Music man for the new age

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Alum is busier than ever composing music for commercials, a new album, movies — and for a church in Detroit. And he gives his high school band director big-time props.

Nineteen-eighty-three Notre Dame graduate and musician John Nixon is the lead composer and executive producer at Ron Rose Milagro, a marketing, audio- and video-production company based in Royal Oak, Mich., with clients in the independent film, advertising and web communities. Technically, he's an independent contractor working under the name Music By 7and5, LLC, but for all practical purposes, he is the go-to guy for all of RRM's musical needs.

"I originally joined Ron Rose as an audio engineer in 1989, but left to begin my composition career with Brad Music in 1996," Nixon said. "That company later became known as The Bad Little Man. I rejoined Ron Rose Productions in 2001, which, at that time, was based in Southfield."

Nixon said he's busier than ever and credits his high school alma mater for him getting and staying ahead in his career. 

"NDHS taught me how to compete at the highest levels; whether it be for grades, for sports or band," he said. "Competition and doing one’s best were always at the core of what we did at Notre Dame, and understanding that this is what we face everyday in the real world, adversity is now far less of an obstacle for me."

For Nixon, who's been competing for year at the highest level in the advertising world, his recent work is telling.

He's composed the original music for the entire national Buick Christmas and end-of-year campaign and he currently has spots with his original music running in the Detroit-area market for Carl’s Golfland, DTE Energy, Blue Cross-Blue Shield, Smithfield Meats, and more. A few years ago, Nixon also composed the score for a trailer for the movie “The Visitor,” which saw worldwide release. 

Besides his commercial work with Ron Rose, Nixon, who currently resides in Grosse Pointe, also has had a long and productive career composing original music for consumer consumption. In fact, his sixth album of electronic New Age music under the artist name, "7and5," is coming out this Friday. And if that wasn't enough, he's also currently playing in the house band and composing songs for Grace Community Church in Detroit.

"That gig has gotten me into some of the most incredible modern Christian music," he said. Artists such as Hillsong United, All Sons & Daughters, Bethel Music, and drummer Paul Mabury. He also names a number of other musicians who have been major influences throughout his career.

"I grew up with such a mix of music in my house, but if I had to select those artists who've influenced me the most, those that come to mind include Jeff Lynne (ELO), Trevor Horn (ABC, Yes, Frankie Goes To Hollywood), Jeff Porcaro (Toto, Steely Dan), Brian Wilson (Beach Boys), Prince, Aaron Copland, and way too many more to mention."

But Nixon reserves a special place for an especially huge influence on him: NDHS Band Director Larry Egan.

"To this day, I find myself quoting Larry in my musical ventures. Sometimes it's in the way I'm giving direction to other musicians, where I explain what I am looking for in a language only musicians understand. Such as saying, 'I need you to articulate it more like ‘fway-day-day-dot-dway-day-day!' This is a language I learned with Larry Egan and the Notre Dame Jazz Band and it seems to be universally understood worldwide." 


Comments or questions? mkelly@ndpma.org.

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About Notre Dame Preparatory School and Marist Academy
Notre Dame Preparatory School and Marist Academy is a private, Catholic, independent, coeducational day school located in Oakland County. Notre Dame's upper school enrolls students in grades nine through twelve and has been named one of the nation's best 50 Catholic high schools (Acton Institute) four times since 2005. Notre Dame's middle and lower schools enroll students in pre-kindergarten through grade eight. All three schools are International Baccalaureate "World Schools." NDPMA is conducted by the Marist Fathers and Brothers and is accredited by the Independent Schools Association of the Central States and the North Central Association Commission on Accreditation and School Improvement. For more on Notre Dame Preparatory School and Marist Academy, visit the school's home page at www.ndpma.org.

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