Tony Terry Interview
Some might describe R&B
recording artist Tony Terry as cocky. Among other things, he has been Prince
Charming (Sisterella stage production) and the Tin Man (national touring
play The Wiz) but to me, he is a hero. The thirty-two year Nevadian with
the silky smooth vocals and heartbreaking looks went with his convictions
to release his most recent Gospel CD Changed. The management team and label
that he was aligned with at the time all opposed his project.
"My manager Steve Russo
pretty well told me I couldn't do it. He said, 'You can't do that it is
going to kill your career," said Terry.
Terry said, "After going
through life and feeling that I have something to say spiritually I wanted
to get it out, I wanted to get it off of my chest. They (his management
team) weren't hearing it. They weren't excited. I was exuberant. I was
playing back the tapes at the end of the day and they (the tapes) were
blowing me away. I was calling my people and saying listen to this." Terry
said he soon realized they weren't getting excited about his project.
With four previous albums
to his credit Terry decided, "I had to change some things up or clean some
people out. I made some moves and changed some relationships. I saw this
album through. It was so much fun and so self satisfying. It was scary
and thrilling and all those things wrapped up in one because I really wanted
to be honest making this record. I knew that doing so was going to require
me to expose myself emotionally and spiritually. Doing (the record) was
a daunting thing. I went for it head first because I was on fire about
it. The album (Changed) just came together and it was so wonderful.
I am glad that I did not let anybody talk me out of it."
One of the most moving songs
from Changed is "Look to the Hills." The singer described the song as one,
"That asks the question what do you say when you don't know what to say?
What do you ask when you don't know what to ask? What do you pray when
you don't know what to pray (for)? How many people have been in that situation?
It is a very thought provoking song."
Tony Terry has no intention
of abandoning his general market career nor should he but he believes there
is a place for him to perform his R&B beats and Gospel music.
With the same passion that brought us the powerful tune "When A Man Cries,"
Terry delivers "God Did It For Me."
"I grew up in church (in
Pinehurst North Carolina) so it's not like doing something new," Terry
said. He admited that when he saw other R&B singers doing Gospel albums
or switching to Gospel music it raised questions in his own mind concerning
their authenticity. He said about his own situation, "I just wanted to
expand and incorporate the spiritual side (of my life)."
In response to my question
concerning whether or not he thinks some of his R&B fans will crossover
and purchase his Gospel music he said, "I hope so. It's not like I have
abandoned my fan base and just gone off on a tangent to satisfy something
that I needed to satisfy. It's about growth and life. I have experienced
some wonderful things in my life and some not so wonderful things. This
album is just a testament to that."
God seems to be honoring
Terry's faith as "Praise Him," the first single to be released from Changed,
has been well received by radio with many stations logging the song in
heavy rotation. What has to be gratifying for Terry is the list of stations
includes both Christian radio and urban general market stations.
About "Praise Him," another
song from Changed, Terry said, "It really is a praise party. It just speaks
of going out and telling the world that I love Christ. I have the right
to praise Him, party and dance wherever I want. That's pretty exciting."
This is coming from the
same guy who once told a band that the only thing missing from their act
was him. He is not shy about telling you that he thinks he has talent but
he has that charisma about him that makes it sound so unoffending.
He is also not above poking
fun at himself or his music. "One of my biggest songs was titled "With
You." To the average Joe the song is really corny," he said. He then quotes
the words, "When I'm with you I hear a song that makes me laugh and smile
and sing to you.' I mean, come on, imagine walking up to some woman and
saying that. They would look at you like, 'Please!'"
In the mid-nineties he shared
the stage with Grace Jones and Peabo Bryson as he played the part of the
Tin Man in the stage production of The Wiz. The powerful solo "What Would
I Do If I Could Feel" became more personal to Terry as he had the opportunity
to work with the arrangements. In a display of humility he acknowledges
that he was blown away by the standing ovations that he received.
Despite the fact that he
has acted opposite Stephanie Mills in David E Talbert's play His Woman
His Wife and performed with some musical icons, Terry has somehow found
the ability to stay focused on what really matters, his relationship with
God. Some would say he took a career risk with the creation of a Gospel
album. Terry doesn't see it that way. For the boy who began singing in
a church choir and graduated to leaving the women swooning over his R&B
love songs, creating a Gospel record is the fulfillment of God's plan for
his life. He says, "I knew that I needed to get this record out and I've
At the time I spoke to Terry
he was still touring with Roberta Flack. He fully expected to have a very
busy year with those engagements as well as gigs in support of Changed.
By Joe Montague, exclusive
Joe Montague is an internationally
published journalist / photographer. His ministry is dedicated to the memory
of his late son Kent David Montague who went to heaven at the age of 18.
All copyright and distribution rights remain the property of Joe Montague.