Grammy Nominee Joins School of Music Faculty as Associate Professor
From growing up in a nontraditional musical upbringing to becoming a Grammy nominee, Dr. Giovanni Pérez, an associate professor in Liberty’s School of Music, has plenty of wisdom to share as an artist, producer and audio engineer.
“Music was always present since the day I was born,” Pérez said regarding his upbringing and introduction to music.
Pérez was born in Newark, New Jersey, but moved to Puerto Rico shortly after. Throughout his youth, he was constantly surrounded by music.
“There was a lot of Latin and Salsa, so it was pretty normal to just be involved in music,” Pérez added.
Growing up in Puerto Rico provided Pérez with a unique experience to learn music. Traditionally, students in music schools are taught visually by seeing musical notes on pages of sheet music, but Pérez learned through auditory repetition.
“Music used to be taught by repetition,” Pérez said. “Being able to grow up in church and watch my parents sing and play, I was taught music indirectly.”
Pérez would sing and play hymns so frequently that by the time he picked up any instrument, he played it naturally. As a teacher of music, Perez sometimes tapped into his experiences of learning music to better help his students. Rather than have students play by following notes on a sheet of paper, he has students learn music by hearing and repetition instead.
“There are students that have different necessities,” Pérez said. “It’s a matter of just having different tools for all the different necessities, and I think that growing up in church, growing up in Puerto Rico where everything is Latin music, everything is rhythm with your body, and everything gave me the tools necessary to do all that.”
In 2015, Pérez was nominated for a Grammy for the Best Latin Jazz Album as the album’s producer. He is also a 10-time Downbeat Award Winner and Global Music Award Winner. Instead of celebrating the achievements, however, Pérez humbly kept moving forward with his career.
“It’s an accolade that people get impressed by because it is a high honor in the discipline of music, but it doesn’t mean anything,” Pérez said. “It’s just an inspiration to keep working and going forward to the next goal and next dream.”
With the new school year starting at Liberty, Pérez said he was grateful for the warm welcome he has received since working at the university.
“So far, every single person that I have met here—from our dean to our janitor—everybody makes you feel welcome, like family. This is only my second week of lessons, and I just feel great being here,” Pérez said. “Being able to pray before lessons, before meetings, and just talk about Jesus—it’s almost like a dream come true.”
For Pérez, Liberty provides a sense of peace.
“Every school has something to feature, and it’s been wonderful being able to see different places, but something that you feel once you get to Liberty University is that there is something in the air that just feels beautiful and at peace,” Pérez said.
To stay updated on Pérez’s musical journey and to listen to his latest album “Wind of Revelation” with the acclaimed Puerto Rican ensemble Zohet, follow Pérez on Instagram, @gioflute.
Tso is a feature writer.