BY KAREN GERHARDINGER | MIRROR REPORTER — At 76, Marcella (Marcy) Mackey knows she’s old enough to sit in a rocking chair on the front porch and knit, but instead, the retired music teacher is going to clubs, regularly appearing on TV, gardening and traveling to sing with the Scioto Valley Sweet Adelines Chorus.
“If opportunity knocks, I barge right through the door,” said Marcy, a Waterville Township resident.
Her TV opportunity came last year, when she overheard Whitehouse resident Morgan Kosinski, co-host of WNWO Channel 24’s What’s Going On mention that she needed advice on gardening.
A certified master gardener through OSU, Marcy offered to help, and that blossomed into a regular appearance on the morning TV show, sharing tips on everything from roses and woody-stemmed plants to beetle bags, pruning and preparing beds for winter.
“We have a lot of fun,” she said of her weekly episodes with Kosinski and co-host Toi Creel. “The whole NBC crew is great.”
Soon, she will be developing another regular segment on the show – one that explores the symbiotic relationship between local musicians and venues in which they perform. It’s a topic that’s dear to her heart, as she spent 29 years as the choral director at Bowsher High School and even longer as a private coach in piano and voice.
“I’m a classically trained artist, including opera, but singing in clubs and musical theater is what I really enjoy,” she said.
A Richwood, Ohio native, Marcy earned her bachelor’s degree in music education and her master’s degree in performance and conducting from Bowling Green State University. After teaching for a year in Mansfield, she moved to the Toledo area and landed the Bowsher job in 1969, guiding nearly 3,000 students through musical performances.
During that time, she created the competitive show choir, the Rebelaires, the first in the state and a semi-professional quartet with three students who performed at churches, for business events and for associations. Overall, the Rebelaires group won 35 trophies, and her large group won Superior ratings at the Ohio Music Education Association contests during her tenure.
“I was just blessed with the talent that came my way and the parental support,” she said.
Those talents are shared locally and nationwide, including by former students Mark Mikel, John Pickle, Jeff Kollman, Gina Schultz of Noisy Neighbors, Nicole Khoury of Arctic Clam, Tom Moeller, Brian Albright, Denny Pezzin and D.J. Hiner, to name a few.
Her husband of 49 years, Mac, died in 2020 after a long illness. The COVID-19 pandemic put a halt to many live performances, but last year she began going to see some of her former students perform. Needing to burn a CD for her husband’s memorial service, Marcy reconnected with Mikel. That led her to getting out for one of her first shows: seeing Mikel at Six Fifths Distilling in Perrys-burg.
“Mark is a musical genius,” she said, noting that he launched his band, Marikesh, while still a Bowsher student. He’s released albums, performed internationally and wrote and performed “Fly to Me” on Alan Parsons’ 2019 album The Secret as well as “Obstacles” and “The Secret” on Parsons’ From the New World, released in July.
During that initial show in Perrysburg, another student was in the audience, and Marcy learned about Mikel’s weekly performance with the Dive Bombing Space Pigeons at Howard’s Club H in Bowling Green. Band members including Mikel, Johnny Rodriguez, Chris Shutters, Jerry Knott, Steve Feehan and Ev Harris expertly play classic rock songs from the 1960s through the 1980s as well as originals.
“One of my students saw me there and said, ‘What’s our choir director doing listening to a rock band?’” Marcy laughed.
Over the past year, she’s frequented many venues to follow her former students, including John Pickle, who invites her to sing along with him on “You’ve Got a Friend” when she’s at his shows.
While Marcy is likely to feature some of her former students on the new WNWO segment, her goal is to hear as many bands as she can. That means doing research and stretching her boundaries.
“I want it to be balanced with women, men, Black, Hispanic – to reflect the diversity that we have in today’s music scene,” she said. “I want to travel all over. If it’s my job, I’m going to do it. I’m really excited about this project.”
While she’s spending evenings out listening to bands, Marcy won’t neglect her own gardens or her music. As a member of the Sweet Adelines, she’ll be attending the Quartet Internationals this week in Phoenix. To prepare, she’s rehearsing weekly for three hours with other talented women from throughout the Midwest. She intends to return to serve as an adjudicator for the Ohio Music Educator Association (OMEA) adjudicated events.
And, with fall nearly here, she’ll be out in her garden, churning up soil, digging up bulbs and preparing for winter.