IVINS – “Alas, for those that never sing. But die with all of their music inside of them!” so reads a quote of Oliver Wendell Holmes which sits high on the wall of Brodie Perry’s studio. For Perry, a local performer and vocal teacher, it is a reminder of a journey that started while singing with a high school choir and ultimately led to studying under one of the most highly sought vocal teachers in the world.
Perry describes Holmes’s words as “universal.” They speak of the potential everyone carries inside of them, yet often do not develop. As a vocal instructor, Perry gets to witness the potential in others as they walk through his studio’s door and sing away.
Some of Perry’s own students have recently included the leads in the Dickens Festival’s recent presentation of “Oliver!” and Dixie High School’s premiere of “Phantom of the Opera.”
Perry himself has performed with the Utah Festival Opera, St. George Musical Theater, Tuacahn, Utah State Opera Theater, and Starlight Civic Light Opera in San Diego. He has also been a guest soloist on occasion for the Dickens Festival, Utah State University, Southwest Symphony, Southwest Chorale, and many other venues.
Perry is a certified instructor of the “Speech Level Singing” technique, a system developed by famed voice teacher Seth Riggs. Riggs students include Natalie Cole, Michael Jackson, Ozzy Osborne and a host of others.
While all of this is impressive, what is really amazing is the story that made it all possible.
When asked how he got into singing and teaching, Perry said, “In a way, it found me.”
Originally from the Bay Area, Perry’s family moved to St. George in the mid 1990’s. He enrolled at Pine View High School and joined the choir.
While a junior in high school, Perry and another student were to sing a duet during a Christmas fireside. This performance was held at the Tabernacle, and renowned LDS singer Michael Ballam would also involved. As luck would have it, the second half of Perry’s duet never showed up. He ended up singing a particularly challenging number by himself.
“I’ll never forget that performance,” Perry said, “It took me in a direction that I never saw coming.” He remarked that he was impressed with how he did that night – so was someone else.
Ballam took notice of Perry’s talent and invited him to join the Utah Festival Opera. Perry would perform with that company for the next five seasons.
Perry said that it was an example of “preparation meets opportunity.” And the opportunities kept coming.
Initially, he had no thought of going into singing or teaching professionally, and even tired to avoid it after college.
“Why would people listen to me?” Perry said. “How many people honestly make it? Doing what they love, especially after five to 10 years?”
Many people seek to make a profession out of their talents, or any endeavor for that matter, end up becoming disillusioned by the strain their pursuits take on finances, time, and relationships in general. Perry was in no hurry to go down that road.
Despite initial worries, however, Perry’s wife, Kerry, was there every step of the way.
“I’m so lucky,” he said of his wife’s support. “It was everything.”
The opportunity to continue more professional musical pursuits came when Perry met Jeff McLean, son of Michael McLean, during at a recital. McLean would ultimately recommend Perry to Jeffrey Skouson, a voice teacher in Las Vegas. Despite the time and expenses involved, he took the weekly trips for an hour of instruction.
Skouson just happened to be a licensed instructor of Seth Riggs’s vocal techniques, and personally knew the man. Through his connection, Perry was given a chance to sing for Riggs – albeit over a phone at the time.
Riggs wanted to teach Perry personally. The only catch was that Perry and his family would have to move to Los Angeles to capitalize on the offer. In 2007, they did.
The family has since returned to southern Utah, where Perry now offers the knowledge and experience he’s gained through his time with Seth Riggs to others.
While Perry’s story is an incredible one seemingly wrought with Cinderella-like chances, he tells others that: “I don’t recommend waiting for your calling to find you.” He encourages people to do what is necessary to become a master of their craft, because in that way, preparation can meet opportunity all the more.
Information on Brodie Perry and the Speech Level Singing technique can be found at brodieperry.com