On February 28, 2014, James Hugh “Jim” Massey took his final bow. Always the entertainer, even when Parkinson’s took his physical voice, Jim still managed to deliver a punch line with a charming gesture and an endearing smile.
He was born in McKinney, TX in 1933 to Jimmy Massey and Grace Hood. His father died when he was 10 months old but in 1943, Grace married Arlin Sharp. Together they raised him to be “anything he wanted”. Jim became the first of his family to attend and graduate from college.
In the summer of 1954, Jim met the love of his life, Marcia Alice Brewer. They shared a love of singing and entertaining and after a four month courtship, they married in November. They had four children, six grandchildren, 3 great grandchildren and chorus line of nieces, nephews, cousins and extended family.
After leaving the Army as a 2nd Lieutenant, Jim earned his degree in music from North Texas State University in Denton in 1957. He later completed both his masters and doctorial work in music at OCU and OU.
A composer and arranger of more than 100 songs, Jim’s arrangements are still in demand. He was the musical director of the Oklahoma City Barbershop Chapter “OK Chorale” for 34 years and the musical director of the Oklahoma City Sweet Adeline Chapter for 47 years.
Jim was the founding member of the well-known barbershop quartet, the OK-4. The OK-4 came to prominent attention after they appeared in Oklahoma City’s Lyric Theater production of “The Music Man” in 1966. They maintained an impressive schedule of engagements at parties, conventions and Barbershop shows across the country for decades. In 1968 and 1970, the OK-4 toured Southeast Asia entertaining US troops with the USO on the Pacific Hospital Circuit. Although principally a comedy act, the Ok-4 was also a force in Barbershop Society competition. The Ok-4 placed sixth in International Competition in 1973.
His additional Lyric Theater work included the leading roles of Lancelot in Camelot and Beauregard Jackson Pickett Burnside in Mame. While teaching at Oscar Rose College, he directed several productions and played Harold Hill in the Music Man.
Throughout his career, Jim coached countless quartets and choruses across the globe. Recognized for his talent, Jim was an integral part of the Barbershop Society’s reorganization of contest judging categories. He wrote the current Presentation category for the Barbershop Society, and in 2007 Jim received the Barbershop Society’s Life Time Achievement Award.
Besides his love of music, Jim always treasured a good laugh and a lively discussion. To all who knew him, Jim was a generous and kind man who always put his family first and he inspired Scott, Lin, Marla and Doug with his love for music.
As the stage lights dim and the curtains close, we applaud a wonderful man who became what he wanted and helped brighten the world with his song.
Per Jim’s wishes there will be no wake or funeral. Instead, he wanted a party. At 2pm on April 5th at the Church of the Servant in Oklahoma City, that’s what we shall do. Bring your love of harmony and when those chords ring, you might just hear Jim singing with you.