Successfully recording, engineering, and producing an album is a victory in and of itself. For Debra Perry ’91, the release of her gospel album in December 2017 represents even more—and the title of the album, Con-Quer-Or, hints at that.
“Every issue that I had to deal with—issues that I thought I had dealt with—all came to the surface in 2017,” said Perry. “And I was able to finally deal with things that I had put way down in my subconscious mind. That’s exactly what this album is about. And I’m hoping to encourage those that hear it, that those [who] may be dealing with strongholds of their own, can walk as a conqueror.”
Perry is the lead singer of Debra Perry & Majestic Praise, a Grand Rapids-based gospel group of eight singers. Con-Quer-Or is the group’s third album, which was produced by Perry’s record label Joint Heir Music Group. The album contains live and studio recordings of traditional gospel, contemporary gospel, and contemporary worship music. Perry wrote many of the songs, while others are familiar hymns reimagined by the gospel group. In addition to her songwriting, Perry provided sound mixing and editing; played piano, bass, and acoustic guitar; arranged strings and bass; provided lead vocals; and even rapped.
“I was looking for someone to write a rap section to go in the song 'Look at Me Now,'” said Perry. “I just got in the booth and the lyrics came and I did it myself.”
Despite the unfamiliar territory for Perry, her performance on the song proved successful: “Look at Me Now” can be heard on local radio stations and, according to Perry, “if you put it on in the morning, you’re ready to go.” The single also features a chorus of Perry’s honors students from Coit Creative Arts Academy in Grand Rapids, where she teaches music, choir, and theater.
While producing an album and teaching might make for a busy enough year, that’s not all Perry has conquered. Perry worked with gospel singer-songwriter Marvin Sapp on his latest album, Close, which was nominated for the Best Gospel Album category at the 2018 Grammy Awards. The nomination makes Perry the only female engineer in the gospel genre to have been nominated for a Grammy award.
While much of Perry’s music reflects a story of soul-seeking, renewal, and restoration in Christ, one of Con-Quer-Or’s tracks, titled “Beautiful Song,” seems to perfectly embody the season of success she is experiencing: “In the haze of the memories I realize I could have destroyed my testimony, but in spite of my ugly past you’ve given me another chance,” said Perry, recounting the song’s lyrics. “Lord you’ve given me a beautiful song, I lift my hands to you, I surrender, Lord, you’ve given me a beautiful song.”