Interview With Jerry Q. Parries
President, Tehillah Music Group
When Bishop Paul S. Morton looked to fulfill his vision for a self-contained record label, he didn’t have to look further than his own Minister of Music for someone with the qualifications and experience.
— interview by Stan North —
Minister Jerry Q. Parries has plenty of industry know-how, having grown up under the tutelage of such masters as Thomas Whitfield and Rev. Donald Vails and with songwriting credits on projects ranging from those of Albertina Walker to The Charles Fold Singers and including his own charting albums on Sound of Gospel with the Christian Family Choir.
Parries explained the purpose behind the new Tehillah Music Group, based out of the headquarters of the Full Gospel Baptist Church Fellowship denomination in New Orleans.
“A while ago, Bishop Morton came to the conclusion that God’s people should control God’s music. We wanted to stop borrowing from hell’s territory to produce Heaven’s goals.”
He explained that while most recognize the importance of keeping the recording and production of Gospel music in the hands of God’s people, they had seen a need to take that one step further.
“We wanted to avoid handing over the masters of the recordings to distrubutors [that may not share our same goals.] We want to put the whole package in God’s hands.”
Parries then quickly points out that Tehillah Music Group fully recognizes the need to understand the working of the music industry, and hasn’t ventured into the label arena unaware of the importance of marketing and promotional fundamentals the elements that are crucial to push the recorded product into the awareness of those who would be interested.
Indeed, on closer examination of Parries’ credentials, it would be foolish for anyone to think otherwise.
While still in his early teens, he had struck up a friendship with Thomas Whitfield and looked to the esteemed Dr. Margaret Pleasant Douroux as a mentor, gleaning valuable experience in music publishing and copyrighting while working with her. Parries subsequently set up publishing companies for both Whitfield and also Donald Vails, while continuing in his passion for songwriting.
A Gospel Music Family: The Mortons
That Gospel music flows in the vein of the Morton family, there is no doubt.|
Not only do Bishop Paul S. Morton Sr., his brother Bishop James Morton and now Elder Debra M. Morton each have albums available on the market, but the duo of Jasmine and Paul son and daughter of Bishop Paul S. Morton Sr. have released a project.
The self-titled project on the World Lex Music label was released in 2000 and features contemporary stylings with Paul and Jasmine featured throughout in duet and occasional solo forays from each as well.
Morton Jr. has previous songwriting credits with Men of Standard ("Don't Lose Your Candlestick") and has had lead solos on Greater St. Stephen Full Gospel Baptist Choir projects.
On this project, songs such as "He's My Rock" and "Sneaky" highlight the album, and further showcase Morton Jr.'s gift for spectacular songwriting and vocal arranging.
Vocals from beginning to end are superb, and demonstrate that Jasmine and Paul are equally adept at the worshipful ballad as kickin' groove.
Later ventures including launching his own label (National Records) and creating the first African-American record club, Partners in Gospel Music) before he came on staff at Bishop Paul S. Morton’s Greater St. Stephens Full Gospel Baptist Church as Minister of Music in 1998.
Now as the president of Tehillah Music Group, and with Bishop Morton at his side as an involved CEO, Parries is looking at the promising future for Tehillah. While independents are seemingly sprouting up weekly, he and Bishop Morton see a clearly defined purpose for the label.
“We really have a niche, with the built-in organization of churches that The Full Gospel Baptist Church Fellowship brings. There’s a great deal of talent there.”
Parries went on to say that the label is nevertheless not restricting themselves.
“We’re looking to sign new artists from anywhere, actually. They do not necessarily have to be from the organization.”
“Artists are looking for companies that will treat them fairly and with respect. Bishop Morton is an artist himself and so as CEO, he fully understands their plight and their needs. The emphasis of Tehillah Music Group is on integrity.”
Distribution for the label is with Select O Hits for mainstream, while Central South Gospel handles distribution for the Christian bookstore (CBA) market.
The first project from the label is already on the retail shelves, a live recording titled Elder Debra B. Morton Presents Women of Excellence Mass Choir, Where There’s a Will, There’s A Way. The album features preaching as well as some rousing church choir numbers.
Click on the CD cover for the album reviews of Where There's A Will, There's A Way from the Women of Excellence Mass Choir, presented by Elder Debra B. Morton.
And there’s a whole lot more on the way, says Parries.
“In July 2002 at the Full Baptist Gospel Convention in Baltimore, we will also be releasing the live recording of the Daughters of the Promise Mass Choir, featuring Vanessa Bell Armstrong. The project will be produced by Michael Robinson with the denomination’s Minister of Music, Jeffrey LaValley co-ordinating the choice of song material.
[Editor’s Note: The Daughters of the Promise project is of special interest to Gospelflava.com and its visitors, since there will be several songs on the project chosen from the hundreds submitted to Minister LaValley through a special opportunity that Gospelflava.com offered to aspiring and veteran songwriting visitors in Spring of 2001.]
Parries also explained that The Full Gospel Mass Choir will also record an album for the label in November 2002 in New Orleans, along with plans for the renowned Greater St. Stephen Full Gospel Mass Choir to record a project. Bishop Morton’s next solo album will also be released by Tehillah later this year.
The promise of things to come is ripe for Tehillah Music Group, and 2002 seems certain to unveil a fascinating assortment of musical ministry.
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