Music to help youngsters

Sean C. Morgan

Of The New Era

A retired construction contractor has taken up a second career, helping direct youth in positive directions, including making Christian music.

Al Hagi, 52, who owned A.B. Hagi Construction, started working on his idea about two years ago, after he retired.

“God just gave me a vision to work with young people in music,” he said. “God told me to build this place.”

Hagi dropped plans to build a new home and converted a barn at his home on Marks Ridge into a music studio. He built it, installing thousands of dollars of sound, recording and lighting equipment, with the help of his brother-in-law and his son, Albert III, a drummer.

“I had no idea,” he said about building a music studio. “I had never been in a real studio.”

He was able to find information on what he needed by doing research on the Internet.

Now he’s running what he calls Marks Ridge Worship Ministry.

Hagi’s children, Albert and his daughter, Krystal, are both musicians. Krystal, who attends Linn-Benton Community College, plays the guitar. Albert plays drums. Hagi said he personally became more interested in Christian music after attending CreationFest, a large-scale Christian music concert festival in Washington.

Hagi asked himself what he wanted to do with the rest of his life, he said, retire, drink coffee and read newspapers, or something more.

He said he expects that working with youth in music will be rewarding.

He remembered teaching second- and third-grade Sunday School at Family Bible Church in Brownsville.

“It was a lot of fun,” he said. “I enjoyed working with the kids.”

Lying behind his ministry is the thought that “all those kids with all this talent are just sitting at home by themselves,” Hagi said. They have talent but no one to teach them or help them put that talent to use.

“If someone doesn’t give them a chance to get out of there, they’re going to stay there,” Hagi said.

“I don’t know anything about music,” he said. “I don’t how I’m going to teach them, but it’s working.”

He has spent his time learning about sound, lighting and recording with his son. They’ve started working with local youth. For about the past six months, they have been working with a Christian rock band called L.I.F.E. Albert played drums with the band but is moving to another band.

Hagi and L.I.F.E. put on about a half dozen free concerts during that time, using Hagi’s studio to rehearse.

They held their last concert in late September at Sweet Home Junior High.

Marks Ridge Worship Ministry is not connected to a specific church, Hagi said, although he and his family attend the Rez Church in the Foster area, “and they take the kids no one else wants.”

The Hagis came from Chicago, so these youths “are tame” by comparison, he said.

“Basically, these kids are hungry,” he said, spiritually and sometimes physically.

“They’re hungry for a lot,” his wife, Denise, said. “Most people just tend to look away.”

“They know that the life they’re living now is not what they want to do,” Al Hagi said. “We’re trying to reach kids and get them doing something productive.”

Most of these youths wouldn’t have a chance to do something like the Hagis are offering, Denise Hagi said. They would never have the chance, but this will give them a way to develop a talent.

They can take advantage of a music education, studio recording time, spiritual direction and free concerts. Sometimes, they’ll be able to hang out in the studio, watching videos and concerts with talks from Christian recording artists.

“It’s a place for kids to gather, watch videos, talk about music, something to do,” Al Hagi said.

Eventually, Hagi said, he would like to expand the ministry into new areas, such as appropriate dance styles, drama or photography.

It’s not about money, Hagi said. If a band wants to record music, the studio time will be available. For bands that might charge for CDs, there will be a fee.

It’s about giving, Hagi said, something Christians had done for him for years. It changed his life and led him to God and Jesus.

For information or to get involved with Marks Ridge Worship Ministry, call Hagi at 401-3439.