Julia Amanda Perry born on March 25, 1924 in Lexington Kentucky. She spent most of her early years in Akron, Ohio. Her father, Dr. Abe Perry, was a doctor and amateur pianist. Her mother, America Perry, encouraged her children’s musical endeavors. Julia started learning violin at an early age and then switched to the piano.
After high school, Perry attended Westminster Choir College in Princeton, New Jersey from 1943 to 1948, where she graduated with a bachelors and masters in music. She continued her musical training at the Julliard School of Music and she also spent summers at the Berkshire Music Center in Tanglewood, Massachusetts. Her first major composition, the Stabat Mater, appeared in 1951. Three years later in 1954, her opera, The Cask of Amontillado, was first staged at Columbia University.
In 1952 and 1954, Perry received two Guggenheim fellowships to study in Florence, Italy under the tutelage of Lugia Dallapiccola and in Paris, France with Nadia Boulanger. She returned to the United States in 1959 to become part of the music faculty at Florida A & M College and later took a teaching position at Atlanta University. She returned to Akron in 1960 and wrote Homunuclus C.F. for piano, harp, and percussion. Throughout the 1960s, she organized and conducted concerts around the world for the U.S. Information Service.
By the late 1960s, her works had received wide acclaim and were performed by the New York Philharmonic and other major orchestras. The classical record label, Composers Recordings, released several of her compositions in 1969. She also won awards from the National Association of Negro Musicians, the Boulanger Grand Prix, and the National Institute of Arts and Letters.
In 1971, Julia Perry suffered the first of two strokes, which left her hospitalized for several years. She taught herself to write with her left hand so she could continue to compose. Julia Amanda Perry died on April 29, 1979 in Akron, Ohio at the age of 55.