We had the honor in interviewing the Singing/ Songwriting Superstar on the RISE Precious Perez! She not only has a voice of GOLD but a heart to match too! Get to know her music, her activism and her voice that is sharing it all!
Where are you originally from and where are you located now?
I was born and raised in Chelsea, Massachusetts. I'm living in Medford, MA now.
Can you tell us about your background and journey as a Singer/ Songwriter so far?
I began singing at age six. A family friend gave me a pink Barbie karaoke machine, and I'd record myself singing along to the radio on cassette tapes. I was painfully shy when I was really young, so it wasn't until I got involved in chorus and music class in elementary school that I started performing publicly. I started doing talent
shows and solo performances in middle school, and received a scholarship for four years of private lessons and ensemble participation with the Handel and Haydn Society in high school. I got to work with Dr. Jennifer Sgroe and Katherine Fields at the New England Conservatory, so I was classically trained before I got to Berklee. I wrote my first song when I was ten, but my first good song when I was in eighth grade, I believe I was twelve or thirteen. It was a song called Different, and it ended up being on my album Hummingbird that was released in 2016, produced by Doug Batchelder and executive produced by Pete Pappavesilo. Since then, I've released two EPs produced by Doug, and two additional self-produced singles. I'm currently in the process of releasing a collaboration single with some friends, so stay tuned for that.
How have your latin roots helped influence your music?
I'm a proud Puerto Rican, and my latin roots are a huge part of both my identity and my artistry. I am trying to create a space in the industry for myself that doesn't currently exist, a lane for the first blind latin female artist. People think of blind musicians and they see Stevie Wonder and Ray Charles, but no women, and no women of color. I'm aiming to change that.
When did you start creating music?
I started creating music when I started writing poetry at age nine. My first song was written with the help of my elementary music teacher Katherine Willow, she really helped me put my words to melody. I wrote my first song alone when I was ten, and my first good song when I was about twelve or thirteen. I drew a lot of my songwriting inspiration from Taylor Swift. I grew up listening to everything from Bob Marley to Alicia Keys to Daddy Yankee and everything in between, so I have a lot of musical influences to draw from vocally as well.
What's your favorite part of creating music?
I don't have a favorite part of creating music. I love the process, and really enjoy
every step from the minute the idea comes to me to the final product that I show to my closest friends. I can't write if it's forced or if I'm not inspired, and sometimes, ideas come fully formed. Others times, I get a concept idea or a rhythmic idea, and I have no idea how or when I'll use it. I love collecting ideas and storing them in my
notes app or recording them in voice memos and going back through them when I'm putting a song together. The process is never the same every time, and that's what I love about it.
What's the most challenging?
The most challenging part of songwriting is not knowing how to say what I want to say. Sometimes, I'll want to sit down and write about something specific, but I just can't get the right words to express it, I can't think of a melody. Those are the times when I put it down and let the idea float around in my head, because I know that
it'll come at the right time.
You're currently studying at the Berklee College of Music for music education and performance. How has school help shape your new music?
School has opened so many doors for me. I learned how to record and produce demos and songs. I've learned how to lead a band, how to teach others, and how to collaborate. I've had hands-on experience collaborating and networking. Some of my music would not hold the power it holds or sound the way it does without the incredible musicians I've had the pleasure of working with and who I call friends. I've had the chance to explore other avenues of music, like jazz improv and flamenco, and both of those have played a role in shaping my music, as well as the melodic and rhythmic ideas that come to me.
Who is a dream collaboration for you?
My dream collaboration for me would be with a major latin artist like Daddy Yankee, Ivy Queen, or Bad Bunny. I look up to each of them for different reasons, and I grew up with Daddy Yankee and Ivy Queen's music. I'm actually working on an initiative right now to get one of them to feature on my song Agua de Valencia. This song is very upbeat with reggaeton, salsa, and flamenco influence and it's one of the most popular with my fan base. This song pays homage to my roots and to Valencia, Spain where I studied abroad. My hometown of Chelsea, MA was the epicenter of the Covid19 pandemic at one point, and the predominantly latino community is still suffering from the effects. Not only that, but extremely important causes such as Black Lives Matter are at the forefront, and it's time that we uplift those voices. I want Agua de Valencia to be rereleased as a remix with one of these artists, and for all of the proceeds to go to the grassroots community organization La Colaborativa in Chelsea as well as Black Lives Matter efforts. This project has the potential to do so much good both locally and globally, and I'd be honored to work with either
of these artists. I want to use my art to create real and positive change, and I know this is a big dream, but I'm not giving up on it.
What is the ultimate goal for your career in the industry?
My ultimate goal for my career in the industry is to break down barriers and represent all of my communities: blind, Puerto Rican, women, first-generation, progressive christian, low-income, anxiety. All of these are my intersecting identities, and I want to use my art and my platform to amplify the voices of all the communities I represent as well as those that are not heard. I want to be the first mainstream blind female latin artist while staying genuine and true to myself. I want to show people that being disabled doesn't hinder my ability to do what I want to do in life, and it does not define me. I want to inspire and empower. I want to fulfill my purpose of helping others and leaving the world better than I found it. God has given me a gift and a calling, and I want to do what it is I am called to do, because I wouldn't be where I am without God. All of this is bigger than just me. I do it to give back to my communities, to my family, and to the world.
Is there a story that has created the biggest impact in your life as an artist that you can share with us?
In April of 2020, my mom, sister, and I were watching Amara La Negra's Instagram live. She was picking people to join her live and showcase their talent as part of her promo for the step up to the mic Triller app competition that was going on. My mom and sister told me to be ready to sing, and I didn't expect that she would actually pick us. Next thing I knew, Amara was asking me who I was and where I was from, and asked me to sing. I sang the intro to Tori Kelly's song "Language," and Amara actually listened. My mom told me her jaw was dropped listening to me, and Amara herself said I was gifted and amazing. It felt so validating to have someone in the industry really look at me, listen to me, and lift me up. The screen capture of that moment is on my YouTube channel, and I still listen back to it sometimes when I'm feeling discouraged.
What are causes that are near and dear to your heart?
I believe in standing up for minorities, for any and every community that is mistreated or overlooked by the systems. I stand for compassion, empathy, kindness, self-awareness, and love. I stand for doing the best we can to be and do good every day.
How can our audience help support these causes?
The audience can help support these causes by listening, learning, and making the effort to confront biases and ask questions. Don't remain complacent, don't make assumptions especially when it comes to disability, and always, always, always be kind and show grace to yourself and others, and the planet we live on.
Where do we continue to follow, listen and support you as an artist?
Instagram handle: @precious_puertorican20
Facebook: Precious Perez Música
Youtube: Precious Perez