Bruce began playing the guitar at the age of twelve. He found a curiosity for songwriting at the same time! A unique situation occurred from Bruce in his initial encounter with formalized lessons. Bruce's uncle gave him a guitar, however, Bruce thought that his guitar was actually a bass guitar! When the teacher told Bruce that he was missing 2 other strings, Bruce laughed but felt challenged.
"I thought I had a bass guitar and I felt like playing bass was easy! I decided that guitar playing was going to be easy one way or the other!" Bruce took a few lessons, but drifted away from the formalized format and found a local guitarist who had a band and was very established. At this time, Bruce began to learn under this guitarist's direction and progressed very fast! After only a few weeks of lessons, Bruce was asked to join the guitarist's band, but Bruce's mother (Barbara McKenzie) would not let him join because Bruce was only 13 years old! Bruce was also noticed by a well-known band (Chocolate Buttermilk) and they wanted to recruit him as well; once again, Bruce's mother would not let him participate. Bruce never became discouraged and continued developing his talent. "I decided that I would start my own band." Bruce attempted to start a band with some of his neighborhood friends, but they lost interest in the idea. They also tried to discourage Bruce from following his dream to play and write songs professionally! Bruce was a very shy boy, but very determined to become a songwriter. Bruce's first chance to play in a band came when he organized a band for the high school talent show! He had been playing the guitar for a couple of years at this point and had been exposed to a few key influences to include former musicians for singer Millie Jackson. Bruce linked up with high school buddy James McQueen and they put together a band Bruce named "Stellar Fungk" (with a G which stood for something Bruce can't remember at this time!) James McQueen introduced Bruce to gospel music and asked him to come and possibly join a local gospel group. "I never dreamed that I would play gospel music; I heard it around the house all the time, but I didn't think of the gospel music as something I would want to do". Bruce subsequently joined the gospel group, which led to joining another local gospel group called "Pee Wee and the Clark Special" Bruce began playing the guitar for the Clark Special and his talent expanded to song writing as well as some background vocals! Bruce wrote the title track for the Clark Special's first recorded project, "Road To Heaven". Bruce gained more experience while traveling with the Clark Special and became an integral part of the musical presence the Clark Special became very known for! Bruce wrote three tracks on the Clark Special's project "We Can Overcome"; he wrote the track "All I Need Is Jesus Christ, My Lord Jesus, He Can Do" and one of the most inspirational songs every recorded by the Clark Special, "This Is For Mother". Due to Bruce's job, he had to leave the Clark Special, but when he is in North Carolina, he "grabs his guitar and travels with the Clark Special"!
In 1997, Bruce decided that he wanted to attempt to record solo. "I felt as if the Lord wanted me to convey something that was inside of me; this something was very hard to share with other musicians and singers, so I knew I had to do it alone." That revelation came to light in 2000. Bruce recorded his first CD, "Everything That I Am" in his home studio in England! He decided at that point that his work for the Lord was only beginning and that all of the years of playing the guitar and singing with the Clark Special would now become inspiration in his on musical ministry. His work "Everything That I Am" was quickly followed by "Hold On". "This work is a reflection of what the Lord was doing to me at that time; I was going through some permanent changes and I could only write and sing about what was in my heart and what the Lord was doing for me." The song "Hold On" is a song about some of Bruce's closest friends. "My friends that I am singing about have went through some tough times and I wanted them to all know that no matter what you go through or will go through, the Lord will be right there with you only and only if you just hold on. The "Hold On" CD was followed by the current project from Bruce McKenzie, "When Praises Seem To Go Up".
This CD is aimed at the younger audience according to Bruce. "I want to take the Kirk Franklin approach and reach out to our youth who may be in trouble spiritually and seek a worldly remedy Music is sometimes the only way to reach the ones astray because they depend on music so much. I would like to touch as many lost souls and let them know that the Lord will answer only if they call on him. My grandmother told me that He may not come when you want him, but he's right on time." Bruce's current project, "When Praises Seem To Go Up" can be heard at www.mp3.com/brucemckenzie. Bruce's latest jazz cd entitled, "BMACK" can be heard here and at www.mp3.com/bmack.
Bruce is an independent songwriter that records, sings, plays all of the instruments and produces his work entirely! Wow! Bruce is blessed to be able to share his spiritual ministry with us. Bruce has been exposed to every one from Shirley Caesar of Durham NC to the Might Clouds of Joy of Los Angeles, CA. He has traveled with the Clark Special everywhere from New York City to Cincinnati, OH. Bruce is originally from New York City, but claims North Carolina as home. He now works and lives in England. His mother, Barbara McKenzie deceased), is from North Carolina and his father, Charles James, is from Montego Bay, West Indies. The rest of the McKenzie family lives in North Carolina, South Carolina, Colorado, New York, California and Washington DC! Bruce's goal is not to receive credit for his work, but to ensure that the Lord receives the credit and that the glory of the Lord be received by the audience of his musical ministry! Keep up the good work Bruce and God Bless you!