I stood smiling in my kitchen that was set like a stage just before 3 p.m. on Saturday, April 11, 2020. My parents and sister had spent the early afternoon reorganizing, and now, it was almost time.
My sister sat behind the camera, making sure my phone was angled correctly on the tripod to keep me in frame throughout the Facebook livestream. My long curls were perfectly styled, my makeup light, and my dress pretty and pink, my favorite color. My parents and little brother gathered in the other room to watch on the big TV, and before I knew it, I was reaching over to turn on my speaker and cue up my playlist on my computer, careful not to let NVDA, my screen-reading software, babble too much in the process.
I began just as I’d rehearsed with my voice teacher, introducing myself, and beginning to tell my love story, the theme of my Berklee senior recital. I spent the next hour in a daze, painting the memories with my words and expressing my deep emotions through song, letting my voice soar with ease through the fast-flowing classical melismas in Let The Bright Seraphim by Handel. I swayed my hips, rapping energetically with a smile to Despacito by Luis Fonsi and Daddy Yankee, and everything in between.
I was alone with no physical audience aside from my family at home, and none of the friends and band members I was meant to share this moment in time with. Somehow, even through the lens of my ever-present anxiety, many people tuned in, commented throughout, and I still felt the love across the interwebs in the midst of the pandemic that prevented this from being in person the way I’d planned it. In the midst of chaos, it was una gran bendición.
My name is Precious Perez, and I was born and raised in Chelsea, Massachusetts. I am a blind Puerto Rican woman and first-generation college graduate with diagnosed anxiety and depression. I am an artist, a singer/songwriter with a lot to say and many intersectionalities to speak on.
My calling is music, and my goal is using my artistry as a vehicle for education, social justice and unity.
Using my voice for Recording Artists and Music Professionals with Disabilities (RAMPD)
I am also the Membership Chair for RAMPD (Recording Artists and Music Professionals with Disabilities), a fast-growing coalition of accredited and established musicians, producers, creative support and industry professionals whose mission is to amplify disability culture, promote inclusion, and advocate for accessibility in the music industry.
With attention from Billboard to the New York Times, RAMPD has already partnered with major music firms and organizations to start these necessary discussions. Disability is the one diversity that gets left out of almost every DEI conversation, and I am so excited to be working toward changing that with RAMPD.
Fellow blind musicians Lachi and Stephen Letnes are also on the leadership team, along with Gaelynn Lea, Andrea Jennings and Tabi Haly.
All music professionals with disabilities and allies are welcome to join our community! We had our official launch party on January 21st, in partnership with the GRAMMY Museum Experience. Professional membership applications will be open for a month. Folks can also join as Community Members, and we welcome you all to get involved and follow us on all platforms.
About the Author
Precious Perez is a classically trained pop/R&B and Latin vocalist, songwriter, and multi-instrumentalist with a double bachelor’s degree in music education and vocal performance from Berklee College of Music. She is also a published children’s author.
Her goal is to make a difference through doing what she loves and showing the world that blind people are as capable as everyone else. She hopes to inspire future generations to pursue their dreams and be successful in the same way that she has, because she knows that anything is possible, and giving up is never an option. As an artivist and music educator, she will be able to make a difference by using her reach as a Puerto Rican Spanish speaker to crush stereotypes by sharing her experiences across cultures and doing what has not been done while advocating for all of the communities she represents. Precious aims to be the first blind Latina artist at the forefront of the Latin music industry. She is confident that she can lead, she can achieve, and she can be the one who alters the way people see.
RAMPD is resource for disabled recording artists and music professionals – as well as their allies – that amplifies disability culture, promotes inclusion and advocates for accessibility.