Jason L. Terry

A Closer Look at Jason L. Terry

Have you ever been obsessed with how sounds are made in cartoons?

Which musical instruments are creatively used behind the scenes?

This is a question that Jason Terry posed as a child enthralled with such sounds, and his inquisitive nature and interest in sound did not stop there. They propelled him to a career as a singer and eventually led him years later to FUMC where his musical gifts are shared with us every second Sunday of the month.

In May, I sat down with Terry to get a deeper sense of what he is all about.

Early Life and Inspiration

Jason Terry grew up in Danville, Virginia in a musical home. Both his parents were singers and his father, as Terry put it, was able to play “any instrument known to man!” While Jason always loved to sing, his first public performance came as a surprise when he was at church. At that time, his father was and still is the Minister of Music at Missionary Baptist Church and he pointed to him one Sunday morning when it was time to sing His Eyes on the Sparrow. He said “here, YOU sing this!” Terry smiles as he recounts his father’s action “he just threw me out in front of everyone and, you know… that’s how it all started.”

Initially, Terry had no formal training – although he participated in band and chorus. He learned music on his own by singing and exposing himself to music and musicians. Cartoons were a major sense of inspiration for him. He loved how the instruments, music, and arrangements could instill so much drama! In fact, his love of cartoons led him to aspire to “go all the way,” eagerly planning to pursue a Bachelors, Masters, and Doctorate in music. This aspiration didn’t come to pass because, as Terry puts it, “somehow God had a different plan for me.”


Musical Journey

Terry had impressive abilities when he finally started studying music at Shaw University. His skills were advanced, refined, and in many ways unorthodox, leading his instructors to repeatedly ask, “how did you know to do that” or “who taught you that?” In response to such questions, Terry was always resolute: “it’s just a gift God gave.”

Around 2006, Terry came to Connecticut to continue to pursue his career and start a choir program for at-risk children in Danbury, called Pathways. However, these plans did not work out and instead he was offered the role of personal assistant for the director of the Pathways program.

From there, he moved to New York. He fondly recalls working with Hezekiah Walker, gospel musician and the pastor of Love Fellowship Tabernacle in Brooklyn. He also worked on a wide variety of musical projects with other artists, including Johnny Montague, Vaneese Thomas, FUMC’s Gabe Shuford, and others.

Eventually, Terry started working extensively with Beth Styles, a Stamford resident who is affiliated with First United Methodist Church and its AIDS program. Through this connection he learned that FUMC was looking for a worship leader to run their Celebration Sanctuary contemporary service, and he filled that role for approximately two years.

Current Community Involvement

While the FUMC contemporary service is no longer active, Jason is still very involved in our community, contributing to services on the second Sunday of each month, as well as being involved with North Stamford Community Church.

Terry describes the role of programming music for services to be very fluid. He’ll often check in and collaborate with the pastors to get a sense of what they want to hear or what music is in their hearts. At other times, he’ll let his intuition guide him, and they’ll check in with him by asking “Jason, what are you singing this week?”

Working with Children

Over the course of his career, Terry has worked extensively with children, pointing out that “it can be very calming for them.” He believes that children can learn so much from music. They can bond together with the music, their peers, their siblings, with everyone. Music can be so transcending and transformative – it’s a beautiful thing.” He beams as he reflects on the success he’s had in this regard, particularly when working with the music program in the Danbury public schools, where students would allocate time before and after school to work on big musical productions. “It was wonderful. We would do shows together, and I do miss that. I would love, love, love to do something like that with children again.”

Advice for Aspiring Musicians

On reflecting on advice he’d give to youth interested in pursuing a career in music, Terry
is emphatic: “Just go for it!” he exclaims. “It is not easy. Push at it. Have the courage to go for it.” He advocates that people turn to faith when circumstances are particularly challenging: “Keep going. Keep God first. Continue to pray. Ask for clarity and God will provide just that if it is meant to be in that season. Things will unfold. God will give you the wisdom to do what you need to do in that time.”

Jsaon L. Terry can be reached at 347.437.5191.

Author: Patricia Rattray, New Revenue Consulting