KEEP STILL” and ‘THE WAY I DO” on a 45 rpm. Bro. Joe May took Ray on the road with him and allowed him to sing. Ray also played keyboard while Bro. May sang.
One Sunday night in the late 60s another gospel great, Rev. Cleophus Robinson, came to Jackson, Mississippi. When Rev. Cleophus Robinson heard him sing, he interceded in Ray’s behave to record his second 45 rpm record and six months later his first album. When Ray’s music was played over the airwaves many would call the radio stations requesting a replay of a certain song by Rev. Cleophus Robinson when really it was Ray MaGee singing it and even to this day, some say they can’t differentiate Ray’s singing from Rev. Robinson’s because they sound so much alike.
In the Mississippi’s version of the grammy awards for “Soul Gospel Music” Ray carried the title, Male Gospel Soloist of The Years in 1983,1984,1985,1986 and 1987 and recaptured it in 1999-2003.
Joe Ligon of The Mighty Clouds of Joy says: “We met Ray MaGee sometime ago in Port Gibson, Mississippi. Our group was so moved and impressed with this multi-talented gentleman we were overjoyed at the thought of introducing him to our many fans. He is surely our colleague in the gospel…from the moment Ray stepped up to the microphone until the last ‘amen’ his audience was overwhelmed with his style and stage appeal. He brought his message across with the originality and quality of a seasoned gospel ambassador!”
Ray has toured the country with the former R&B singer, Joe Simon, now a gospel preacher. He says: “Ray is a great singer…our service becomes spiritual when he sings!”
Ray says the most exciting time in his singing career came in 1966 at Dusarble High School in Chicago, Illinois. While awaiting the arrival of Dr. Martin Luther King, jr. because his plane was late, the master of ceremony asked if there was anyone present from Mississippi who could sing. Ray’s mother shouted, “Yes”. Jumped up and bringing Ray up with her. Ray was asked to come to the stage to sing. A very scared Ray tried to Sing “Move on up a little higher”, Mahalia Jackson’s signature song and was awesomely slaughtering it! The audience began to applaud. Thinking the applauds were for him, Ray almost fainted as Mahalia Jackson approached the microphone, put her arms around his shoulders and coached him along as both sang the song together. The following week she brought Ray to her home and tutored him in a “make-up” assignment summer course in Algebra.
In Mississippi, Ray hosts the oldest and longest running African American gospel television program on the airwaves in America today…a weekly program, “THE VOICE OF GOODWILL” that has been televised over sixty years.