Two Lucky Breaks Led Janice Kapp Perry into Songwriting History
With more than 1,000 songs, over 60 albums, and 9 cantatas, Janice Kapp Perry is a musical force to be reckoned with. She has composed music that ranges from sacred hymns to children’s songs including 10 songs that are published in the Children’s Songbook. Her husband Doug said, “Anytime you go to primary, 99% of the time you’ll hear at least one of Janice’s songs.” Her musical career would eventually lead her to join the Mormon Tabernacle Choir, which has performed and recorded many of her songs throughout the years, such as “Love is Spoken Here,” and “I’m Trying to Be Like Jesus.”
Born in Ogden, UT., in 1938, Kapp moved with her family moved to Oregon at age 8. There was always an existence of music in her home, where she learned hymns and primary songs at an early age from her mother. She was the organist in primary by age 12 and held the calling until college. Throughout childhood and into adulthood she also had a deep love for sports. She favored athletics in school but music has always held a strong presence in her life.
Her songwriting began in an interesting way; during a conversation with a friend on the way home from school, her friend wondered aloud how people write new music if it doesn’t already exist. Perry then said, “I think anybody could if they wanted to.” When her friend challenged her to do it, Perry simply said, “OK,” and the rest is history. Soon after, she wrote, “I Walked in God’s Garden,” which she performed in Sacrament Meeting.
When she married and had children, music was set-aside for a season to focus on her family. At age 38, Perry had what she calls “two lucky breaks” that led to her renewed journey into songwriting. She broke her ankle while playing basketball and the television set broke. When she wrote “I’ll Follow Jesus” for her son Steve to sing in Sacrament meeting, she played it for the family. “she played it and sang it to us and I was in tears…it was very much like the sun coming up in the morning,” said husband Doug. Perry was encouraged to continue with the support of her family.
She then began recording albums that were very successful and helped support her family. This led to her songs being including in the Children’s Songbook and the Hymnbook of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Producer Marvin Goldstein said, “Janice Kapp Perry has the ability to translate testimony into a melody.” Her songwriting process always begins with prayer and scripture and the inspiration follows.
Perry had one goal in mind when she started out, saying, “When I first started writing, I wrote down this simple goal; I hope that someday the primary children will sing one of my songs.” One of her greatest experiences was when President David O. McKay came to her town and she stood a few feet away leading the congregation in “We Thank Thee O God for a Prophet.” “My Heart just burned, and tears were in my eyes. Many experiences like that with music solidified my testimony,” she said.
Perry was featured on an episode of Inspiring Lives on BYUtv, where her story is chronicled in detail. Below a video of the Choir singing Perry’s favorite song that she’s written, “A Child’s Prayer.”