Detroit native Terry Dexter releases her latest project Listen this month. A veteran in the music industry, Terry’s soulful gospel melodies and encouraging words prove to be just what you need to put a smile on your face on the most rainy of days. Terry sits down with DetroitGospel.com’s Conway Norwood and talks about her career and the inspiration behind her new recording.
Conway: So you were born in Detroit and grew up singing in church. When did you know that you wanted to sing?
Terry: My uncle was a pastor, and my dad took me to his church. They were having choir practice, and I was asked to sing a solo to audition for the choir, and they had me singing a solo [the following] Sunday morning. I haven’t turned back since.
Conway: Talk a little bit about how you got started in music.
Terry: I started doing background work when I was 10 years old. I hired a manager, and I got my first major deal when I was 14. After that, I signed with Warner Bros.
Conway: You’ve done work in secular music. Would you say that your faith helped guide you through your career and find success?
Terry: It definitely kept me from doing things that weren’t right. My faith helped me make the right decisions. You have to have faith dealing with all the smoke screens in the music industry.
Conway: You’re getting ready to release a new album next month called Listen. Tell me about the direction you took when you were writing and recording this album.
Terry: I’ve been through a lot. I lost a friend of mine this year and my sister is going to Iraq. I really want to uplift and help people. This record is a huge hug to the world. I want to reach people that feel like they’re lost. It’s hard to [reach] them sometimes, but I might be able to reach them through music.
Conway: You have a single from your new album called “Beautiful One” that goes along with that theme. What motivated you to write that song?
Terry: I was looking at things in my life and I wanted to remind everybody that we are all beautiful. This is a world full of judgment, but everybody has their own beauty and their own relationship with the Lord. Being interracial and looking at the problems my parents had, I felt like I didn’t belong and I questioned God as a child, but I’m proud of myself and my faith definitely helped me get to that point.
Conway: You also have a song on your new album called “I’m Free.” Was there something that you went through to help you write that song?
Terry: I went through a spiritual breakdown. I think everybody comes to that point. I looked at myself and I felt like I lost myself. “I’m Free” is about freeing yourself from all of this “noise” and realizing your priorities; The Lord, family, and love fall back in place. Sometimes we get caught up in money, careers, or what people think we should be, but we need to realize that we are beautiful.
Conway: You’ve also done some acting. You got bit by the “acting bug” as they say. How did that come about?
Terry: I had a small part in the movie Deliver Us From Eva with LL Cool J and Gabrielle Union, but when I met David E. Talbert, he said I should play the lead role in his musical. I didn’t think I could do it, but he saw something in me and he believed in me. To this day, I know the Lord was not letting me run from that opportunity. So I played the lead role in his play Love in the Nick of Time with Morris Chestnut. I got an agent and started auditioning for other roles.
Conway: Are there any gospel artists you’re looking to work with in the future?
Terry: Yes, I’d like to work with J. Moss. I’ve worked with his production team. I love Yolanda Adams. Also, the Clark Sisters, the Winans…pretty much, all the Detroit folks. We have such a great community of churches and a wide array of gospel singers. I’m so proud of that.