GP: Describe your beginning as a musician, songwriter, and producer.
PB: Well, my mom said that I started playing piano when I was three. I remember vividly when I was six, we used to go to a big box store back then called Zayre and they had an electronics section that I would always find myself at– totally enamored with the electronic keys and instruments. I was listening to the songs over the speakers in the store and I would play it back on that keyboard. I got my love for songs by going to the local library just about every day and listening to records (actual vinyl), I would take them into a practice room that had a piano and I would play records, listen to the records and the songs and just be totally taken away to that world from listening to the story! I also studied the lyrics and how they were put together which led to my love for producing because there was one guy’s name who kept coming up on a few records that blew me away sonically, musically & vividly! His name was Quincy Jones! This guy had soundtracks he had done, big band records, jazz records, pop records, soul records…he was doing it all. It was then that I purposed that I would be the Quincy Jones of gospel music!
GP: When did you know that you were a songwriter?
PB:It’s kind of hard to say when I knew I was a songwriter because even to this day I still feel like I’m growing and still learning how to be a great songwriter! Songwriting is such an organic experience and I think the challenge for those of us who are songwriters is to know when that particular experience is in motion and that we learn how to seize the moment when it happens. I wrote my first song when I was 12 years old, though no one has ever heard it! LOL
GP: You are a musician, songwriter, artist, and producer. How do all four facets work in each phase of you completing a song?
PB: It’s very funny you would ask that question because I’ve been asked that many times before and my answer is consistently the same. I got into music out of the love and passion for what I felt and what I saw music do to atmospheres. I was born with the gift of music and no formal training anything of that nature– I was a musician first. Being a musician first led me to wanting to become a songwriter, songwriting led me into becoming a producer and being a producer led me into becoming an artist. At every stage, you apply one of these skill sets to make sure your song has what it needs when it hits the listeners ears! As a musician, it’s understanding chord structure. As a songwriter, it’s understanding lyrical content and melody and how those two need to marry to each other. As a producer, it’s learning to manage all these factors that bring the song into his place of completion. This also means managing budgets, schedules, personnel and so on. And as an artist, knowing how to interpret the song in a way that it takes the listener on the journey that you want them to experience.
GP: Talk about the Tommies. Have you been part of any other groups like the Tommies that bear your influence or that have influenced you?
PB: The Thompson Community Singers will forever be the epitome of what a choir is and what it should sound like to me. I was 16 or 17 years old when Rev. Milton Brunson asked me to come be a part of his church and being at his church led to me staying over one Sunday afternoon to play for a Tommies musical and the rest is history. God scripted everything exactly the way it should’ve gone when he put this choir together-—the sound that came from the singers, the band, the songs that were written! Hands-down the most influential choir in the history of gospel music. I’ve never been a part of any other group like the Thompson community singers (they’re truly one of a kind), but I have also been influenced by a family out of Detroit that I followed from the first time I heard them (The Winans)! I was blessed to be a part of their band and by being a part of the band, I became a part of the family! What a journey! Marvin Winans became my songwriting sparring partner. We would play each other’s songs and just pick them apart…Iron sharpening iron!
GP: What has been your most memorable moment(s) as a musician, songwriter,and producer?
PB: Some of my most memorable moments in my career were when I first played publicly in the church. When I was eight years old,my mom called me out of the audience as she was about to sing. She told me to sit at the piano and I’ll never forget that as a musician. Another great memory I have is doing the Arsenio Hall show with Bebe and Cece Winans along with Whitney Houston singing my song “Hold Up The Light!” As a songwriter, I was asked to be part of Verity Records’ tribute to Rosa Parks. I got the call and they asked me to write something that spoke to her journey, her struggle, and her victory. From that, I was inspired to compose the song “Still I Rise” sung by Yolanda Adams. As a producer, one of the first records I got a chance to produce was none other than baby sis Lynette Hawkins Stephens (the sister of Walter & Edwin Hawkins), an awesome experience that I’ll never forget! I am still humbled to this day to have been part of her journey. The Hawkins Family is royalty!
GP: Let’s talk about trusting God with your gift. What is your process of accepting secular projects and are gospel projects automatically accepted?
PB: Well when it comes to what projects I will and won’t work on, it’s really simple for me If the record is something that I feel sows life, speaks to life, does not speak negatively of people, nor promote the opposite of what I believe in, I’m good with it. I don’t just want to impact the church, but I’d like to impact the world as well! You can’t do that if you stay inside the box (the box being the church). For a long time, we were crippled by the scripture that said “touch not the world nor the things of this world” (2 Corinthians 6:17), but then you heard the scripture that says “go ye into all the world…baptize them and make disciples” (Matthew 28:19). So, which one is it? I had to find out for myself what God was requiring of me. I’ve learned that He has graced some of us to walk into places that others can’t. It’s not a criticism it’s an assignment thing for me.
GP: You recently scored your first #1 with Tony Braxton. Of all the songs you’ve written and produced, was it surprising that this was the song that hit #1?
PB: Well I don’t know if I would say I was surprised as much as I was overwhelmed. Most of my successes have been related to gospel music and there have been some in the other genres, too. But, to have a number one at Urban AC and Billboard Adult R&B at the same time does feel a bit different.
GP: What gear makes up your current production arsenal? What is in your studio?
PB: Over the years I’ve owned some of everything that a producer/songwriter would want, I even had a couple studios! I’ve learned that you can be very powerful and potent with a simple set up, so I’m currently using a MacBook Pro 2018 with the Apollo X4, the Roland A-88 as my controller along with tons of software. My go–to DAW is Logic Pro X along with ProTools although I do dabble with Studio One as well, a very powerful but simple set up! It’s about knowing how to use the gear you have and getting what you need to get out of it! Nowadays, your only limitation is the amount of information you have about the gear you’re using!
GP: You’re great on your own, but you’ve been connected to other great artists and musicians throughout your career. How important are relationships and describe the important work of maintaining them across the years?
PB: Relationships have been the key to my journey. Our talent will take us only so far, but a relationship can help open doors for you with just a phone call. I’ve always viewed relationships as currency because they have led to either an opportunity to further my career or the opportunity to maintain a certain lifestyle. Relationships will take you further than your talent, hands-down! I am still in touch in contact with most of the people I met when I started in this industry because I value relationships.
GP: What plans did the pandemic cancel and what post-pandemic plans can you share with us?
PB: Well the pandemic definitely put a dent in a lot of our plans, but it also allowed me to let go of some trivial things and focus on things that are really important to me. My plan was to release my EP with some type of live presentation, it was postponed but I didn’t stop working on putting together what I believe is the best body of personal work I have ever done! I’m also gearing up for a live worship experience that will be different for a lot of reasons that I’ll share in the near future. I’m developing an eleven–year old singer from Racine, Wisconsin, she is absolutely amazing! I also started my songwriting curriculum, a totally online experience which I am very excited about!
BONUS QUESTION and STORY:
GP: What is one piece of gear that you have always kept regardless of the changes in recorded music?
PB: Man I got rid of everything! Sometimes out of necessity and other times just being a blessing to somebody else! There is one piece that I wish I had kept, a Mini Moog that I bought from an older lady out of Rockford for $75. It had a hard-shelled flight case too!!!!! I had it retrofitted with midi and all! I’m not sure why I got rid of it…We all have a story about the gear that got away and I really wish we could hear that Mini Moog today, wherever it is!
The pen is indeed mightier than the sword and as a songwriter, Percy Bady’s songs have gotten both he and us through trying times. His impact as a creative in gospel music has been felt for decades and we hope many more decades to come. Of his impact in gospel music, Bady says, “what we do as creators is try to create art that will inspire, encourage, uplift and prayerfully outlive us… only eternity will speak to that which we have done and for that reason alone, we try to create what inspires, uplifts, encourages & points people to the one who holds the whole world in his hands.” He also shared this piece of wisdom for active and aspiring producers, “being a producer is more than just knowing how to play an instrument or how to write and arrange the song. It’s about knowing how to manage people, hire the right personnel to assure yourself of delivering the best possible product (hopefully under budget). It’s about knowing how to motivate an artist who comes in the studio with so many other things on their mind. It’s about knowing when something is not working and when it is working getting the most out of that moment!” What a great time we’ve had in these moments gleaning the wisdom of Percy Bady. We hope you enjoyed reading this month’s feature. Please share your thoughts in the comments section and be sure to share with everyone!
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