The Calling for Music

Published on: May 18, 2016

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With a name like Mary Megan Margret McDonough, and being the seventh of nine children, I’m sure it comes as no surprise that—yes—I was raised Catholic. Which I like to think explains my intense interest in Buddhism and attraction to Jewish men.

I say the Beatles saved my life, because the nuns started to recruit me. Early. Yes, I remember being asked almost on a daily basis, “Who here wants to be a priest or a nun?” I was sure if I didn’t raise my hand it was going on my permanent record, so up went my hand every time. Then I was told, “Okay now, Mary, (the nuns always called me Mary because Megan wasn’t a saint’s name), go apart a while and get quiet, and see if you have The Calling.” Now, try as I might, I never heard the calling to take the veil, and I was pretty worried that I’d fibbed to the good sisters! Then February 9, 1964, on The Ed Sullivan Show I saw The Beatles, and I heard The Calling loud and clear.

I begged my parents daily for a guitar, and the following Christmas I got it. I played it incessantly. I put tape on my fingers when they got sore so I could keep playing. The following summer, my father died suddenly from a stroke, and three months later my oldest sister was killed in a car accident. I closed my eyes and swan dived into the music. It healed me.

When I was 14, I won The WLS Big Break Radio Contest. One of the prizes was a recording contract with Mercury Records. I made my first record (a 45!) when I was 14. I moved to California when I was 17 to be in the record business and was John Denver’s opening act. I played Carnegie Hall and The Greek Theatre and then lost everything because I was too young and had no idea or guidance on how to live at that level.


Adventures Living “The Calling”

I have recreated and revived my career more times that I can count. But it wasn’t till I found Unity around the same time I found The 12 Steps in 1979, that my life would take a completely new direction.

I have been a singer-songwriter and actor for over 45 years! And I feel incredibly blessed to have heard the calling long ago. And, while it is not an easy life, the times are few and far between that I don’t feel deep gratitude to be able to earn a living doing what I love and what I feel I am here to do.

Four years ago Rev Greg Barrette, senior minister of Unity Northwest Church, Des Plaines, IL, took me to lunch to talk about my coming on board to be the music director of their church. Well, I told him, I am not your typical music director. For example, I am not a choir director. He told me there wasn’t going to be a choir at Unity NW. I then told him I travel/tour quite a bit. No problem, I was free to get a sub.

So, I took all this into prayer and was guided to say yes. I’ve been music director at Unity NW for four years. That just surprises and delights me! In a business that is notorious for things/circumstances changing quickly, it has been wonderful to have a beautiful spiritual center to call home and ground me. And it is not lost on me for one minute the incredible change my life has taken in these four years. I have grown and learned and have written so many new songs.

In closing, here are lyrics to a new song of gratitude:

Thank you for this day God
And my place in it
Thank you for each breath
And every minute
But, more than anything, the song
And the voice to sing it.

I like to say “you never know where your life will take you” and I feel I did hear a spiritual calling all those years ago. It just didn’t turn out to look the way I thought it would.  And didn’t involve my wearing a habit.

Note: Read the lyrics and listen to Megon’s  “The Christmas Guitar”.

Megon McDonough

Megon McDonough is music director at Unity Northwest Church, Des Plaines, IL. A singer/songwriter, she has 15 solo albums to her credit and is best known for her song “Amazing Things.” Megon classifies her music as folk/cabaret, citing her love of theater and jazz as the reason for the unusual mix.

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