As the Minister of Music at his church and musician, Marcus Perry, rejoices in sharing his music with the world. Read our interview to discover more about his passion for music and collective release from the Mount Zion Baptist Church!
What is your role with the Mount Zion Baptist Church and how long have you been a part of it?
I am the Minister of Music at Mount Zion. I’ve been with Mount Zion since 2009, so 11 years! When I first got there, I was a sophomore in college at Belmont University. Throughout my time serving and being faithful to the ministry, I received multiple promotions to where I am today. My first position was as the Traveling organist, where I would travel between the 3 locations playing the Hammond organ. After a few years, I was promoted to be the Auxiliary Music Director, where I would fill in for the staffed Music directors. After that, I became a music director for one location, then all locations. Now recently, this past January, I was promoted to be the General Overseer of Music and Worship Arts (Minister of Music).
What’s been the best thing about being a part of the Mount Zion Baptist Church family?
The support and love. Since day one of me joining the Mount Zion family, I’ve had nothing but support and love from this church. The people are great, warm, and welcoming. The Pastor, Bishop Joseph Walker III, has always been a huge supporter and advocate for me throughout my time at Mount Zion. I have tremendous respect and admiration for him, his wife, Dr. Stephaine Walker, and their beautiful two children. I also find joy that I’m able to be employed somewhere doing something I’m passionate about.
The release of “Trust Me” as a virtual collective is incredible! Is this something that was planned before everyone had to be quarantined?
Thank you!! It was planned as a result of the quarantine. When everything shut down, I researched how to keep the music ministry engaged since we couldn’t physically be together in one place at the same time. Not to belittle the other industries that were negatively affected, but the church and music community took a huge hit when we entered quarantine. We went from one week being able to safely worship and play music in the same room filled with hundreds of people to being limited to only maybe 5-10 at a time….spread out. That’s where the virtual choir idea came in. When I started my research, only one church had done the virtual choir concept in the church setting. Other entities had been using it for years, but the church had not yet embraced it. After my research, I started the process, which took us a minute because, as you see, there were many moving parts to this presentation.
“Trust Me” by Richard Smallwood. Grateful for everyone that played a role in bringing this vision to life. I’m so honored to serve the Mount Zion Baptist Church family. Thank you to Jamar Esaw PageOne, the singers, Jade D. Dodds , guest musicians Nicole Neely for the string arrangement and the string players, Kevin Kelley for the great mix, Trevor Ball for the video editing and last but not least special shoutout to Jason Nelson for the guest feature. I pray this song blesses you because it has definitely been a blessing to me. Please enjoy our Virtual choir presentation! #mtzionnashville#share
Posted by Marcus Perry on Sunday, May 10, 2020
What was it like virtually working together with your team on this project?
I enjoyed it! I’ll be honest. It was a lot of hard work involved, but I appreciated it. Producing projects like this is similar to how you would remotely produce an album. You have to be very clear in your instructions. In the physical space of a studio, you can collaborate with musicians and singers and give feedback in realtime before things are recorded. However, in this virtual space, you don’t get that luxury. Thankfully the team of people that worked on this were all professionals and nailed it the first time, which made my job a lot easier.
Will you have any other virtual choir presentations coming up in the future?
What inspired you to pursue music?
Music has always been a part of me since the age of 3. I was always surrounded by music at church or home. My mom recognized and supported my love for music early on. I have plenty of stories to share about that, but one, in particular, stands out. When I was in preschool, we had a program at the preschool I attended, and I told everyone..” I’m going to play a song that I wrote on the piano.” My mom freaked out because she had no idea what I was about to do, but I got up there and played the song, which was a melody based on diatonic chords in C Major. At that moment, I guess she noticed how passionate I was about music. From there, I started my journey in music by beginning formal classical piano lessons at the age of 5.
The deciding factor for me to pursue music happened in phases. When I turned 12, I started playing the Hammond organ at my home church. My piano teacher, who also happened to be the Minister of Music at my church told me one day, “Marcus, it’s time for you to step up and do this. You can do it just sit at the organ, and you’ll eventually learn.” At first, I was nervous because my journey through playing the piano was from a classical, technical point of view. Playing by ear was something I was working on with my piano teacher. I was learning how to do but not at the level of playing complete songs in church; however, I rose to the challenge and did it. The next phase happened when I attended a performing arts high school in Nashville, Nashville School of the Arts (NSA). At NSA, I was surrounded by other aspiring musicians, dancers, artists, and actors all passionate about their art. This environment helped put things in perspective for me about taking my craft seriously. I spent a lot of time hanging out and learning from musicians who were way better than me. I watched their drive, which birthed a greater drive in me to pursue music. After I graduated from NSA, I attended Belmont University, where I studied piano and music technology. My experience at Belmont really established everything I had previously studied in music and helped give me a clear path forward to what I wanted to do in music.
Which artists do you mostly identify with?
George Duke. He’s my favorite artist of all time. I remember the first album I received of his back in middle school, Cool. I studied that album faithfully. I would take my keyboard and CD player outside in the summer and learn all of his chords and piano solos.
After the order of quarantine has been lifted, what are your goals for the rest of 2020?
Currently, I’m working on a Masters in Music at Belmont University while also working at Mount Zion as the Minister of Music, so between balancing those two, there’s always something for me to do. I plan on releasing more music later this year. I have a lot more music that I’m working on, and I’m excited to share it. After that, my beautiful wife and I are going on a much-needed vacation.
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