“I had a dream. . . I think it’s worth saying:
I wanted to sing with an orchestra playing!
A very bold choice for my average voice,
But this was my dream . . .” (JKP, 1999)
With the exception of one song, I did not personally sing on any of my recordings for two decades. My voice was definitely average and such a thought never occurred to me.After our first album was released in 1979 I spent years just overcoming my fear of public speaking. I asked others to do the singing on these programs.
Two things helped me to see that it might be important for me to do some singing on my firesides:
While I was in Hawaii speaking at a women’s conference, a revered elderly Hawaiian woman asked me, “Are you going to sing your songs today?” When I told her I was not a singer and had asked sisters from her stake to sing my songs, she said (rather firmly), “Sister Perry, that is a form of pride that President Benson warned us against! You have the fear of men—you’re afraid there will be a better singer in the audience.” I assured her that there would be many better singers in the audience! She continued: “The Lord expects us to stand up and do our best and he will bless and increase our talents. You wrote these songs and you should be the one singing them.”
I didn’t sing on that trip, but back home I at least entertained the idea, and began practicing one of my Primary songs, “I’m Trying to be Like Jesus.” We had an Argentine foster son in our home at this time who was learning English and always looking for the right word. When he heard me practicing he smiled and said, “It’s okay, Mom, when people hear you sing they’ll be . . . frightened!” That was exactly what I was thinking—I could only hope he was looking for another word!
About this same time, I began to notice that after my programs different sisters suggested to me that it would be nice if I sang my own songs—that it might be more meaningful to them. It was an act of bravery for me to do this the first time but assurances from the sisters in the audience afterward helped me gain a degree of confidence, and through the years I have learned that the Hawaiian sister was right: “The Lord expects us to stand up and do our best and he will bless and increase our talents.”
In 1999, I did something I never expected to do. Maybe turning sixty and feeling my mortality a bit gave me the courage to just “do it!” During the twenty years we had been recording, I had left the singing to the pros but now I began to harbor a secret little dream that I might sing an album of songs myself, if only for my posterity. I chose songs that had special meaning to me, and with assurances from the sound engineer that he had a few ways to enhance and auto-tune my voice, I recorded the album A Song of the Heart. I’d like to share three songs from that album.
Livin’ My Dream
I wrote “Livin’ My Dream” specifically for this album and to sing at future firesides where I often speak about overcoming fears and developing new talents. I wish I had been braver a bit earlier and I hope the song will encourage others to do just that!
[Click here to listen to “Livin’ My Dream”]
Livin’ My Dream
(Words & Music - Janice Kapp Perry)
Do you have a dream, a wish deep inside you?
An outrageous scheme, then until you have tried
You will never quite know just how far you can go
In livin’ your dream.
I had a dream, I think it’s worth saying
I wanted to sing with an orchestra playing
A very bold choice for my average voice
But this was my dream
So I hired some strings, and some woodwinds and things
And a few shiny brass just to give it some class
I decided to hire a fine back-up choir
Paid them all that I could to make me sound good
Then I wrote down a song, something simple but strong
Hired someone to lead, who could help me succeed
And I’m livin’ my dream
So if you have a dream don’t hide or deny it
Just bravely decide to stand up and try it
You may be surprised, after twenty-five tries
You’ll be livin’ your dream
I used to just dream, but now I am older
I risk a few things, I feel a bit bolder
If I want to try something pie in the sky
I’ll follow that dream
And someday, don’t laugh, I may even aspire
To sing with the Mormon Tabernacle Choir!
This was my dream, just one of those things
I knew I must try, though I couldn’t say why
So I gave it my best, now I’ll have no regrets
I’m livin’ my dream
Perry Family Song
Decades ago when our children were young I heard a speaker at General Conference list several things we could do to stay close to our families. One that stood out for me was the suggestion to write a family song—something that would be particular to our family that could be sung at home evening, in the car, or during other family get-togethers. That sounded fun to me and I meant to do it, but I never got to it until our kids were married with children of their own. Finally, the “Perry Family Song” was finished and ready to record. Every family member sang it on this album. Even Grandpa Doug, who has a voice disorder, sings three words—they’re important, listen for them!
When Doug and I were in the Missionary Training Center preparing for our mission to Chile, our whole family came to sing it on a fireside we gave there. This playful blue grass rendition tells the story of our family from 1958, when Doug and I were married, up to 1999 when the album was recorded. We numbered twenty-two at the time.
[Click to listen to “Perry Family Song”]
Perry Family Song
(Words & music – Janice Kapp Perry)
When we first got married in ‘58
I told the Lord I’d appreciate
A few fine sons who could sing and act
He gave me four, but He took one back
We’re mama’s boys, we’re the back-up singers
We’re mama’s boys, we’re the back-up choir
Well I asked for a daughter to sing with me
One with a knack for harmony
I knew we could have ourselves some fun—
He heard my prayer and He gave me one
Sing a little song with me in harmony
Sing a little song to make me smile
When the boys got married to a singer or two
Our family chorus just grew and grew
Our daughter married more than a pretty face
She found her a man with a fine, deep bass
Bm, bm, bm, bm — bm, bm, bm, bm
Bm, bm, bm, bm — bm, bm, bm, bm
Well the grandkids came and they sang along
Their love for music was good and strong
They were boys and girls who could feel a beat
They clapped their hands and they sang so sweet
Clap, clap our hands, we got rhythm
Clap, clap our hands, we got style
It’s been 40 years and it seems quite strange
But Grandpa says he’s got just a three-note range
So I wrote him a line that’s simple and true
He sings it to me and says “I Love You”
Now we count our blessings and sing along
We love the rhythm of our family song
And we’ll all be singing‘til the day we die
When our heav’nly choir will be multiplied
Sing all parts combined
A Song of the Heart
For many years Doug and I have traveled to stakes throughout the Church to speak, primarily at stake Relief Society events.